We’ve been in Germany just ten days, but it feels like a lifetime…in a good way. We left Ireland last Tuesday after a fantastic week, capped off with two active days in Dublin. It was a short, productive flight to Frankfurt; M worked on the poetry book he’s co-editing, and I practiced my German (which needs a bit of practice). Our flight landed nearly an hour late, but M’s uncle and cousin were waiting patiently for us just past customs. We had initially planned to take the train, but after a long week of travel, we were grateful for their offer to pick us up. We chatted all the way back to their house in a small town along the Main River south of the city of Aschaffenburg.
We stayed local the first few days, getting used to another time zone and catching up with M’s family. We’ve traveled here each of the past two summers, but in prior years, our visits have been planned around M’s cousins’ weddings. It’s a nice change of pace to be without a formal agenda on this trip. (more…)
Sometimes you don’t know what you need until you have it. Today is day 38 on the road, I’ve run 169 miles since we left, and my first treadmill run didn’t happen until yesterday. We were in Amarillo, TX, there were severe storms in the area and the only roads nearby were too busy to run. So I pumped out a sweaty, boring five miles on the treadmill in the cramped hotel gym. On the heels of my treadmill run, I thought it would be appropriate to give a shout out to the multi-use trails I grew accustomed to while we were out west.
It’s been a week of milestones: selling the house, hitting 50,000 miles with Sal the Subaru, and today, celebrating our anniversary. Last year, we snuck away to Bar Harbor to get married, and this year, we returned to town to celebrate the conclusion of a crazy first year while kicking off a new one. We’re staying in the same room at the same inn, one with delicious breakfasts and cozy beds, and we’re enjoying the relative calm of a resort town before the summer season begins. The weather has been perfect these past two days, and since we’re expecting rain later this week (while we’re camping, of course…), we’ve been playing outdoors every day. Today’s adventure was a 20-mile bike trek across two loops of the carriage roads we hadn’t done last year, plus one we had. We left from the Eagle Lake parking lot and headed north around the Witch Hole Pond loop. It was an easy, rolling start to the day, followed by a moderate climb to some fantastic island views. We then cruised back to the start of Aunt Betty Pond loop, a strenuous 6-mile section that managed to be uphill in both directions. After returning via the Eagle Lake loop, we were sitting at 18.3 miles, so we pushed our tired legs a bit more to reach the 20-mile mark. Along the way, I experimented a bit with video of our ride. Maybe someday I’ll graduate to a helmet cam, but for now, I’m using a handheld one, which can be a little bumpy (so don’t watch if you get dizzy easily…). The first clip was shot along a flat stretch and contains a brief narrative. The second one is a bit longer, with very little narrative, lots of wind and a bit of speed. I had the camera in my right hand, which is also my braking hand, so not my brightest move. Hopefully the video gives a little insight into what it feels like to fly down a gravel mountain at 20-miles per hour… -J
After a five-week break to sort out things on the domestic front, we’re pleased to report that our National Park road trip is back on track! This week’s destination: Acadia National Park on Mt. Desert Island in Maine. We first visited the park last spring just for a weekend, and we’ve returned this year for an extended stay. We’ll spend four nights at a cozy B&B in downtown Bar Harbor and then an additional four nights at a campground within the park.
Acadia National Park was the first park established east of the Mississippi River. It is also notable for the fact that its designation as a park was spearheaded by local residents, many of whom (like George Dorr and the Rockefellers) were wealthy owners of summer homes on the island. Today, a handful of private residences are still scattered throughout the park, and sections of the famous carriage roads on private land abutting the park are off-limits to bicyclists. I’m not sure of the behind-the-scenes land politics, but as a casual visitor, it seems the public-private boundaries enjoy an easy coexistence.
We hadn’t been on our bikes in several months, so before heading out to tackle 20 or 30 (or more!) miles of road, we opted to start with a short 10-mile loop between Northeast Harbor and Jordan Pond. Although there are more than 40 miles of carriage roads to explore, it’s pretty hard to get lost. Roads are well-marked with numbered signposts that also include directional signage for popular park destinations like Jordan Pond House or Eagle Lake. The Park Service also provides a carriage road map that indicates mileage between signs.
Those of you who haven’t been to Acadia might share my initial romantic vision that carriage roads are pleasant and flat, probably made of packed dirt or maybe even paved. They are not. While they are indeed pleasant, they are the opposite of flat. They are groomed with crushed gravel (which can be loose and slippery under mountain bike tires) and they rise and fall repeatedly, climbing and descending hundreds of feet depending on the route you select.
Today’s route was a new stretch of trail for us, and the climb started immediately from the parking lot. Although our legs and lungs are well-conditioned from running, we were winded and weary at the top of some of today’s hills, quads burning. But the rewards were worth the effort. We enjoyed sunny skies, sweeping vista, secret streams, and of course…speeding downhill while grinning like kids, trying not to lose complete control of our bikes or eat facefuls of gravel. In that way and many others, the day was a great success. And it’s only Day 1! –J.