Runtrails' Web Journal
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"To keep our faces toward change, and behave like free spirits in the presence of fate,
is strength undefeatable . . . Life is either a daring adventure or nothing."
~ Helen Keller
Life is full of changes and transitions, some positive, some negative. All add to the adventure called LIFE.

This website continues to reflect some of the transitions Jim and I have made over the last eight years since we began sharing some of our running and travel experiences on the internet. We can't control all of the changes that occur in our lives but we can control most of our responses to them.

Grand Teton National Park transitions into fall colors; Mt. Moran in background.  (9-13-11)

One thing that hasn't changed with Jim and me since I wrote my introduction to our 2011 web journal sixteen months ago is our continual need to roll with the punches. I've mentioned repeatedly how critical it is to be adaptable to the inevitable vicissitudes of life.

Change is inevitable. What really matters is how we react to it. Hopefully others can learn something from both our successes and our mis-adventures -- or at least be entertained by them!


People who are able to adapt the most seamlessly to life's changes, especially the ones they can't control, are the healthiest and happiest. They don't wallow in self-pity or remain stagnant forever.  They acknowledge the change and their feelings about it, deal with reality, and move on with their lives.

This applies to everything from minor glitches to the really serious issues we all face at one time or another.

Another colorful scene from the Tetons: boats at Colter Bay.  (9-10-11)

Jim and I haven't totally perfected the art of rolling with the punches but we try our best.

Although I'm pretty cynical about the world in general, I'm very optimistic about our lives. Jim tends to worry about things more than I do and he gets a little weary sometimes of my "Little Susie Sunshine" attitude when things go wrong.

Believe me, with our very active and nomadic lifestyle (hiking in remote areas, wrecking our bikes repeatedly, gallivanting all over the country in our RV, etc.) there is plenty of opportunity for things to go wrong -- bad weather, traffic problems, mechanical issues, reservation glitches, getting lost, illness, injuries, etc.

When our 2011-2012 Winter Trip was delayed and we didn't get back to Ellsworth AFB
in South Dakota to get our camper out of storage until December 5, we had the campground
 all to ourselves when it was zero degrees Fahrenheit and very windy. At least it was sunny!

Our free-wheeling lifestyle in retirement may look appealing to observers but sometimes it is just as stressful as it was when we were each younger and lived a conventional life in a stationary house, had more family and community responsibilities, and worked full-time jobs.

Adding to the challenge of the unexpected things that occur in our lives are all the changes we voluntarily initiate, particularly changes to our travel plans.

I'll talk more about this in the next entry that focuses on our RV lifestyle and how it is also changing over time.


Jim helped me develop this web journal in 2005 to chronicle our Appalachian Trail journey run and hike from Georgia to Maine. I had so much fun sharing that adventure with readers from all over the world that I've continued writing entries and uploading thousands of photos ever since.

Subsequent journals from 2006 to 2010 mainly focused on trail ultra running, the passion that brought us together thirteen years ago. This is my eighth annual journal.

This is an old picture but one of my favorites: Jim and me relaxing as we wait
for the start of the the 2006 Bighorn Mountain Wild & Scenic 100-Mile Trail Run.

We both enjoyed long-distance road running in our 30s and 40s. When we each discovered ultra-distance (i.e., longer than marathons) trail events we were hooked.

In our 40s, 50s, and early 60s our leisure lives revolved around training for and competing in mountain trail races up to 100 miles in length and fixed-time events of 24 and 48 hours. We met through ultra running in 1999 and got married 01-01-01 (Olde Pharts need easy dates to remember!).

We traveled all over the country to races in our 5th-wheel camper until knee problems forced us to stop running last year. You can look back at our previous journals to see where we went and enjoy photos of gorgeous scenery around the USA.

Mt. Moran in Grand Teton National Park (9-8-11)

Not being able to run has been the biggest transition we've made in the past year. It has changed our focus from traveling to races to traveling to places where we can enjoy hiking, cycling, and exploring new parts of the country we haven't seen yet.

Those changes are reflected in the 2011 and 2012 journals.


Just because we're in our 60s and can't run doesn't mean we aren't athletic any more. We want to stay fit mentally and physically for as long as we can. My goal is to reach age 100!

Jim and me waiting for the buses to take us to the start of the Bighorn 30K trail run.  (6-18-11)

I learned that I'm bone-on-bone in both knees from inherited osteoarthritis in September, 2009.

