2018  HIKING, CYCLING,

& RV TRAVEL ADVENTURES

Starr's Mill and Lake, Peachtree City, GA

 

   
 
Runtrails' Web Journal
 
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   INTRODUCTION & SUMMARY OF OUR YEAR SO FAR

TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 6

 
"You'll seldom experience regret for anything that you've done. It is what you haven't done   
that will torment you . . . Develop an appreciation for the present moment.
Seize every second of your life and savor it."
 
~ Dr. Wayne Dyer
 
 

This has got to be the latest I've ever begun a new journal on this website since Jim and I developed it back in 2005!! He's the computer genius behind it and I (Sue) do almost all of the writing and photography.

I can't believe this is the 14th year I've been doing this, and it's almost time to begin the 2019 web journal -- too busy savoring life to stop and share it online, I guess.

I figured better late than never, however, since I do have several pertinent "running" and travel things to write about in the last quarter of 2018, including plans for more RV travel and Jim's return to participating in ultra-distance foot events:


Back in the game -- Jim just finished walking 106 miles at the ARFTA
(A Race for the Ages) event in Tennessee on 9-3-18, his first ultra in eight years.

My last entry was a summary of our unusual year in 2017, when we stopped traveling the continent full-time in our RV in March, bought a house in Peachtree City, Georgia, put the Cameo 5th-wheel coach in storage, and focused on settling into our new community.

We love it here but now we have "hitch-itch" again.

The RV is still in storage. We did, however, take it on a five-day "shakedown" outing recently and Jim's been busy preparing it for our upcoming winter trip to the Southwest. When we head out in December it will have been over 20 months since we've had an extended RV trip, our longest non-traveling period of time since early 2004. We were due for a break.


Uchee Creek CG, Fort Benning, GA  before a short trip to a race in Alabama (10-17-18)

In this entry I'll recap some of the 14-year history of this website, our RV travels, and running-hiking-cycling adventures; give an update on some of our activities so far this year; and let you know about our foot race and travel plans for this winter.

14 YEARS IN A NUTSHELL

We started this online journal on our own website back in 2005 to chronicle our 2,200-mile Appalachian Trail Adventure Run/Hike from Georgia to Maine:


Celebrating the finish at Mt. Katahdin in Maine  (9-24-05)

We got so much positive feedback from readers around the world who enjoyed the adventure, information, and photos that I just continued presenting a web journal each year since, although not all of them are completed yet. 

I do intend to eventually go back and finish them; I already have the photos and most of the journaling on my computer. Editing all of it is the hard part for me because of the sheer volume of photos I've taken and words I've written. Brevity is not my strong suit!

For the next few years I focused primarily on the ultra-distance foot races we both ran, our training runs in beautiful places, and our RV travels all over the U.S. and Canada.


A scene from colorful Lunenberg, Nova Scotia  (Aug. 20, 2014)

 
View of Denali from the park road in Denali National Park (August, 2012)

After neither of us could run any more due to knee issues, we mostly stopped attending ultra-distance running events in 2011. The journal morphed, with a focus more on our extended RV travels, hiking, and cycling -- still in beautiful places all over North America.  

We enjoyed traveling so much that we sold our house in Virginia in 2014. We weren't homeless, just house-free.


Inside our rolling residence, Jim digs in to a scrumptious lobster dinner
we prepared at Whale Cove CG on Digby Neck, Nova Scotia.  (Aug., 2014)

The next three years we lived and traveled full-time in our comfortable 36-foot 5th-wheel coach, a 2010 Carriage Cameo, pulled by our 2008 Dodge Ram 2500 diesel pick-up truck and accompanied by our 2002 Honda Odyssey minivan. (After 16 years, we finally replaced the Odyssey this year with a Toyota Highlander SUV. I like all of its new safety features but miss the space and versatility of the minivan, which served us very well for so long .)

Even though we had to drive separately while moving from one place to another, the Odyssey came in very handy at our destinations. You can see all three vehicles in the next two photos:

 
Most of the campsites we occupied while full-time RVing had plenty of room for both all three vehicles. 
This was our really long site at Peregrine Pines CG at the USAF Academy in Colorado Springs.  (6-5-16)


We enjoyed this large, inexpensive site at the Horsethief BLM campground high
on a mesa above Moab, UT near Canyonlands National Park in April, 2016.

We saw even more of North America during those three years when we didn't go back to our house in Virginia twice a year for routine maintenance and medical appointments. We were literally all over the map, visiting places from Florida to Alaska, the Canadian Maritimes to California, and many spots in between.

Although we enjoyed being house-free for most of that time, our lifestyle morphed yet again with our decision in 2017 to buy another house and suspend our RV travel for an unknown period of time.


Our last extended RV site was this beautiful one on Lake D at
Kings Bay Sub Base near St. Marys, GA during the winter of 2016-7.  

I explained most of the reasons in this entry. It wasn't so much a matter of been there, done that. Although we were repeating some of our favorite destinations, we always added some new ones each year to keep things interesting.

The main problem was that after the U.S. economy recovered sufficiently from the Great Recession, so many other people were buying RVs and doing the same thing that it became too much of a hassle to find decent, uncrowded campsites when and where we wanted to go. The thrill was gone when we no longer had the spontaneity we enjoyed in our first decade of extended travel.


