Bios

 

Three years ago I won a permit for an 18 day private boat trip down the Grand Canyon. This photo shows Peggy and I perched high above the Colorado River on a hiking day trip.

Five years ago I won a permit for an 18 day private boat trip down the Grand Canyon. This photo shows Peggy and I perched high above the Colorado River on a day hike.

Curt

I began my wandering ways in the foothills of California. Avoiding the wrong end of a skunk in the woods seemed infinitely more attractive to me than being bonked on the head by a Little League Baseball.

The sixties saw me off to Berkeley and student revolution and then on to Africa and the Peace Corps. Then, in rapid succession I worked as a teacher in Philadelphia and Peace Corps recruiter out of Atlanta and Sacramento. Earth Day 1 pulled me into the environmental movement which eventually led me to working as a health advocate doing battle with the tobacco industry.

My love of the wilderness led me to create the American Lung Association’s Trek program which happily kept me leading wilderness trips for over 30 years.

Every few years I quit whatever I am doing to roam the world for six months to a year. I have been a janitor, pear picker, teacher, recruiter, wilderness guide, executive director, fund raiser, professional lobbyist, campaign director, writer, house husband, cartoonist and, well, the list goes on. My resume is not one to inspire a potential employer, or a potential wife for that matter. Peggy smiles whenever anyone asks me to describe what I do. My latest job title is author.

A book about my Peace Corps experiences in Liberia, West Africa.

A book about my Peace Corps experiences in Liberia, West Africa.

When I met Peggy, I had been through one marriage and several relationships. They were all good. But it was love at first sight with Peggy. All I had to do was convince her, Tony and Tasha that it was mutual. The first time I took Peggy backpacking the 14 old Natasha made her mother a sweatshirt that said “Don’t Mess with the Mama.” She came around, eventually.

Like Peggy, I love to read and do photography.

 Peggy

You may wonder how a nice Midwestern girl from Ohio who went to college at Mary Baldwin and the University of Tennessee, became a special-ed teacher, married into the army, and ended up as an elementary school principal, eventually hooked up with a man who prefers wandering to work.  You are not alone. I first met Curt when I was employed the American Lung Association in Sacramento and was between lives, so to speak. He walked into the office pushing his bike. There was a wide smile on his face; it was the end of his 10,000 mile solo bike ride around North America. He was, uh, quite svelte in his tight fitting bike clothes. Things evolved from there.

“Curt’s a safe date,” my sister Jane who was Executive Director of ALASET and a long time friend of Curt’s assured me. Safe for what? After 24 years I am still working on that question.

I have two great children, Tony, who flies helicopters for the Coast Guard, and Natasha who is a teacher in Hendersonville Tennessee. Both are married, Tony to Cammie and Tasha to Clay, and have children. Since it is the digital age, I have three million four hundred and forty two pictures (slight exaggeration) of the grandchildren: Ethan, Cody, Connor, Christopher and Cooper. Curt, who didn’t have any kids, quickly and easily slipped into the role of Dad and Grandpa.

Beyond travelling, my hobbies include photography, reading, playing the guitar, quilting and creating unending projects for the grandchildren.

62 comments on “Bios

  1. Love the bios! I chuckled all the way through!Well written and fun to read. Can’t wait to read the other parts-when I don’t have a two year old crawling all over me. Although, he immediately recognized, G’ma hovering over the crater in Death Valley, and G’pa rowing the boat!

      • Hi, Curt,
        I don’t think we ever met, but it seems likely we were in Liberia about the same time. My Peace Corps training was in Gbarnga and I was stationed in Kakata from 1967-70. I found your blog by googling 1955 Liberia Kerosene doing research for an upcoming staged reading of a stage adaptation of my novella STORY FOR A BLACK NIGHT (a copy of which I shall send you, if you reply to my email account at boblocke@csus.edu). The book came out in 1982 (Houghton Mifflin) and was named Phoenix Honor Book in 2002 as a book for children in the English language that has “endured”. It’s a gripping mostly true story told to me by the mother of one of my students who invited me home to dinner. And thus began my career as Clayton Bess, writer for children and young adults.

