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

Lodging

Exploring Acadia National Park from the Acacia House Inn

Room 5, our third-floor hideaway in Bar Harbor, Maine.

Room 5 at the Acacia House Inn, our third-floor, anniversary hideaway in Bar Harbor, Maine.

A few years ago, on a very lucky Friday the 13th, we eloped to Maine, specifically to Northeast Harbor, a tiny village at the mouth of Somes Sound, where the ladies in the Town Clerk’s office were giddy and gracious in hosting an impromptu wedding for us on just a few days’ notice. They served as officiant, witnesses, photographer, and florist, presenting me with a bouquet of fresh-cut daffodils from outside the building. We spent the rest of the weekend exploring the island by bike and foot. When we arrived back home, we sent the Town Hall crew a thank you note with Portsmouth chocolates and our favorite picture from that day. And so began our May tradition of adventuring on Mount Desert Island.

This weekend, we arrived on Friday for four days of hiking, running, writing, sleeping, and eating. Acadia National Park is the frequent site of the first three activities, while the Acacia House Inn is our preferred site for the last two. We’ve written extensively about our national park adventures at Acadia, but we’ve been remiss in writing about our favorite B&B, the place we stayed that first spring and almost every year since. Let’s correct that right now! (more…)


Grüße aus Deutschland! (Greetings from Germany!)

L to R: Our flight from Dublin to Frankfurt; practicing my German;

L to R: On our flight from Dublin to Frankfurt; practicing my German at 38,000 feet; the main street in the town where M’s family lives; exploring the Johannesburg Castle in Aschaffenburg; and the cast of “Spring Awakening”…auf Deutsch.

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…)


Easing Into European Time

Hillside

Scenes from the Hillside Lodge (L to R): M settling in to our room; music memories lining the hallway; the sunny breakfast room; fresh buffet; and delicious veggie breakfast.

The highlight of our time in Clifden was our two-night stay at the Hillside Lodge, a modern B&B located on Sky Road a mile or so from the town center.  Our room was comfy and cozy, the perfect place for adjusting to the time change and convenient base for exploring the town on foot.  One of the owners works in the music industry, and the home is a carefully-curated treasure of music memorabilia.  Breakfast each morning consisted of a fresh pot of coffee, generous cold buffet (with fresh fruit, stewed prunes, and homemade granola) and hot selection cooked to order (based on a menu we filled out the prior evening).  Their vegetarian version of a traditional Irish breakfast included veggie sausage, baked beans, and a potato cake.  It was delicious and satisfied us for most of the day. (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…)


Ode to the Multi-Use Trail

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L to R: M on the Arroyo Chamiso Trail in Santa Fe; River’s Edge Trail in Great Falls; M & J post-run in Niagara Falls; Highline Canal Trail Denver; J in the shadow of a locomotive in Jasper

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.

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Stranger Danger

L to R: Our first wilderness hostel in Jasper N.P.; the offending 6-person bunk last night in Canmore; HI's mission; and my mission tonight: blogging and beer.

L to R/top to bottom: Our first wilderness cabin and rustic kitchen in Jasper N.P.; the offending 6-person bunk last night in Canmore; Hostelling International’s mission (They just need to add “up-close and personal”); and my mission tonight at Glacier N.P. (blogging and beer).

Prologue: I wrote this post last night while laying in the middle bunk of a six-person bunk bed (picture the middle seat on a plane…only for sleeping). As you can imagine, I wasn’t in the best of moods. As a result, the post is a bit of a rant, but it’s still mostly true. I’m writing this prologue from the common room of a rustic hostel in East Glacier, Montana, where the peeps are friendly, we have a private room, I’ve had two Montana beers and my perspective has “improved.” Nonetheless, I thought it fitting to share my honest hosteling experiences with you… (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…)