Iceland! The Golden Circle and Points East!

Breakfast Spot (1)

We got an almost early start our third day in Iceland, having to stop briefly for fresh croissants to eat in the car. The intention was to begin the drive around the ring road and hit the sites that  are highlighted along The Golden Circle. If you go for a tour, the buses do a loop out and back to Reykjavik that covers about 190 miles. We just went out and kept going.

Our first stop was premature, but we did finally locate Pingvellir National Park. The mass of cars and tour busses in the parking lot giving it away. This beautiful spot is where you can see a clear boundary between the North American and Eurasian Tectonic plates. Literally! There is a nice walking path but prior research had informed us that it’s also possible to skindive and see the break between the plates from underneath the very cold, very clear water. We chose the hike option. Lol.

PingvillierPlates

The path is directly between the plates

It wasn’t too far to the next stop but before we got to the Geysers, we had to stop so I could pet some horses. We saw so many horses in our travels around Iceland and it’s hard to believe that most of them are for riding. One of our homestays, has a hand in the industry and they educated us that it’s just the foals that are eaten, and the rest are used for riding. The horse I met seemed unsocialized, and I  well believed it could end up on a plate somewhere. No judgements here. About 10% of me wanted to try it but the majority said no and we didn’t actually see it on too many menu’s anyway.

Horses

Sorry, I have nothing to feed you. Let’s just say we’re even!

The next spot featured two geysers. One of which, Geysir, seems to have stopped erupting after an earthquake years ago. The other one though, is quite active. Stokkur erupts every 5-10 minutes and it was fun to stand outside the rope barrier along with 100 other people all going, “oh! oh!” every time the water would heave upwards. It always seemed to fake us out too, which led to much laughter.

After enjoying the show, we ended up climbing the small mountain behind the geysers for a little exercise and a different perspective. Quite beautiful from up there and you could seriously see for miles. TopOThe World

Our last interest point of the day was Gullfoss waterfall. This natural wonder is just an amazing site for tourists and even from a good half miles away, you cold feel the power from the rushing water and a definite drop in temperature from the spray hanging in the air. I understand that Iceland considered using if to generate power, but settled on just maintaining in as a tourist attraction instead.

Gullfoss Waterfall

Gullfoss

Marc and I found our accommodations for the night pretty easily, but had a bit more trouble figuring out what to buy at the local grocery store for dinner. It’s hard to do when everything is in Icelandic and pictures can sometimes be misleading. We ended up with some pork ribs (they may have been heavily preserved, tasted like it) and some potato salad. Our digs had a hot tub so we had a great lazy evening of soaking, reading, having cocktails and dinner. The best part of the day, I cannot show you though. Marc woke me up and hurried me outside to see the Aurora Borealis. I had read that the earliest it could be seen was August 20th and so I wasn’t trying to get my hopes up, but there it was! A faint green glimmer in the sky that moved very fast and was gone in less than 10 minutes. How cool is that??!!

I’d like to say we got an early start the next day, but who am I kidding? After a breakfast of leftover croissant, bread and tea, we gathered up the trash, packed the car and took off. The sun was brilliant and the roads were sparsely traveled. We got gas and then found our first interest point of the day. Seljalandsfoss waterfall was beautiful and  is the location for a lot of wedding pictures. You can also hike up behind the falls and with our rain coats on, we were up to the challenge!Waterfall

Does anyone remember that volcano that erupted in Iceland back in 2010? It disrupted air travel for weeks and really brought attention to the whole country as newscasters tried (and mostly failed) to pronounce Eyjafjallajokull. We found it! Seems the buildings at the base all needed to be rebuilt, but a truck rumbling over the cattle gate and scaring the hell out of me seemed to mean that life was pretty much back to normal there.

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How’d you like to live here? The offending volcano in the background.

We motored on and stopped when I saw this cute little house in the side of a mountain. Turns out, this is one of about 200 man-made caves that can only be found in the south of Iceland. This one is pretty deep and was used to store hay. It’s so deep, that another cave runs perpendicular to it and was used as a forge. We didn’t go in, having too many miles to go, but it’s really picturesque, eh?