        The reason I am doing this research is because I need to find out (for staging purposes) what kind of illumination this woman would have had for her hut, about one hour outside of town, in 1955, no other huts nearby. The dramatist has stipulated a candle in a bottle, but that doesn’t seem right to me. My own novel does claim (but now I’ve been wondering about it) that the family would have had a kerosene lamp, and I think that is the likeliest illumination, that far out of town. I guess they would have carried 5 gallon cans of kerosene an hour, and then husbanded every drop.

        What is your take on that?

        Bob Locke, Peace Corps 13
        Pseud. Clayton Bess

        P.S. I am anxious to browse your blog, love the Liberian stuff I’ve found here, recognize it all, remember it too well, too fondly, too sweet. If you are in the L.A. area in March, the proposed staged reading is going to be at the Simon Wiesenthal Museum of Tolerance, if all goes well and the crick don’t rise.

      • Hi Bob…
        It is always fun to hear from other Volunteers that served in Liberia. My best guess is that your group served as our replacements. I would have been involved in the training had I still been living in Gbarnga at the time. I would love to hear more about your experience. I am also interested in learning more about your book and your writing career in general. I am not sure about lightning in 1955. I am still in contact with my ex-houseboy, who is now a physician, but who grew up in a village in the late 50s. If i can catch up with him, I will ask about lighting. I will also pose your question on the Friends of Liberia site on Facebook.

      • Dear Curt,
        I have a new book written by a school friend of mine last year who is a descendant of John Brown,Martyr and Covenanter Of Priesthill.I have told him about you and he would dearly love to get in touch,so I said I would try to trace you for him. Please contact me robin_linda 2001@yahoo.co,uk for further information as soon as possible.

      • Hi Robin, I Emailed you with my address, etc. Let me know if you receive it. I would very much enjoy making contact with your friend and reading his book. –Curt

    • I really like the tetuerxs on both the ponytail and the one with the weird braid. They look good with light hairs. They don’t have the typical too-dark base to it.The ponytail is really pretty, but it sits so high on the head, it looks like I have a majorly receding hairline 😦 If it was lowered down a bit, it would be the perfect ponytail, imho <3The one with the braid…. I was worried about a big bald spot at the hair part. But there is none that I could see. It's really pretty. But that braid is way too thick at the base. But that's just personal preference. I would love to see a version of it without the braid, but it's not as simple as chopping the braid off. It would need some reshaping at the top to cover up where it used to be :-/ So I don't expect we'll see a version without.

  2. I always love reading about Peggy and Curt’s latest adventures and musings and am very proud of my little sister!

  3. How about going letter boxing with Ethan when you reach Nashville? Heard it dates back to the 1800’s. There are several treaures to find in the area including one at Rock Castle and another at Old Hickory Nature Trail. Bone might have to create his own handmade stamp to participate.

  4. Where is Marshall these days! I met him camping in Martin County . . . and what a great guy! Tell him Dave Williams said hellp and I need some more pointers on great places to camp in Florida!

    • I will tell Marshall you are requesting more Florida campground info when I talk to him again. He is an encyclopedia of info on free camping and living inexpensively! I could use some pointers myself.

  5. Curt, Mary Brewington Johnson here. Please respond off line in an email. Would like to get in touch.

  6. Hi Curt, I am a blast from the past and I’m trying to reach Peggy… this is Mary Schoenfeldt… did contract work in school safety for PCOE. Can you please ask Peggy to contact me at yoursafeplace@msn.com. I’m trying to track down Peggy, Ken and Tad to tell them some news and thank them for being a motivator and supporter for my work.

