Hike Under Emerald Skies

Hike Under Emerald Skies

This used to be the upper parking lot which I’d use when ever I could. This season they shut it down requiring everyone to park at the main facility down the road. This change adds 1.6 miles to my hike.

The young leaves of early spring are a lighter shade of green and today they were in abundance as I hiked Old Rag. The effect on this sunny day was to create an aura of emerald green, especially as I hiked the final 2.5 miles down the tree-covered fire road. The air was crisp and cool which are my favorite conditions for a vigorous hike, especially when it’s along my favorite trail. Yes, today’s hike was a joy.  Continue reading

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Summary: My 10,000 Mile Road Trip Ends

My 10,000 Mile Road Trip Ends

Someone asked me “How do you do a 10,000 mile road trip in the U.S.?” The answer is depicted at the left. Not quite a drive around the perimeter but pretty darned close to that!

It started with a whimsical suggestion to Kelsey, “How about we take another road trip during Spring Break?”  She was keen on the idea and Beth was supportive so I dug a deeper hole, “How about driving up the west coast of the U.S. from Tijuana, MX to Victoria, BC?” I made this trip a few years ago, loved it, and thought she would too. Also, if Kelsey could drive this dramatic coastline then she’d improve her driving skills while creating stunning memories for life.

The initial plan was simple: we’d fly to San Diego, rent a car and head south to Mexico, drive as close to the coast as possible on the way to Canada, and then return home from Portland after visiting my family. We’d do the whole thing in 10 days. Simple … or so I thought at the time!  Continue reading

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Summary: America’s Longest Road

Americas Longest Road

The center of the Great Northern Railway logo is a red dot with a mountain goat standing atop a rocky peak. This symbol reminds us of the railway’s greatest accomplishment: crossing the Cascade Mountains at Stevens Pass.

Days before setting out on this trip I had nary a clue that I’d be driving this country’s longest road. Named after the great railroad which it parallels along  its western portion, the highway actually passes into Canada to connect to its eastern portion. With the Great Lakes in the way it was designed as a two-segment road since its inception in 1926. From end-to-end U.S. Highway 2 is almost 2,600 miles long.  Continue reading

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Hidden Roads of Acadia

Hidden Roads of Acadia

What a glorious structure! Rockefeller had seven world-class stone bridges build within Acadia’s Carriage Road network. They’re grand and well preserved and such a pleasure to admire.

I don’t know what makes Acadia National Park special but each time I visit it hits me anew. Perhaps it’s the clear still water of its many lakes? Maybe it’s the beautiful vistas along Park Loop Drive? Could it be the distant views from atop Cadillac Mountain? I say “Yes” to all and will add another: the majesty of its carriage roads.  Continue reading

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Lovely Plodding through the Northeast

Lovely Plodding through the Northeast

At the end of my third bike ride, I found myself watching the sun set over Lake Champlain. Then, happy chance happened. This lady and her dog walked past and I was at-the-ready with my camera.

Highway 2 across New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine is a very different experience from Highway 2 west of Lake Superior. In the west the road was straight and wide and fast; in the east it’s curvy and narrow and slow. However, it was a beautiful green ride through the Green Mountains, the White Mountains and the Mahoosuc Mountains as I drove from Burlington to Acadia National Park. As usual, I only wish I’d had more time.  Continue reading

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Three Bike Rides, Two Countries, One Day

Three Bike Rides, Two Countries, One Day

Looks like prison, right? Well, it is a “gaol” (jail) where I spent the night in cell 5 of block 6 in solitary. I’m not kidding! This jail in Ottawa operated from 1862 to 1972 and was the site where three men were hung!

I’ve a penchant for riding along waterfronts. While spending the night in my solitary confinement cell, I realized that today I could do something really special. Each of the towns I was visiting today had tremendous waterfronts and all three I knew had great bike paths. Montreal I’ve biked before, Ottawa I have toured extensively and via satellite images I was able to confirm that Burlington had a waterfront biking trail. I had a goal for the day!

