Category Archives: Hiking Bucket List

2018 – Goals and Wishes

This cold weather is ridiculous. One thing I have always enjoyed about Virginia is that our winters aren’t too extreme. Yes, we had 4 feet of snow a couple of years ago.  And we’ll have 3-4 days where it gets cold. But this past streak of cold weather is crazy. I know it is colder other places and I’m glad I’m not there.  Because of this cold weather I really haven’t been out hiking.  I have made a couple of trips to a single trail where I take photos and I have been out photographing birds but that’s about it.  This post will be dedicated to my goals and wishes. I won’t call them resolutions because I am adverse to that word.

Spartan Goals

I have already signed up for my Sprint (DC) and my Super (Asheville). I just have to solidify my Beast at some point. I wish there were more Beasts near me. It looks most likely that I’ll do West Virginia due to its date (provided my son doesn’t have a tournament that weekend).  I am pretty excited to get my Trifecta again. Now, I have to pick up the training. I know what I have to do to train for Asheville – I just have to do it. That includes eating. I’m a lazy eater. I hate going to the grocery store and while I enjoy cooking, I’d just rather not.  Overall, the biggest goal for Spartan (aside from the Trifecta) is running my Sprint fast. I’ll be with a big group from my gym but I won’t be helping the newbies this time. I hope they understand.


I am slowly making my way through 500 miles at Shenandoah National Park. It is slow going because that’s a lot of miles. But I do want to knock out at least 100 miles this year. That takes a lot of time. However, I will make it part of my Spartan Training. Some of those trails I will run (or partially) and I will, towards the end of spring, push towards more 8-10 mile hikes.  Additionally, my son and I want to visit the Sand Cave in Southwestern Virginia and we’ll hike the Grayson Highlands during spring break.


The end of 2017 was great for my photography.  I can say I actually made some money. Not a lot when you consider the costs involved and the money I’ve put into it, but, I sold quite a bit at a craft fair and have sold prints and calendars to friends. I think that I may be making a very small name for myself and hopefully those sales will increase. That means I need a better website. I do have one but I am considering one that I pay for (like SmugMug).  I’m hoping this makes it easier for people to order prints.  I may never be able to quit my job because I make enough with my photos but it is a nice goal to have (and I love working towards it).


The last 6 years have been very crazy for me personally. I won’t go into the reasons why for that but there has been a lot of heartache. I am hoping to develop some new friends (anyone?) and actually DO things with those friends. That means finding people with the same interests and that’s not always easy. Not everyone wants to hike 10 miles.  The fall of 2018 will also mark my daughter’s senior year of high school. When I put the last day of that school year on my calendar the tears started flowing. It was a bit surreal.

What goals do you have for 2018? Anyone else running those Spartan races?

Wish List: Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal

A lot of my downtime is spent with my daydreaming about where I’d like to retire.  I take time to research the cost of living, weather, and, most importantly, nearby hiking trails. I have considered places like New Mexico, parts of California, Colorado, and on rare occasions, Florida. However, I ran across an article this morning about the top 9 places you can retire or move to and possibly not have to work.  I clicked that link so fast I almost sprained my pointer finger.

Some of the places were Nicaragua, Beliz, Thailand… but the number one spot was Carvoeiro, Algarve, Portugal.  I have seen a lot of photos over the year of Portugal and I don’t remember any of them being ugly. It seems like a beautiful country.  I read through the description and price points and immediately Googled images. I was a little blown away.


How can some place that looks like this be so cheap? I went through the photos and it is just gorgeous there.  The next step was to research some vacations. The AirBNB prices were also inexpensive. So much so that I may considering going there next year for a vacation. I need to check this place out.

And finally… hiking. I found a site that focus on hiking in Algarve. I mean… wow. If you take the time to click the link and check out the hikes and walks they are pretty cool.  There are some mountains, countryside, and coastal hikes. A great variety.  I sat here this morning and closed my eyes, clicked my heels, and asked to be taken there. Needless to say I’m still sitting at my stupid desk.

I almost hate to even publicize this place. What if I am what causes it to be so popular the prices all go up and I can’t retire there in 6 years? No, I won’t be retirement age in 6 years but that’s when my son will go to college. There won’t be such a big need to earn so much money or stick around in my area.

Do you have a dream retirement spot? If so, share it with me. I’d love to hear other places that may be a great location.

Spring Break Planning

For the past two years my kids and I have gone hiking for a couple of days during spring break. This is the only time I get to spend uninterrupted time with them as they are both so busy with their sports. This year, unfortunately, it will just be my son and I. My daughter will be visiting Peru during spring break and doing both volunteer work and visiting Machu Picchu. I am incredibly jealous because Machu Picchu is number one on my list of places to visit. Alas, I could not afford to go with her as her trip will cost plenty. I am, however, very happy that she gets to go and experience that culture. Hopefully she realizes just how lucky she is.

So my son and I have been working out where we want to go. The places that have crossed our lips are The Grayson Highlands, New River Trail, Kentucky areas, Sand Cave in Virginia and others. I think we are finally narrowing it down.  The sand cave is number one on our list. I’m not sure if we’ll make White Rocks as well but the cave is a sure thing.

Next on our list is Mammoth Caves. I have to remember to ask my parents if we visited there when I was little. I remember a cave of some sort but am unsure of which one it was.  We have now added Breaks Interstate Park to the list. The park looks amazing and they have a lodge where we can stay and it is pretty inexpensive.  In talking to my son the other evening he said he is ready to have “legs of steel” after this hiking trip.  What he doesn’t realize is that it is a lot of driving but I’ll manage. I want him to have a memorable trip and I want some amazing photos as well.

A couple weeks ago my son declared, “No!” to camping in a tent. Just yesterday he changed is mind again so I guess we’ll be planning something for that next spring/summer.

North Dakota Hiking – On My List

And just like that, the Maah Daah Hey Trail in North Dakota is on my list. I was reading an article on Outside Online that talked about this trail. I hadn’t heard of it before but it seems fascinating. So often I desire to hike where I can take in a view or a mountain. If you’ve been to North Dakota before you know that there are not mountains like you would see in the Rockies, Smokey Mountains or even my Shenandoahs. The highest peak is just 1,056.

I remember a bit about having been in North Dakota when I was little. I remember the wide open spaces. I remember the prairie dogs. I remember bits and pieces of other things and those memories combined with reading about this trail has moved this to higher on my list.

I haven’t ever been backpacking with a tent. I’ve been backpacking and stayed in hostiles in New Hampshire on the Appalachian Trail. I think I could maybe take on that adventure for this trail. The campgrounds are 18 miles apart so you’d really need to plan ahead and make sure you had water and were in shape enough to reach the campsites before dark.

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I imagine that hiking in wide open spaces could make one feel like they aren’t getting anywhere fast. I think I would love it – especially during sunrise / sunsets.

My hiking list is very long. Someday I’ll actually knock one or two off of that list.