Wow, not only does she bike 65 miles in a single bound, but check out Carole's results from the Laurel Turkey Trot:
Wow - she beat all the 50 year-olds, and even creamed those 40-somethings, too!
Oddly enough, Thanksgiving is supposed to be all about giving thanks. When your kids are little you have to suffer through the annual play at their school where they reenact the first Thanksgiving dinner at Plymouth Rock (or maybe Berkley Plantation in Virginia?) with the Indians (now known as Native Americans) bringing food to the Pilgrims (now known as ruthless genocide practicing Imperialists). Then a few days later you stuff yourself with tryptothan, watch football, sit in traffic in the mall parking lot, and rake leaves. The giving thanks part doesn't really play a major role and it probably should.
One low effort way to give some thanks is to check out the word game at freerice.com. This is another one of those sites (like the one for breast cancer) that turn Internet advertising into useful donations. Every correct answer donates 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program. It quickly gets tough - I usually crap out by level 42. No cheating, now.
I'm thankful that everyone I know and care about is healthy and fortunate enough to be in control of their own destiny and make their own decisions - for better or worse. I'm thankful that most of them realize how lucky we are, and they feel that gratitude rocks but they haven't been silly enough to go out and buy any gratitude rocks.
I'm thankful I got the chance to run in the Casey's Crab Turkey Trot in Laurel to benefit the Laurel Advocacy and Referral Service with my wife. Carole is a very good runner and I'm really not - but it was fun to run in the same race with her, albeit many minutes behind her. I think I've actually run once in about 5 years, so I'm sure I'm going to feel it tomorrow and the next day. But bicycling and kayaking are sort of winding down for the winter, maybe some running can fill the gap. Gee, maybe next year I can do one of those run/bike/kayak triathlon deals. The Googlefied map of the run is below, run statistics here.
About 41 miles of the Appalachian Trail's 2,175 miles are in Maryland. There used to be a day long through hike where you did the entire 41 miles in one day, but that seems to have disappeared. On Saturday, they held the annual JFK 50 miler, where people run much of the Maryland AT and the winner finished in less than 6 hours. You could hike it all in two intense days or three normal days, or you can take the leisurely approach and attack it slowly - guess which approach Carl and I tend to take? In the past we had done a lot of 7-10 mile segments by taking two cars and leaving one at each end, but to help defeat the terrorists (and not have to buy so much $3/gallon gasoline) we've been doing out and back hikes this year, where a 7 mile hike really means 3.5 miles on the AT and then doubling back. So, it will take 10-12 hikes to do the entire MD section, but what's the hurry? While some people extol the virtues of seeing the same stretch of trail from two different directions, personally, I prefer one-way hikes where you don't double back. But when you are driving 60-80 miles to get to a hike, taking two cars is hard to justify what with the coming ice age and all.
Since last weekend we hiked the section from i-70 south to George Washington Monument State Park, we decided to do the next segment south from there. We started at the scenic Old South Mountain Inn - which, as you see on the left, was slightly less scenic than usual given the dozens of green Port-a-Potties in the parking lot. We figured this had something to do with the JFK 50 miler - sure enough, that is where the runners get on the AT from beautiful downtown Boonsboro. Just south of the start is the Dahlgren Backpack Campground, a popular place for Boy and Girl Scouts to do camping trips. Which meant we ran into tons of bored/tired/dirty little kids were hiking in the opposite direction up the trail as a few harried adults urged them along.
The previous week the leaves had actually popped out in brilliant yellows and reds but gale force winds had knocked most of them onto the ground - the colors left on the trees were definitely muted. About a mile south of the start you reach Fox's Gap and a wide variety of Civil War monuments and signs attempting to explain why everyone ran into each other at this particular spot and started shooting. From there the trail heads downhill a bit, crosses some power lines and goes downhill some more to an AT cabin that is under renovation.
From there it is a nice uphill stretch to the to top of the ridge where there used to be a fire tower but now only a communications tower remains. We stopped at the traditional viewpoint to the southeast, where the faded colors and the gray skies made for a less than spectacular view. This is about the 4 mile point from the Old South Mountain Inn. On a two car hike we would continue to Gathland State Park another 4 miles south, but on an out-n-back this is the turn around point - so we did.