To pull this off I had to start early. My first ride started in Ottawa at 7:30AM. With lots of hustle and a good measure of luck, I was able to finish my ride in Montreal by 3:00. This put me in Burlington by 5:30 which gave me a couple of hours to enjoy those trails. All-in-all I managed to put in over 27 miles of biking across three rides in two countries … all in a single day!

Have I mentioned how much I enjoy having my folding bike with me?!

See maps of my rides …  Continue reading

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Lake Superior Waterfront

Lake Superior Waterfront

A first for me, three lights in one shot! Two can be seen at the ends of the piers; the third stands tall in the foreground. These together serve to guide boats from Lake Superior into the harbor of Duluth under the bridge below.

My drive across the great middle of this country ended when I arrived at Duluth on the extreme southwest shore of Lake Superior. For a city whose average annual temperature is 37 degrees, I found the climate in mid-April to be very comfortable.

Lake Superior WaterfrontSo much did I enjoy being in the Duluth area that rather than check-in and regroup I decided instead to keep driving along the famed North Shore Drive. It was a beautiful excursion! The road shoots north from Duluth along water’s edge. I followed the road to Two Harbors where I found its namesake lighthouse. As usual at day’s end I was fighting the fading sun so I opted to take this silhouette shot of the  lovely light. Two Harbor Lighthouse now operates as a bed and breakfast and, had I only known, it could have been my home for the night! The sign which read  “Rooms Available” still burns in my brain.  Continue reading

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The Great Expanse of Nothing

Great Expanse of Nothing

From the time you drop out of Glacier National Park till you arrive in Duluth, MN you’re driving the Great Plains. Here it spans three big states covering over 1,000 miles and all along there’s very little to see or do.

The Rockies-to-Plains contrast is stark no matter how many times I’ve experienced the transition. Whether I’ve just spent days running up and down and around mountains and drop into the plains or whether I’ve spent a week driving across the flat middle of our country and encountered the wall of the Rockies, I’m still never prepared for the contrast. That such great heights abut endless expanses of flatness is striking.

This time was no different though this time approaching the transition was complicated by weather. Knowing that a storm was approaching the Pacific Northwest, I tried to leave early and outrun it. My goal was to be on the east side of the Rockies before the snow hit. I almost made it Continue reading

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A Once Every 100-year Flood: Revisited

100-year Flood

Trails to nowhere. Trees under water. Recent new flooding of the Red River was evident as I tried to ride the paths along its banks.

Why don’t I remember the great flood of 1997? Apparently the entire region of Grand Forks was flooded that year and much of the downtown burned. As I rode along the waterfront I couldn’t help but notice the imposing new levee system built by the Corp of Engineers. Also, it was unavoidably apparent that the river was flooded again as my bicycle path periodically disappearing into the river! The Red River can really wreck havoc on these poor peoples’ lives.  Continue reading

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Carnegie Loved Libraries

Carnegie Loved Libraries

Above the entrance in big, bold lettering are the words “Carnegie Library,” a declaration I found time and time again as I drove across the Great Plains.

Honestly, I wasn’t looking for these structures but there’s so little to see in little railroad towns along Highway 2 that these beautiful libraries stand out! At first they simply caught my eye. Then I would note them as I toured the little main streets. Finally, I decided to seek them out. Sure enough, there was usually a Carnegie Library to be found.

I first became aware of Andrew Carnegie’s libraries when visiting England. As  he was Scottish-American I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised to see more libraries in the U.S. but I was surprised. Who would have thought Carnegie would fund libraries in such tiny towns in the middle of nowhere? Well, as I learned more, I grew to understand. Andrew Carnegie was on a mission which resulted in 2,500 libraries being built from 1883 and 1929. The vast majority were built in the U.S., Britain, Ireland, and Canada. Continue reading

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