Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts
Showing posts with label travel. Show all posts

Saturday, April 30, 2022

What You Need - Always One Thing More

My van died.

After arriving in White Springs, FL, I had to drive back 1.5 hours to Green Cove Springs for my DMV appointment.  That is a story in itself, which I don't have time for at the moment, so we will skip that saga.

Just as I pulled into my campground where I am attending the Suwanee Bicycle Association's Annual Pedal and Paddle event, my van died.  I was pulling to a stop by the ranger station.  And it sputtered and quit.   

I suspected the transmission because I could start the van just fine, but when I put it in drive it would jerk, sputter, and then silence.

I called my friend Mari Towle who until a few days ago was my next door neighbor.  She is here at the festival and she was very supportive and came and helped me take the important stuff out of my van and transfer it to hers for transport to my camping spot.

It ended up to be the transmission.  I would have fixed it to get a few more years out of the van, but due to a shortage of parts and labor, the time line for getting it installed was mid-June.  That just won't do.

Some people here have said, just go home and shop for a new vehicle.  Ummmm, this is my home. Today I will talk to the ranger about being on this site for a week if I can.


When deciding what to bring with me and what to leave in storage I said, "No, not that." to a lot of things.  Decision after decision of what to carry with me, always keeping in mind the weight and space I would be living in.

When going through my important papers I decided to bring the title to the Weeroll, but not the title to my Van.  I know, right?  Doesn't make any sense at all, now that I look back.

I decided to bring my sales-tax papers for filing book sales taxes, but I voted against carrying the death certificate for my late husband George.  Why on earth would I need that?

It matters now because I will be selling my van for scrap or trading it in for a new vehicle.  George's name is still on the title.  


It could not have happened in a better place on my trip.  Here, I have friends and people who tow campers around me who can advise me on vehicles.  I got an offer from a bicyclists I just met to use her local home (she still resides in Tampa) while I shop and deal with the paperwork, legal, insurance, etc.

Within a phone call are a few folks in Inverness that can help me do the research to find the right truck.


As I was unloading stuff from the van before it got towed away, I was saying a silent goodbye.  I don't think of myself as material, but I really am with some things.  I loved my van.  I just got it all fixed up.  New tires, new shocks, new transmission cooler.  It looked great, I had the storage of my stuff accessible from the sliding side doors and the back hatch.  The height was just right so that I could load the trike and the bike by myself.  That is essential.

I knew how to operate it... I never learned the bluetooth to my phone or some of the stuff.   But I could put up and take down the stow and go seats in minutes.


You know how I feel about my ability to make good shopping decisions.  Not!  A little fear is good.  "Feel the fear and do it anyway," is my motto.  And I know that after going through a tough time I will come out the other side stronger and happy.  

No pictures today.  Cell service is ... weak.

Remind me to tell you about the DMV.

Monday, October 11, 2021

Lovely Hike and Bike and Camp

 Dear Friends and Family,

What sights!  They take my breath away.

After I last posted I searched for a trail near me and found one only three miles away.  Wow, was it ever a pretty trail!  It started out going through a tunnel through Mountain Laurel.

Then steps down to a falling creek (or "run" as they call them around here).
The ground covered with colorful leaves and some snowing down in front of me.  There were trees and mosses growing on giant rocks.
Golden leaves  were floating on a crystal clear stream.
There were lots of pretty and interesting fungus/mushrooms.
And the walk was just the right length.

I hooked up my trailer that night and on Sunday I pulled out of my site 63 at Chestnut Ridge Campground by seven a.m.

Google said it would only take me four hours to get to my destination.  I knew better.  I gave my next campground host in Fries, VA and estimated arrival time of two or three p.m.  As it turned out, I didn't even make that.  

Why?  Well there were lots of slow climbs and lots of things to look at and then I had to get out an walk a bit and that is how I roll.

By 10:00 I needed to walk so I found a recreation area and parked at the Bee Run Campground.  It was lovely and I thought how I need to figure out how to camp without electric.  A bag of ice in my fridge, and a battery with a plug for my computer.  I could do a couple days, I think. 

