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

Travel

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…)


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…)


My Road to Achill

My road...err, flight path...to Achill

My road…err, flight path…to Achill Island for next week’s marathon

I’ve only been running for three years, but I’ve noticed a recurring runner (R)/non-runner (NR) conversation that goes a little something like this:

R: I’m a runner.

NR: Have you run a marathon?

R: No

NR: (Nods. Loses interest. Changes subject.)

Completing a marathon is a rite of passage for a distance runner.  It confers a level of commitment to the sport, of accomplishment as an athlete, of membership in a special (albeit slightly crazy) group.  And while half-marathon is now the most popular distance to race in the United States, the marathon remains out of reach for many runners.  Perhaps because it is more difficult, more of a training commitment, more daunting a challenge…whatever the reason, taking on a marathon is a milestone in a running career, and for me, that milestone is right around the corner. (more…)


A Change of Plans in Lake Louise

Lake Louise

L to R: Late afternoon on the shore of Lake Louise; nearby Moraine Lake; a washed-out section of the Banff Legacy Trail; the electrified bear fence surrounding the campground; and post-run yoga overlooking the Bow River.

After leaving Jasper via the Icefields Parkway, our first stop in Banff National Park was the small settlement of Lake Louise, most famous for its ski area and storied Fairmont hotel.  The hotel sits directly on the glacial lake, but the shore area and trails behind the hotel are open to the public.  We headed to the lake the evening we arrived in an attempt to avoid tour bus crowds, and we were rewarded with a parking space close to the water.  The lake was pretty, but the light wasn’t quite right, and the scene didn’t measure up to either of our expectations nor to other lakes we encountered.  Moraine Lake in Jasper and Maligne Lake, just a few miles away from Lake Louise at the end of a windy mountain road, were arguably more picturesque…at least on the days we visited them.

We spent the night at the HI hostel in Lake Louise, conveniently located near the center of town.  Actually, town is an overstatement.  It’s more like a small tourist village within the national park, with one main intersection, a gas station, a few inns, several overpriced restaurants, and a gazillion tour buses.  In short, nowhere we wanted to be.  We went to bed early, much to the chagrin of the 20-something German guys with whom we shared our 4-person bunkroom. (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…)


And We’re Back…

Caption

L to R: Off the grid in Moab (UT) and Jenny Lake (WY); two road-weary (and oxygen-deprived) travelers at 12,000 feet in the Rocky Mountains in CO; Sal’s tripometer as it neared 6,000 miles; and an evening journal session by the campfire in Yellowstone.

From where, you ask?  From a much-anticipated, 9,084-mile, state-bagging road trip from our home base in New Hampshire.  We headed west in mid-June, crossing the northern plains into the Canadian Rockies before starting a slow meander down the mountains all the way into New Mexico.  We completed the loop back east via the southern states, and by the end of the trip, we had traveled through 24 different states and 4 provinces.  We slept in 16 of them, and ran in 13.  And in the six weeks we were on the road, we posted here on WPG exactly six times.

Why just six times when I had early visions of blogging every day, of sharing our adventure as it unfolded (or at least shortly afterwards)?  I’ve given that question a bit of thought lately, and here’s what I’ve concluded. (more…)


Ode to the Multi-Use Trail

Caption

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.

(more…)


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…)