Exploring the world one word…and one mile…at a time

Archive for June, 2013

Jasper National Park (Put It On Your Bucket List)

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Get your camera! (L to R): Random mountains at sunset and sunrise; scenic Lake Maligne; amazing scenery in every direction.

Greetings from Jasper National Park in Alberta, Canada…our first official national park of this trip! Jasper is the farthest northwest that we will venture this summer, and it is absolutely worth the 3,000+ miles we trekked across the continent to get here. Jasper is the largest of Canada’s Rocky Mountains parks, and it’s also less trafficked than Banff and Yoho to the south.  We try to avoid clichés and hyperbole here on WPG, but truth is, since we arrived in Jasper, there has been a stunning, mind-blowing, awe-inspiring, picturesque cliché around every corner.

We’ve been here for less than 24 hours, but it feels more like a week.  We’ve visited the Miette Hot Springs, sampled local brews, stayed overnight in a rustic wilderness hostel (no running water), ran four miles around town this morning (nearly running into an elk), and hiked a bit at Lake Maligne.  We are now back in town jumping on the grid for a few minutes before returning to the hostel (with a planned visit to Athabasca Falls on the way). (more…)


An Exercise in Flexibility

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L to R: Entering Saskatchewan with a bug-splattered windshield; making a pre-run breakfast at our hostel by the river; and a stunning view of the Canadian plains from yesterday’s drive.

As we headed out for a run on the Meewasin Trail in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan this morning, the question “right or left?” immediately came up. The trail runs along the South Saskatchewan River by the hospital and the University of Saskatchewan. We had planned our stay at a small hostel-like inn near the river, knowing that we had a run scheduled for this morning and having researched the Meewasin Trail online.

Despite our research and pre-planning–the Google images of the trail and the online maps–we still had to choose a direction to run with limited information about which direction was “better.” That choice got me thinking about the concept of expectations and subsequently the need for flexibility. We could be surprised or disappointed, not necessarily because of the trail or run itself, but because of our own expectations. Had we expected a populated, well-marked trail and a sunny run, we would have been disappointed. The trail was paved and wide, but the grasses were tall, the route wasn’t always clear and it was raining. Also, since it was Tuesday morning, only a few other runners and cyclists were out on the trail.  (more…)


Reason, Season,…Race Day?

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L to R: Scenes from Charlevoix (the drawbridge and marina); M and me at the Athlete’s Meeting in the park; the marathoners at the start line; and S and me approaching the finish line.

Building a road trip around a marathon training plan takes a bit of effort.  We focused first on our long training runs, booking hotels in places that have good running routes (like urban trails or bike paths) and adjusting driving targets based on our daily training schedule.  We also contemplated signing up for a race or two to take advantage of closed roads and on-course support.  Last Saturday we were scheduled for a 13-mile drop-back week, so before we left home, we looked for a half-marathon in an interesting place and built the first week of our trip around it.

The place we selected was Charlevoix, a vacation town on the eastern shore of Lake Michigan.  Saturday was the 7th running of the Charlevoix Marathon, a multi-race event which included four distances: 5K, 10K, half marathon, and marathon. (more…)


On The Road Again

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L to R: Outside our building on morning #1, small town NH diner, Niagara rainbow, running by the falls in ON, and exploring Charlevoix, MI

Greetings from Grand Forks! So much has happened in the last few days, making it hard to believe we’ve been on the road for less than a week.  We’ve traveled more than 1,800 miles from home in New Hampshire to this university town on the Red River.

After setting out early last Wednesday morning, we were able to connect with friends from California (who happened to be in NH on vacation) and meet their adorable five-month-old son. We stayed in Niagara, ON Wednesday night and enjoyed a misty, rainbow-filled run along the falls in the morning before arriving Thursday afternoon at a friend’s house near Lansing.  We spent a sunny few hours floating around the pool, catching up on the last year and enjoying good company.

We hit the road again Friday morning and meandered (more…)


Life as Art…Art as Life

L: Me transformed into Kafka on Dusni Street in Prague (2012); R: J as part of an installation at Musee d'Art Moderne in Paris (2011)

L: Me transformed into Kafka on Dusni Street in Prague (2012); R: J as part of an installation at Musee d’Art Moderne in Paris (2011)

Conceptual art, or idea art, is an art form in which the concept (or idea) that generates a piece of art is more important than the art itself. For example, poet Kenneth Goldsmith (of @ubuweb) recently announced his plan to “print out the internet.” Clearly, Mr. Goldsmith’s idea is loaded with intention. The idea, and the public’s response to the idea, is the art. I hope we never actually see the internet on paper, but the idea has given us much to contemplate.

Another common aspect of conceptual art is the rejection of self-expression. Once the idea and rules are set by the artist, expression is abandoned and the piece becomes what the rules and form allow, nothing more. Many would compare this to the process of computer programming, although I would argue that this comparison ignores an enormous amount of human variation, innovation and expression that exists in the programming and software development world (another blog post altogether).

I, however, am a believer that self-expression cannot be taken out of art. The moment an artist makes a decision (at the highest or lowest level) that influences the piece, self-expression has occurred.  But I often wonder if there is an opportunity to embrace the self in conceptual art. (more…)


The Countdown is On

Tools of the trade: Old school road tripping with an actual map; freshly-minted passports ready for the next 10 years of action; and a sneak preview of  our fall travels.

Tools of the trade (L to R): Old-school road tripping with an actual map; freshly-minted passports ready for the next 10 years of action; and a sneak preview of our fall travels.

Happy June, everyone!  We hope those of you in New England are enjoying this early taste of summer.  We’re staying cool indoors today, putting the finishing touches on our upcoming travel plans.  For the past month or so, we’ve been busy mapping out three separate adventures in 2013: an old-fashioned road trip through the western U.S. and Canada, a European slow-cation, and a Pacific Northwest park-bagging loop.

All that trip planning has been in addition to the task of figuring out things like where we want to live for the next year and how we want to balance work and travel as we continue down this path of self-employment.  For the most part, we’ve answered the big questions, and we can freely go forth into the universe for another round of aimful wandering.

So what’s ahead during WPG’s main travel season this year?  (more…)