While the temperature was only in the 40s and the skies were gray, I had gotten quite toasty on the climb up and had tied my red hoodie around my waist - and didn't even notice when it fell off. We found it on the way back - it looked like a scene out of the Blair Witch Project. From there it was a pretty straightforward hike back, with the sun occasionally making some headway against the gray clouds. We saw almost no wildlife and I'm still trying to figure out why squirrels and deer are always leaping at my car but so rarely visible in the woods.
Just for grins, I wore my Garmin heart rate monitor chest strap along with the Dick Tracy GPS wrist watch thingy. To the left is a chart of my heart rate vs. the elevation of the hike. You can there is about a 700 foot elevation gain from the start to the highest point, with about a 1.5 mile continuous climb. On the steep parts of the climb, looks like my heart rate was up in the 120s, but probably averaged in the 80s overall. This is not a tough hike in cool weather, but that climb up is a lot tougher in the middle of August.
The Google-ified map of the hike, courtesy of Innersource:
For the first 15 years or so of having a house with a garage, I never had room in the garage for cars at all - and that was a two car garage. Bicycles, lawn mowers/tractors, radial arm saws and just plain old junk invariably took up all the room. So, when we moved into our new house I was determined to actually have room for cars in the garage. I put up lots of wall storage for ladders, put the five bicycles up on another wall and luckily it is a three car garage so one side can be dedicated to all the lawn weapons of mass destruction.
That worked fine until kayaking came along - kayaks are huuuge. I've been keeping them outside but with the new, expensive toy coming soon, I knew I wanted to store them inside and it looked like above the garage doors was the only solution. I played around with designs just using off-the-shelf ropes and pulleys, but the thought of kayaks falling out of the ceiling onto the cars or our heads wasn't very appealing. Then I saw the Harken Hoister systems and for $79 realized it was the way to go - not much more than buying the parts and it includes a racheting block and tackle rig that makes it a lot safer.
As usual, it took me about four times as long as I thought it would take to do the installation - mostly due to lining up a 2 x 6 over drywall-covered ceiling joists, but it works great. I can even drive the truck into the garage with the boat on the cradles and hoist it from there. Now, if the hoist could only include a built-in kayak wash and dry system...
No doubt about it - daylight savings time is really over. I tried to sneak in an after work paddle and ended up paddling across Triadelphia Reservoir in almost pitch darkness. The picture to the left is actually just after I started and that was about as light as it got. It was actually a very cool time to paddle - the water was smooth as a baby's behind and there were scads of geese on the water. On the way back, it really was dark and the geese were freaking out - I was surrounded by honking and would get within yards of them before they would start flapping their wings, throw up phosphorescent spray and take off. On the way back I had to navigate by the lights on the dam and I was afraid the Water Police might lock the gate at the ramp and trap my truck inside. However, I guess they do it at official sunset or so, not darkness.
I used my new Epic Wing paddle and I took 3 minutes off my usual 6.3 mile round trip time - I guess that is about a 5% improvement, pretty good. The Epic paddle unexpectedly came with white blades, which almost seemed to glow in the dark as I paddled back. I wonder what that looked like from the shore - I bet there are reports of ghosts or UFOs flying over the reservoir.
It looks like the folks at Google Earth have updated their imagery - you can see in the map below how low the water is at Triadelphia - that big white blob to the northwest of the start/finish was just a shallow spot in the spring, then it was two islands and now it is one gigantic island. All that white space along the shore wasn't there in the spring, either. You can see how the water in the coves (especially on the north side) doesn't reach the woods at all - none of the other access areas are open because of the low levels. The water level was actually up maybe 6 inches or so since my last paddle, which actually made it a bit trickier as I knew there were some obstacles (like rocks and submerged tree trunks) that were visible last week that weren't visible now. However, I managed to navigate by memory and not get dumped into the rapidly cooling water.
It seems like we've trivialized Veteran's Day - it doesn't even get a Monday holiday anymore. Well, maybe it does - but who knows? On my calendars it shows up on Sunday. I guess these days the definitive source is, as usual, Google. Yup, Google has dressed up its logos with helmets, so today must be Veteran's Day. So, thanks to all you veterans out there and now back to our regularly scheduled programme.
In honor of Veteran's Day, not to mention the beautiful weather, Carl and I decided to do a veteran of a hike, Sugarloaf Mountain. We did the usual Northern Peaks trail, which is a nice 5 mile loop with lots of ups and down, and a number of the climbs bring you to nice view points. The leaf color is pretty wimpy this year but a few decent reds and lots of yellows out there. It was international day on the trail as we passed other hikers speaking several languages. Only a few people with those ski pole walking sticks - I don't quite understand what those are for. I got back early enough to put the kayak on Rocky Gorge for a 9 mile paddle before the sun set, getting to see several bald eagles and a few surveillance turtles taking late season swims. So a nice mini biathlon - nothing exciting but lots of fresh air.
Some photos from Sugarloaf:
When the World Wide Web was first getting started, it was often trumpeted as the equivalent of having an unlimited number of radio and TV broadcast channels - everyone could be a broadcaster. Of course, it turned out that very few were very good at broadcasting, and the majority of podcasts and videos are of the "swinging a dead cat in my back yard" variety - chock-full of annoying advertising, to boot. Blogs started with the same promise - "everyone can be a publisher" - but so many of them are just chains of people commenting on each other's blogs. Even worse, they are either stuffed with advertising or are written by those who are trying to sell us something, so the writing is actually disguised advertising.
So, when I came across the blog of an 11 year old girl (Boo) whose mother has breast cancer, and who was kayaking with her father as a way to raise awareness for breast cancer, I was really touched. There is hope after all in the Web, it just takes more work to find the gems under so much manure. Even better, it turns out even some ads can be gems.
If you go to this page on Boo's blog, you can click on a link that bring up a page of ads. Just by going to that page you cause the sponsors of the ads to give money to support the Breast Cancer Site and Greater Good Network. How cool is that?
Halloween came and went - and still we had Daylight Saving Time. It is pretty hard for me to believe extending DST a few weeks in the beginning and a week at the end really saved anyone any energy, but it definitely made me more energetic to get some exercise in before it all ended. So, this was the last opportunity to squeeze in a tri-sport weekend of biking, hiking and kayaking - pretty much in that order.
Carole was driving to Beltsville to run with her friend Bernadette, so I decided I'd bike down that way and use Carole as a sag wagon to take me back. Hurricane Noel was moving up the east coast, but was staying well offshore. Since it was rotating counter-clockwise, it meant I had NNW winds essentially at my back for much of the ride. I thought I could find an alternate route to get me across Route 1 and the railroad in Beltsville, but no such luck - I wandered aimlessly for a while until cutting through an industrial park and going over the Muirkirk Road bridge. I passed the site of the old Rhodes Tavern and made my way to the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center where there are all kinds of low traffic and closed roads to bike on. I went all the way out on Beaver Dam Road and circled back, slogged up Research Road to the gate into Greenbelt and after 34 miles met Carole just as she finished her run.
The next day Carl and I did one of the easier Appalachian trail hikes, a a 6 mile out and back from the Route 70 AT pedestrian bridge to Washington Monument State Park. There is a little bit of up and down on this hike, but it is pretty mild. A good deal of color in the woods but this is not a prime year for brilliant foliage. When we reached the monument (which looks like a giant beehive) the hawk counters were at the top, having excitable discussions about raptors and pheasants and booby hatches. We climbed to the top, looked around and headed back - other than photo stops we pretty much did a non-stop hike.
After getting back from hiking, I completed the weekend triathlon by putting the kayak in at the Supplee area of Rocky Gorge. The water is way down and the launch ramp is closed, but you can carry your boat down about 100 feet and put in. The wind was still up and was in my face for most of the outward 4.5 miles, but of course was at my back for the return. I saw the obligatory herons, a few deer and a few eagles, but no bald eagles and very few boaters. I used the 9.2 mile paddle to get more comfortable using the new wing paddle and just enjoyed being on the water. I have to admit though - a day of being on salt water always gives a better feeling than the same time on fresh water. Time to get back to the Bay.
A Googlefied map of the paddle and some other pictures of the AT hike: