Category Archives: Family Nature Summits

Are You All Right?

Are you all right?

Sign to Muxia

I seem to hear this too often these days. People ask me if I’m all right when I step off a curb, stop to get a drink of water on the trail, or when I walk up and even down the steps.

Am I getting too sensitive? Are my antennas up too far?

About ten years ago or so, I was on a small plane landing in a small airport. The passengers needed to walk down the stairs because there wasn’t a jetway.

“Are you all right walking down the stairs?” the flight attendant asked. I was flabbergasted.

“Yes, Are you all right? I replied. She grunted and moved to the next passenger.

Is Are you all right? the new verbal tick? You know, like Good to go, You’re fine and Have a nice day.

I finally realize that this was not a one-off comment but a common phrase from mostly women about twenty years younger than me. Occasionally, I hear it from men of the same age group. But I’ve never heard anyone come up to an older man and ask if he was all right unless he was bleeding on the trail.

If I’m going to write about this, I need to be very specific. I googled the phrase to see if this was a frequent problem. The only helpful website was The Wrong Planet, for people with neurological differences.

One typical answer on this website was:
Why would someone ask you this? Is this a standard greeting? I’ve had a few times when people asked me this, like a weird greeting, but I’m not sure why. It’s unexpected (by me) and I usually respond by freezing, which I guess just makes whatever I was doing seem worse.

Many on this site felt that neurotypical people used the phrase instead of Hello.

At Emerald Bay SP

When I hiked with Family Nature Summits in the Lake Tahoe area, last month, the oldest women, other than me, were in their fifties. They were fit and slim, but not regular hikers.

Jon Krakauer, author of  Into Thin Air about the 1996 Mt. Everest climbing disaster, would call them treadmill fit. Great runners on even ground but if the trail has a few rocks, they would call the hike technical.

The clincher was on a long, steep uphill climbing out of Lake Tahoe to the parking area. The trail was hot and dusty. Halfway up, I stopped at a creek to wet my hat and bandanna. The water on my head felt delicious.

From behind, a woman from our group who had not yet talked to me the entire day, stopped and asked,

“Are you all right?”

“Are you all right? That’s the question. You’re the one behind me.”

Remember the bumper sticker usually on the back of VW Beetles?

I may be slow but I’m ahead of you.

I may not be ahead of you or in front of the group but I’m a plodder. Like a postage stamp, I stick with it until I get there.

Chris and Carroll

While I was thinking about writing about this not-so-new phenomenon, I learned that Carroll Koepplinger, the Ageless Hiker, was going back to Europe to do a long-distance hike in France next month.

He’s almost 87 years old.

Have fun Carroll. I know you’ll be all right.

At Family Nature Summits – Lake Tahoe Day 5

Living room at Thunderbird Lodge

What would you do if you knew as a child that you’d never have to work a day in your life? What if you knew that you would inherit more money than you would ever need? That’s the story of George Whitell, Jr. and Thunderbird Lodge.

On Day 5 of Family Nature Summits, I went on a field trip instead a hike. It was time for a little culture.

Our group traveled by van to Thunderbird Lodge on  the shores of Lake Tahoe. The tour, led by a volunteer docent for the Thunderbird Lodge Preservation Society, concentrated on the features of the house and grounds but I was more interested in the man.

George (1881-1969), as the docent called him, was the product of a wealthy San Francisco family. As a young man, he went from one party to another, acquiring boats and automobiles. He bought the Lake Tahoe property when he was in his fifties, and a recluse. The lodge was small, because unlike Mrs. Knight of Vikingsholm, part of yesterday’s trip, he didn’t want any overnight guests.

Look at the  picture of the living room. What struck me the most was that there was no art on the walls – no Picassos, Monets, Manets – though the docent told us that the house was restored to its glory days.

Isa with her teachers

The opening above leads to his bedroom. An equivalent bedroom on the other side was for his wife of fifty years. They didn’t have any children and most of his fortune went to charity after his death.

The last evening at FNS is devoted to skits by the children – from the 3-5 year olds in Early Discovery to the silliness of the Young Adults (18 to 25).

But Isa wanted to know why adults don’t have a skit. She spoke to the president, Pamela Morrison, who said “Maybe next year?”.

The Bears skit

The last day and evening is also when we say “good bye and see you next year”. Speaking of next year, Family Nature Summits will be in Western Maine, in the While Mountains, June 30 to July 6, 2018.

I already have it on my calendar and will sign up very soon along with my two granddaughters.

Check out the website and see you in Maine.

At Family Nature Summits – Lake Tahoe Day 4

FNS group

Back on the trail at Family Nature Summits.

Day 4. Oh no! The summit is almost over.

I went on a hike around Lake Tahoe. Well, not all the way around, just from D.L. Bliss State Park to Emerald Bay State Park.

The whole trail was perfectly maintained – after all it’s a state park.

Rubicon Point Lighthouse

Our first stop was Rubicon Lighthouse, which looks like an outhouse. Everyone was saying: Lighthouse, outhouse

The lake was in view the whole time with boaters, paddle boarders, waders and just lookers. The lake is too cold for swimming. But we have a great pool at the FNS Site.

The hike was organized as a key swap. So our group started from the north end. The second group went to the south end. When we met up on the trail, the leaders exchanged keys.

That’s one of the advantages of hiking with a group. Here’s Peggy B. and Danny Mc. exchanging keys.

The highlight was definitely Vikingsholm Castle, one of the first summer home on Lake Tahoe. Lora Josephone Knight (1864-1945) built this authentic reproduction of Swedish architecture in 1929 when

“She was 65 years old and single”.

The docent kept being amazed at 65 and single. After the fifth time, I was going to bop him one.

Knight was only 18 years old when she married a man much older than herself, a colleague of her father. She wasn’t poor herself. When her husband died, he left her $10 millions.

Part of being intelligent was knowing who to marry!

She was able to grow this wealth to $45 millions by investing intelligently and weathering the Great Depression. Her backstory was what made an impression to me.

The house?? Look at it on the web. It was full of Scandinavian furnishing. Knight accommodated servants and lots of guests. She was a typical do-gooder who really did some good with her money.

When she died, the property was sold to a man who quickly donated it to the California State Park System. Thank you, Sir!

At Emerald Bay SP

We had to walk an uphill mile to the parking lot. All visitors have to go up to the parking area on their on steam.

In a state park? Wow! Here I am at the top of the hill.

When I got back to the site, I picked up Isa at 3:30pm and we went to the pool.

The evening program was a Mark Twain reenactor. He was good but not good enough to hold the interest of most children. Isa and I left after 30 minutes.

Isa runs around the outside eating area with other girls her age. I’m surprised that I was able to get a picture of the group in Isa’s gang. Some are in her group, The Bears, others she knows only from dinner and the pool. See the picture at the top.