Category Archives: Featured

The Fall Lull

During the fall and spring I have times where hiking pretty much doesn’t happen. I am swamped with sports for the kids and trying to find races to run when I have a free Saturday. It makes me antsy. Last Saturday I needed to get outside. My son was going to be at home so I couldn’t go far or be out of reach via phone so I tried a couple of spots for photos. I got home, looked at them, and there were all trash.  However, getting outside allowed me to relieve some stress about Puerto Rico.  In one park, I found a spot to sit that was pretty much isolated from all the rest of the visitors and I sat and cried.  Eventually a guy and his dog showed up and the dog splashed in the creek and the dude took photos of his dog. It was kind of cute. Thankfully, he didn’t notice me crying. That would have been awkward.

Funny how often one can write about depression and know that absolutely no one cares.

Later that evening I convinced my son to go to Algonkian Regional Park with me. I bribed him with Little Ceasar’s Pizza. This was a staple for me growing up and he was wooed by the commercials. Since they don’t deliver we had to go pick it up.  I told him I would do that if he came to the park with me.  It was again nice to be outside – especially at sunset.  I also go to see some big birds (egret and blue heron).  Nature is the key to most of my well being.  And if I can be near water – even better.

Last night I ended up with a free evening. I got off of a conference call to find my son gone to the movies and my daughter having a ton of homework and softball hits to complete. So I took off again for Algonkian. The best thing about Algonkian is that there are a number of trails. And I would say they are rarely used. I took off down the path for some trail running. It wasn’t pleasant but I went at a slow pace as I’m still gaining my endurance back.  The bugs were fierce. I basically ran with a hand in front of my face to swat off the swarms.  I wanted to go longer but I got to one section and a large amount of branches had fallen over the trail. No go. So I turned around and headed back along the Potomac Heritage Trail. It is hard, sometimes, for me to continue to run down this trail. It follows along the Potomac River and there is so much to see. My favorite part are the trees.  There are some seriously big trees along the trail and they have been there for a very long time. I can’t estimate how big around the trunks are – just trust me when I say they are huge.

 

After the sunset I drove home feeling a bit better. The past week has been really hard and I still haven’t heard from my best friend. I saw from a relative’s post that he is okay but when you talk to someone every single day, all day it is hard to go without that communication.  Hopefully I’ll feel happy again soon and can get back to hiking to feel totally renewed.

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My Heart is in Puerto Rico

My kids are half Puerto Rican. I think a lot of people who know me forget that. They forget that regardless of what happens with their father that Puerto Rico is like my second home. I remember the first trip I took there – I fell in love instantly.  I often think that deep down I was truly meant to be Puerto Rican or Cuban or some mix of both. I never felt comfortable in the “white” world. Perhaps it was growing up in an overtly racist town or that everything was very bland. I was always drawn to Latin/Hispanic culture.

Right now, my heart is in Puerto Rico. I don’t really have fancy photos to show. I will post a couple here but they are from a long time ago when all I did was take photos with a crappy camera or phone. It has been a long time since I have been to the island. Life just gets busy and then there was the big Zika scare so that canceled one trip.

Most people go to Puerto Rico and they stay in a resort and never leave San Juan or Old San Juan except maybe to visit El Yunque (the only rain forest in the United States). They don’t take time to travel to the inner part of the island where everything is lush and green. Tropical plants sprawl across the sides of mountains the life is still very simple.  Not everyone can afford to build their house out of cement. And if you’ve seen any photos of the island you can imagine what a house made of wood would look like today. The wind was so strong it demolished wind turbines and solar farms. It destroyed cell towers and no one has power.

And here I sit in my comfortable office while I wait and wonder if one of my closest friends is okay. If his house survived. If his parents are okay. I wonder if the kids’ aunt and uncle are still ok and if the roof ever blew off of their car port. I wonder about the relatives in the “jungle” as we call it are okay. Some of them are older and on the side of a mountain. I worry about mudslides. I look at the photos of the devastation and tears just come out of my eyes. I saw a photo of where we own a timeshare. Totally flooded. It is right on the beach.

Everything in me says I should go and help. I can’t, of course. My responsibilities here are too much. I don’t have the vacation time and my kids need me. So I wait. And worry. And wonder.

I urge you to donate. If you’re reading and you feel like, “Ugh… just another tragic event that needs money.” you’re right. It is. And more will be coming. It is inevitable that hurricanes will just get worse. It is inevitable that there will be more earthquakes. Tornadoes. Anything dealing with weather due to climate change. But we are required to help our fellow human beings. I feel that deep down. I have never understood the fight against helping others whether it is via welfare, food stamps, insurance for all, or any other option there is that makes those who have much help those who have little.

If you’d like to donate, I would recommend http://www.hispanicfederation.org/donate

You can select Hurricane Relief from the drop-down. They have been vetted and found worthy.  I urge you not to give to the Red Cross. I think that’s common knowledge. Please focus on a group that will work directly in Puerto Rico. It is estimated that they have $30 billion dollars in damage. And also remember people can’t go to work. They may no longer have a job to go to if the business was wiped out. Or maybe the store will be closed for repairs. People will need help. So please, give.  Look for a donation center in your city – many are popping up. You can also drop off supplies if you don’t want to give money.

Thank you for reading.

Summer Adventures

The summer is flying by so fast. I feel like I haven’t accomplished as many things as I wanted to this year. Last year I was training hard for my Trifecta. I miss being in that kind of shape. I haven’t had many chances to hike. I have had injuries (sprained ankle and a sprained knee). I’ve been recovering and managing my asthma. I feel like a mess.

One of the highlights was accompanying my daughter to her softball tournament in Clearwater, Florida. I considered this a vacation even though I knew I wouldn’t have tons of free time. As we were driving from the airport to the hotel I marveled over the numerous birds I saw (that we don’t have here in Virginia). My daughter asked, “When did you start liking birds?” Hmm. I wasn’t sure. I guess when I started photographing them and seeing the beauty in their feathers, colors and shapes. I was anxious to take photos and explore the area. Let’s be clear, I was anxious to take photos of anything.

Honeymoon Island State Park

Osprey are some beautiful birds. I caught this outside of my hotel balcony.

The sunsets in Florida were ‘wow’. I’m sure the people I was with were tired of me saying, “Oh my gosh. It’s so beautiful.”  I’m happy to have gotten some amazing photos that really show off how colorful they were every night. I even managed photos of lightning and fireworks.

Pink and gold sunset

Pink and golden sunset

In my recovery news I have been given the okay to start running. I am in panic mode for my upcoming Spartan Sprint in September. I know I can manage the course but I haven’t been upper-body training like I should have been. I actually got fairly depressed after my knee sprain and went down a dark hole. I considered dropping out of the Spartan and just giving up. I’ve slowly been coming out of that. The best thing was walking into the side room at my gym yesterday and my coach had installed a rope. I flipped. I can’t climb the stupid thing but at least I can train on it. I figure if I can practice enough maybe that will be 30 less burpees I have to do. This is just a hodgepodge of stuff but I haven’t been writing here much.  I’m hiking this Sunday and hopefully the following weekend as well. I’m going to try to do what I can before the kids go back to school and life gets crazy again. I hope you enjoy the photos!
Cave Falls or Hazel River Falls

 

Pine Mountain State Resort Park

Our spring break trip continued into Kentucky and to Pine Mountain State Resort Park (from here forth known as PMSRP).  We had one stop at Kingdom Come State Park before reaching this park but I will write about that once I have photos uploaded.

Driving through Kentucky was pretty remarkable. I have been to Kentucky before but I was much younger and don’t remember much. The backroads all seemed to follow a beautiful mountain stream and wind through little towns. I would have never reached any destination if I had stopped to take photos every time I saw something beautiful.

PMSRP looks like a very fun place. We only stayed one night but while there we played putt putt golf and hiked to Honeymoon Falls. The lodge was very beautiful and the room we had was cozy. I will say that the walls at this lodge are thin. I did not sleep well at this place as someone had a baby who was up often during the night and I was able to hear the crying. Other than that, really nice place.  The food at the restaurant was good as well.

Our hike took us to Honeymoon Falls. The trail is very easy and round trip is approximately 3 miles. If you’d like all the minute details you can see my write-up on TheOutbound (in face you should sign-up for the site because it is fantastic – check out my adventures.  My son and I had a blast on this trail. There was a really pretty creek to follow, rocks to jump, rocks to climb, logs to cross and, finally, a pretty waterfall.

One of the coolest things we experienced as very cool air coming out of a cave. The opening was very low to the ground. It would have taken a brave soul to try and crawl into it. I imagine it goes deep and connects with the creek which is what provided the cool air. We were warm so it felt really great.  The trail was enveloped by rhododendrons and the rocks were green with moss. Everything was so pretty. We spent some time exploring the rock opening around Honeymoon Falls before heading back to the lodge.

Pine Mountain State Resort Park

Air Conditioned Rock

Pine Mountain State Resort Park

Honeymoon Falls – 25 Foot Drop

We rested, showered, ate dinner and then headed to Chained Rock. That was the suggestion from the front desk for sunset viewing. The overlook is about a 3 mile drive from the lodge. Apparently there is also a trail that takes you to see the actual chained rock. There are differing stories about why the rock is chained. Some say to keep the rocks from crashing down on Pineville and others say it was just a publicity stunt.  At the time, I didn’t know there was an actual chain (I think that would have been helpful knowledge from the front desk) or I would have hiked to it. Instead, we hung out and saw a decent sunset. The overlook down into Pineville is also quite outstanding.

We only stayed one night at this park as we had places to go the next day. I would highly recommend it though. Kentucky doesn’t charge for entry into their state parks and so it makes it all the easier to go and experience them.