  7. Hi Curt & Peggy: We are new to your blog by way of mutual blogging friend, Cindy Knoke. What a beautiful blog filled with amazing pictures taken by two adventurers. What a life you’ve lived, real life Jonez’ (the Indiana kind) lol. I also play guitar, (a hummingbird passed down to me by my father.) We are a mother daughter writing duo, Authors of 3 published books. We look forward to visiting more often & sharing in the photo’s of your future adventures!! 🙂

    • Hi Inion: Welcome to my blog. As I type, Peggy is reading up on your books in her Kindle. 🙂 Presently we are in Puerto Vallarta, which I will blog about when we return to Oregon. Thanks for your kind words. We love wandering and like to share our adventures. I am guessing you have had some great ones also. Interesting that you write with your mother. I’ve hit the follow button on your blog and look forward to reading about you. –Curt

  8. I stumbled on your bios as I was trying to copy and paste the blog link to my sister’s email so she could follow as well. So, admittedly I just gave them a cursory glance and then…, I got drawn in by the comments –“I love how you did your bios,” etc., etc. I thought to myself, how can anybody do a bio that would elicit that response, so I scrolled up. (I’m always in a hurry you see) Oh yes, I heartily agree.. Your bios are great. As with everything you write, just great. Unique, funny, adorable really, with a great deal of warmth and even humility. And. I didn’t really know how you met. It’s a wonderful story. Thanks.

    • Thanks Alice. It’s a red-letter day when I hear from both you and Bill. Writing the bios, and most of what I write, is fun for me… so I am glad my writing reflects it. One should always meet a woman he wants to impress after a 10,000 mile bike ride. (grin) –Curt

  9. Yes! You got a great gal there, and visa versa of course. You guys are wonderful together. An inspiration to all of us really…. Think maybe I should check the itinerary next time Bill pulls his bike out.

  10. Hi, I am trying to get a hold of Ken Lake, I took a class of his a few years ago and his email does not work. Can you help me contact him? Thx!

  11. Curt, I have been reading your blog with great interest. I’m in my 50s and have traveled extensively in the world as a govt employee. I’m reflecting on the many times I interviewed Peace Corp folks, at the time it was just part of what I did, I did not give them much credit for the work they were doing. Now I’m circumspect that I was able to gain the correct insights because my view of the world was guided by a policy perspective. Your experiences moved me to appreciate that measuring inertia is short sited, improving the conditions of people is so much better that being an observer. Thanks for your service, the world needs more people like you.

  12. Hi,

    I just found your site and want to know if you may be interested in providing a guest post for our retirement site, Retirement And Good Living (http://retirementandgoodliving.com) about your travels.

    Currently the blog section of our site is comprised entirely of posts by guests on a variety of topics. To date nearly 150 guests from around the globe provided posts for our blog.

    Thanks,

    Simone

  13. Hi Curt. Thanks for your reply. You have had an incredible life and a post on one of many topics would be great: Your Peace Corp experiences, Your wilderness trips, your many jobs allowing you to do what you want, places you would recommend to others (older adults:-) to travel to, etc.

    Please send me a direct email and I will send you a page for your post submission.

    Thanks,

    Simone

    • Thanks Simone. Would you mind if it’s a chapter from a book I will be self-publishing on my Africa Peace Corps experience? I have two or three fun chapters that your readership might enjoy. Or, I have several wilderness trips I could write about. Anyway, my Email is cvmekemson@gmail.com

  14. Long-dead relatives? Don’t expect much conversation (and the coffee flows like treacle …)

    And now I really must get on with something else—your blog has already taken half my morning … mutter mutter mutter …

    • I am laughing. Thanks so much for taking the time. I spend a couple of each day catching up on blogs I follow. I always enjoy it… there are some great folks out there with very interesting things to say, but it does take time! _Curt

    • Thanks for the heads up Barbara. I would love to go. Was thinking about FSM the other day when I attended a Joan Baez concert. I hadn’t seen her in person since I sat on the floor of Sproul Hall and sang We Shall Overcome with her. What do I need to do to get on the mailing list? –Curt

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  18. Hi Peggy and Curt. I wonder if you might be able to send me your contact email so that I can get in touch directly? Many thanks, Becky.

