Mission Accomplished


Close the books on Xtreme Hike 2014.

We came, we saw, we hiked. I have the blisters to prove it.

I’m not sure whether we hiked 21 or 22 miles — we had to retrace our steps along a mis-marked portion of the trail — but Martin and I completed the trek in about 10.5 hours.


We were not front-runners. We finished toward the back of the pack. But we made it.

The crew of Xtreme Hikers set out in the dark at 5 am. Two hours later we watched the sun rise from our vantage on the trail.



Though the hike wasn’t a timed event, you couldn’t ignore the pressure to push on and finish fast. I stopped just a few times to snap a picture or two.



And there was another motivating factor, another carrot dangling on the stick:

Complementary beer at the finish line at Devils Backbone Outpost Brewery.



Not to mention killer-good pulled pork barbecue. The best ever. Even Maisie tucked into a plate.

And she deserved it after hiking oodles of miles, and taking one for the team (she was stung repeatedly when she crossed a ground bees’ nest).

She earned a pulled pork platter.



And then she promptly passed out while we guzzled beer and nursed our sore feet.



Many thanks to the 46 hikers, our support staff, sponsors, and everyone who contributed to this event!



Xtreme Distraction


I know that Funny Farm has been mighty quiet, lately. And there are blog-worthy anecdotes and pictures simmering on the back burner.

But everything’s on hold until we’ve completed Xtreme Hike, a fundraising event to benefit Brynn and others who suffer from Cystic Fibrosis. (If you’ve donated already, my hearty thanks.)

Martin conjured up this craziness last year: a ridiculously long hike (26 miles, give or take) to be tackled in a single day. Not only would participants suffer through a Bataan death march, but they’d have to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, too.

Nearly 20 hikers trudged along the trail and raised almost $50k.

That was last year. Now, Xtreme Hike 2 is upon us. In fact it’s this Saturday, at Wintergreen Resort, near Charlottesville, Va. Forty hikers have signed on, including yours truly. And this year’s course is so challenging, we had to shave a few miles off it.

Over Labor Day, Martin and I traveled to Wintergreen to scope out the toughest leg of the hike: a 13-mile loop in George Washington National Forest. The elevation gain is 4,000 feet.

The first six miles were tough. Steep, rocky and hard-going.



The second half was torturous. In one section, the elevation rose 1,000 feet in less than a mile. At times we crawled up the rock face; I had to hoist the dog up over a boulder.

During one of our many breaks — a two-minute pause to swig some water — Maisie actually fell asleep. We successfully fatigued a Border Collie.


tuckered out


Martin and I surrendered after 9 miles. We couldn’t complete the loop. Instead, we hiked to a road, walked to a little convenience store, and hitched a ride to our car.


temporary defeat…


After that re-con trip, we altered the Xtreme Hike route. The most agonizing stretch has been edited — though a portion has been retained to guarantee that our hike remains extreme.

I’m dreading it and looking forward to it at the same time. I can’t wait to start, and I can’t wait for it to be over.

If you’d like to support the Xtreme Hike, it’s not too late! To donate or to read more about Brynn, please click here.

Otherwise, simply wish us good luck.

It’s for a good cause…


Trouble afoot

Some kids are really good at entertaining themselves with toys or books or crafts.

Brynn is not one of them.

When her brother and sister are away, she constantly interrupts me. “Mom, will you watch me dance?” “Will you put on Katy Perry?” “Mom, read me this book.” “Mom! What does this say?”

When the questions reach two-dozen in number, I lose it. “Find something to do,” I’ll say. “On your own!

And she does.

But it’s never good.

Take the situation today. Brynn dished up rapid-fire questions and demands, and eventually I snapped. She went outside to pet the cat. I basked in the peace.

But almost instantly, it was too quiet. I hollered for Brynn and surveyed the view from the window.

It felt like a scene from the Where’s Waldo? books. I looked and looked.

Finally, I spotted Waldo.

Lurking 14 feet up a tree.



I don’t know how she scrambled up so quickly, but she would’ve completed the ascent, had I not opened the window and shouted, “Stop!”

I fetched Martin for back-up. Together, we coaxed her down, branch by branch.

Now, I am an only child and as a kid, I’d pester my parents relentlessly. And my father would often say, “Why don’t you play in the street? Go steal some hubcaps! Go climb a tree!”

I alway knew that he was joking; I never took him seriously.

But with Brynn?

I’m not sure I’d test that theory.