Rutshellir

Tour buses led us to our next destination. The black sand beach  called Reynisfjara  is close to the southernmost tip of Iceland  and we were totally surprised to round a corner on the beach to see the basalt sea stacks  under the mountain. A small cave undercut the mountain and little sea birds called Puffins were constantly flying from the cliffs above out to the ocean.

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Near the mouth of the cave. Good geological formations everywhere!

A word about food…. by now, we had a goodly supply of interesting potato chip flavors and we were trying to stay stocked up on apples, but we hadn’t quite clued in yet to the whole you can drive for miles and hours and never see a restaurant or a gas station. So we had a lot of lunches featuring paprika or Mexican peppers and cream chips or Doritos cool American  (read ranch flavor) chips. Dinners were usually much better! We were aiming for dinner in Hofn that night, as they are known as the best place for langoustines in the country. We just had to get there first.

Stream

A beautiful stream in the middle of nowhere.

After that pretty stream, we drove through some of the most monotonous countryside I’ve ever seen. Take rocks, cover them with moss, and then put that on both sides of the road for a couple of hours. Relieve the monotony by spotting the occasional big black bird perched on a rock but otherwise, that’s all there is. They even warn you somewhat on the maps. There is a big swath of green from the black sand beach all the way up to the Vatnajokull glacier. This is what it looks like in person:

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I never want to see this again and I’m pretty sure Marc feels the same way.

We did finally drive out of it and our attention was distracted by the massive glacier that loomed ever closer. We got out to stretch our legs and take a closer look at the first turn off we came to.  There are warnings posted to be careful and a plaque honoring two young Germans who went missing years ago and were never found. We picked our way over a rough path besides the glacier for some cool pictures.

Glacier

From there, it was another good hour or so to Hofn and that wonderful dinner. Then, another two hours or so to get to our stopping place for the evening. Thank goodness it doesn’t get dark until 10:30 or so at night. We were able to check out the mountains and the scenery almost until we arrived. Marc had booked a unique/ nostalgic spot for us and our host was this wonderful 65+ woman who seems to make her living as a homestay. Anna was great and so were the digs! Especially after the drive we had that day!

Hofn dinner

Langoustines with salad and potato. Marc chose the ‘Duck & Dive’ which included duck confit.

Camper:Eidur

Feeling great after a good nights sleep. Kind of like being in NZ again. Thank you Marc!

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Pacific Coast Dreams: California!

Glass Beach1

Our last two days involved a LOT of driving. We had the option of taking it a bit more leisurely and not getting to see much of San Fransisco, or doing a push and spending a whole day there.  Ultimately we, or rather I, chose the whole day. I’d not been and really wanted to check it out. Unfortunately though, that meant other things got a bit tight.

We stopped in Fort Bragg in late afternoon. Inside MacKerricher state park is a beach known as Glass Beach. In the early 1900’s they used to use certain spots off the cliffs as town dumps. When one spot filled up and fires wouldn’t reduce it further, they’d start a new one. They did this until 1967 when  it seems they realized what a horrible thing they’d been doing and they cleaned up the beaches. They removed the stuff that wouldn’t break down and left the glass behind as it was of no harm and kinda pretty. Now, the place gets  a ton of tourists every day and while they ask folks not to collect the glass, everyone does. The stuff that’s left is  usually not much bigger than grains of rice. Nice beach though, and still fun to look.

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We saw the most beach glass at a little place right outside of town called (appropriately enough) The Sea Glass Gallery and Museum. Run by a salty old dog named Captain Cass, he makes jewelry, leads the occasional tour and hosts a free museum displaying a wide variety of sea glass with informative displays. Marc and he really hit it off and they chatted for a bit while I gawked and snapped pictures. He also sells chunks of half tumbled glass that people can buy to chuck into the ocean as a reseeding effort. Due to the constant grinding action of the waves, and people’s tendency to want to take home a few souvenirs,  the amount of glass on the beaches is being reduced  all the time. Made me want to start collecting glass shards to throw overboard the next time I’m at the beach. How cool would that be to be part of someone else’s lucky find?

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Vaseline glass. It glows under black lights.