  19. When were you in Liberia, Curt? I spent some time in Ghana doing volunteer work, during the summer of 1980. I think the troubles were just beginning then in Liberia – I was supposed to go there but then they sent us to Ghana instead. And Peggy – you went to Mary Baldwin, as in MB in Staunton, VA? I live an hour’s drive from that place 🙂 The world is small, isn’t it?!

    • Hi Annette, I was in Liberia right out of college in 1965-67, thankfully before things fell apart. What was your volunteer work in Ghana? Yes Peggy went to Mary Baldwin for two years. 🙂 We were near there (and where you live) when we drove up the Blue Ridge Highway a couple of weeks ago retracing my 1989 bike trip. –Curt

  20. I always love reading your bios over and over. If I didn’t already know you, I couldn’t wait to meet you! 😉

      • My name is Joel McCormick Stager. The important part of that is the McCormick. The McCormicks… came from Scotland via Ireland… to… Paxtang Pennsylvania. Again.. not so important except Mathew Brown… a grandson of John had a great grand daughter named Martha Brown Yoder… who married Cyrus McCormick in Union County north of route 144 near Allenwood Pa. Matthew
        Brown was chosen as a representative for White Deer township to
        the Committee of Safety for Northumberland county for the first six
        months of the year 1776. Not so long after, a conference was called of delegates from all the county committees, which assembled at Philadelphia on
        the 18th of June,1776. This conference prescribed the mode of electing delegates to a great provincial convention for the forming of a new constitution, and the qualifications of electors who might vote for delegates. Matthew Brown was a
        member of this con­ference, and also was a representative from Northumberland county in the convention which assembled at Philadelphia on the 15th of July, 1776, and which declared the independence of the colony and formed the first State Constitution, which he signed September 28, 1776. Ahhh… and those McCormicks? And it turns out that Mathew Brown was a well known guy there in revolutionary times but now with a memorial surrounded by state games lands. How this happened is another story for another time. But… you should read about Mathew Brown… and his wife Eleanor Lytle if you havent already. Then… soon, it turns out the Browns and the McCormicks apparently got along well… the marriages are multiple and frequent. The subsequent McCormicks being PA AG and well ,,, fairly famous for other stuff as well. Cyrus? Finally, the Stagers? Emigrated to the US from Germany about the same time as the Browns and McCormicks from Ireland and Scotland… via Paxtang Pa. Up the Susquehanna towards Dauphin County, Lancaster, Lebanon, Miltown and Watsontown and Allenwood. Which brings you to me. And me to you. We’re related… but way way back! Who knew?

  21. Hello Curt, Found your post when researching John Brown of Priesthill. I am a descendant as well through the Marshalls and Browns of Centre County, Pennsylvania. I am doing research for my book including family history and have been to the British Museum which has the original Covenant in the King’s Library. I did not get to hold it yet, but will go back as it is such an historical document. I also want to make it up to Murikirk as well. Thanks for all the interesting background and information. Hope to meet up with you some time to discuss. Davis Musser

    • Glad to meet you, Dave. Thanks for sharing. I am fascinated with the Browns and would love to get back into research. (Unfortunately, I have too many other projects going at this time.) I look forward to your book. Muirkirk and Brown’s grave are worth a visit for sure. If you make it to Muirkirk, be sure to stay at the Old Church B&B and tell them I sent you. They are good folks. BTW, my mother’s side are Marshalls who arrived in Connecticut in 1630. We amy have more ancestors in common. –Curt

  22. Hi Peggy i’m doing a project for my computer graphics class and I was wondering if it was alright if I use your picture of the big foot trap with your permission? Its only for a high class project so its not going to be printed out or anything.

  23. Hi Peggy i’m doing a project for my computer graphics class and I was wondering if it was alright if I use your picture of the big foot trap with your permission? Its only for a high class project so its not going to be printed out or anything.

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