Peace In A Tin Can

Peace In A Tin Can

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Echo of the Woods

I hike alone.  The woods teach me things about myself every time I go down a trail, or wander off trail. Alone, I have learned that I am stronger than I thought. I know things in a deep place in my mind, and after a fourteen mile hike when it feels like I will never live without pain again, the pain will go away.  Eventually.  The woods teach me to listen, see, and smell more intensely, and trust that I can keep going.  I let the woods show me who I am, instead of who I'm scared to be.

If I hiked with others, I would not be able to see, hear, feel, and learn without distractions.  Some of the lessons would be lost.  So I hike alone.  Which is why I wasn't particularly excited to take five 13 year old girls into the woods last weekend.

When The Wise One asked for a trip up north with her friends, I searched on Pure Michigan and found Cedar Bend Farm in Mancelona, Michigan.  The Farm appealed to me because we would have the place to ourselves, we could stay in a cozy stone cottage, there are many outdoor activities available, and it is affordable.  I planned the weekend, pleased that my daughter wanted an outdoor adventure.  It was killing me to think I would be spending a weekend in Northern Michigan with no opportunity to hike alone.  This trip was about my daughter, not me, and maybe I could teach her a thing or two about the woods.

The Wise One chose her four friends wisely.  What an amazing group of young girls!  I never heard a single complaint, only enthusiasm for the next adventure.  A snow storm blew in, it was cold and windy, yet those girls stayed outside all day, walking through the woods to the zip line, flying through the trees suspended by a harness while snow smacked their faces and froze on their eyelashes.  Scuba showed them how sound echoes back to them from the top of the steep tubing hill, and a chorus of hello's fell with the snow.  The girls rode the zip line over and over, then hiked up another steep hill to test their physical limits on the challenge course.  Balance, agility, and teamwork produced more giggles, more shouts of achievement.  The Wise One was fascinated with the creek that flowed freely, it's water so clear it almost got lost.  She took a glove off and stuck her fingers into the stream, letting out a little scream at the frigid cold of the water.

After a quick lunch, the girls went right back outside for a scavenger hunt.  I heard their voices from every direction, calling out with excitement over finding a bonus item on the list.  The Wise One could be heard directing the others to different areas (she can be a bit bossy; a control freak, like her mom).  Then they were off to the hill to scream with delight while racing to the bottom on snow tubes.

It went on all day.  The girls stayed outside playing and running and shouting.  When it came time to go home Sunday morning, not one of them wanted to leave.  One girl declared this trip should become an annual event.  Next year, the girls agreed, we should stay for a week.

Scuba left with the girls, but I stayed behind.  I had planned all along to leave a couple of hours after them, to give myself time for a quiet hike in the woods.  As I climbed up the hill under the zip line, the wind blew the branches of the bare trees against each other like strings on a violin, creating a haunting melody.  It was in this moment that the woods taught me something new.  For the first time ever, I was lonely in the woods.  The music played by the wind was missing the sound of young girls' laughter.  It was only when they were there with me that the melody became a symphony of beautiful sound echoing through the trees and wide open fields.  The woods are meant to be shared.

For the most part, I will continue my solitary walks in the woods.  But I learned something about myself last weekend.  There is a time for the sound of laughter and joy.  I don't have to be alone to love the woods, I can share my time with others and still learn, still laugh, and still enjoy.  The Wise One and her friends gave me a gift with their shouts of delight, and as I walked back to my car to leave, I swear I could still hear their echoes.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Cedar Bend Farm: Good Place, Good People, and Good Times

It can be tough to plan the perfect weekend for your daughter's 13th birthday, especially when she is inviting her four best friends along and you are on a budget.

We tossed around ideas like a concert or musical.  Maybe a Spa?  The indoor waterpark had already been done by another girl.  I turned to my best resource, Pure Michigan, and using the search function, found the most perfect place I could have imagined, Cedar Bend Farm.

I arrived in Mancelona, Michigan ahead of my husband and the 5 young teenage girls to set everything up for the weekend.  The owners of Cedar Bend Farm, Dan and Alice, greeted me with a fire burning in the wood stove in the most delightful stone cottage.  Their welcome was as warm as the fire, and as Alice described the opportunities for fun and excitement, I was amazed at how much Cedar Bend has to offer!

