Ah, adventure! Is there anything more appealing than living each
day as if it is a grand new adventure??
Too bad it took me so many years to reach that perspective. Jim and I
have been trying to make up for "lost time" since we retired several
years ago. More about that later.
NEW YEAR, NEW JOURNAL
Welcome to our website
. . . and our unconventional lifestyle of wandering around the
USA in a recreational vehicle with our black Lab, Cody. I'll describe
that more in another entry, since we often get questions about it from
other folks who have a similar dream.
Jim and Cody share some quality time at Clear Lake,
a beautiful alpine lake in the
San Juan Mountains near Silverton, CO (June, 2010).
This is the seventh year I've been writing journals on this
website. The entries have morphed from focusing primarily on our
ultra-distance running and racing to including more and more
travel and RV topics. We have many other interests that I
occasionally talk about, too, but those are the main
It'll be interesting to see how the website continues to
evolve over the years . . . reflecting the evolution of
Sometimes I also toss in miscellaneous humor and what I call
"cautionary tales" when our intended adventures turn into
inadvertent misadventures. Readers tend to remember those the
It's hard to avoid summer thunderstorms, sleet,
and snow in the Rockies;
that's been my most frequent "misadventure." (Colorado
Trail, Segment 22, July, 2006)
My goals remain the same as when I began the first journal to
our Appalachian Trail Adventure Run in 2005: to
inform, entertain, and inspire readers and to satisfy my urge to write and take photos.
Those hobbies are almost as much fun for me as exploring new
places on foot and wheels. This website is the easiest way for me to
record and share
all that with others.
Be forewarned: I'm not known for my brevity. In fact,
this may be one of the shortest entries I write all year!
Not only do I write too much, I take 'way too many pictures.
the downside of digital photography for someone like me -- the
ease with which I can take and store thousands of photos. I spend
an inordinate amount of time editing them, mostly making them
smaller so they don't completely overwhelm my internal and external
computer hard drives. I take them in the highest resolution my camera
will allow in case I want to zero in on details later.
I'm also a photo pack-rat; it's hard for me to delete any but
the lousiest of pictures. Hmm . . . I might want to use that one
someday . . . That's the biggest reason my computer is getting
The scenery is superlative in the
Upper Ice Lake Basin near Silverton, CO (June, 2010)
One of the upsides to digital photography is that it satisfies my
inner need to record the many interesting places I've seen, not only for
my own benefit but also for the pleasure of others. It's very rewarding
when readers visit this website and provide feedback about how much they
enjoyed the photos.
If you aren't interested in the verbiage, just scroll through the
photos! There are even more on our
Picasa site. There's a link to it in
the upper left frame ("More Photos"). I've got that site full
now and need to create another free account so I can upload my favorite 2010
and 2011 pictures . . .
There's that "pack-rat" mentality again. I don't want to delete any
of the albums I already put on Picasa! [Note that there's a virtual tour
of the Appalachian Trail on there. I'd like to do a similar series for
the Colorado Trail.]
Above and below: colorful
rocks on Antelope Island in the Great Salt Lake, UT (Sept., 2010)
I'm an enthusiastic amateur, not professional, photographer. My
favorite subjects are landscapes and the details of nature. Jim
occasionally takes photos, too, but he isn't keen on carrying a camera
when he's running or hiking.
All the photos on this website were taken with relatively simple,
inexpensive, compact digital cameras. For more than a year I've been
using a 10-megapixel Nikon Coolpix L20 model. I recently saw the
newer 12-megapixel version at Sam's Club
for only $89. Pretty amazing how much technology you can get for so few
For photos of outdoor scenery I think composition and basic photo-editing software are
almost as important as the type of camera a person uses. You don't need a fancy SLR with all sorts of lenses to take decent pictures
unless you are doing portraits or taking pictures indoors. I do have
problems taking good indoor photos with this camera, but that's more me
than the camera.
WHERE IS THAT SCENE AT THE TOP OF THE PAGE?
Speaking of photos . . .