Right out of the campground was the Happy Camper Trail.  It went down down down and reminded me of the trail from Ohiopyle Campground to the Great Allegheny Passage Rail Trail.  This trail took me down a mile and a half to a reservoir and marina.  It had a beach, a playground, and shelters with electric where a camper could charge up their devices.  Here there was cell service too.  Hmmmm.

I marched the mile and a half up the road this time back to my car ride for today.

I was still 120 miles away from my destination of Fries, VA where I would camp and ride the New River Trail, when I began to see signs for scenic views of the New River Gorge.

I pulled into a very very busy visitors' center parking lot.  I was going to see about picking up a map of the trail and information.  But there was a line waiting to get into the visitors center. 

I walked a bit to the scenic overlook of a bridge that I was about to drive over on the highway that I was driving.

It is the longest arch bridge.  And by creating the bridge they saved travelers several hours of travel.

But the viewing area and paths were crowded!  Everyone was out doing touristy stuff this lovely Sunday.  So I moved on.

My camping spot is sweet!  We are actually in a creek valley that floods on rare occasions, and has a lovely little stream trickling by our line of campsites.  In the mornings and evenings the smell of autumn and pine fill the air.  

The campground host told me how to get to the New River Trail, "Straight out the campground and behind the school across the street."

When I got to the trail, I was amazed.  What a lovely river valley.  The river is a lot wider than I imagined and in many places it is rushing over and around rocks.  This must be the best time of year to do the New River Trail.

Right away I was glad I decided not to ride my trike.  The trail had spots where the crushed limestone had washed away and the big-rock gravel or ballast made for a bumpy ride.  

At the Fries end of the trail is a caboose that sells ice cream.  I made a note to check that out on my way back into town.

The trail in places looked blacktop, but it was a dark crushed stone, with some big stones sometimes.

There are campsites along the trail, though they are not free like on the C&O trail.  These were $17 a night for the first night.  But they were in very pretty spots with the sounds of rushing water close by.

I biked 5.5 miles to where the there is a branch that turns off the New River and follows a smaller waterway to Galax, VA.  First I rode two more miles along the New River and then I came back and took the bridge over the New River and toward Galax. 

The beauty of this linear park is in no small part due to the stewardship of the adjacent land owners.  Thank you!

I think this is the first time I have encountered horse pooh on a bike bridge.
Before crossing the bridge, I rode down to mile marker 38.


 The way sides have bike racks and places to tie up your horse.

I had researched Galax the night before so I knew there were restaurants there and a coffee shop.  I didn't pack a lunch.

The surface of the branch to Galax was very rough in places and reminded me of the C&O Trail.  But next to it was a pretty stream.  I was riding up stream and that meant at least the first 12 miles of my return trip would be down a slight rail-grade.

When I got to Galax, right away I came upon a produce store.  I was surprised at how excited and giddy I was to shop for vegetables and nuts and fruit.  I was so happy with my find, since Fries doesn't have a real grocery store.
I had learned in a booklet the campground host gave me that Tuesday evenings there is a music Jam somewhere in Galax.   I stopped by the tourist info place to inquire. 

It turned out they just had their last jam for the season last week.  Dang!  Then the woman told me that there is one on Wednesday evening in Independence at the old courthouse.  Cool!

I went to the coffee shop, their website had a lovely picture of a spinach and egg quiche.  But the actual shop only had white bread bagels and plain cream cheese.  I was disappointed.

I biked a busy road to an IGA to pick up some whole grain bread.  When I exited the store I heard a kind of rap song that I thought was coming from a truck that was unloading.  It said something about pussy and dick and "Mash it, mash it good."  I was wondering if I should go over and remind the trucker that there were grandmas shopping.  As I took a few steps toward the truck I realized the music wasn't coming from the truck but from the store's overhead speakers!

I biked over to Subway and got an egg sub after eating half a white-bread bagel.  I took the sub with me on my return ride and found a spot  by the rushing water to eat my lunch.