Dan and Alice purchased the farm about 10 years ago, after making the decision to live a more faith and family-centered life with their seven children.  Originally established as a Christian Retreat Center, Dan and Alice continue that work while also exceeding their goal of providing a simple and wholesome setting for Corporate Retreats, Survival Weekends, Romantic Getaways, Family Reunions, Youth Camps, and any other idea guests can come up with, including a 13th Birthday Party.  They work to plan a stay tailored to each guest's needs and wants.  Dan and Alice will be as involved or as removed from guests' stay as asked.

Some of their annual groups include the Freshman class from Spring Arbor University, for a Christian Retreat.  There are groups that come as missionaries to donate time and work toward renovations at the farm.  Through fundraising, Dan and Alice welcome children each summer to the Dollar-A-Day Outdoor Camp.  Alice told me that nothing makes her happier than to see kids discover the outdoors and learn how to run, laugh, and play in nature.

For our weekend, Dan and Alice made many suggestions and helped me plan the event to keep the girls happy.  When the girls arrived Friday evening, Alice joined us in our lovely cottage to teach them how to hand-churn their own ice cream.  They got an idea of how hard life used to be when they had to sit on top of the handle while churning, because they weren't strong enough to hold the lid down.
We later served the ice cream with birthday cake, agreeing it was the best ice cream we ever tasted!

The next morning began early as Dan took my husband out to the woods to train him in the use of the zip line and challenge course.  The girls walked down the lane, past the chapel, and into the woods to begin their adventure.  The temperature dropped, the snow blew in, and we spent the entire day outdoors with the girls on the zip line - on which they amazed Dan by going three different times! - and testing their strength, balance, and agility on the challenge course, not realizing that they were learning how to work together to accomplish a common goal.  My daughter and her friends wandered throughout the 112 acres looking for items in the scavenger hunt, then used the tubes Dan had prepared for them to race down the hills, over and over again.  At night, they ran to the barn to play hockey and football.

They never stopped moving and running and playing, outdoors, from sun up until way past sun down.  We all slept very well.

Some parents think I'm some kind of event planning guru, but the fact is I can find any place in Michigan to suit any need simply by entering a few keywords into the Pure Michigan website.  Using tags like "nature",  "Northern Michigan", "outdoor activities", and "crafts", I found Cedar Bend Farm, and created an affordable and fun weekend for the girls.  It was easy!

If you are looking for TV, Saunas, Gourmet Meals, and luxury accommodations, look elsewhere.  But if you are looking for rustic charm with basic amenities, a peaceful setting or outdoor adventures, and excellent hosts, look at Cedar Bend Farm.  Dan and Alice are good people who work hard to give you the best experience you seek.  They discourage excessive drinking and brazen behavior, but if you seek a quiet weekend with a loved one, Alice won't mind if you bring a bottle of wine.  Don't plan on watching the Red Wings game on TV, but be prepared to play a round or two of broom ball on the frozen floor of the new barn.  Anyone looking for a quiet weekend with family or friends in the summer, or an opportunity to hone your survival skills during a cold winter, or an outdoor adventure for the less adventurous, or a corporate outing,  Cedar Bend Farm is an affordable place with flexible hosts who will go out of their way to make your time on their farm exactly what you want it to be.

For more information, or to schedule your perfect getaway, call Alice at (231) 587-8126.  Or visit the website,

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Dear Mother Nature: You Win

Last Sunday I prepared for the deadly storms that raced across the Midwest.  When it was over, I touched base with my family members, making sure all were safe and suffered no ill-effects from the storm.  Everything was fine, and I had a little haha moment for being smarter than Mother Nature.  But she wasn't done with me yet.

Late Sunday night, my mom called and said their power had gone out.  After the storm, the winds picked up and blew trees down on power lines all over our county.  By Monday morning, still without power, my parents' house was getting cold, which is not pleasant for my 95 year old grandmother.  In a rare moment of selflessness, I offered to pick Gran up and bring her to my house for the day.  I wanted her warm and taken care of, and also thought it would be fun to spend a day with Gran.  She's a pretty fun lady.

That one moment, the quick decision to do something nice, led to a series of events that would throw me so far off schedule I won't be caught up until next week.