We managed to get a couple of tramps to lighthouses in on one day. Our first was to Point Cabrillo lighthouse. It was a nice half mile walk mostly down a slight slope to get to the isolated station. The only sounds, the occasional cry of a gull or the far off bark of  a seal. The view was amazing and we even got lucky enough to spot a couple of seals relaxing in the sunshine offshore.

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Can you see the seals?

Can you see the seals?

There was a quick stop in Mendocino for lunch before we had to get on the road again. Gotta say the town was beautiful and we’re sorry to have missed seeing more of it. But here’s a quick picture of a beautiful repurposed church I took on the way out-of-town:Mendocino church

Next up was the Point Arena Lighthouse located on the Mendonoma coast. This point of land is the closest to Hawaii in the continental US and the lighthouse itself is the tallest on the pacific  coast. While we decided not to climb to the top, we did stay for the guided tour of the museum below and saw a beautiful Fresnel lens on display. These were used to reflect lights out to sea and  by  the series of light flashes, length of time between flashes and colors associated with the flashes, ships at sea  could figure out where they were. These lenses were made in France, shipped here and elaborately reconstructed in the towers.

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Got it! We like to play tag with lighthouses.

Got it! We like to play tag with lighthouses.

The rest of the day was spent in a nausea inducing drive trying to follow the coast the rest of the way to San Fransisco. Honestly, for anyone taking this route north to south, we would recommend not bothering. By this point, you’ve seen plenty of the coast and the roads through here are rough, very twisty and with big variances in altitude. Instead, take Highway 1 to 101 south and save yourselves some time. By pushing hard, we were able to make it to the Golden Gate bridge right as the sun was setting. It was very windy, but an amazing view.

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It’s a good thing we did visit the bridge that afternoon. The next morning, the whole place was shrouded in a fog so thick it was hard to see five feet in front of you. In the morning, we went to a scenic overlook called Twin Peaks park that sits near the center of San Fransisco. From the top, we could see 180 degree views of the bay area. It was weirdly beautiful with patches of fog pushed by strong winds alternately revealing and hiding the surroundings. Nature playing peekaboo, if you will.

Twin Peaks, SF      Hunger was the impetus to move on to our next destination. The world-famous Fisherman’s Wharf in San Fransisco is a tourists dream. The  area is loaded with seafood restaurants, buskers,  charter boats and shops  of all kinds willing to sell you whatever you’re missing. We got really lucky to get a parking spot right in the middle of the craziness that validated with a restaurant visit. While it wasn’t the best crab cake I’ve ever had, it was far from the worst. What a first world problem, eh?

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Alcatraz lurks disturbingly offshore.

Alcatraz lurks disturbingly offshore.

One of the neatest things we found while walking around Fisherman’s Wharf was a place called Musee Mecanique. In a unasuming building right next to the water is this huge collection of antique penny arcade games gathered by the late Edward Zelinsky. He started collecting them in 1933 and there is an amazing variety of games of skill, fortune tellers, early peep shows and even matchstick artwork made by the inmates of Alcatraz on display inside. Best of all, everything works and you can play anything inside! I think the latest games I saw might have been from the 70’s, and there weren’t many of them.

Matchstick Ferris Wheel. Echo's of Seattle?

Matchstick Ferris Wheel. Echo’s of Seattle?

What was he looking at?

What was he looking at?

Palm Reader

The Magic Ray! My fortune read: You delight in high-minded pursuits, your love for domestic pleasure is pronounced in all your actions, you make a devoted companion. Those who deal with you must do so gently and persuasively….

We had three more destinations in mind for the day and we needed to get to them fast! First up was Lombard street. Known unofficially as the twistiest street in the world, it was eight switchbacks in a one block area. It goes one way only on red brick pavement and  seems to be constantly  navigated by tourists. Kinda feel sorry for anyone who lives there, but then again, you’d have to know what you’re getting yourself into.

Lombard Street

Lombard Street

We booked from there over to the old ruins of the Sutro baths on the western side of San Fransisco. Built by a former mayor of San Fransisco, these were the largest indoor swimming pools in the world for their time. Unfortunately, they never made any real money and closed in 1966. While they were being dismantled, arson was responsible for destroying what was left and the developer took the money and ran. Now, it’s a part of national park service and a home for all kinds of birds with hiking trails and a couple of small restaurants where you can sit and people watch and bird watch from a warm, non windy spot inside.  It’s also is a great spot for wedding pictures.