Our new home base as it looked in August, 2017 before we did more landscaping
in the front yard; an upcoming entry will show what we did.

This year's and subsequent journals will continue to reflect the changes in our lives. They will still include RV travel information (destinations, campgrounds, activities, our vehicles, etc.); hiking, cycling, race events, and our other recreational activities; gardening and house projects; lots of photos; and whatever else we decide to share with the world.

We're not a total "open book." I don't write about everything or everyone in our lives because I want to protect the privacy of our friends and family. There's so little of that in social media today.

I also do my best to avoid controversial topics here, like politics and social issues. That's just not the purpose of this website.

UPDATE ON OUR 2018 ACTIVITIES

Last year I wrote about our search for, and purchase of, a single-level home where we could comfortably age in place in our 70s, 80s, and 90s.

We are very pleased with our choice of both the particular house we bought and the neighborhood and community in which we relocated. I'll have two more detailed entries following this one that feature new photos from the Peachtree City area and the landscaping we've done in our yard.

The picture above is an Okame Cherry tree I planted this past May in our front yard. It's supposed to bloom around Valentine's Day in this area -- once and done for the rest of the year.

What's wrong with this picture??

I took it on October 16. This very confused young tree dropped all of its leaves in August, sprouted these new green ones in September, and started blooming in early October! It's still blooming in mid-November. We have no idea whether it will bloom this coming February.

That's part of the fun of gardening, I guess -- the interesting surprises.

HIKING, WALKING, & CYCLING: OUR QUEST TO STAY "YOUNGER NEXT YEAR"

One of the main reasons we chose to live in Peachtree City is its extensive network of paved multi-use paths that wind throughout the hilly, treed neighborhoods and past large lakes, several ponds, and multiple golf courses. (I'll have updated photos of all that in another entry.)

The one sure thing that people who visit Peachtree City for the first time will remember about the town is these "cart paths," so-called because there are at least 11,000 golf carts registered to about 36,000 residents!

The majority of them, including us, don't golf but we all love to get out and ride those things around to shop, go to work, to school, to church, to special events -- and just for the heck of it because the city is so darn beautiful and there are fewer traffic hassles on the paths than the roadways.


Jim makes sure Holly (L) and Casey are buckled in before we take a cart ride.
He took out the back seat and built a platform for them.  (2-27-18)

We lucked out because the people who previously lived in our house gave us their cart when they moved to an area where they could no longer use it. We've had a lot of fun taking the dogs for rides and saving gas sometimes when we go shopping or to the vet.

But I digress. The main way we use the network of paths is to walk and to ride our bikes on them.

One of our top priorities when we bought a house last year was finding a quiet neighborhood where we could access a safe bike path or trail quickly and by simply walking from our house and not having to drive several miles to reach it. We use the city's path system multiple times a day to walk the dogs, do longer solo walks, and ride our bikes.


A section of the cart path along Lake Peachtree

When Jim hurt one of his knees about eight years ago in a bike fall, he did enough damage to his meniscus that he had to stop running after three decades of enjoying long-distance events up to and beyond 100 miles. Surgery to repair the meniscus wasn't successful, so he focused on cycling for several years.

In 2013, at age 65, he completed the very difficult Leadville Trail 100-mile mountain bike race at high altitude in Colorado. He wasn't able to comfortably hike very many miles until this year -- finally.

At the end of 2016 he had a partial knee replacement and was able to increase the distances he could comfortably walk. At the end of 2017 our current knee orthopedist gave him the go-ahead to do ultra-distance walking with the admonition that he do no pounding, i.e., no running.


Jim (in blue shirt) walks past one of the ponds on the scenic Endless Mile
race course at Veteran's Park in Alabaster, AL.  (10-19-18)

That was exactly what he needed to hear! This year Jim has been more like the guy I used to know -- setting race goals, increasing his training, and completing both 100 miles and 106 miles in two different fixed-time running events . . . without doing any running. 

It's amazing how many miles you can cover just walking if you have adequate training and enough time in a race. I'll have separate entries about those events.

With his focus on those races and two more to come in November and December, Jim hasn't been riding his bike nearly as much this year. He still occasionally rides his bike with Casey on the Walky-dog attachment. Soon Holly-pup's joints should be developed enough that she can learn how to run next to the bike, too. That dog LOVES to run, but neither of us can run with her.


Jim rides with Casey near on a path near our house.

At the end of 2017 I had my second of two total knee replacements in three months.

I had a lengthy four-page entry about the first surgery in last year's journal. I had a great surgeon and my recovery was easier than I expected. Recovery after the second one was even faster and more comfortable, probably because I knew what to expect that time.

I worked back up to a max of 10 miles of walking by spring. With all the yard work I've done this year, a hot summer and fall, more cycling than Jim, and no interesting plans to travel to my beloved Colorado mountains or Utah canyons to hike all day this summer . . . I haven't had the motivation to go much farther than about 15 miles. That should adequately prepare me for some longer hikes at places we plan to go on this winter's RV trip:


One of the trails at McDowell Mountain Regional Park near Phoenix (1-10-08)

I have absolutely no desire to get back into walking ultra events -- at least yet. I trained for and ran races for thirty years. It's been so much less stressful in my 60s to get outside and just hike for the sheer joy of moving my body and keeping it as healthy as possible.

