The Saga of Zak

Travis Calming the Dogs
Travis Calming the Dogs

The two high spirited hounds were in the box of Travis Barck’s pickup truck, parked on the former tailings pond that lies alongside Hedley’s 20 Mile Creek. Linda and I saw them immediately when we turned a corner and entered the spacious open area. Howling, wagging their tails, bounding around excitedly in the box, they demanded to be let out so they could run. Travis was exercising immense patience as he attempted to calm one of the dogs long enough to put on a leash.

Linda and I observed for a few minutes, particularly intrigued by this scene because we were familiar with the events that predated it. It’s a story that possibly only those who regularly walk the trail along 20 Mile creek are aware of.

Zak, a rescue dog, is new to the family. Travis and his partner Angelique had picked him up in Kelowna this past May. Not long after bringing him home, Angelique brought both dogs to this field. Confident a solid bond had already developed between her and Zak, she let him and Rocky off the leash. “They ran with complete abandon, burning off a lot of energy,” she said later. “When it was time to go, Rocky came but Zak stayed out of my reach.”

For Angelique and Travis, this initiated a two week lesson in patience, perseverance, and acts of thoughtfulness toward a frightened dog. Having been abused, he was unable to trust any human.

It’s a wilderness area , at times frequented by coyotes, bears and occasionally a cougar. They returned to the field each day and

Building Trust With Zak
Building Trust With Zak

usually saw Zak. Sometimes they sat quietly for hours, wanting him to be comfortable with their presence. It encouraged them that he stayed in the area and played with Rocky. They prepared a comfortable bed for him with a jacket and a blanket in a covered shelter. Each day he ate the food they left.

In response to calls from several individuals who spotted Zak on walks along the creek, Angelique and Travis began posting messages on trees. They reported on any progress in winning his confidence, and also asked people not to try to get close to him. They didn’t want Zak to become anxious and leave the area.

To tempt Zak, they purchased a supply of pepperoni at Doug’s Homestead. Leaving the field the next day, Angelique began breaking off small chunks of the sausage and scattering them on the trail behind her. She fervently hoped Zak would accept the bait and follow. He found the pepperoni irresistible and ate each piece. When they emerged from the treed area and came to within about 100 meters of her home, Angelique thought victory might be at hand. However, finding himself on pavement and in the midst of houses, he grew uneasy and turned around. The open field, in spite of its dangers, apparently felt safer than civilization. Less resolute individuals might have despaired, but Travis and Angelique were committed.

They continued the daily visits and Zak slowly became accustomed to their regular presence. He began drawing closer, trusting them a little more each day. One evening Angelique was able to put a leash on him and he accompanied her willingly.

“He became anxious when we left the treed area behind and entered the town,” she said. “I picked him up and skirted around the far side of the buildings, close to the base of the mountain. He accepted this and we arrived at home with no incidents.”

Zak (left), Rocky (right) and Travis
Zak (left), Rocky (right) and Travis

Surrounded by towering green mountains, we observed Travis now as he slipped the leash around Rocky’s neck. It surprised us when he said, “Things have changed a lot. Zak has become eager to please. When we call him, he responds. It’s Rocky who needs the leash now.”

A Friendships Decision

This September my wife Linda and I are celebrating the second

Life Partners & Friends
Life Partners & Friends

anniversary of our return to Hedley in the scenic Similkameen Valley. We are also celebrating our decision to leave behind the congestion and pollution of the Fraser Valley. One change we are not celebrating is the separation from family and friends. Although including a stop for coffee and a short walk at Manning Park, it’s only 4 hours to the Fraser Valley where most of our family lives, we are aware that the mountains present a psychological barrier.

Our initial coming to Hedley in 1980 was entirely work related. The first time I brought Linda here she said, “I don’t understand why anyone would want to live in this town.” A lot of people do ask why anyone would want to live where there is no Superstore, Walmart, bank, pharmacy, doctor, or Tim Horton’s. I was not enamoured by the community but it was the wilderness training centre for my employer, the One Way Adventure Foundation. This meant my staff and I needed to bring Young Offenders in our programs here for courses in canoeing, rappelling, rock climbing and other activities.

When the organization closed down its Surrey headquarters and moved to Hedley, Linda and I agreed we should stay with the “Foundation” and make the move. Our contact with family became intermittent.

