Updates and Plans

Adventure is what we make it

Tough Cookie getting ready for her new adventure , being a big sister.

Tough Cookie in the nursery getting ready for her new adventure , being a big sister.

And just like that, we find ourselves celebrating the changing colors of the leaves. Tough Cookie and I have certainly come a long way, and now as the summer segues to autumn, and school work piles up, we find our roles and ambitions changing as well. The long days on the trail have made Janelle tougher and stronger. She’s joined her Cross Country Team at school, and has worked hard to fulfill her pronouncement to me earlier this year, that in 2014, she will run. Well, indeed she has.

This has meant less time on the mountains and more time for me, on the sidelines. Watching. Being proud. But, I’m ok with that.

This month will be the final round of presentations for Buffalo and Tough Cookie until 2015. And that’s been quite a journey for us as well. We’ll finish off the year with three big events, Pembroke, New Boston and Statham. Check the events listing above for your last chance to see us for a while. And don’t forget that we’ll appear on Windows to the Wild on NHPTV, next week, Wed., Oct. 8 at 7:30pm

But everything has a reason. And ours is simple. Janelle is working hard at school, and running. And I am getting ready for my own, next, enormous, challenging and wonderful, adventure. In December, we’ll welcome a new hiker into our odd, misfit family. And the twins have stepped up to the task of being older “siblings” to their coming “sister”

This journey has provided lessons too numerous to list at this point, but the one we all keep going back to is the most obvious, and the most difficult: Your family is the people who you love, and who love you back. So, this last weekend, we gathered with our family (they are our FAMILY, I don’t bother putting the word in quotes any more), to clean, paint and decorate the new nursery, and I could not have been any happier, or lost in wonder, then if I had stepped onto a mountain summit.

Aaron has already begun thinking about what instrument to teach the baby. And Janelle, well, I think it’s clear that it won’t be long before that little one is stepping up onto her own mountain summit, perhaps on Janelle’s back. We gather together. We learn and celebrate each other. Life itself is an adventure. Onward!

Categories: Updates and Plans | 1 Comment

My goodness, time does fly!

Tough Cookie, and her new hiking buddy, Rebel, enjoy the views from near the summit of Mt. Sunapee.

Tough Cookie, and her new hiking buddy, Rebel, enjoy the views from near the summit of Mt. Sunapee.

Goodness, has it been that long since a new post has appeared here at Buffalo and Tough Cookie central! This has been a busy summer and there’s so much to write about. Our big, big event, of course, was our amazing hike with Willem Lange and the crew from New Hampshire Public TV’s Windows to the Wild. I promise I’ll have a write-up soon! Meantime, here’s a shot from our most recent hike up Mt. Sunapee.

By the way, our Facebook page remains very active and continues to be the best way to get news about our hikes, new pics and all sorts of fun info. If you’re not a subscriber yet to our Facebook page, click here and join up: Buffalo and Tough Cookie on Facebook.

Thanks for the support and we’ll be back soon!

Categories: Updates and Plans | 1 Comment

And away we go!


Janelle gives the thumbs up from the tower atop Mt. Megalloway. We’ll be there again this week with Windows to the Wild!

Hey adventurers! The time has come. Janelle and I will be dropping off social media for about a week as we head to the Great North Woods. Yes, it’s Windows the Wild time!

We’re going to be spending a few days waaaaay up in Pittsburg with the one and only Willem Lange as we hike Mt. Megalloway together. To say we’re excited would be a wild understatement. But if that’s not enough, we also have a event scheduled for Stoddard, NH on Thursday, THEN we’ll head to Vermont on Saturday for a double event day, The Adventures in Hardwick and The Nepal Chronicles in Morristown.

We love being on the road together, especially north of the notches. I’m sure there will be swimming, hiking and a visit to our favorite mountain town, Littleton, in store as well. And pasta. Lots and lots of pasta eating!

Anyway, I’ll try to post some updates on my Facebook page, so if you are not yet following me, drop me a like for all the latest on the books or events at DanSzczesny. Either way, we forge on. Time flies and we’re just trying to fly right along with it!

Onward, and we’ll see you when we return from nature!

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Happy anniversary friends, we are one year old and counting!

From Buffalo and Tough Cookie, thanks for an amazing year! Let's make year two even better!

From Buffalo and Tough Cookie, thanks for an amazing year! Let’s make year two even better!

Happy Anniversary friends!

One year ago today, I stood in front of an enthusiastic crowd of supporters at Gibson’s Bookstore to celebrate the release of The Adventures of Buffalo and Tough Cookie; one year since the book came out, one year since Janelle and I began the second phase of our incredible journey, that of bringing our story, in person, to our family, friends and fans.

With Janelle (and Aaron and Meena) at my side, I stepped out in front of that very friendly crowd and began to read, and in that moment I set off on another kind of journey – a new career, and one that I had waited a long time to begin in earnest. Now, with one year as an author under my belt, and a second book, The Nepal Chronicles, set to be released 28 days from today, I spent the morning reflecting on what this all means.

Since June 12, 2013, we have crisscrossed New England and attended 41 meet and greets, hikes or presentations to celebrate our book and our friendship. I’ve stood in front of a couple thousand people over that time, my hiking partner at my side. I’ve worked hard to be in the moment, every day, and tried hard to teach Janelle to do the same – that every event is a celebration, that every time a new face whispered in her ear that she was an inspiration to relax into that feeling of pride, but not be prideful. To feel accomplished, but not feel better. To just be. And perhaps be grateful that we have this amazing opportunity to reach people, and every so often to connect deeply.

Before Janelle became Tough Cookie, she tried out a croo pack at the Highland Center.

Before Janelle became Tough Cookie, she tried out a croo pack at the Highland Center.

To the little girl in that audience in Morristown, Vermont who sat on the edge of her seat and peppered me with questions about spiders and moose.

To the kind woman in Conway who said that she had given up hiking after an injury, but after hearing Janelle, she was going to start walking again, first around town and then, maybe, to the glorious hills.

To the dad in Pittsfield who told us that the day after our event, his young daughter was inspired to create trail names for them and decided to do some repairs and trail clean up in their town forest.

To the many fans who have given us hiking boots, or home-made cookies, or hosted pot lucks, or offered advice.

To the 99-year-old member of The Over the Hill Hikers in Sandwich, who with clear eyes and a firm handshake invited us to her 100th Birthday Party this year.

To all of you, wherever you may be, working hard at life, building careers and families and trying to figure it all out, I can offer you only this advice that I have gleaned from the last year: we are in this together, all of us. I see it in your eyes, that hope, that longing for connection. In every handshake and every hug and every kids’ groan when that picture of a leopard slug pops up on the screen at our presentation; in those moments there is no gap of age or gender or affiliation between us.

We are all in this together. And it has been an honor to be part of this thing called life with you all. And the best part about this journey is that we’re just getting started. Buffalo and Tough Cookie have no intention of slowing down.

We’re going to be out there, day after day, looking each of you in the eye and being in the moment. Let’s make our second year together better than the first. Let’s keep striving for connection. Let’s get outside.

From my friend Janelle and from my family to yours, we’ll see you soon. Thank you. And Peace.

Categories: Press and Promotion, Updates and Plans | 2 Comments

Being of the moment, now


Soon the child’s eye is clouded over by ideas and opinions, preconceptions and abstractions. Simple free being becomes encrusted with the burdensome armor of the ego. Not until years later does an instinct come that a vital sense of mystery has been withdrawn. The sun glints through the pines, and the heart is pierced in a moment of beauty and strange pain, like a memory of paradise. After that day, we become seekers. – Peter Matthiessen

Years ago, I caught a vague, gossamer glimpse of the man I was to become. Or perhaps I should say the man I am still striving to become.

In The Snow Leopard, Peter Matthiessen sought peace and self-reflection in the upper Himalaya. The book changed my life, planting the seed of desire to fashion my own writing on his elegant prose, and more importantly, to go to Nepal.

And now, decades later, I’ve done both those things and continue to seek out Matthiessen’s writing for inspiration and guidance. I turned back to The Snow Leopard again over the weekend as Meenakshi and I took our bikes out for the first ride of the season with Janelle and her brother Aaron and their friend Courtney.

Matthiessen had passed away the day before and though I had never met the man nor heard him speak, his death weighs heavily on me.  The kids tear heck over the pedestrian bridge that spans the Merrimack River, yelling and pedaling hard, April wind blowing warm and thick though the city valley. The trails are packed this day; punk kids testing their summer attitude, families blinking at the sun, wondering if this really is the end of this long winter and runners of all shapes and sizes in jeans and tech gear huffing along the path.

Manchester is never going to be mistaken for anything but a bump in the road, an old red brick rest stop. But today anything seems possible.

Meena pulls up next to me and we watch the kids, all pinks and purples and blues, oblivious to the graffiti; in their hearts there is nothing but speed and young muscle and joy.

We all stop for a moment a watch a ragged flock of pigeons floating on wires above the low river, the city our backdrop. But the kids are noisy and the birds want nothing to do with us. And I think of a quote from Matthiessen:

“Where to begin? Do we measure the relaxing of the feet? The moment when the eye glimpses the hawk, when instinct functions? For in this pure action, this pure moving of the bird, there is no time, no space, but only the free doing – being of this very moment – now!”

Being of this moment, now. The birds fly off and so do we. The raw power of the bike under my feet, the pull of the water below and the pure simplicity of  human experience surround me. I’ve found now in many places in my life. I’ve found it in the view of Mt. Everest from the top of an icy ridge and in the look in Janelle’s eye as a bright green grasshopper lands on her hand. I’ve found it in the streaks of red and green of my wife’s wedding sari and in the taste of a simple cup of coffee on a cobblestone street in Rome.

But it is elusive. Oh, how I wish that now could be with me all the time. But today at least, I’m here, in the moment, and I’m just a sliver closer, perhaps, to Matthiessen’s words. I roll with those kids, and with my wife, and the sky is blue and our shoulders ache and I think maybe this is what he meant all those years ago. I think of that writer, up in the silver hills of the Dolpo following the Snow Leopard’s tracks – I think maybe this is what he felt.

Maybe now… is just peace.

Categories: Press and Promotion, Updates and Plans, Urban Explorations | 2 Comments

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