There is a tunnel on this trail.  I am glad that I read that none of them were very long.  I was kind of nervous walking into the dark alone, but this tunnel goes around a curve and by the time the dark was almost surrounding me, I could see lots of light coming from the other end.  I did have my light too, but ... still.



 Going back up the New River Valley later in the day was just as beautiful as in the morning.  I was stopping probably every 1/2 mile or so to take a picture or just soak in the sights and sounds. 

At one point the river was calm, reflecting the cliffs and colored leaves on the hill across from the Trail.  Then I stirred up a great blue heron that silently few a few feet above its reflection.  The drips from its spindly toes the only thing disturbing the mirror.

Those of us who ride rail trails know that there is usually a sewer plant or two we get to ride by.  The one in Fries is very small and didn't smell bad at all.  Fries is a very small town.  But I see it has a river adventure outfitter... if only I had more time here.

I headed toward the caboose because I had promised myself ice cream.  But I wasn't hungry for ice cream so I was kind of relieved to discover it was closed.  It is Monday, a lot of the places in Galax were closed too.

When I got back to camp, I did yoga because my hips were complaining today. They had not been stretched enough.  They almost felt arthritic.  The stretching felt great.  The campground host stopped by to check on me and I mentioned the music jam.  He directed me to the music museum on the Blue Ridge Parkway near Galax.  They do music there every day noon to four.

Hmmmm.  Tomorrow do I ride again on a different part of the trail or do I go listen.  Maybe a short ride and a listen and do the music museum.

We'll see.


I am listening to a book titled, Running All Over The World by Anthony Copeland-Parker.  His wife was diagnosed with early-onset Alzheimer's Disease.  He decided to retire early and travel the world with his wife doing what they love, which is running marathons.  

Around Chapter 14 or 15 he talks about exercise and the new and different experiences may be helping stave off the dementia symptoms, or even helping to prevent or slow down brain damage.  He sights some preliminary studies.  

Working your brain a bit (where you have to stop and think hard) is good too, mostly before you get dementia.  It increases your capacity and therefore you have more brain to lose when/if you start to lose it, so the symptoms won't show up as quickly.

He also writes about some research studies they participated in for new medications.  If you are interested in brain health and also dream of traveling the world, I recommend his book.  But I warn you they only spend an average of three days in one place and it is a whirlwind of activity.  I don't know when he has all the time to book tickets, research, and do all the other stuff required when traveling.  

I find that way of travel would be stimulating but entirely too much time spent in airplanes and airports.

I also discovered I have a book on taking care of your brain by Dr. Amen.  In it he mentions the MIND diet.  I haven't researched it yet, but he says it is like the Mediteranian Diet, leans towards Pescatarian (Vegetarian that eats fish) and avoids cheeses.  So I am trying to cut down on my cheese intake and will read up on the MIND diet.

He also talks about many supplements.  But I have also heard we are making expensive pee by taking so many supplements.  I take D and a bone booster type supplement.  Now I am adding fish oil and B-complex.  

Last year in October I had put together a fitness team to raise funds for Alzheimer's Education.  The fundraiser is happening again this year, but I felt too busy when I learned about it,  I think I was doing or about to do the big bike ride from PA to DC.   

Here is the link to the Alzheimer's Walk in Floral City.

There is also going to be a walk on November 13th in Floral City to raise money and awareness.  But the Southern Florida Recumbent Group will be riding the Withlacoochee that day and I had already committed to joining in the fun there.  Still, I can send a check, and you can to. 

Thoughts Turn Toward Home

 My friend Marilyn texted today reminding me of the fun I am going to have when I get home.  She reminded me of happy hours with neighbors and friends.  Oh yes!  I miss that, I miss them.  It is time to get on home.

But first a music jam, a few more rides, and ...

Sunday, September 12, 2021

On My Own Again

 Dear Friends and Family,

 I have liked this camp spot.  Though on a cold day it was too much shade, and no sunlight in which to dry my rags.

But today I move on.  I sure hope to return to this part of Pennsylvania again some day.


On my last evening with Jean and Keith, Jean offered to me some cloth holders for taking stuff out of the microwave.  Her sister makes them and Jean had gotten a big stash from her to give away as gifts.

I thanked her by declined saying I just can't add more stuff to my stash,  It was awkward refusing such a pretty gift.  I told her I use rags and towels for that task, stuff that does double duty.  She then mentioned she loves them and puts them between pots and dishes to reduce rattling.  

OH!  I took two and could have taken more.  Thanks Jean!  

I will see Jean and Keith again in a couple months, they may be in their Florida home by the time I get home in Florida.

With Jean and Keith I was riding my trike, but now I have less than two weeks to my big ride on the Gap and C&O trails.  I need to toughen my bottom again.  

And as long as I mentioned the Gap ride, I got an email from the author of the Great Allegheny Passage Companion, Bill Metzger.  He was introduced to me through a mutual friend that had told me about the new book.  We have arranged to meet the Saturday evening before Joan and I start our ride!  Cool!

I have a couple of authors now that want to learn from me on how to promote your book after you publish.  I am NOT the gal for that.  I suggest YouTube. Amazon had lessons for authors on advertising on their site too.

Now that it is after Labor Day the Campground has started to shut down.  It has closed off the other loops and one night when I went to take a shower, I walked to both shower houses and they were locked!  

Ok, there is motivation to drive the 50 minutes again to Anytime Fitness in Warren for a workout and shower.

Ride Rail 66 Trail

With Jean and Keith gone I planned two days of long rides and a day of hiking and rest.  Three days on my own and then off I go to a different campground.

I am going to try to not bore you with all the details.  I am going to try to choose three highlights from each day.

First, I did one last ride on my trike.  I drove over to Leeper to do the other end of the brand new Rail 66 Trail.  I found a trailhead at Farmington Park which had a paved branch that connects to the main trail. 

I was on the trail before the morning mist had burned away. 


I stopped by a wetlands where the mist had marked the many many spiderwebs that we usually don't see.

The picture below doesn't show it, but there were little tufts of spider webs like cotton balls dotting the tops of the vegetation.

The trail turns to gravel just before entering downtown Marienville.  There was a crew there working to improved the park by the depot.  A man told me they get a bit of money each year to add a little bit more to the miles on the trail.  

The depot was closed.  A sign on the door encouraged me to take a selfie by the depot and post it on their Facebook page.

The Marienville Library had a nice community garden next to it with a colorful fence.

I noticed that when they removed the Railroad ties to make the trail they just dumped them next to the trail.  At first I was upset, the creosote makes them a toxic waste.  But then I realized that if they had remained on the rail bed, they would have just rotted there.  So best to just let them set near where they were.

After my 30 mile ride I drove to Warren, lifted and showered and then got a sandwich from Subway and took it to a picnic table by the river nearby.  There were at least 50 ducks that came running when I sat down.

Ok, so 50 might be an exaggeration.  There were a lot, and they all came quacking toward me.

 I Am A Cutie!

 Ok, so the highlight of my day relaxing, exploring the town, and doing a little hike was this...

I rode my bike into town to check for mail at the Post Office.  On my way I passed a man (60's ish) who was washing his truck.  I smiled and said, "Hi." 

He smiled back and returned my greeting.  

On my way back by he smiled and walked toward me, "Hey, are you from around here?"

"No, I am at the campground."

"Oh, you're one of those campers," he said seemingly disappointed.  "You're a cutie."

That made me giggle as I rode away.  Take that world!  I am a 68 year old cutie!


I visited the city cemetery and found another tombstone being swallowed by a tree.

Tionesta has these flags with pictures of their local heroes.  They are on poles on the main street, but I also saw some in people's yards.  Young and old, from lots of different conflicts.  Our country fights a lot of battles!

Later in the day I drove up by the dam and walked some trails.  While I was walking the wind picked up and it started to rain.  I was prepared for the possibility of rain with a raincoat and hat.  But the wind made me nervous as I looked around at the big trees that had been blown over before.  There were a lot of dead trees still standing and ready to fall!

Someone attached an electrical connection to this tree years ago.  The tree is now enveloping the conduit.

Allegheny River Trail - Oil City to the Big Tunnel

Yesterday I drove to Oil City and rode my two-wheel bike to the big tunnel (40 miles round trip).

I said "Hi" to pretty much everyone I passed.  It was a lovely day and I was feeling pretty cheerful.  I did notice though that a majority of the riders were not returning my greetings.  "Do I look that strange?" I wondered.

I am proud that my home trail is friendly and it is unusual for someone to not return our greeting.  In fact my friends and I talk about that person.  Many of the riders on the Withlacoochee are regulars, so we get to know who is a non-responder.  

My friend Margaret persists in her friendly greetings to those non-responders and she does a little celebration when she finally gets a non-responder to wave back, or smile, or return her greeting.

Two things that thrilled me about my ride on the Great Allegheny River Trail, 

One is that I chatted with two couples from Akron, Ohio.  They had driven over for a day of biking. They were super friendly and I was finding myself yakking quite a bit.  I hope I didn't appear over zealous.  It is just that they had skied the Burkebeiner Ski Race in Northern Wisconsin.  They were amazed with my solo travels.  They loved the trails around Xenia, Ohio and enjoyed Yellow Springs, Ohio.

I told them to cherish their time riding together.  I miss the ride weekends George and I shared with our Wisconsin bicycle buddies.  We shared so many laughs and stories.   

Second was that I learned so much!  I took pictures.  Much of what I learned was related to mechanical engineering.  I took pictures for Chris who worked for us at Rentapen and is still designing machines after we sold the business in 2014.

 On my drive to the trail I stopped at a roadside historical site.  As I was standing in the clover reading the kiosks, a humming bird came up right by my leg to check out the clover.

I never thought of this before but in the past they couldn't create or ship the big long beams that they use now-days for construction, so they would piece and rivet together smaller parts to create a bridge.

The bridge became too narrow and hard to maneuver for the big trucks.  And it was getting weaker with rust.  When they built the new bridge they designed it to fit better into the landscape, to allow drivers to see the view, and to channel the salt and run-off to a place where they could treat it and divert it from the river.

 While excavating they learned that Native Americans have been living on the Allegheny River for over 10,000 years.

When I saw a picture of a fishing net weight made from a stone I thought that I would have passed such a rock up as worn by water and wind, not as a tool made by humans.

When I pulled into Oil City I decided to stop and give a local coffee shop some business before my ride.  When I parked I saw the "Fun Bank" and was wondering what that was.  Do they have fun promotions and enjoyable financial lessons?  Then I heard one of its customers at the ATM machine not having fun.  He was growling and banging on the machine.   I think it must have eaten his card or refused to give him money.  Not so much "Fun".  

FUN, it turns out, stands for First United National.

I get on the trail in Oil City.  The trail is called something else there, but it still runs along the Allegheny River.  

I read a lot of kiosks since I was alone and no one had to wait on me.

I learned that the oil barons learned they could use one motor and run several pumps.  The one in the location I was standing ran 14 oil wells.

Near the part of the trail near an oil baron's mansion the hills are covered in rhododendrons.  I would like to come back some spring when they are in bloom.

I learned at the visitors center that the mansion we can see from the trail is not the mansion but the caretaker's home.  The manion is behind a knoll and can't be seen from the trail.  It was owned by the catholic church for a while as a place for priests and then nuns, Now it is owned by a Protestant Minister that uses it for retreats.

The Sugar River Trail crosses overhead on an old iron bridge.

Underneath the bridge the trees are growing up into it.

You have to climb steep stairs to get to it,  Be sure to wear your helmet as you climb.  I was watching the steps as I rose and hit my head hard on a girder.  I was very grateful I had on my helmet still.

The walk us is worth it, for a nice aerial view of the river and the Allegheny River Trail below.

As I was coming down the stairs is where I first encountered the two couples from Akron, Ohio.  They too were riding to the tunnel.  I realized then that I had forgotten to transfer my headlight to my bike from my trike.  I wasn't going to be able to go through the tunnel without light.