I brought Gran to my house Monday morning, thinking I would set her up in our big Lazy Boy in front of the TV, since she has a regular schedule of shows she watches everyday.  I wrapped a blanket around her, poured her a glass of Pepsi, and turned the TV on.  First she asked me to turn the volume up.  A little more.  A little more.  Just a bit more.  By the time I reached volume level 70, Gran said, "that's good."  It was really, really loud.  Then she asked me if I could turn the heat up a bit.  Certainly. I cranked the thermostat to 70 degrees.

The loud TV bothered me; I like a quiet house.  No big deal, though.  Gran is 95, I'm sure her hearing isn't as sharp as it used to be.  I can handle one day of a loud TV.  Then she called to me and asked if the heat could be turned up a little more.  No problem.

This went on all morning, so that by lunch time, the thermostat was set at 78 degrees, I was wearing shorts and a tank top, and covering Gran with another blanket.  All the while Andy Griffith was yelling at me from the TV. Ok, I can handle this.  No big deal.

Late in the afternoon, my parents still didn't have power.  I asked my husband if we could take them and Gran to a cottage on a nearby lake for the night, since we don't have an extra bed.  He made the arrangements, and my mom called from work saying they would be here soon to pick Gran up.

Looking back, I can say coulda shoulda woulda all I want, but the fact is, I dropped the ball here.  I gave my parents instructions for getting into the lake cottage, put Gran in the car, and sent them on their way.  They were going to stop at their house to pack a few things, then head to the lake.

As soon as they left, I turned the TV off and forbid my husband and daughter from watching TV or talking loudly.  I turned the thermostat off, put away the blankets Gran had wrapped up in, and served dinner.  Ten minutes after my parents and Gran had left, the phone rang, and my mom was shouting on the other end of the line "Call 911!  We all fell in the driveway!!!!"  Scuba jumped in the car and took off for my parents' house, I called 911.

Both my parents and Gran ended up in the ER.  I spent 6 hours there while they were bandaged up, cat scanned, x-rayed, and tended to.  Gran had tripped when they got of the car, and as she fell she took mom and dad down with her.  They were pretty banged up, with Gran taking the worst of it.  I felt terrible.  I never should have let them go their house alone.  With no power, it was very dark outside.  What a mess!

It was the wee hours of Tuesday morning before I was able to take them to the lake and get them tucked in for the night.  When we stepped through the cottage door, I was surprised by how warm it felt and to see a fire burning brightly in the fireplace.  Scuba and my daughter had driven to the cottage while we were in the ER and made up the beds, started the fire, and left the lights on for us.  I could have cried at the sweetness of it.

My parents have since gotten their power back.  I cleaned up the cottage, helped them get settled back at home, and brought Gran over to my house and helped her shower.  She said she felt dirty from being in the ER, and I did, too, so I understood her need for a long, hot shower.

I have pretty much lost three work days this week.  I'm not complaining; I am happy to take care of Gran and help my parents out.  But had I been more on top of things, much of this could have been avoided.  I made the mistake of thinking once the storm had passed, I didn't have to be prepared.  If only I hadn't forgotten how dark it would be outside my parents' house with no power, I could have prevented Gran's bruises and cracked rib; I could have kept my dad from tearing his hand up, and kept my mom from injuring her hip.

Life happens, and I roll with it.  But when stuff happens because I didn't think a situation through, I only have myself to blame.  And Mother Nature.

This week has been a good reminder for me.  When out in the woods and the mountains and the wilderness, Mother Nature is unpredictable and unforgiving of those who are ill prepared.  I won't forget that any time soon.  Prepare for the worst of Mother Nature and enjoy the best of her.  And never, ever, assume she is done with you.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

You Can Feel It Coming

I am in the part of the Midwest today that has severe storms predicted with possible tornadoes.  Because I am home, I have taken precautions by squeezing both cars into the garage, out of the way of the dead tree that sits along our driveway.  I put a few things away from the yard, made sure there is water and blankets in the basement, and reminded my husband and daughter which pet to grab if we have to take shelter.  I am all set.

I can feel the storms coming.  It is way too warm outside for November, and a cold front is going to clash with this balmy heat wave in a couple of hours.  The winds are bending the trees and removing the last of the leaves from the brush.  Debris skips across the yard and driveway, and the birds have disappeared.  There is an ominous feeling in the air.  Mother Nature is gearing up to unleash her fury,   which holds a little excitement, a bit of worry, and a healthy dose of respect for her power.

Being at home is the best place to be when a severe storm attacks.  Sometimes I experience their wrath while hiking or camping in the wilderness, and the sense of excitement is replaced by a sense of survival.  There is no safe place from lightning, falling branches and trees, and tornadoes if you get caught outside.  So what do you do?

Google Images
Since beginning a routine of hiking and camping two years ago, I have read many articles and consulted with Michigan DNR officers regarding storm safety.  The general consensus seems to be "do the best you can" to get to a safer place.  I always have a plan of being aware of my surroundings so that if I get caught in a storm, I will remember where I last saw that depression in the ground, or

preferably a large hole with a ridge of solid ground around it.  I would make my way to the closest area where the ground offers some protection, huddle down, and wait out the storm underneath a plastic tarp.  In the case of lightning, I have been told to squat on the balls of my feet, with as little body contact to the ground as possible.  Of course I always have a first aid kit, water, and a little food in my pack.

Google Images
Having experienced a few storms on camping trips, I know that the tin can is not the safest place to be, and there have been a few frightening times when the lightning hit awfully close, or a large branch has narrowly missed the Airstream as it crashed to the ground.  During these times, I am all too aware of the deadly affects a strong storm can have.  At home, though, it is not so scary.  We have a safe shelter below ground with adequate supplies and an impending storm can carry a sense of excitement with it.  As long as I know where my family and pets are, we can weather any storm.

I feel this one coming.  It feels powerful.  With just a little bit of preparedness, we will be fine.  I think sometimes my family forgets that my time in the wilderness has taught me how to be prepared and survive.  I know how to handle this storm.  Bring it on, Mother Nature, I am ready for you.  Be safe out there today, folks, and watch for the storm, because here it comes!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends…and REI!

I like to be prepared.  When my friend, Debbie, took that first step and joined me 4 years ago on my annual Fall Camping Trip, I promised her I would take care of her and she had nothing to fear.  Last year, when we ended up lost for eleven hours in the wilderness, she questioned my ability to keep her safe, but at the end of the day we were enjoying a campfire, safe in our campsite with the tin can.  Still doubting my survival skills, Debbie whipped out "The WORST-CASE SCENARIO Survival Handbook" by Joshua Piven and David Borgenicht to check my knowledge.  Seriously, who knew that the most important thing to do when plunging off a bridge is clench your butt cheeks?

Since that night, I decided that my wilderness skills needed a little brushing up.  That's when I discovered  REI.  A large retailer of outdoor apparel and equipment, REI also has free community classes, guided trips, and a wealth of information in published articles.  I recently attended a Winter Camping class at the REI store in Ann Arbor, Michigan, to brush up on my knowledge for my upcoming trip to the Porcupine Mountains.
I am confident with my winter camping skills, but since I am new to all this outdoor/wilderness adventure stuff, I figured it couldn't hurt to hear what REI had to say.  I am so glad I went, because I learned quite a bit.  Mostly, I learned how expensive my new passion is!  But the instructor, Tim, gave me helpful tips for how to keep the cost down.  For instance, I had been searching for a water filtration system, keeping in mind the requirements of 99.99% filtering capabilities, weight, volume, and ease of use.  The system I had chosen cost about $129.00  But Tim introduced me to REI's Sawyer Squeeze Water Filter Plus for $49.95.  It only weighs 3 oz. and takes up very little space, is easy to use, and filters up to 99.99999% of all bacteria and protozoa.  I can use bags for 16, 32, or 64 oz. of filtered water, making it versatile for filtering larger amounts of water in camp, while carrying smaller amounts on the trail.  I just saved about $80.00!
I also had questions about meal preparation.  I really don't want to carry camp cookware to prepare meals over an open fire.  Tim recommended a personal stove which uses white gas, because it still burns in colder temperatures, but I like the Jet Boil for it's compact size and included carafe for cooking.  Tim suggested that if I place the fuel pack in my coat for a short time, I can heat the canister with my body to insure ignition.  I settled on the Jet Boil Zip Stove and feel comfortable with Tim's recommendation.  As an accessory, I plan to purchase the Coffee Press.  No more instant coffee!

I also learned a few helpful tips about stuff sacks, packing for space and weight, and other helpful gear. The main reason I wanted to attend the class, though, was to learn more about layering.

Last year when I attended the Michigan Ice Fest to learn how to climb ice, I researched sites to learn the proper layers of clothing to wear.  Because I am always on a tight budget, I made do by borrowing and improvising items of clothes.  Big mistake.  Fortunately, the guys from Down Wind Sports recognized how ill-prepared I was to hike and climb in sub-zero temperatures, and introduced me to a Patagonia Rep who lent me the proper jacket for the weekend.  I was so warm and comfortable, I changed my mind about the whole winter gear situation.  It really isn't just about marketing; its about survival.  Frostbite and hypothermia are real, people.
When the class at REI ended, I tried on some different layering pieces, and fell in love with the Columbia Bugaboo 3-in-1 Jacket.  It fits my budget while still having the features Tim talked about: sealed seams,  windproof, waterproof, and a breathable insulated soft shell which can be removed.

My Christmas Wish List has been compiled and given to my husband.  With just a few additions, I can stay within a reasonable budget and still be prepared for winter camping.  Debbie may have taught me how to survive in quicksand, but REI is teaching me real skills to fit my adventure plans, helping me keep the cost down, and showing enthusiasm for my quest to become a real outdoor adventurer.  Next class:  Snowshoeing 101.  Maybe I will learn how to be graceful, but I'd say that's a stretch, even for REI.

How To Survive in Quicksand:

1.  Carry a stout pole.2.  As soon as you start to sink, lay the pole on the surface of the quicksand.3.  Flop onto your back on top of the pole4.  Work the pole to a new position: under your hips and at right angles to your spine.5.  Take the shortest route to firmer ground by pulling out first one leg, then the other.

Commit this very important tip to memory.  You never know when you might need it!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

In Memory of The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald, November 10, 1975

Whitefish Point
I have stood on Whitefish Point, watching two ships pass which from my vantage point seemed too close, and seen them safely on their way.  I have paddled the sheltered waters of the Bay where gentle waves rolled my vessel to and fro, but did not steer me off course.  I have been a sentinel on Twelve Mile Beach during a storm, and bore witness to the fury of the Great Lady, Superior.  Her blue skies and calm waters will turn on a dime, and as if a woman scorned, Lake Superior hath the fury of Hell to unleash on the ill prepared.  She is fickle and mean, and knows not what spurns her anger.

Twelve Mile Beach
I have loved Lake Superior in all her forms.  She is peace and energy, light and dark.  She will display her trickery to fools, luring them further from the safe haven of shore and shelter until she has you in her grasp, only to reveal her true form in a flash of foam and wind, releasing her elements to the sky above even as they rain back down.

She whispers "don't blink!" and takes advantage when you do.  She sings her lullaby as you drift into a dream state, then bangs her drum and clangs her cymbal to awaken you to her storm.  As quickly as you fell in love with her, you will come to fear her, loathe her, and scream your insults to her deaf ears. She does not care.
But I have stood on her shores and listened to her song.  If I tune my ear to the wind that blows in my face, I can hear Lake Superior laugh at me, for she knows I love her, but can never understand her, can never be with her.  She only reveals her real beauty to those who succumb to her and plunge in icy depth to her feet.

I love Lady Superior, but do not know her.  I pray I never do.

In memory and honor of the 29 men who lost their lives aboard the Edmund Fitzgerald 38 years ago today, to the fury of the November Gales on Lake Superior.  Once succumbed, they were cradled in her arms for eternity to become part of her.

May they all Rest In Peace.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Porcupine Mountains Series: Some Final Thoughts

As far as mountains go, the Porkies are not very big.  They are nothing like the Rockies, or the Tetons, or K2, Denali, and Everest.  But they are older than all of those other mountains; in fact, they are the oldest mountains in North America, and the second oldest in the world.  The Porcupine Mountains also have a rich history, and many other distinguishing characteristics.

Despite my excitement to explore the mountains upon my arrival, I first stopped at the Visitors Center.  The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has an excellent reputation for providing information and helpful tips for visiting any of the state parks, and I found this center to be particularly helpful in understanding what I had gotten myself into this time.  Mounted boards told the story of the Porkies, and I greedily read each one, absorbing as much information as I could to enhance my hiking.

Over a billion - yes, I said billion - years ago, far below the surface of the earth, the crust began to shift and pull apart, or "rift".  The bedrock of the Porcupine Mountains belongs to the Keweenawan Supergroup, a thick sequence of volcanic and sedimentary rock deposited throughout the rifts.  As the mid-continental drift was developing across Michigan, and as far south as Kansas, volcanic eruptions continued over millions of years.  Some 40 million years after the first rift rocks were deposited, shifting tectonic plates uplifted areas along the rift, forming the Porcupine Mountains.  In the past several million years, the mountains have been eroded flat, and pushed up again, several times!

In other places in the world, these rift rocks lie buried, but in the Lake Superior region, they are exposed.  Over 40,000 years ago, glacial movement carved out the Great Lakes, and deposited sediment to the area to give birth to the shape, flora and fauna of the Porcupine Mountains.

This is all fascinating scientific information, almost incomprehensible, but it's not what I thought about while hiking.

Google Images
Even though the Porcupine Mountains are very old, they are easier to access than other mountain ranges.  You don't need any fancy equipment, or permits to climb.  You won't have to fix any lines, or belay, or hang from a cliff in a tent at night.  You don't even need a particularly adventurous spirit.  If you can walk, you can hike the Porkies.  It helps to
be a somewhat active person, but even if you are not, you can see some of the grandeur by walking.  But if you want to experience all that the mountains are, its best to hike and immerse yourself in the environment.

P.J. Hoffmaster, Google Images
I am very fortunate to be able to do this, and to live in a State that recognized the importance of preserving these mountains for all of us to enjoy.  People like P.J. Hoffmaster, Raymond Torrey, W.C. Edens, Governors Harry Kelly and George Romney, and the fine people of Michigan's DNR were responsible for acknowledging and

Governor George Romney
Google Images
protecting the natural and historical significance of the Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park.  But I wasn't really thinking about them either, as I continued to hike up and up the Escarpment Trail, until I became a solitary figure standing at the top.

I climbed a mountain.  I didn't need picks and ropes, or a partner to climb with.  I had a day-pack on my back with water, granola bars, and a basic first aid kit.  I had a small camera and a knife in my pocket.  My dog climbed with me.  After a half day of hiking, I stood on top of a mountain, and looked out over Lake of the Clouds, and realized I was standing on rock that formed over a billion years ago.  But I wasn't really thinking about science and rifts and volcanos and glaciers.  I was wondering about the other explanation for the birth of the world; I was thinking about God.

In the Bible, the book of Genesis has God creating the world in 6 days.  We know that's not true, at least not in the way we understand time.  So I asked my favorite Priest, Fr. Geoff Rose, about science and creation.  He explained that those who wrote Genesis were not trying to give an historical and scientific explanation of earth, they were sharing their experience of God.  For Fr. Rose personally, he sees the "four billion years of the universe as proof of how awesome and intricate creation is, and how patient God is with creation".

I often hear people say standing among the mountains reminds them of how insignificant their lives are; they lose themselves to nature, allowing it to lessen their petty worries and let the vastness and complicated balance of nature bring them peace.  When I stood at the top of the mountain, I understood that, to science, I am insignificant.  I am a tiny, tiny speck in the world, unseen and unknown.  But to God, I am huge.  I matter.  I can make a difference.  Like the mountains, I can teach, and bring balance, and be beautiful.  I can be grounded flat and rise up again.  I can turn my worries over to my faith, and be like the mountain, strong, living, giving, and balanced.

That's what I thought about on the mountain.  I didn't feel small; I felt empowered and inspired to go home and do more.  Love more.  Be more.  God created me, and placed His faith in me to do what I can to make the world a little bit better.   I will try, and sometimes fail, to live up to God's promise for me, knowing that He will be patient with me, His creation.

I had the distinct thought that I was lying in the hands of God.  Later that day, when I returned to the tin can, I came upon a centuries-old tree stump that Lake Superior had carried to shore from some distant place.  It looked like a hand, turned up, waiting to cradle me, and I smiled.  I had gotten a wink and a nod from the Big Guy, and I knew that I was where I was supposed to be.

I climbed a mountain.  I will climb many more, always knowing that when I stand on top and look out over the vastness, I am not a tiny speck.  I am significant.  I am huge!