Sutrobaths

Our last stop was really special. We managed to hit the Castro district of San Fransisco on the first day of Pride on June 26th. The same day that the Supreme Court ruled that marriage is a right afforded to all people in our country, gay or straight! The atmosphere was jubilant and the energy of the crowd was amazing. People were walking around with the biggest smiles and the most outlandish costumes, hugging and cheering and just generally carrying on as you do at a Pride celebration.

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We had so much fun just generally being part of the celebration, people watching, doing a little shopping and getting some photos taken with other celebrants. What an amazing way to end an awesome trip.

wedding celebration

We wanted to find a place to eat in the middle of the chaos, but the lines were super long and in the end, we opted to leave the party and head back towards our hotel. We ended up at this cool little family owned taqueria near our hotel that had the most amazing food. Our last night was spent eating authentic mexican food and watching the San Fransisco Giants baseball team play a tight game against the Colorado Rockies. The Rockies won, 32 to 40 at the last minute and I think we were all a little deflated after that.  Still, the food was great and it was really neat to share that time with the family.

Our trip home was uneventful and the supershuttle got us home safe and sound.  I swear I needed a vacation after my vacation. LOL. Luckily, at that time I wasn’t working that much so it wasn’t too hard to get rested up again. Would we do it again? Definitely! Although next time we’re thinking of sticking to the Seattle area and participating in the bike ride and exploring Olympic National Park/ Forest.  There are so many places we want to visit and only so much vacation time to go around so we have to be judicious. But traveling with Marc is the best part of any trip. He sure knows how to fit a bunch of stuff in a short time and make the most of any trip. Looking forward to the next trip already!

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Bye all and thanks for following along with us on Chasing Summer!

 

 

 

 

 

Pacific Coast Dreams: Oregon to California

Mingus Park in Coos Bay, Oregon

Mingus Park in Coos Bay, Oregon

After a night spent sleeping close to the road. We woke up to a world filled with fog outside our window. We ate breakfast and watched the mist recede back across the bay while eating stockpiled Ranier cherries, apples and jerky. When it was clear to the bridge, we took off. Our first stop was a cute little neighborhood park. Mingus park is beautifully maintained and had an easy one mile trail around a lake with an open section guarded aggressively by geese and a beautiful wooded section with a Japanese theme and a few friendly cats smoozing for pets. What a great start to the day, eh?

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Marc meets a Tyrannosaur at Prehistoric Gardens

Next up was  a kinda kitschy, but eminently cool roadside attraction called Prehistoric Gardens. Being located inside an Oregon rainforest gives this park of life-sized dinosaur replicas an even greater sense of realism and it was fun to compare ourselves to the models. We talked to the owner on the way out and she  told us about her grandparents building the park back in the 1950’s and her commitment to keeping it going. Needless to say, the kids we saw along the way loved it… and so did the adults!

Big brontosaurus and teeny me!

Big Brontosaurus and teeny me!

Pteranodon

 

I bet you’re wondering how much stuff two people can fit into one day. The answer is a helluva lot actually, when Marc is driving. LOL. I’m going to skip the last two stops for the day but suffice to say we saw another lighthouse from a distance ( missed the low tide window and didn’t want to wade through icy cold water). Also saw another cool rock formation at a scenic outlook, and crossed into California. Odd to have to go through an agriculture checkpoint from one state to another.

Day six was dedicated to finding Redwoods.  Marc headed us down the road toward Lady Bird Johnson’s Grove. On the way though,  we had to stop for a couple of photo op’s. I mean, how often do you come across gigantic statues of Paul Bunyan and Blue or wild elk?

Paul Bunyon and Blue

Paul Bunyan and Blue.See Marc underneath Paul’s foot?

Elk! They were wholly unimpressed with me.

Elk! They were wholly unimpressed with me.

We met our first redwood trees at a spot that felt almost sacred. Lady Bird Johnson was one of many people who realized early on that the Redwood trees were special and needed to be protected from commercial logging and timber industries before there was nothing left for future generations. This 300 acre grove was dedicated to her in 1969. It’s quite different from the Kauri’s in New Zealand. Here, a lot of the trees are hollowed out and blackened in spots from periodic forest fires that clear ground cover and new opportunities for life. Interestingly, fire  doesn’t necessarily  kills these trees because  their bark is a thickly insulating layer their sap is mostly water.  It was a beautiful tramp in an almost hushed atmosphere  with cool clean air brushing my cheeks occasionally as we investigated the forest.

LBJPark

We drove on refreshed, towards Avenue of the Giants and Humboldt Redwoods state park. This is a thirty-two mile driving tour through groves of Redwoods that are named for the folks that paid to preserve them or the towns they’re inside. There are trails, campgrounds,  and overlooks with plenty of pull off spots and souvenir shops along the side of the road. We saw fallen giants and victorious survivors along the way and took plenty of pictures.

 

Fallen Giant

Toppled Redwood tree. Massive, eh?

The Immortal Tree. This tree has survived fire, loging axes, lightening, and floods. It's between 950-1000 years old.

The Immortal Tree. This tree has survived fire, logging axes, lightening, and floods. It’s between 950-1000 years old.

The Eternal Treehouse. Used at various times to house people, supplies, or livestock. Hollowed redwood base.

The Eternal Treehouse. Used at various times to house people, supplies, or livestock. Hollowed redwood base.

Just driving through

Just driving through!

Yes, I had to do it too

Yes, I had to do it too!

It got hot as we drove out of the forest. Amazing what those massive trees do to cool the temperature down. We kept our eyes open for a spot where we could reach the river for a skinny dip, but the one potential spot  we found without people we began to realize may have been being set up for an illegal pot growing operation and we got the hell out of there. Still, the scenery in the distance was awesome.

NiceView

Wow! No wonder I was tired when we got back home! Four posts into the trip and I think I should stop here so no one gets too tired reading all this at one time. One more to go. I’m sure of it now. Thanks for following me and see you again soon on Chasing Summer!

 

 

 

 

Flooorida!

 

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Plantation Key

I have been so lame about keeping up with my travel blog. Sheesh! I’m wanting to post our trip to the West coast, but before I do that, I better dish on our Florida trip last fall. We’d been thinking about a trip to the Key’s for a while actually. Going all the way down to the very tip. Road trip, baby! So, that’s just what we did.

We flew into Ft. Lauderdale in late August and picked up the rental car at the airport. Marc surprised me with a convertible Mustang. Nice, eh? Our first stop was his Aunt Marie’s who lives right by the intercostal waterway. She was a gracious host and we had a lovely visit with a dinner at this awesome place that plopped a massive T- bone steak down in front of me that just dripped with melting Gorgonzola cheese. I didn’t think to take a picture until after dinner at which point she refused and questioned, ” why does everyone always want to do that AFTER dinner?” You’ re right Aunt Marie, nobody is ready for a close up after dinner. I shall remember that.

The next morning, we got an early start… after looking longingly at that leftover steak. We were headed south with the sunshine beaming and the top down! Our first stop was  right outside Key Largo. Tavernier is home to the Florida Keys Wild Bird Rehabilitation Center.  They have been rehabbing and releasing wild birds since the 1980’s and also providing a permanent home to those that can’t be released. Of course, bird’s aren’t fools. They will stick around if they might get a free meal now and then.

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They were so cool! Also totally disinterested in me when I didn't give them fish.

They were so cool! Also totally disinterested in me when I didn’t give them fish.

You can see forever down here

You can see forever down here

We also managed to stop at Treasure Village in Plantation Key for a couple of pictures in front of their thirty-five foot lobster. Big Betsy is something of a major tourist attraction for the Keys and once said to be the second most photographed icon. Our first night in the Keys was spent at a really nice plantation style resort recommended by a friend. With three or four pools and an additional saltwater pool, swim up bars and a free tram to take you anywhere on the property you wanted to go, it had everything. We managed to catch an hour in the pool after a long hot day and then a gorgeous sunset.