. . . the one I finally chose to use in the
headers of this year's journal pages is a shot of Pike's Peak framed by some
red rocks at Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs. I had a hard
time picking just one picture to represent the fantastic mountain scenery
we enjoyed during last year's "summer" trip (our mid-year trips to the
Rockies ideally span three seasons from May to October).
I'm still smiling after climbing to the 14,000+
foot summit of Pike's Peak in July, 2010. (Photo by Jim)
One of my 2010 goals was to climb Pike's Peak but there was too much
snow near the top to hike all the way up when I took that photo in
June. I did reach the summit on foot at the
of July; it was one of the highlights of my summer. (And
the last entry I uploaded to the 2010 journal -- on December 6.
Some day I won't be able to climb mountains or travel any
more. I'll be mighty glad I have an extensive collection of photos and
descriptions of the many beautiful places I've recorded in scrapbooks
and this website.
FILLING IN THE GAPS
I also have a bad habit of getting behind on journal entries and
leaving gaps. Heck, I left an entire gaping hole in the
last five months of the 2010 journal!
At the time I'm writing this, I have a gap in the Summer 2009
journal, a gap in the spring of 2010, and that large hole from August to
December. < sigh > I resolve to fill those in eventually.
Photo from one of the journal gaps: a large
enjoys the warm spring sun at Brazos Bend SP in
Texas (late March, 2010)
I already explained half of the problem: being too verbose and
including too many photos. The other half is doing too many interesting
things in too many interesting places!
I'm only partly joking about that. We do keep busy and I hate to
leave out any of the topics I think readers might enjoy. Last year we
visited several new places and explored some fantastic trails we'd never
run or hiked before. It'll be fun to write the rest of those entries when I find the time
to do them.
I'm so enthusiastic about some of the places we visit that you'd think I was getting paid to
promote them -- I'm not. Trying to make money being a travel
writer or photographer would take all the fun out of it for me. It's simply a labor of
love, the same reason I've never written a book about our Appalachian
Caprock Canyons SP in Texas: one of the new places
we visited last year. (May, 2010)
Right now in Janu-ugly is a good time for me to resume writing. I haven't written
any entries since the ones about Pike's Peak that I uploaded in early
December. That was right before we left on our annual winter snowbird
escape (which will last into spring) from Virginia to the Phoenix area.
I'll talk more about the concept of "snowbirding" in another entry.
So far we've had
generally disappointing weather, with
temperatures about 20° F. below normal. At
least most days have been sunny. But instead of basking in warm sunshine, more often we've been challenged to
prevent the water pipes in our camper from freezing overnight. We hope
to find warmer weather when we're in Texas the next three months.
Hmmm . . . wasn't it southern
Texas where we ran into 9°F. temperatures one night about a year ago???
After the rain: dramatic clouds over our
McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Phoenix, AZ
I shouldn't whine about the cold temps
and occasional rain, though. Much
of the rest of the country has been wracked with frigid temperatures and
repeated heavy snowstorms, even in the Southeast. It looks like a repeat
of last year's below-normal temperatures and above-normal snowfalls in
many places of the U.S.
Meanwhile, lousy weather gives me time
to reflect, start this new journal, and get inspired to fill in previous
gaps. And sometimes dramatic rain clouds make more interesting photographic
subjects than clear blue skies!
JOURNAL THEMES & TOPICS
It'd be real easy to make a crack about
global warming right now . . . but I try to stay away from
controversial topics like politics in this journal.
< wink >
Oh, Jim and I have our opinions; we just
usually keep them to ourselves (such lively debates we have!). We also
avoid talking about most of them with our families and friends. It makes
life so much less stressful.
We enjoyed seeing our friends John and Marcy Beard at
races in Colorado and New Mexico last year.
They are well-known in ultra running and adventure
racing circles and maintain a lively blog.
I don't talk about our families much in
this journal, either, out of respect for their privacy. I do mention
friends and acquaintances by name sometimes, however, when relevant to
an entry about a race or other activity. I figure their names are
already listed in race results and running blogs that anyone with a
computer can access.
I have several recurring themes on this website:
- sharing the thrill of
discovery: to me there's nothing like literally exploring around the next corner,
learning the history of a place, or meeting new people. I try to be
like a sponge, absorbing as much information and as many good
experiences as I can. Learning is much more fun and meaningful now than when I was a
young pup in school.
Exploring Amish Country in
northern Indiana (October, 2010)
- challenging ourselves and our readers to set
goals and dream big dreams: all of us are capable of accomplishing so
much more than we think we can. I always encourage people to think about what's
important to them, make a plan, and make it happen sooner rather than later. "Later"
might get here a lot sooner than you think!
One of my lifelong dreams was to
run/hike the entire Appalachian Trail.
Jim and I celebrate our
completion at the northern terminus in Maine (September, 2005).
- adapting to changing circumstances: you can make all the
plans you want but life constantly
throws curve balls at you. The faster and more gracefully you can
adapt, the happier you'll be. We've especially learned a lot
about flexibility during our recent nomadic years on the road. I
usually don't write about our plans because we change them so often,
more often because we've changed our minds than because of some type
- being good role models for folks to live active,
healthy lifestyles, regardless of their ages: when you read about
some of our running/hiking and other adventures, keep in mind that we are
in our early 60s.
Our favorite ultra-running role models are in their 70s and 80s! Not everyone can run long distances or climb mountains, but
everyone can do some appropriate aerobic and strength activities
so they become/remain physically and mentally fit.
An ultra running legend (Ray Krowlewicz, L) and one
of our heroes (80-year-old Dan Baglione, R)
pick up their race packets before the Across the
Years 72-Hour Run. (December, 2010)
Because Jim's and my major sports passions are running and hiking, many of
my entries are about our training, races we've run
or worked, and trails we've explored. If you're new to this website, a
scan of each year's topics pages illustrates the wide scope of those
entries and can keep you busy reading and/or looking at photos of
beautiful places for a long, long time!
Each year I include more non-running entries because 1) some readers
are interested in travel and RV topics and 2) I'm not supposed to be
running any more, doggone it.
Even though I still walk/hike a bunch (1,400+ miles last year), I no
longer participate in races. Believe me, it is much harder to write
interesting reports from the perspective of a race volunteer than it was
when I ran those races.
Awesome view of the "back side" of the Tetons from
Table Mountain (August, 2010)
But I can whip out some heart-felt entries about the awesome hikes
I've had since I (mostly) stopped running!
I'm simply amazed by the amount of
mountain hiking I was able to do last summer and fall with knees that
have been bone-on-bone for well over a year. Orthovisc, one of several
types of visco-supplementation that help to lubricate
makes it possible for me to continue walking long distances --
although not nearly as long as I used to be able to run in one
After 30+ years of running, I thought I'd miss it more than I do.
Instead, it's been less stressful to not feel like I always have to be
"in training" for races. As long as I can walk long enough to produce
some feel-good endorphins and reach scenic vistas, I'm happy. It's the
main activity that keeps me sane and healthy. I also cycle on- and
off-road, do weight training, stretch, and practice yoga.
Jim happily runs to the finish at the Bighorn 50K in June,
Jim is still able to run several ultra marathons each year. He's not as fast
as he used to be but his desire to finish a mountainous trail 100-miler,
or reach 100 miles in a 24-hour dirt track race, still burns brightly.
He has another ambitious list of races planned for 2011. He focuses
primarily on running and walking but also occasionally cycles and does
JOIN THE FUN!
I'll talk more about all these things in subsequent entries. We hope you'll join
us vicariously for some new adventures (and inevitable misadventures) this year.
We had so much fun last year that we'll probably return to some of the
same places and do it all over again.
After being in the Phoenix area most of December for one of our
favorite races, the Across the Years 72-, 48-, and 24-Hour Run, we drove
to the Fort Bliss family campground in El Paso today. In about a week
we'll move to some Texas state parks farther east and south where we'll be "Winter
Texans" for a few months.
Camping at McDowell Mountain Regional Park near
Four Peaks Wilderness in distance. (December, 2010)
If you have any questions or comments you can contact us at the
e-mail link in the frame in the upper left corner of each journal page
home page. We love to get feedback,
especially when folks tell us they are inspired to set new goals or try
something different after reading about it on our website.
Next entry: our unconventional RVing lifestyle
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil