At age seven, I helped my father recanvas a canoe and grew up canoeing on ponds, lakes, rivers, and ocean inlets. When I married Adrienne, an ace white-water canoeist, we bought a raft so I could carry the freight. From 1998 until around 2010, we spent two months a year rafting and canoeing primarily the rivers in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Oregon. I rowed my own raft through the Grand Canyon twice.
At age 9, I climbed my first mountain in New Hampshire, Mt. Liberty, with my dad and his friend, the only mountain climbed with a family member. By age 17, I had climbed all 48 of the “4000 Footers” in New Hampshire, half during the winter.
At age 14, I passed the Junior Maine Guide 3-day “exam” and was awarded a pin by Governor Muskie.
At age 16 I became a hutman at the Appalachian Mountain Club Lakes of the Clouds Hut high up on the side of Mt. Washington. Two years later I managed the hut with as many as 110 visitors a night and a crew of seven. All supplies were backpacked in.
Enjoying being outdoors in Nature has been a key part of my life.
Animals In Our Front Yard
Our yard touches the south border of Grand Teton National Park and is located just across the street from the National Elk Refuge. One night when returning to bed late, there was very heavy breathing. It was not coming from my wife. Turns out a moose family of four spent the night sleeping right outside our open window. While elk are not common on our hill overlooking the Elk Refuge, an old fellow wandered up one day to get away from the herd because he knew he would soon die. He nestled down against the outside of our house, two feet from my desk. But the stone facing of our house was too cold. So he wandered next door, nestled up against the wood faced house and died during the night.
I grew up playing the piano by ear. I had several years of lessons in grade school and liked to play my favorite classical works, or at least the parts I was able to play. I often played the piano to relax and escape the life around me. In 1990, I tried out 60 pianos in the San Francisco Bay area looking for one with the tone I liked, a Mason Hamlin parlor grand. When I retired to Jackson, Wyoming, two key requirements for our new house were that there had to be adequate room for my grand piano and I had to be able to see the Grand Teton mountain peak while playing my piano.
In 1960 I learned guitar so that I could lead folksong fests at Lakes of the Clouds Hut and throughout college. I proposed to Adrienne in 1995 at the Jackson Hole Hootenanny, a weekly opportunity for anyone to play acoustic folk music. I have now played nearly 200 times at the Hootenanny including the 1000th hoot on September 21, 2015 at the Jackson Hole Center for the Arts. Adrienne and I sang her most famous song “E-mail Romance” and we joined in the finale “Sweet Wyoming Home”.
In the 1970s I bought a piano accordion and soon formed a band with many folk-dancing friends that we call Sviraci. We played Balkan, Bulgarian, Israeli, and some Scandinavian popular folk dance tunes, performing at folk-dance parties throughout the broader San Francisco Bay area, including a wedding and a major New Year’s Eve party at a folkdance center in Berkeley.
Music has been a key part of my life; a place where I can relax and be creative even if not overly professional.
Raising four children has been the most important and gratifying experience of my life. My first wife and I had a son and a daughter, divorced after 10 years, and I kept custody. Then I married my second wife who had a daughter and a son from a previous marriage about the same age as my children. Each of the children’s parents worked closely to share 50% in the lives of their own children. We all put the welfare of the children first. We were written up in the New York Times Magazine of November 23, 1980, as a successfully blended family. Then we were featured on the Phil Donahue Show on March 10, 1981. I now have 6 grandchildren.
In 1981, I bought a sleepy little dog kennel in Sunol, California, in order not to leave all my eggs in the Federal government basket and to have a country setting as my four children became teenagers. I expanded the kennel from 20 dogs to 150 doing most of the construction myself. Happiness Country Kennels is the Best Little Cat House in Northern California, has far larger individual dog runs than most kennels, and is home to one of the best dog training programs in California from basic puppy training to competition obedience, agility, rally, and even herding.
In 2010, a fine artist and good friend who has just lost one eye to cancer, painted 25 pictures of birds and another good friend, a newspaper columnist and bird lover, recovering from an accident, wrote a page of text about the birds in each painting. They were frustrated finding any way to publish their work. So I either did or arranged to get done everything needed to publish and distribute “Birds of Sage and Scree” in paperback and as a fine coffee-table book set.