Duck Key Sunset

Duck Key Sunset

We got a somewhat early start again the next day and drove ever South on US 1. The highway is straight and  interspersed between the small towns and the flat, scrub terrain, are blue, blue waters sparkling and reaching towards the horizon. We stopped for a bit of a tramp and to give ourselves time to stretch our legs and enjoy the scenery at something under 55 miles an hour. Vaca Key is home to Crane Point Museum and Nature Trail. There are several beautiful walking trails, a wild bird sanctuary and also enfolds the remnants of the first black settlement in Florida. In 1890 the Adderley’s sailed from the Bahama’s to the Keys. They purchased land at Crane point and started to build their home. It’s notable for a couple of  reason’s. It’s the oldest surviving home outside of Key West and it’s construction method. George made it out of tabby, which is a Bahamian technique involving burned up shells mixed with lime and sand and water to make a concrete that was then poured into molds. I tell you, it still looks solid enough to live in today. The man had some mad skills.

going for a tramp

going for a tramp

 

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Tabby House

After we returned to our car and headed towards Key West, we could see storm clouds gathering in front of us and actual lightning and rain hitting part of the Keys. When the ground is that flat, you really can see a long way off. We debated whether to hole up somewhere close or drive on. In the end, we decided to keep going. We figured we’d miss the storm as it wasn’t truly in the way. Isn’t technology a wonderful thing?

Stormy Weather

Stormy Weather

Thanks to some fancy and quick phone booking, Marc got us a room at this cool little boutique hotel/inn called  NYAH.  Short for Not Your Average Hotel.We pulled up just in time for happy hour and were offered wine and cheese. The room was very interesting as it could sleep six to a room or eight if everyone is really friendly. There were little cabinets with individual locks that made me think they get a lot of backpackers. They also had 3 pools on a small property ranging from coolish (hey, it’s Florida after all), to kinda warm. They would also provide a nice breakfast every morning and towels every day. Lovely!

Hotel from the back deck.

Hotel from the back deck.

With the happy hours, we got to meet some of the folks staying there. Very much an international clientage with a polyglot of languages heard around the pools. We made friends with three Russians traveling together. It was supposed to be four, but one of the guys had a breakup with his girlfriend shortly before they left. Something about her not wanting to go. They were traveling for 3 months and wanted us to recommend a place in New York city. Unfortunately, we couldn’t help them with that.

But we could help them with the beer.

In our remaining time, we  checked out Key West. We walked through parts of the city. We visited Ernest Hemingway’s house. That was really neat. To hear about his ways of loving and leaving the ladies, see the desk he wrote some of his stories on and meet some of the descendents of his six toed cats was awesome. Did you know they actually employ a breeding program to get more six toed cats now?

They don't allow you to pick up the cats, but they can't tell the cats not to jump up on your lap for some love.

They don’t allow you to pick up the cats, but they can’t tell the cats not to jump up on your lap for some love.

We also got in line to have a photo-op with ourselves at the southernmost point in the United States. it’s like a thing there, everyone has to do it.  The line moved quickly though and everyone was really nice taking pictures for each other and talking about the best place to visit and to eat.

90 To Cuba

At night, we roamed the streets to people watch and try out a few places to eat. Of course we had to try Margaritaville. If you ever go, try the fish taco’s. They’re wonderful! They also seem to have live music every night. We had to check, the daquiri’s  were really good. On our wandering around the town, we also found the smallest bar in Key West, if not the world.

Getting arty with it. I think they have three or four barstools.

Getting arty with it. I think they have three or four bar stools.

As all leavings are, it was a little sad to have to leave Key west in the rear view for our drive North. We kept the top down as much as we could and rolled along with only a couple of brief stops for lunch and a small tramp to actually dip our feet in the ocean. For al the water we were surrounded by, we hadn’t really gotten in it. Beaches are fairly rare around there so when we actually saw one, we stopped. I think we both limited ourselves to wading as we were going to be sitting on an airplane in just a few hours.

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So, that’s the trip. Man, just writing about it makes me want to go again! One of these days we definitely will.

Bye!

Bye!

 

Thanks for following along guys! Hope to see you again through your own blogs, or in person!

