Sunday, September 30, 2012

Fall Bike Ride to the Bay

Today was a perfect fall day:  bright, sunny and in the seventies.  Michael and I drove out to Northern High School in Owings, Maryland for a long ride.  From the high school, we rode generally northeast on winding backroads to the Chesapeake Bay. We passed yellowing tobacco and soybean fields and the leaves are just starting to turn.  We reached the Bay at 10 miles, where took a break and enjoyed the breeze and sunshine.

Our route followed the shoreline north for the next several miles, taking us around Holland Point.  Every now and then we passed wetlands with Great Blue Herons and Egrets.  Then we turned inland for a while and encountered a few surprisingly good climbs.  My idea of the area was completely flat, which turned out to pretty wrong.  I am not complaining; I love a good climb.  Every now and then, we got a good view of the bay from the top of the ridge, too.

We did 38 miles in total.  One of the challenges of riding in a new area with a cue sheet found on the internet is not knowing local traffic patterns or road conditions (Ideally, one would scout them with a car first, but, well, yeah, that doesn't happen).  A friend and I did a ride last year with a cue sheet that must have been written twenty years ago.  Several of the roads had been "improved" to the point that they were breathtakingly dangerous for cyclists.  Unfortunately, that cue sheet still lives on the internet.  Fortunately, today's ride had none of those problems.  The roads had little traffic, most of which was polite, and the roads were in great shape.

In other news, I'm having trouble with an old injury in one of my feet, which has made hiking long distances problematic for the moment.  Except for an upcoming weekend with Old Rag Mountain Stewards, I am going to be posting more about cycling for a little bit while it recovers.  

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 Sailboats on the Chesapeake Bay.
 An old tractor in a field.
 Aster sp. along a roadside.
The best roads always are...

Monday, September 17, 2012

I'm Back: A New House and a Short Hike to Annapolis Rocks

It has been a crazy end of summer and beginning of fall.  We attended the wedding of two dear friends on Long Island, attended training for Old Rag Mountain Stewards, and bought a house, we finally got back out into the woods out for a short trip with our friend from Horizontal Tread.  We were originally just going to hike the Appalachian Trail from Highway 40 up to the overlook, but our friend suggested bringing gear along and doing some rappelling   The weather was absolutely perfect:  70s and sunny.  It just doesn't get any better than that.  The hike up went pretty quickly, although I could definitely feel my month-long hiatus from the gym. We spent about three hours building anchors and rappelling off of the cliffs.  The scrambles back up a side gully were a good workout and nothing clears the head after several weeks of upheaval like an afternoon spent outside.

Pictures (click to enlarge):
 Getting ready to rappel off of Annapolis Rocks.
 Our friend from Horizontal Tread headed down the cliff face.
 A different kind of bootshot.
 Michael watching our friend reach the bottom.
 Ageratina altissima (White Snakeroot).
 Solidago caesia (Blue-Stemmed Goldenrod) - a sure sign of fall.
 A Turkey Vulture watches us set anchors.
 Aster divaricatus (White Wood Aster) - another sign of fall.
 Descending in the second place where we set up a rappel.
The trail on the way out, lined with Hay-Scented Ferns.
The house!  For the last seven years, we've lived in an amazing, supportive community. We all had each others' keys, had parties, helped each other out, and over time, built a family of people who started out as strangers.  All of a sudden, over the last three months, everyone scattered.  Jobs were found in other parts of the country and rents increased beyond what people could tolerate. We were in the latter category. We are sad to see the group break up.  We already miss the community we had (and don't think we won't be in touch, if you are reading this in Golden, Grand Rapids, near Trader Joe's, or on our old block), but we are looking forward to making the house ours and finding a new community here.