I've been very fortunate that Orthovisc, one of the half dozen types of visco-supplementation that cushion Granny Knees, has worked very well for me. I can still hike all day and even climb 14ers. My orthopedist made it clear that I shouldn't do any "pounding" from running, as that will exacerbate the problem and hasten the time I need to get both knees replaced. The only running I do now is an occasional sprint uphill to get my heart rate up.

Since I was doing as much walking as running when I quit ultra running, the transition to hiking hasn't been all that traumatic for me. I can still produce feel-good endorphins and see grand vistas from mountain tops -- that makes me very happy.

Views from Table Mountain, elev. 11,000 feet, in the Grand Teton Mountains. (8-30-11)
Peaks L to R, above: Mt Owen, Grand Teton (13,770 feet), and Middle Teton

Jim's transition from ultra running to no running at all hasn't been so easy because his running career came to such an abrupt, totally unexpected halt.

He fell off his bike in November, 2010 and his life hasn't been the same since. Landing hard on his right knee tore the meniscus. Our orthopedist said the best way to repair it was surgery. He thought Jim would be able to run again after the surgery but that only made the cartilage wear faster.

By last July Jim couldn't run at all or even walk more than a mile or two. He tried Euflexxa, another form of visco-supplementation, while we were in Colorado but it didn't seem to do much good. For the past few months he's been limping. He can't walk for exercise and he can't sleep well or sit for long periods of time because his knee hurts.

His knee feels good only when he's cycling but he can't do that 24 hours a day! 

Jim at the start of one of our rides on the Mickelson Trail in South Dakota  (10-2-11)

Jim's currently trying Orthovisc. If that doesn't work, he'll most likely need a total knee replacement if he wants to walk comfortably and keep his body in alignment. The good news is that after two of the three Orthovisc injections, he's already noticing some improvement.

We have our fingers firmly crossed that it will work for him as well as it works for me.


After I had to stop running I was OK with continuing to volunteer at ultra races because Jim was still running them. We loved seeing our friends at the events and being in beautiful venues like the San Juan Mountains of southwestern Colorado and the Bighorn Mountains of Wyoming.

The last race we entered (and mostly walked) was the Bighorn Mountain Wild & Scenic 30K Trail Run in Wyoming last June.

The last race we worked was Across the Years 72-, 48-, and 24-hour event in the Phoenix, AZ area at New Years:

Our friend Anne Watts runs by runners' tables at the new ATY venue at Camelback Ranch.  (12-31-11)

We don't know how long we'll continue to volunteer at ultra running races. Although we'd love to see our friends at some of our favorite events we've pretty much lost the desire to be only on the periphery.

We remain in e-mail contact with some of our closest running friends around the country. I still read some of the posts on the internet ultra running list to see what's going on but Jim has pretty much stopped reading them. As time goes on we feel less like we belong to that "community."

It's all part of our transition from being runners for 30+ years to being avid hikers and cyclists now. Fortunately, many of our ultra running friends also hike and cycle so we still have those interests in common.

Jim riding through Rick's Basin at Grand Targhee Resort
on the west side of the Teton Range in Wyoming.  (8-26-11)

When Jim first turned to cycling as his primary sport last summer he was enthusiastic about entering some future mountain bike races. He had several events in mind out West for the fall and winter but our travel plans changed and we returned to our house in Virginia before he was able to do any of those races.

He did complete the entire 109-mile Mickelson Trail in South Dakota in a one-day solo ride last fall. I'm encouraging him to do more long rides like that where I can crew for him.

This is one reason I don't enjoy cycling as much as hiking -- mechanical issues!
Jim works on our bikes while we camp at Davis-Monthan AFB in Tucson, AZ.  (12-15-11)

If Jim can train consistently on his bike he'll consider entering some cycling events in the future. Now he's just happy to ride for health benefits and the fun of it.

I also ride but prefer to hike with Cody, our active nine-year-old Labrador retriever. That dog will go anywhere with me! He's the only runner in our family now.


The photo I chose for this year's page headers reflects our transition from ultra runners to hikers and cyclists -- and our life-long love of mountains.

The picture at the top of this page, the topics page, and our home page shows Jim riding his mountain bike on a paved multi-use trail on the eastern side of the mountains in Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming.

You can see Grand Teton Mountain and several other nearby 13,000-14,000-feet peaks in the distance, still sporting some snow at the higher elevations when I took that photo in September last year (scroll to the top of this page if you forget what it looks like).

Here's another picture I took the same day of Jim riding ahead of me through Grand Teton NP.
We're headed the other direction, with a different range of mountains in front of us.  (9-9-11)

Most of the photos in this entry are from places we visited last year but I haven't posted entries on the website yet. I have all the notes and photos on my computer, just haven't put them together yet . . .


I love to write. I also love to take pictures. It's fun to share some of our travel experiences and recreational activities with the rest of the world on this website.

There are quite a few things I do NOT include on this website. I occasionally talk about friends and family but for their privacy, I don't focus on them or some of the other activities in which we're involved. I also try to avoid controversial topics like politics, religion, and social issues. We have reasoned opinions on most subjects but we usually keep them to ourselves, even in personal conversations with people we know.

It just makes life simpler that way.

Dramatic sunset at Ellsworth AFB near Rapid City, SD  (10-3-11)

Over the years this website has included an increasing amount of travel information, reflecting another  change our lives have taken. I'll talk more about our rather unconventional RV lifestyle in the next entry.

I enjoy sharing information and photos about the places we visit that I think may be of interest to regular readers and to folks who are directed to this site during a web search about a specific place.

One of the hawks  (above) in a raptor demonstration at the
Sonoran Desert Museum (below) near Tucson, AZ (12-28-11)

During our travels we don't particularly like to shop or eat out so don't expect to find a lot of reviews about restaurants or business establishments on this website, either.

We do enjoy going to visitor centers, all sorts of museums, historical exhibits, libraries, certain kinds of guided tours, wildlife centers, farmers' markets, some arts and craft shows, various outdoorsy things, and any beautiful park (local, state, national) to hike, bike, and sight-see, however, so I include lots of entries and photos from those types of places.

I've also gradually included more trip notes when we go from Point A to Point B. Some of that information can be helpful to folks who drive all or part of the route, even if they don't have an RV. 


Each year since 2009 I've gotten farther and farther behind on journaling and editing photos. I write too much and I take too many pictures.

That's just how I'm wired and I'm not likely to change anytime soon! I intend to go back some day and fill in the gaps but it will take a while. I'm too busy with current activities to spend my time in retrospect.

View from our camper of full moon, sunset, and some other RVs at the Imperial Dam LTVA
campground in southern California; Dome Mountain Range is in background.  (1-8-12)

You can see where we are by looking at the current year's topics page. Even if I haven't written the entries yet I list where we've been and some of the things we've done.

Although I'm beginning the 2012 journal in May, this entry and the next one will remain at the top on the topics page.

I'll also do a synopsis of our Southwest winter trip and time in Roanoke, then go back later to flesh them out. I'll list some of those topics now but won't have links to individual entries until sometime in the future. That means some of the dates on this year's topics page will be out of order.

Bridge (above) near inlet to Roosevelt Dam (below) in east central Arizona (3-26-12)

I will do my best to keep more current on our summer trip to Alaska, which will commence soon.

We have heard/read that internet connections may be few and far between along our route through Alberta, British Columbia, and especially the Yukon Territories of Canada, as well as in more remote areas of Alaska. I may be posting several entries at once when we can get online.

We hope you'll follow our journey so you can experience this trip-of-a-lifetime vicariously.


I'll continue this website as long as it's fun and I have things to write about that might be of interest to various readers. We still get comments and questions about the Appalachian Trail, Colorado Trail, various races and places we've been, and other topics from previous years' journals.

Even if I get tired of writing new journals, we'll probably keep the website on the internet a good long while. I consider it part of my legacy.

And yes, I intend to keep using "Runtrails" until I get tired of it -- as my e-mail addresses, this website, our Picasa photo albums, and our signature below. Once a runner, always a runner in my heart.

Hiking the Telephone Trail in Sabina Canyon near Tucson, AZ;
photo taken by RVing friends Theresa and Dave.  (12-20-11)

The website format may change when I get a new laptop computer in the future, however. I've been using Microsoft Front Page software with Windows Vista and whatever came before that, but it looks like it won't work with Windows 7 in a new computer.

Jim's been trying to get me to switch to a standardized blog format for several years and I continue to resist. I don't want to let the uniqueness of this website die.

I'll have to re-evaluate my software options when I get a laptop later this year or next. It would be more convenient to travel in the camper with a laptop than the small PC and widescreen monitor I currently have. Jim has his own laptop, so we travel with two computers + a printer/scanner/copier.

We're happy when we can get internet connections in remote campgrounds like this one
at Organ Pipe National Monument in AZ, just a few miles from the Mexican border.  (3-14-12)

We welcome feedback and questions from interested readers. Just click on the link in the upper left part of the home page frame that says "Contact Us." If we have an internet connection, we'll get back to you fairly quickly.

Next entry:  all about our rather unconventional RV lifestyle

Happy trails,

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

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2012 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil