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

Driving

We’re Off on the Road to Achill Island

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Scenes from our stop at Connemara National Park

We left Clifden Thursday morning with our sights set on tiny Achill Island on Ireland’s west coast.  It was slated as a short drive (less than two hours), but we planned to take our time.  Our first stop—just twenty minutes or so from the inn—was at Connemara National Park.  On any other day, we would have trekked to the top of the park’s famous (and fog-covered) Diamond Hill.  But two days before a marathon is not the time to take on an unknown hike (any hike, really).  (more…)


Day 1 in Ireland: Cliffs, Cars, and Clifden

Ireland

Day 1 adventures (L to R:) Sunset takeoff from Boston; our tiny, barely-automatic rental car; looking south at the Cliffs of Moher; O’Brien’s Tower atop the cliffs; and veggie fare in Galway.

Greetings from Ireland!  We left from Boston Monday evening on an overnight flight to Shannon Airport on Ireland’s west coast.  Our plan to sleep through the flight and wake up refreshed in the morning was foiled by the fact that you can really only manage about two hours of sleep on a six-hour flight.  So we were more than a little sleepy upon arrival and quickly downed two airport coffees to jump-start our new day.  We picked up the rental car we had reserved in advance, having splurged an extra $100 or so for an automatic.  We’d heard tales of terror about driving on Irish roads, and although we can both drive a stick shift, we didn’t want the added pressure of figuring out how to do that with our left hands.  Driving on the right side of the car on the left side of narrow roads while navigating endless roundabouts would be tricky enough. (more…)


Our Canmore Adventure: Getting to the Hostel!

Canmore

L to R: Post-flooding destruction in Cougar Creek; our cozy hostel, the clubhouse of the ACC; view from the hostel of the Three Sisters peaks; and the picturesque playground downtown where we improvised a cross workout.

Canmore is an interesting gateway town near Banff National Park.  It sits just outside park boundaries on Highway 1 between Banff and Calgary.  At the time of our visit, Canmore was picking up the pieces from devastating flooding that hit Alberta in late June.

Although Highway 1 reopened the day before our visit, allowing us to get to the town, several local roads were closed, including most of the roads that led to our hostel, the Alpine Club of Canada’s Clubhouse.  We found this out the hard way, first when our exit off the highway was blocked and then, after navigating our way back into town, when we encountered two different road closures.  (more…)


Bumming Around Banff

Banff

L to R: Downtown Banff on a perfect afternoon for hanging out on a roof deck; post-storm rainbow outside the hostel; and the Banff Hot Springs just after sunrise.

We rolled into Banff on a warm Saturday afternoon in late June, and the town was buzzing.  It was too early to check into the hostel, so we strolled downtown looking for a pub with outdoor space.  A sidewalk sign announcing “Roof Deck Open” was enough for us.  With heavy post-run legs, we climbed three flights of stairs before settling in at a high-top table with a killer view.  We lingered for a while, grazing on snacks and savoring a few cold Canadian beers. (more…)


The Rest of Jasper: Athabasca, Icefields, and Wilcox

Athabasca Falls

Scenes from the Athabasca River at Athabasca Falls, both above and below the 23-meter drop. While not exceptionally tall, the falls are some of the most powerful in the mountains due to the size of the river compared to the narrow canyon through which it flows.

Our visit to Jasper was the perfect start to our time in the Canadian Rockies.  Jasper is a mellow little mountain town that quickly became one of the highlights of the trip.  We weren’t thrilled to be leaving after just three days, but we were excited about what lay ahead: the Icefields Parkway and quaint towns within Banff National Park (Lake Louise, Banff, and Canmore).  (more…)


And Then There Were None

A rough depiction of our route this summer...including the elusive last three states on my "visit them all" list.

A rough overview of our route this summer, including the elusive last three states on my “visit them all” list.

Ever since I can remember, I’ve had a goal of visiting all 50 states.  I’m not exactly sure why.  Visiting every state seemed to promise a life of travel and adventure, and it gave me something to look forward to.  It also appealed to the analytical side of my brain, one that speaks in facts and figures and percentages.  So after a fairly well-traveled childhood and a cross-country road trip with my sister 15 years ago, I’ve been chipping away at the stragglers one by one.  One of the highlights of this trip was the prospect (and eventual reality) of checking off the final three states—North Dakota, Montana, and Idaho—on my list. (more…)


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…)


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…)


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…)


Summertime in Central Michigan

L to R: Crossing back into the U.S. at Blue Water Bridge; Capitol Dome in Lansing; inside the Lansing City Market; and the MSU campus

Greetings from Michigan!  Michigan is the 21st state we’ve traveled through this year, and we picked up our first Canadian province (Ontario) on the way.  By the time this particular trip ends in early September, we’ll have touched ground in 26 states since March.  (As for the license plate game, we’re still on the lookout for North Dakota and Wyoming, but we’re headed in the right direction…)  I was hoping this would be the year I’d notch the last three states I need, but a lot has changed since we first envisioned this trip in the spring.  (more…)