Almost all of our walking and cycling this year has been on the paved path system in Peachtree City. There are four nice nature areas with dirt trails several miles away but we use them less often. It's just so much easier to go out the door and down to the path system at the end of our cul de sac. We have covered most of the 100-mile network at one time or another.

We also bought a kayak the summer of 2017 . . .

. . . but haven't used it for over a year because both Lake Kedron and Peachtree were drained during the summer of 2017 to build a new spillway. In the photo above, Jim is just starting to paddle out from the shore on Lake Peachtree before it was drained. Casey wanted to follow him but I called her back.

The spillway project is done and the lakes have finally filled up again in November but it's chilly now and we're busy with other activities. We plan to do more kayaking next year.

COMMUNITY INVOLVEMENT

Jim's been a lot more involved with volunteering in our new community than I have, but it wasn't exactly intentional. He didn't realize all the work he was getting himself into when he agreed to be the Quartermaster for the local VFW post!

He's always been interested in all things military, from historical to current events. Last year he got involved in a project at the Atlanta Motor Speedway helping rebuild some old helicopters like the ones he flew in Viet Nam. He also joined the VFW (Veterans of Foreign Wars) post in Peachtree City, the first he's been involved in that large, national organization.


Jim walks between two golf carts representing the local VFW post in this year's 4th of July parade.
Participating members gave out thousands of little American flags to the crowds lining the road.

As Quartermaster he's in charge of the post's finances and attends what seems like a lot of meetings locally and around the state.

Although he's not fond of all the meetings, he's good with the math details and enjoys representing his post at public awareness events like the big 4th of July parade in Peachtree City and giving out Buddy Poppies to customers at Kroger's in commemoration of Veteran's Day:

Above and below:  Proud to continue serving his country (11-10-18)

I haven't found any one volunteering niche in Peachtree City that excites me yet. I've been too focused on our house, yard, dogs, and surgeries since we moved here last year. And now that we plan to be traveling some again in the RV, I have to chose a type of volunteer work that is compatible with extended absences.

The two things that most interest me currently are training Casey to be a therapy dog (perhaps in a kids' reading program at the local library) and volunteering to operate remote cameras for http://www.explore.org, a really good nature website.

I'll talk more about our dogs and my tentative volunteer plans in the next entry.

PLANS FOR OUR WINTER RV TRIP

We made reservations at some RV parks and campgrounds in southern Texas and Arizona several months ago, as soon as online registration opened and we had our itinerary sketched out.

We plan to leave home in December and return in February. Destinations include some places we've visited before, like Brazos Bend State Park in Texas and McDowell Mountain Regional Park east of Phoenix, and at least one new spot (Lost Dutchman State Park near Parker, Arizona).


Deja vu all over again . . . We've reserved the same site at McDowell Mtn. for this trip that  
we had eight years ago in Dec., 2010 -- same truck and camper, so we know they'll fit the site.

In late December we'll spend several nights at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix while Jim participates in the Across the Years (ATY) 48-hour foot race. We've both done the ATY 24-hour event several times and Jim has done the 48-hour race once before.

I'll have entries about each of our destinations and the ATY event.

NAVIGATING THIS WEBSITE . . .

. . . is a little different than most personal websites or "blogs" but I don't think it's too hard.

Every page you're on has a link near the top to our home page, where you can find a representative photo and link for the topics page of each year's journal. The most recent year is at the top of the home page. Currently there are 14 annual journals, each with its own topics page of subjects covered that year.

You can see exactly what subjects/destinations are covered each year by scrolling down the topics page. Entries that you can read are underlined and have a date to the right. That means there is an active internet link to the page(s). If there is a topic but no date, I haven't uploaded it yet.

Here's an example from the 2016 topics page. I've gotten (temporarily) stuck uploading entries during April in Utah. The topics with a date are completed but the ones without a date are not:

There are gaps in other years, too, where I've listed topics but haven't uploaded the entries and photos yet. I can't guarantee if or when I'll ever do all of those but they give you an idea of what we did that year.

We do not have an index of topics, such as all the entries relating to a particular destination or race,  like many websites do; we just never got around to including that feature.

When you are done reading any of the journal entry pages you can click links to go back to the previous entry, forward to the next entry, return to the topics page for that year, or go back to the home page, as illustrated by the section I highlighted on a page from last year's journal:

Note that dates on entries don't always correspond to the date an event, hike, etc. actually occurred. I often write entries that are summaries and include information and photos from more than one date. If the date is pertinent, I'll give that information in the entry itself.

We hope you enjoy our site. I know I'm often too wordy; some of the entries are quite long because of excess verbiage and/or lots of photos. If you don't have the time to read an entry you may still enjoy scrolling through the photos, which often have captions.

Next entry:  updated information on our doggie family + my new obsession with Warrior Canine Connection and Explore.org

Happy trails,

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

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2018 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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