In time we returned to Abbotsford and lived there 23 years. This made it possible for our son to play high school football. It also made possible a more active social life for our teenage daughter.

When we moved back to Hedley two years ago we had one significant concern. We were reminded of the occasions in the past when people said to us, “we drove through Hedley and we thought of you.” We didn’t understand why these people didn’t take the time to come to our home. Our concern was that ties with family and friends might be loosened.

We understand more fully now that friendships are precious and also fragile. In
“ Pathways To Success,” Dr. Mensa Otabil says “90% of the people in your life today will not be there in 10 years.” We know that successful businesses like Telus and Apple devise extensive strategies to retain their customers. They do not assume people will remain loyal. Some companies have a “Loyalty Department”.

To us, friendships and family relationships are at least as important as customers are to Telus and Apple. For this reason we are making more of an effort to ensure many of the 90% will still be in our lives in10 years.

Past experience made us aware we couldn’t wait for people to initiate contact. In the realm of relationships, “out of sight, out of mind” applies. Knowing this, we wrote a letter about our move and initial experiences here. The letter went to about 30 people, mostly by e-mail. Since then our list for the letter has expanded to over 100 and continues to grow. Surprisingly, people are now writing us about their experiences, challenging issues, victories, relationships, etc. In some cases we are sending the letter to people with whom we have had no contact in years. This has rekindled several relationships that had become dormant.

Sometimes when we meet one of the recipients they say, “I haven’t written you but I like hearing from you. Keep the letters coming.” People are sharing the letter with their friends. Recently a high school classmate sent an e-mail saying, “I’ve been receiving your letter from a mutual friend. Can you put me on your list?” We are also in contact with individuals we have not yet met but consider to be friends because someone sent them the letter.

Our approach to retaining friendships likely doesn’t suit everyone. Some people employ other methods. Many do nothing though, and that is why 90% of their relationships are in danger of lapsing in 10 years. Great friendships don’t come easily. Unlike customers, they cannot be attracted by advertising or promotions. Linda and I have become
passionate about holding onto the relationships we have. When we send people our letter, we are saying, “We value you. We’d like to stay in touch”.

Back To The BC Penitentiary

BC Penitentiary

On my first visit to the B.C. Penitentiary, Mr. Gowler had evidently not been impressed by my beard, long black hair, jeans and runners. I wasn’t yet prepared to part with the beard and hair, but I pondered the idea of a partial image upgrade. My goal was to persuade Mr. Gowler to provide a more suitable place to interview men who applied for a sponsor with our organization. To this end I purchased a casual blue business suit and matching tie.

A few days later under a grey sky and in a light rain I drove to the penitentiary in my long ago primered Volkswagen van. My income wasn’t yet allowing me to have it painted.

Wearing my newly acquired light blue suit, a conservative tie and dress shoes, I appeared at the door to Visits & Correspondence. The high grey wall again loomed over me, as though still challenging my bid to enter. Mr. Gowler opened the door, spent a brief moment assessing my new image and invited me to enter. I thought I detected a hint of cordiality in his voice.

He led me in another direction, not toward the detested place where I’d visited through the glass last time. “You can conduct your interview in here Mr. Martens,” he said, opening the door to a small room. Except for a desk and 2 chairs, it was completely bare. Not even a picture on any of the walls. “This is where lawyers conduct interviews,” Mr. Gowler said. “Press that button when you’re done.” I thanked him and when the door closed I heard the click of a lock.

A few minutes later an elderly custody officer with a thick moustache ushered in Jim through another door. I stood up, shook hands with Jim and introduced myself. He was thirty two, wide shouldered with a muscular physique a wrestler might envy. His brown hair was cropped short. I thought I detected a sadness lingering around his eyes and mouth. He didn’t smile.

Being a big man, he needed to pull the chair farther from the desk to sit down. After a few minutes of preliminary small talk I said, “are you getting visits from family or friends?” The focus of our organization was to provide a friend to prisoners who were friendless.

“No,” he said, “my family is scattered across the country. No one visits me. My friends are in Nova Scotia. I don’t want them to know about this.” I knew he was in for murder, but I didn’t ask for details. Eventually he might want to talk about that with his sponsor.

He rolled up the sleeves of his grey shirt to the elbows, like a man getting set to do strenuous physical labour. Placing his large forearms on the desk, he leaned toward me. I wondered if he felt a need to be near another human, one not doing time or guarding him. Although we had been in this room together only a few minutes, it occurred to me that he might want to talk with someone he could trust. Possibly he had never spoken about his crime to anyone other than his lawyer.

For a moment he looked up at the ceiling, then around the room, even turning to inspect the wall behind him.

In a high security prison, only an unsophisticated, guileless inmate would not suspect the room might be outfitted with a listening device. I said, “this is the room the lawyers use Jim, I don’t think anyone would mess with them. They’d be in court with it the next day.” He relaxed and leaned forward again.

“I’m a truck driver,” he said. “Highway rigs. Never graduated from high school. My Old Man drove too. From the day I came into this world, he wanted me to follow in his footsteps. When I was a kid, every Christmas he bought me a different kind of truck to play with. Same on birthdays. Slapped me around some if I didn’t pay attention when he talked about trucks. I was just a kid.”

He paused to do up a button that had popped out of its hole in the grey shirt. “Once I was old enough, I wanted out of the house. I found a pretty woman and we moved in together. We had a kid pretty quick, a boy. He’s 4 now. She wanted more kids but the company was busy and they wanted me on the road a lot.” Lines of wrinkles appeared on his forehead, adding 10 years to his face. “Maybe the sperm were as tired as I was. Anyway, it wasn’t happening.” His massive chest was preventing the errant button from staying in place. He stopped talking for a moment and gave it his full attention.

“Like I said,” he continued, his right hand holding the button in place, “I was on the road a lot, mostly in the U.S. She begged me to get into another line of work, but that’s how it is with us truckers. I needed to be behind the wheel of a rig.”

“She got lonely without you there?” I felt I needed to say something to indicate my interest.

He covered his face with both large hands for a moment, then looked at me. “Guess so. It’s the old story of a guy coming home when the little woman isn’t expecting him. It was her birthday. I got the dispatcher to give me a short run so I could get back quick and surprise her. Had a dozen red roses for her.”

He paused again. I sensed that his words were stirring up a terrifying memory.

“An unfamiliar car was parked in the driveway. Out of province plates.” He paused as though reliving the memory.

“Driving a rig in the states, you have to expect trouble. Had a hand gun stashed in my bag. Never used it. I wasn’t really suspecting anything but I did think it odd she locked the door when she had company. It was a small town, and we never saw the need for locking the door during the day. I used my key. They didn’t hear me come in.”
Jim’s breath was coming in gasps, his grey eyes staring intently into my face. “ When I saw what was goin’ on in the bedroom, I grabbed the pistol from my bag. The guy was down on his knees by then, completely naked and blubbering. Must have gone crazy in my head. He was so close, I couldn’t miss. When I turned around and walked out, he was lying dead in a pool of blood.”

Jim shared a few more details, and then I could see his energy was spent. I stood up and shook hands with him, promising to visit next week.

As I was about to leave, he said, “I don’t know if I can handle this. What do I have to live for? She won’t let me see our son.”

He seemed entirely genuine and I liked him. “Hang in there until next week, Jim,” I said, “we’ll work through this with you.” I pressed the button Mr. Gowler had pointed to. In less than a minute the moustached custody officer opened the door. Jim gave me a little nod, his face still serious. I didn’t know then that it would be the last time I’d see him.

One week later I called in to the BC Penitentiary to arrange a visit with Jim. Mr. Gowler’s assistant answered the phone. She said, “I’m sorry, but he is no more.”
The next day a rehabilitation officer told me Jim had managed to hang himself. He was a man I’d gladly have gotten to know better, even to have as a friend. I felt devastated.



A September Sunday In Hedley

Somewhat like desert dwellers, we, the citizens of Hedley, do not

The Big Rock
The Big Rock

complain about the lack of most amenities. Sure, there are times when we’d like to shop at a big city mall, drink coffee at Tim Horton’s or Starbucks, go to a movie, etc. We can certainly have the advantage of all these by driving to Penticton. A small number of local people do this with some regularity. Most of us do it occasionally.

But why spend a couple of hours in a car when we can enjoy life in this peaceful community surrounded by mountains? This morning, after stretches and exercises as usual, Linda and I walked to the Hedley Seniors Centre. On the second Sunday of each month the seniors group invites the community to a breakfast of 2 pancakes, 2 eggs and 2 sausages or slices of bacon, plus coffee. McDonalds cannot match their quality or their price of $5.00.

As long as we don’t look for people we know well already, the breakfast is a good way to meet our Hedley neighbours. Today we sat across from Richard. He recently lost his wife of more than 50 years to cancer. We were pleased to hear that Lorraine Lance had sent him some home made pyrogies. She is exceptionally good at reaching out to people with a need. In a small community people are more likely to know who needs a visit, a bowl of soup, even just a phone call. We are always heartened when we see people doing this.

Today Linda took the camera along to the breakfast and got a shot of George K at the grill. He’s a pragmatic Dane and makes great pancakes, but he apparently doesn’t care to be photographed. “That’s enough,” he told her. Undaunted, she slipped outside and snapped another shot through the window. Unfortunately, the computer either hid or lost the photos so we’ll have to try again next month.

At 9:30 we attended the service at the Hedley Grace Church, the only church in town. For several reasons the attendance was down, only about 15. On a good Sunday up to 25 people come. Pastor Graham, 75, has been troubled with a cold and has been nursing his voice for several weeks. He managed to deliver a full, interesting sermon. Both Graham and Myrtle are like much needed leaven in our community.

After church we were just finishing a slice of Linda’s home made brown bread and a bowl of sauerkraut borscht when there was a knock on our front door. It was Vic and Laverna Spenst of Abbotsford. A very pleasant surprise. I first met Vic in grade 1 at the North Poplar Elementary School in what was then Matsqui Municipality. For the most part, we attended the same school and finished with grade 13, which was still offered then (it’s a long time ago). They both lost their spouse about half a dozen years ago and connected at the Sevenoaks Alliance Church in Abbotsford. For them it seems the second marriage is as fulfilling and joyous as the first.

Very late in the afternoon, Linda and I hiked along 20 Mile Creek to

Golden Field with a Mountain Background
Golden Field with a Mountain Background

the Big Rock. The tall grass on the former tailings pond shimmered like a field of ripe golden wheat on the Saskatchewan prairie. Framed by the towering mountains, the evergreens and the blue sky overhead, the splendour of this idyllic scene brought joy to our hearts.

In the past we sometimes walked to the first crossing over the creek. At one time a Buddhist monk lived in a cave 5 or 6 crossings farther. Linda never accompanied me on my occasional excursions to visit him. Today a comfortable cool breeze wafting off the creek provided welcome relief from the heat of the Hedley sun. The creek is low and we need rain and snow to replenish it. We’re not in a hurry for the snow yet though.

Upon returning, Linda suggested we pick up a couple of slices of pie from Jim Gray. He operates the Tea Room at the museum. He had apple raspberry pie, which we will enjoy this evening. He also gave us 2 additional pieces to pass on to “some one in need.” We’ll offer them to the 2 brothers living at the end of our street. They are on the periphery of the town both geographically and socially.

It’s 6:19 and the sun just dropped behind the mountain to the west. We’ve become accustomed to basking in the warmth of sunny summer evenings, and now we’re going through an adjustment period. I still wore shorts this afternoon, but I’ve already changed into jeans and a long sleeved shirt. Mornings are chilly now, dropping down close to zero. No snow yet, but autumn is definitely poking its frosty nose into our valley at night.

Time for dinner on a great September Sunday in Hedley.

Church Hosts Lively Bluegrass Concert

Traditional Bluegrass Instruments. George says “We just have two guitars.” (

After no services all summer, the Hedley Grace Church was host to a lively Bluegrass concert Saturday evening. It was a capacity crowd with people arriving from various points in the Similkameen valley, including Keremeos, Cawston and Hedley. Obviously pleased at the turnout, Pastor Graham Gore said, “I wish the church was always this packed Sunday morning”.

The concert featured George Huber and Colleen Cox, popular entertainers on the BC Bluegrass circuit. It was their final performance, following appearances on stages in places like Falkland, Greenwood, Midway, Summerland and Maple Ridge. After living and touring in their motor home most of the summer, they will no doubt be happy to return to their home near Lund, BC.

They brought their unique talents to the Sunday morning church service as well. During the coffee and cake social time afterwards, Colleen told me a little of their story. It began just over 14 years ago at a time when they were both living alone.

“A friend suggested I invite George out for coffee,” she said. “He was a very skilled musician then already. He accepted my invitation and that’s how it all started.”

“We began spending time together and he took me along to some of his family’s gatherings. They are very musical and pretty soon George told me that if I was going to hang out with his family, I really needed to learn to play an instrument.”

Colleen admitted to great misgivings about this idea. Although she had received voice training in a Catholic school many years ago, and had sung harmony in a number of choirs, she did not think she could learn to play an instrument. When her daughter became aware of her dilemma, she offered her the use of an expensive guitar and encouraged her to give it a try.

“George took me to a music workshop and I enrolled in a class to learn to play guitar. I told the instructor I didn’t even know how to take the instrument out of its case.” After that she attended other workshops and George also patiently tutored her.

“I learned to play in the key of g,” she remembers. “At a gathering of George’s family, the instruments came out and I played with them.” Afterward George came to her and said, “I don’t want to disappoint you Colleen, but not all tunes are played in the key of g.” While they had switched to other keys, she had blithely continued on in g.

Now, after 14 years of practising and performing together, they are a delight for Bluegrass enthusiasts. At age 83, George still has the robust energy to create an aura of excitement and to lift the spirits of the audience. Colleen is equally vibrant and according to George, she is the one who creates their magical harmony.

George and Colleen have a strong following in the Similkameen Valley. Many of their fans will be waiting for their next appearance when the Bluegrass season resumes in spring.

First Contact With The BC Penitentiary

The ominous grey perimeter wall of the BC Penitentiary towered

BC Penitentiary (circled area - exercise yard) , Vancouver Sun photo
BC Penitentiary
(circled area – exercise yard) , Vancouver Sun photo

high above me as I stood uncertainly at the massive door to the “Visits and Correspondence” section. I was keenly aware that these walls confined some of the most dangerous, desperate men in Canada. They cast a sombre shadow not only over the prison grounds, but also over the lives of the inmates. From the beginning, in the minds of people driving by, this prison had been shrouded in mystique and secrecy. What kind of reception would I receive on my first visit to this maximum security penitentiary? I knew that many prison staff harbour a deep suspicion toward newcomers to their stringently regulated domain.

I pressed the button that alerted staff to my presence. After waiting a long minute, Mr. Gowler opened the door and stepped aside so I could enter. I had made an appointment to interview an inmate, but even so he asked about the purpose of my visit. I explained that Cal, the inmate I wanted to visit, had applied for an M/2 sponsor. His next question concerned the nature and purpose of M/2. He already had this information on file but apparently had not read it. Rehabilitation of inmates was not on the prison’s top 10 list of priorities.

“Follow me,” he said. He led me to a narrow room with partitions to allow each visitor and inmate a minimum of privacy. I despaired when I realized Cal would be on the other side of a glass partition. A small metal aperture in the glass would permit the flow of our voices.

After a few minutes a man in grey prison garb appeared, accompanied by a young custody officer. The officer withdrew out of my sight and the man lowered himself into the wooden chair on the other side of the glass. Short and lean, I guessed he was at least 50. It was evident from the lack of colour on his face he had not seen much sun in years. Lined, expressionless and haggard, the face told of virtually a lifetime sacrificed to crime and prison. His scant strands of dark brown hair were flecked with grey. For an awkward moment he studied me. I sensed he didn’t believe anything good would come from this visit.

Thinking that an attempt to lighten the mood with small talk might just irritate him, I introduced myself, then said, “I have read your application for a man-to-man sponsor. Knowing some things about you will help me match you with someone from the community. Is it ok if I ask you a few questions?” His face remained impassive. Only a slight nod indicated assent.

“Do any family members visit you?” I asked.

“First time in jail they came,” he said, shifting uncomfortably in the hard wooden chair. “Not now.”

I found the glass between us a distinct impediment. It didn’t surprise me that his family had long ago chosen to avoid this ordeal.

“Do you have any interests, like reading or playing chess?”

He shrugged as though this really wasn’t a useful question. “No. Just a game of cards with a few guys before dinner.” He turned in the direction where the guard had gone, probably not wanting the man to hear anything he said.

“Do you follow politics?”

“Why would I do that when I’m in here?” It wasn’t said with impatience, but rather with a note of resignation.

My next question elicited a reprimand from whoever was monitoring conversations between visitors and inmates. A disembodied voice broke in from an overhead speaker and said, “you are not permitted to ask that question.” I apologized for having stepped over this unseen line and continued.

From memory, I went through a list of 10 questions, some of them about his early years. I then finished with, “is there a particular reason why you applied for a sponsor?”

“I need help getting out of here,” he said very matter of factly. Then, rubbing his forehead with one hand, his voice dropped to a whisper. “Can you help me?”

It was the plea of a man deeply immersed in the quicksand of prison life, grasping for a hand. A disastrous upbringing and a succession of unfortunate choices on his part had set his life on an uncontrolled downward trajectory. He was now in the fickle hands of uncaring fate.

I had been there for about 20 minutes and I sensed that Cal had given more than he had planned to. His inner turmoil had exhausted him.

“I’ll look for a sponsor for you,” I promised, rising. “He’ll visit you about every two weeks. I’ll try to get back and touch base with you.”

He nodded and the young custody officer appeared.

The desolation of Cal’s inner life troubled me. How many other men hidden behind these grey walls had sunk into the morass of hopelessness that was sucking the life out of him? Our prison system was adding to the despair of these lost men, many of whom would one day return to our communities.

Once outside the doors of the Visits Office, I breathed deeply, grateful to be a free man. Our sponsors visiting men in the BC Penitentiary would face extraordinary hurdles.

A Decision To Live The Dream

Watch Lake
Watch Lake

Watch Lake is remote and relatively small. Located in British Columbia’s Caribou Country, it lies inland from 70 Mile. Linda and I have just returned from a weekend there with daughter Vivian and granddaughter Alexa. Their family’s 27 foot seasonal trailer is parked there, at the Ace High Resort. While there we saw an example of two people who have chosen to live according to their dream.

Talking with the manager, Lisa, in the evening yesterday, I realized that she and her husband Mike have made a rather uncommon lifestyle decision. It’s the kind of decision that is usually made later in life, if at all. Lisa and Mike are not even in what we tend to refer to as the middle years. They have taken a considerable reduction in income to get closer to living the life they want. They are following their dream to free themselves from the clinging tentacles of urban life.

Lisa owns a successful catering business on the Coast. It makes her a lot more money than managing the resort. When camping season begins, she shuts down her business and lives at Ace High full-time, rarely having a day off.

Mike owns a heating and air conditioning business at the Coast. During camping season he drives just over 4 hours each weekend to be with Lisa and assist her at the resort. Not being around to look after his own business during these times is a financial cost to him. Being with Lisa and sharing this wilderness experience with her makes it entirely worthwhile.

Lisa told me they began coming to Ace High as campers twelve years ago and loved it. When the management role was offered to her 2 years ago, she accepted.

Mike had already left for their home in the Fraser Valley when I knocked on the door of the single wide mobile home Monday evening. Standing in the doorway with her black dog, Snoopy, beside her, Lisa told me about life at Watch Lake. I quickly concluded that with her congenial manner and pragmatic approach, she is well suited to dealing with people and camp issues.

Being manager brings little glamour. Lisa cleans and stocks the cabins and the common washroom. She also cuts acres of grass, delivers wood to campers, tidies the grounds, tends the resort store, deals with campers, and much more.

On weekends, Mike does the heavier tasks, especially those requiring equipment. Cutting the firewood is one of his duties. Extraordinarily outgoing with a sense of humour that can surprise, he also has practical skills that are useful in this remote setting.

“The first year we did this, it was tough,” she said. “We didn’t like being apart from each other all week. Now we handle it better, but we are considering options that would allow Mike to be here more.”

Ace High offers fully serviced recreational lots, she told me. Also cabins, boat rentals, a number of wharves for launching boats, and fishing in Watch Lake. The lake is stocked with rainbow trout annually.

“It’s a more peaceful life than what we have in the city,” she said. “When the resort closes for the season, I return to my business, catering for television studios. I also have Level Three First Aid. Sometimes I’m called on to deal with pretty serious health issues. Here it’s quiet and peaceful. Mike and I both need this place to get release from the tension our businesses inflict on us.”

This morning I was up long before light, and I heard the loons

Ace High Resort View
Ace High Resort View

calling to each other. It’s an eerie haunting call that every Canadian should seek to hear at least once in their lifetime. Studying the dark unruffled lake, seeing the barely discernible evergreens scattered along the shoreline and deeply breathing in the cool, clean air, I experienced the quiet and peace Lisa and Mike have come to love.

I respect Lisa and Mike for having the wisdom and courage to say no to more substantial city incomes so they can live a life they enjoy. We really pay a very high price when we don’t follow the dream our heart tells us is most important.