2013  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
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   WELCOME TO OUR WEBSITE & 2013 JOURNAL

FRIDAY, JANUARY 18

 
"What kind of memories does it make to always be so safe there is no adventure?"
~ Ultrarunning legend Gary Cantrell AKA "Lazarus Lake"
 
 
"Laz" can't run ultra-distances on foot any more either, but that doesn't stop him -- or us -- from continually seeking new adventures and pushing our personal envelopes physically and mentally.

Even though our activities aren't as physically demanding now in our 60s as they were when we were in our 40s and 50s we haven't lost our desire to stay fit, learn new things, and wander around this marvelous continent in our RV.

As soon as I saw this Pickles cartoon a few days ago I knew I wanted to use it in the introduction to this year's web journal:


Pickles cartoon by Brian Crane, 1-12-13

This is the ninth (9th!!!) year I've used this forum to share Jim's and my running, hiking, cycling, RVing, and travel adventures with folks who know us and folks who somehow stumble onto this website.

It's my version of a "book."

It's free, it includes a gazillion photos of interesting places we've been, and it's a fun, creative hobby that has introduced us to people all over the world since I first chronicled our Appalachian Trail Adventure Run/Hike in 2005.


Good grief, has it really been 7+ years since we did this???
Time sure flies at warp speed as we get older.  (Sept., 2005)

Since we both had to stop running in recent years because of knee problems, the focus of our site has morphed to reflect our new reality. We travel in our RV as much or more than we used to and we continue to stay fit with hiking and cycling.

My favorite photo subjects are beautiful scenery, trails I hike, bike paths and other places we ride, and a wide variety of interesting things I notice, from a colorful flower to handsome architectural details.

Fall comes early at Denali National Park in Alaska. Colorful foliage blankets the valley
in Nenana Canyon, above, and high in the tundra on Healy Ridge, below.  (9-2-12)

If you've been a regular reader for some or all of the past eight years you already know a lot about us.

Not all of our life is an open book -- I try to protect the privacy of our family and friends and don't include all of our activities or thoughts -- but I do share quite a bit of information about traveling around North America in our RV and the recreational activities we most enjoy (formerly endurance running, now primarily hiking and cycling).


Part way up popular Flattop Mountain in the Chugach Range above Anchorage, AK  (6-22-12)

If this is our first journal entry you've read I encourage you to go back to my 2011 and 2012 journal introductions so you'll know more about our athletic history and nomadic RV travel lifestyle.

STILL 80% NOMAD

For those readers wondering if we have become full-time RVers yet nope.

We still have our "stick" house on 12 acres of wooded land near Roanoke, VA. We still want to sell it and travel in our 36-foot Cameo 5th-wheel coach full-time instead of just eight to nine months of the year. The main obstacle is the lousy housing market in our area of rural Virginia.

 
Little House parked at Big House temporarily last spring

We like to take two long RV trips each year -- a "summer trip" from approximately early May to early October in the cool Rockies and other mountain ranges out West, and a "winter trip" from November to April in the warm desert Southwest or southern Texas.

Between those extended trips we usually spend one to two months at the house in the spring and fall when the weather is mild and the flowers and leaves are pretty.


Cody enjoys an autumn walk in our woods. (11-12-10)

Neither of us likes temperature extremes, snow, or constant rain. We prefer to live in what I call the "Dandelion Time Warp" -- AKA eternal spring -- in a range of temperatures from about 45 F. to 75 F. and with plenty of sunshine.

That's our ideal climate. We don't always time it exactly right (Mother Nature can be quite unpredictable) but by being flexible and choosing our travel destinations carefully we are usually pretty comfortable.

We could do that more easily if we didn't feel the need to return to our house twice a year. It's a lot of driving, since we spend most of our time living on the other side of the country.


There are several nice National Forest Service campgrounds at Lake Roosevelt, AZ. (3-26-12)

Our current plan is to keep the house until the housing market improves for sellers. As slowly as the economy is improving, however, that could be a while.

This spring we'll contact some real estate agents again (for the fifth straight year) to see how the market is doing in our rural area near Roanoke. In recent years properties near Smith Mountain Lake haven't bounced back as much as in-town properties. If things have improved enough in our area we'll put the house up for sale this spring.


One of our favorite campgrounds is at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs, CO.
There are many nice hiking and cycling trails in the area.  (5-16-12)


Another of our favorites is the FamCamp at Ellsworth AFB in Rapid City, SD. We love all the
recreational opportunities on base, in town, and in the nearby Black Hills area. (10-2-12)

Each lifestyle -- living full-time in an RV vs. extended RV travel while maintaining a stationary house -- has its advantages and disadvantages.

When we're at the house, we enjoy some of the conveniences of being there. It represents a lot of work, though. Every time we go back with some dread about all the cleaning, weeding, wood-cutting, general maintenance and repairs, and other chores we'll have to do.

Our preference is to live in the camper full time and travel. We are more at home in the Cameo (our "little house") than in our "big house." I've used the saying previously that "Home is where our camper is."

That's still true. As long as our health continues to be good, we will probably be incurable wanderers.

A QUICK REVIEW OF 2O12

I'm usually incapable of "quick reviews." That's why there are gaping holes in the last four years of journals on this website! I'm verbose and I take thousands of photos every year.

One goal before I die is to fill in all those gaps, starting with last summer's Alaska Adventure. I'm enjoying working on those entries this winter, six or seven months after they occurred. Many pleasant memories are being relived as I edit my notes and photos for this website.

Last winter we tried some interesting camping venues in southern Arizona and California that were new to us, which was fun.

We camped at the Imperial Dam LTVA in southern California for 2 months last winter.
Above:  our one-acre site;  below: overview of just one part of the LTVA.  (Jan., 2012)

Although I did a summary of that trip in the 2012 journal I still want to write more detailed entries about the great places we camped and visited. That's my second priority when I get done with the Alaska-Canada entries.

I don't know if we can ever top last summer's five-month journey from Virginia through the western U.S., northwestern Canada, and Alaska -- and back.

It left more of an impression on me than any other trip I've taken in the U.S. or the foreign countries I've visited.


All the glaciers we saw in Alaska and the Yukon fascinated me.  This is the Aialik tidal glacier
in Kenai Fjords National Park, which we saw on a boat ride from Seward.  (7-9-12)

It was a dream of mine for many years to visit Alaska and I finally did it.

Spending close to three whole months in Alaska was one of the highlights of my life. I felt like I belonged there.

I hope I can go back again because even three months, which is longer than most people can spend there, wasn't enough to see and do everything I wanted to see and do.


Two young grizzly bear cubs learning how to fish for salmon at Russian River Falls  
on the Kenai Peninsula; Mama Bear was off to the left having more luck.   (7-3-12)

One of the most important goals for me in Alaska was to behold the magnificence of Mt. McKinley on a sunny day. This peak, the highest in North America, drew me like a beacon from as far away as Anchorage and Fairbanks.

Many visitors never see McKinley AKA Denali, the Native Alaskan name for The Mountain, because of frequent cloud cover.


View of Denali from the Eielson Visitor Center 66 miles into the national park  (8-9-12)

Jim and I totally lucked out. We were privileged to see Denali on the majority of the 21 days we spent in or near the national park last August and September.

This is my favorite photo of the peak. I took it on August 9, 2012 during a tour bus ride that went 82 miles into the park:

The other photos of Denali are from two other vantage points.


Zooming in on Denali from Mt. Margaret, 15 miles into the park  (8-11-12)

Jim enjoyed the trip to Alaska, too, but since he did most of the 15,825 miles of driving (his choice; he prefers that I navigate) he was plum worn out when we returned to Virginia in October.

So was I. Just riding that far was tiring, even though we didn't do mega-miles each day.

Those were our truck miles. They included about 11,500 miles pulling our 36-foot Cameo 5th-wheel coach over an assortment of road conditions, which is more stressful than driving just the truck.

Washouts (above), gravel breaks, frost heaves, and wildlife in the middle of the road (below) --
just a few of the road hazards we encountered in Alaska and northwestern Canada. (Sept., 2012)

I joke that we were "tripped out." That's probably as much from all the new things we did and experienced in Alaska and Canada as it was from the distance we drove.

But we weren't ready to keep the Cameo in the back yard forever.

Within a few weeks we were rested and raring to go, looking forward to hitting the road again in our rolling residence.


Other than some sleet in late December, we didn't get any
nasty wintry weather in early January to delay our departure.

Continued in the next entry:  our 2013 travel, hiking, and cycling plans

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup

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2013 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

 

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