The bear went over the mountain
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The bear went over the mountain

Before the summer starts, husband #1 and I like to come up with a list of things we want to accomplish over the warm weather weeks.

In the past, they have included a vacation to a place that we never end up going to, but enjoy vicariously through other people’s Facebook posts. I am always amazed when the place I pick ends up being the place everyone else goes to. And, quite honestly, after seeing all of the pictures, I feel like I have been there — Husband #1 has saved thousands of dollars because we weren’t actually there — and I get it out of my system. But the more realistic goals we really do try to accomplish. One summer we walked over the Brooklyn Bridge, we did Escape the Room (which, surprisingly, we did not escape) and we went to Bear Mountain.

We knew that climbing Bear Mountain would be a long shot, because I am afraid of heights and husband #1 is afraid of climbing. Or hiking. Or walking. Well, he isn’t afraid of walking, he just isn’t a fan of it. But we went anyway. Somehow we found these awesome rock steps and we just started climbing up the stairs. And up the stairs. Lots of stairs. Every couple of stairs — could have been five steps, could have been 35 steps — we would look around and say, “Are we almost at the top?” And then we would keep going.

People would be coming down the stairs and we would ask them, “Are we almost at the top?” They would look at us and laugh. It didn’t answer our question, and it didn’t make us feel very good, but we kept going. Until we didn’t. Because what goes up must come down, and in addition to heights, I am also afraid of going down the stairs. “Why?” you are not asking, but I am going to answer you anyway. When I was about 10 years old, my parents were going out to a Broadway show. I was running down the stairs to say goodbye, and I slipped on the top step and fell down the rest of them. And my parents left before I could say goodbye.

Long boring story short, I broke my foot. It was kind of fun because my friend Marcy and I used to pass notes in the boot I was wearing. The not fun part is that since then, I have had a fear of going down the stairs.

So we had to climb down all the stairs that we had climbed up. We still felt a sense of accomplishment when we got down to the bottom, because even though we didn’t reach the top, nobody knew that (until now that you are all reading about it).

But we knew.

So this summer, when it was time for us to get together with our friends who we like to go out with once a summer (we like to go out with them more than just once a summer, but schedules and timing and life usually get in the way), we decided to suggest Bear Mountain. It was our Mount Everest, and we were determined to get to the top.

We made plans, we met them by the parking lot, we were ready to conquer the mountain, and hopefully see some actual bears. Water bottles chilled, sneakers tied, and the Sports Illustrated photographers ready to document our journey to the top of the mountain. Unbeknownst to the rest of the crowd, the night before I had gone online and googled, “Bear Mountain easy trails.” I had a choice of “Dog Friendly,” “Walking,” “Kid Friendly,” “Senior Citizen Friendly,” and “Middle Aged Jewish Man Friendly.” OK, I am kidding about that last one, but I did choose the “Kid Friendly,” and instead of trying to find those steps again, we walked a mile and a half loop around some lake. While on this lovely walk, we noticed some people paddle boating, so we decided to give up on the hike and go boating. Unfortunately, our friends offered to do the paddling, perhaps not realizing how hard it is to paddle with husband #1 and me lounging in the back of the boat.

And though our ending was much better than that of the Titanic, it wore out our friends and we never made it to the top of the mountain. And we didn’t see any bears. But we did have a great time with our friends and enjoyed a beautiful day and that is what it is all about. The end of the summer is rapidly approaching. I hope you are enjoying it!

Banji Ganchrow of Teaneck is not looking forward to the upcoming fast day. She feels that big folks shouldn’t have to fast because smaller folks already are used to not eating.

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