St. Michaels, MD

Gatz for short

Gatz for short

Hello again! Hope everyone is doing well out there. More and more, I find free time a precious commodity, and to be able to spend that with a loved one the best gift I could ever receive. This is why my birthday weekend was such a great thing. (Edited to add; this post is so long overdue. This was actually from over a year ago and I forgot to finish, as I said time is a precious commodity now. I only just realized it as I was trying to play catch up on two other posts I’m trying to write. Hang in there with me folks, or just enjoy the pictures.) Marc was getting ready for some soloing adventures but decided to wait until after the celebration  before taking off for points East. He’s writing his own blog here.

it was a pretty easy two-hour drive to Saint Michael’s ,but the rain slowed us down a little. That’s why, when we saw those cool statues right outside of town, we had to stop and check them out. The place is called Gatz and outside they have an amazing amount of awesome, lifelike statues. Inside, It’s all antique furniture and practically everything else you can think of, including a bearskin rug. Really!

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I could hardly believe what they can do with marble:

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We stayed at a lovely B & B. The first time I’ve ever had the experience. Our host was quite knowledgable on the area and while it was too cold to go in the pool, they did have bikes you could take out for a spin along the roadways and through town to get a better feel for the town.

Don't I look spiffy?

Don’t I look spiffy?

It was a little bit of a shame that there was all this trash along the sides of the road outside of town. There had been a marathon run earlier and much detritus had been left behind. I will spare you the pictures of that. We both applauded the folks that were still there, still running; or walking… determined to finish in the heat of the afternoon. Made me think of that Cake song “Going The Distance”.  Then we went and had lunch and browsed the shops.

My Handsome Man

My Handsome Man

We bought a really cool kite at one shop and found a somewhat breezy point to try it out.

It's supposed to be a viking ship

It’s supposed to be a viking ship

It didn’t really fly all that well that day. Not enough wind unfortunately, but it would be successful on other days.

All too soon, we had to return to reality. We did manage to stop at a fruit stand, and buy tickets from the Lion’s club for a new Mustang convertible. Sadly, it was not to be however. Along the way we did stop to stretch our legs and catch at glimpse of a lighthouse. We both love those things.

The closest we came

The closest we came

We also saw the coolest ZZ Top type car on the way home. Here’s the best of the bunch

Love that color!

Love that color!

Sweet trip, eh? I certainly thought so. We got some nice exercise, met cool people at breakfast in the mornings and enjoyed some awesome seafood both evenings. Definitely worse ways to spend your birthday, eh?

Cunningham Falls, MD

ThePath CF

Path To The Falls

 

Last weekend was perfect weather for a tramp outdoors. Balmy, a bit of a breeze and mid 70’s  meant there was no way I was going to stay indoors. My girlfriend Jessica and I had made plans to go to Cunningham Falls State park and after a quick breakfast and an hours drive to Thurmont, Md (outside of Fredrick), we made it.

My Friend Jessica

My Friend Jessica

The sun was shining, the air was clean and the path was dry, although occasionally crowded with other hikers. The waterfall  itself (supposedly the longest in Maryland) is fed by Hunting Creek Lake and  features a catch and release trout stream for all you fishermen out there. I did not see any trout though. Just green, green trees, awesome old boulders and some of the oldest exposed greenstone rock outcroppings on the world. The park is part of the Catoctin Mountains which lie inside the Blue Ridge. A truly beautiful place.

Nice

TopofFalls

We took the slightly sloping path up the  end of the boardwalk and had a look around. Everywhere, folks were rock climbing to the top, or watching their children play downstream. What could we do? Of course we climbed to the top of the waterfall and found a place to sit in the sun. I think we both may have drifted for a bit, soothed by the sonorous sound of rushing water and soon leaning back against the rocks to soak up the heat. Occasionally awakened by enthusiastic children hiking past into the mysteries above the falls.

View From The Top

View From The Top

Ready To Swing Out Over The Rocks

Ready To Swing Out Over The Rocks

All too soon it was time to go. We were meeting a friend for a BBQ dinner and didn’t want to be late. It was good to catch up with my friends and  eat some massive grilled steaks with all the fix-in’s. I got to cook too, which was an experience. I seemed to have the smoke following me around every time I opened the grill… oh, and then there was the part where we had to rinse off all the vegetables and our friend Denny’s steak cause the grill  cover slipped out of my hand and flakes of black stuff got all over everything. They forgave me though and it turned out to be a great dinner.

JessicaFalls