I learned that John Wilkes Booth (President Lincoln's assassin) lived a couple years in the area.  He was well liked here. (Reminds me of the people that said Jeffrey Dahlmer was such a nice fellow.)  His picture was in high demand after he shot Lincoln.  He owned an oil well for two years.  It was mediocre, so he tried blowing it up, and it destroyed the well. 

Connie and Jerry had mentioned they saw the "Indian Prayer Rock" and I saw the rock though I didn't climb down to get a closer look.  The natives must have been so heart broken to see the beautiful river valley stripped of trees and soiled with oil.  Such a tragic story for them.  And when they insisted an area shouldn't be bothered because it was sacred, well money, greed, and gold won.

Though who knows if the place was a holy place or if they were just trying to save another great fishing and hunting spot?  And to those that live off the generosity of the land, isn't any good place for food and shelter sacred?

The drawings look a lot like ancient-style graffiti to me.

The GPSmyride App and taking all the pictures used up much of my battery on my phone.  So I thought if I took a picture of the mile marker inside the entrance to the tunnel I could figure out how far I rode round trip (almost 40 miles).

Imagine working for the railroad and having to hide in one of these hidey-holes when a smoking train roared through the tunnel.

On my return trip I stopped to eat my snack at a scenic spot.  As I started my ride again I was inspired by a message from George... or maybe from one of you.  Thank you!
There are a few rustic campsites along the trail.  I hope the ones we encounter on the C&O and the Gap trail are as nice.
I put a few bucks in the donation bar.

The two couples caught up with me at the visitors station.  We chatted some more, I learned that Donna is a birder and has been to several countries birding.  She is leaving for South Africa (fingers crossed) in October on a birding tour.

Back at home I cooked up my veggie dish for supper and left-overs.  I practiced my Spanish.


Please skip this next bit if you can stand another frustrated COVID rant.

What is the common good?  

When we were at Jean's ancestors cemetery, she mentioned she or the trust owned the wetland next to it.  She can't build on it or do anything with it because it is nationally protected.  She might have been complaining to get a rise out of me, because when I defended the need to protect wetlands she wrapped one arm over my shoulder and told her cousins, this is my liberal friend.

If I buy land and it has a stream running through it and I think, "I can irrigate my crops and use that water."  And then I start using that water and the person with land down stream that bought their property for the same reason is ticked because they don't have enough water to irrigate their crops and the person down from them doesn't have water to drink anymore.  

Then the guy upstream from me buys his land to make a golf course and he uses the water to water his golf course and now not only don't I have enough water, the creek now is polluted with the chemicals used so the golf course (and its patrons) can have pretty greens.

Shouldn't the government make rules so that everyone has clean water to drink?  Is that the best thing for the common good, though it may disappoint the golfers, and reduce the amount of crops we can irrigate?

I think so.  That is why I was pleased to hear Biden setting up rules to help slow the spread of COVID 19.  (I no longer think we can stop it, but slow it so the hospital workers aren't burned out and the rest of the population can get needed hospital surgeries and treatments.)  

To those of you in the future, this week on the forth wave of the virus, we lost 1,077 people this week according to the CDC.

The rant...

Ok, this is enough already!  COVID has come and taken another person I know.  This time a member of our bicycle group.  

If you haven't done so already, please get your vaccine.  It is proving to save lives and reduce hospitalizations.  I know we are scared of new stuff not tested over long-term.  But really really either stay in your own cocoon with no contact with anyone, or get the vaccine.  I don't want to have to grieve your sorry ass!

And if you got the vaccine, you know you can still spread it, right?  Not as much as the un-vaccinated, but still you can get it.  You may not feel very sick, and then shout at a football game or something and the guy next to you inhales your germs. 

Rant over.


This week I will be riding the Red Bank Trail and getting some stuff ready for the big ride on the Gap.

  I heard to use small garbage bags or bread wrappers to protect my feet in the rain.  Shoes take a long time to dry and I don't want swamp foot or cold feet either.

Be well and keep in touch!

Ohio - Part One

Facebook is awful and it is wonderful.  Especially for a traveler like me that loves to connect with others and ride or just have a good con...