“He yawned like a black bear coming out of hibernation” Dennis Vickers


In true Shadow style, he acknowledged the beginning of a new day by saying, “Ahhh!” Ah, was also my sentiment upon the realization that we would be breaking down base camp after breakfast.


As Shadow and I moseyed around camp, the sound of my third grade teacher’s words echoed through my head. “All good things must come to an end,” was my teacher’s way of announcing that our recess was over. As a kid, I thought the message in this statement was rather strange. Why must good things come to an end? If something is good why not sustain it? Is it possible to find ways to incorporate “good things” that have no end? What if we focused on creating beginnings that evolved into lifetime adventures?


Min’s birthday along the Rainbow Rim definitely qualified as part of our lifetime adventure series. Sadly though, it was time to pack up our camp and head back to Vermilion Cliffs.


I can be rather anal with my gear at times, everything has its place and is stored in different colored stuff sacks. In my world, this system makes breaking down camp more efficient and all my gear can be accounted for. In my early hiking days, I was the one with scattered gear around the house, it made prepping for trips rather time consuming. Something had to give, I got organized.


After loading up the ca,r we headed back to Locust Point for a final goodbye. Over the years I have carried a few different flags while backpacking. It originally started with an Australian flag, followed by a rainbow flag, then most recently a smiley face flag.


For as long as I can remember, I’ve always considered happiness to be a human right. Perhaps this belief stemmed from my unhappiness growing up in an addictive family. To be raised in an addictive family, meant living in a constant state of chaos. In many ways, it’s like spending your childhood playing in a park riddled with land mines. Negotiating land mines tends to place your focus on surviving.Thriving seemed very unrealistic when simply getting through my day felt like a full-time job. With that said, even though I did not thrive, I do feel this state of chaos developed my skills of resiliency. Every day I was developing problem-solving skills that helped separate myself from the black and white thinking within our four walls. Maybe it was my hyper vigilant sense of resiliency that sought out escapism in order to find happiness. Escapism as a young girl was found through contemporary 80’s music.


Music gave words to feelings and thoughts I could not express. While some limbically driven songs taught me how to feel, other song lyrics validated my reality. In the late 80s, John Farnham and Danielle Gaha recorded a hit song in Australia called “Communication”.

This was the first song I had ever heard that addressed addiction in Australia. I vividly remember going to the record store to the buy the 7-inch single


Imagine some twenty years later you realize that Danielle Gaha is sitting in your studio as a guest on your radio show.

Danielle was part of the musical group “THE SONGBIRDS”, that featured singer Erica Canales and Latin Grammy award winner Gaby Moreno.

I can honestly say music created the escapism that I needed in order to experience the feeling of happiness growing up.


At times I feel our understanding of happiness might be similar to our definition of the American dream. Perhaps defining happiness and the American Dream can seem as elusive as achieving it. It varies for everyone, there is no simple definitive answer. I think we are all familiar with words that suggest happiness like blissful, cheerful, content, pleased, satisfied, carefree etc. However, if Happiness is a human right  I think we need to be more specific.

Could the active ingredients to being happy include: being healthy, being harmonious, being humble and humanizing?

Martin Seligman, the author of Authentic Happiness, describes happiness as having three parts: pleasure, engagement, and meaning. Pleasure is the “feel good” part of happiness. Engagement refers to living a “good life” of work, family, friends, and hobbies. Meaning refers to using our strengths to contribute to a larger purpose. Seligman says that all three are important, but that of the three, engagement and meaning make the most difference to living a happy life. It would to safe to say we left Locust Point drowning in what  Martin Seligman describes as “Authentic Happiness.”


As we headed down Highway 22, I made a point of stopping at the meadow that had caught my eye a few days prior.


Shadow had the right idea, he headed straight for the flowers.


For over an hour Min, Shadow and I played and filmed amongst the flowers in the meadow. We all wanted to stay another night, however, Min had to be at work in the afternoon.


After taking our final round of photos, we walked the dirt road back to the car. 


Min’s birthday was over for another year, however I think  “Into The Wild” author Christopher McCandless best described our journey, “The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”





  1. Personally, for me, happiness is that occasional surprise of joy…..the rest of life for me is to feel somewhat settled….somewhat yearning for something that I can’t put into words; at least I can’t put the words out into the air because my atmosphere is presently one where my thoughts and yearnings must stay quiet to the world…..that doesn’t mean that I don’t think about what would make me more settled, more cheerful, more the kind of person that truly helps make this world a better place.

    So I look forward, trying not to look backwards ( I do it anyway) and to be….just to be….

    I love the way you have with words, Leigh….you say thoughts into words that most of us can’t do well….Thanks for sharing….from Barbie flies the best to you…

    Liked by 1 person

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