Hard to believe it's been almost a year and a half since I've posted to this blog. (Edit: I predated a couple of posts for chronology.) Even though I am "retired" and childless, I never seem to be lacking for things to do and keep very, very busy. Somehow my (day-to-day and life) lists of things to do never seem to get shorter. But that's a good thing.
For a bit of catchup since my last post in March of 2013....
In late March I joined Chris for a few days back in California, where he co-directed the inaugural ‘Coyote Backbone Trail Ultra’ in the Santa Monica Mtns. The Backbone Trail is a 68-mile point-to-point trail that runs from Will Rogers State Park in LA west to Point Mugu State Park. They had a great turnout for the event, and it was nice to be back in California for a bit if only to gorge myself with great Mexican and Vietnamese food which is difficult to come by in Vermont.
The April and May calendars - both 2013 and 2014 - were filled with gardening (read: lots of weeding) and other springtime household chores as well as scouting out the route for another running event, the Coyote Scramble, this one in a local venue, the Kingdom Trails in East Burke, Vermont. We mapped out a nice 40-mile loop that drew about a dozen local runners for the first test run. The repeat run this year was over Memorial Day Weekend and drew over twice as many runners. It's a rather unique event, one in which map reading skills are pretty essential, but it's also a lot of fun running on some incredible Northeast Kingdom trails.
Memorial Day Weekend 2013 surprised everyone with a somewhat freak snowstorm! This was followed only a week later by 90 degree temps on June 1st and an extremely powerful wind event the next day, one in which our town sustained many, many downed trees and loss of power for over 24 hours. Crazy weather...
Since moving back to Vermont, I have become something of a bluebird enthusiast, with two hatchings in one birdhouse (and a family of swallows in the other) both this year and last. We were also visited by indigo buntings, purple finches, woodpeckers, blue jays, chickadees, chipping sparrows, and goldfinches… also deer, squirrels, chipmunks, coyotes, lots of turkeys, ducks, geese, a moose, our neighbor’s goats, our other neighbors cows and bull (on our lawn!), and a resident groundhog who likes to sit atop the hot tub cover (but amazingly stays out of the garden). Fillmore and Url, our indoor-only cats, are quite entertained.
The gardens are a lot of work (see “weeding“ above), and I realize how much I enjoy and appreciate farmers markets. Although I used to help my mom out a tiny bit with her garden when I was a kid, last year's was my first real vegetable garden ever. The snow peas and carrots were particularly productive. We also had good luck with swiss chard, basil, cilantro, radishes, and butternut squash. The tomatoes and kale were so-so. This year we ditched the leafy greens because they are so bug prone and I refuse to use poisons, but we planted more varieties of squash and pumpkins. The 7-foot tall snow peas are once again a HUGE success, and we are being inundated with zucchini at the moment.
The flowers at our new (although not so new anymore after almost two years) house are incredible, and all the colors right now are just gorgeous. Mostly all we have done is weed and mulch. The credit goes to the previous owners who went a bit nuts planting. There are numerous varieties of lilies, irises, hen 'n chicks, bleeding hearts, azalias, glads, echinacea, tulips, crocuses, dutchmen's breeches, lambs ears, bee balm, peonies, a bunch of flowers I don't remember the names of, and we now have the most humongous hostas I've ever seen. Maybe they need to be separated...?? I really don't have much of a green thumb but am learning.
Last summer flew by way too fast. I joined Chris for a DC work gig in late June and took advantage of the opportunity to get some trail miles in in Delaware as well as to visit my sister and her family in Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, that week was typical DC summer weather, with 90+ degree temps and 100% humidity. Running in those conditions was a challenge, but I completed 50 trail miles in the District if you can believe that. Most of the miles were in Rock Creek and adjacent parks, also Roosevelt Island and the Mall (hey, it's dirt). We spent the late summer and early fall doing lots of hikes in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and Chris completed the 48 NH 4000 footers atop Mt. Carrigain - wearing snowshoes and a signature Hawaiian shirt (and a few other layers) - on a bitterly cold January 25th.
With 6 states left to go, I am still pursuing my quest to hike or run a minimum of 50 trail miles in each state before I turn 50 in just over a year. To that end, we traveled to Wisconsin and Iowa in September and were pleasantly surprised to find some very nice, well maintained trails in both states: Blue Mound and Gov. Dodge State Parks in Wisconsin, and in Iowa, Pikes Peak and Backbone State Parks, Effigy Mounds National Monument, and trails surrounding the interesting town of Decorah. In November I completed Alabama and South Carolina (see below) and in April was able to finish up Delaware at lovely White Clay Creek State Park which had some surprisingly great trails. We then took a little early spring respite in Kentucky and Illinois ("Illitucky") in order to escape Vermont's lingering snow, and I got my 50 trail miles in each state at Land Between the Lakes and Shawnee National Forest, respectively. Beautiful trails for running, and we saw nary a cornfield in scenic, rolling, forested Southern Illinois.
Chris became a Medicare patient on November 14 and wanted to celebrate, so he invited 35 or so friends to a hiking/running/camping get together in the Grand Canyon and Sedona. We flew back to LA in early November and drove our Honda Element - which had been baking in the California sun at our friend’s house all spring and summer - to Arizona, where we spent 3 days/nights in the Grand Canyon, followed by another week playing in Sedona. Not your average Medicare birthday party I suppose. We made our way home via mostly off-interstate highways across the southern states (NM, TX, AR, MS, AL, GA, SC, NC, VA, PA, NY). Highlights were visiting the amazing Chaco Canyon in New Mexico and getting my 50 miles completed in Alabama and South Carolina, on the beautiful Pinhoti and Foothills Trails.
Chris had a lot of work in Washington DC this winter, and except for one week in April I manned the home front. I ended up hiking most of the NH 4000 footers again this winter, this time with a bit of a twist: the goal was to hike the peaks via a route other than the most commonly used, broken out route. To that end, I got in some pretty groovy hikes. (See previous post dated 4/30/14.)
I haven't done an organized ultra in a long time - and don't miss it - but am still running, mountain biking and doing yoga. My latest "filler activity" has been trailbagging, or redlining, the trails of the White Mountain Guide, all 1,440 miles of them. This was a goal I had picked away at before moving to California in 2006 and one that I've picked back up just this past May. At that point I had about 300 miles left and have cut that total in half without really being very aggressive about it. Looking to finish next summer sometime most likely.
That pretty much catches me up to date. Thanks for reading. :)