Denver Bar Association
May 2001
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Hartman's Happy Trails

by Diane Hartman

Former CBA President Phil Figa pushed through a sabbatical policy for the Denver and Colorado Bar Association's staff . . . but he didn't have to push too hard.

Our policy now is if you've worked here 15 years, you can take off for three months (six weeks is paid . . . if you've saved some vacation, you can put that toward the other six weeks). So far, Chuck Turner, Arlene Abady, Dana Collier Smith and I have qualified for--and taken--a long break.

Mine started Sept. 10 last year. My partner Fred and I rented a 19-foot van and headed for New England. Our goals were to hang-out, bike ride, watch the leaves change and follow autumn down the coast.

Our home for three months.
Nobody could accuse us of roughing it. The brand new Dodge Pleasureway 2000, had a two-burner stove, bathroom, refrigerator and freezer, closet, a couch that with the push of a button made into a bed, color TV and a coffeemaker (only one person could stand up at a time, however). Our bikes went on the back. The dealer even threw in a "Florida" (screened porch) room that would attach to the awning.

We rode "rail-trails" in New England. These old railroad beds, which have been turned into recreation trails, are each different, charming, and of varying lengths and difficulty. On our first one in Vermont, deer leaped across the path, wild turkeys ran away from us, and we discovered raspberries along the way to eat at our leisure.

From then on, we steered our van to the nearest rail-trail. We biked in all the New England states as the leaves turned richer and brighter than anything we'd ever seen.

We also did some sightseeing in small towns (like Quegee, VT--loved it); canoed the Connecticut River; went whale watching in Maine; had tea in Sandwich, Mass; did contra dancing in New Hampshire; biked the battlefields of Gettysburg; detoured to an old-time fiddle and singing weekend in Elkins, W.Va.; toured Washington, D.C. and Charleston, S.C.; and played on the Outer Banks of N.C. We rested some and read lots of books.

The only set destination we had was Florida, to spend Thanksgiving with some family, but with each stop, we were taking longer and longer, getting more and more relaxed. By Savannah, we realized we could only stay for two days--and there was so much more to see!

We spent six days with my cousin in Homosassa Springs, Fla. Pulling away from his house was the hardest, because we weren't ready to stop our adventure.

On the way home we crossed that line where Mother Nature had decreed "no more water after this." To me, it looked like an unrelenting, never-changing desert of dirt. Ducking under the brown cloud in Denver, after 11 weeks, was a little depressing.

Back at work, I got sick, even fell asleep in an afternoon meeting. I had almost forgotten what all the legal acronyms meant.

It was the trip of a lifetime and I would wish it for anyone, especially those who think the world wouldn't spin without them. I'm happy to be back, but in the back of my mind I remember that great rail-trail we missed in West Virginia. I will go back.

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