Posted by: wheelsandfeet | June 20, 2011

Back in Minne…for now.

A HEARTY CONGRATULATIONS TO MR. AND MRS. WILLIAM AND KIM SMITH.  What a great wedding it was.  We are so glad we were able to make it back.  It felt so good to be there!  Prior to driving back for it, we squeezed in a number of fantastic places, of course!

From our free camping in Sequoia National Forest, we continued on to Sequoia National Park to free camping in a different part of Sequoia National Forest.  After that,  King’s Canyon was our next stop.  This part of the country is truly an amazing experience.  We can’t wait to get in a little deeper and experience more of the back country of these places.  How about a tree that is almost 40 feet in diameter?  Or over 3000 years old?  amazing. the biggest tree and largest living organism in the world (The General Sherman Tree) has all the tourists which makes it absolutely necessary to get off the beaten path to see other Sequoia groves.  The stillness and power of these groves of giants is inexplicable.  Wow.  The fewer people around the better.  This tree could hold 159000 basketballs, or more than 37 million pingpong balls

King’s Canyon is a mighty canyon where the major snow melt drainage of the High Sierra occurs.  the Sierra crest can be seen from Lookout Peak at the end of a great hike on the  Don Cecil Trail.  14 miles long, 4000 ft up (and down)! a great great  hike with a perfect little peak big enough for 2-4.  nice. rated as one of the top 5 views in California by The San Francisco Chronicle.

While we were checking out our options in the visitor center of King’s Canyon (one of the last old school visitor centers still totally intact from the 1930’s) the day before, a tree fell…not just any tree…a 150-200ft, 5 ft wide in diameter behemoth of a Ponderosa Pine that decided to fall while nicole and I were the only visitors there!  It sounded and felt like a bomb! and the dust in the air made it feel that way, too! it fell about 50 feet from us! it landed on two of the most popular campsites in the park! luckily, the park was closed for road resurfacing only two hours earlier! wow…that was totally crazy.  We also headed up the Mist Falls Trail at the end of the park road and with the spring runoff of record breaking snowfall in the High Sierra, the river and therefore the falls were absolutely raging.  RAGING! the mist waterfall gave us one rainbow on top of the other.  beautiful.  and on our return hike, we were “lucky” enough to see 3 bear…and big bear at that.  not necessary, really, especially since they were just a few feet off the trail and maybe 50 feet in front of us…oh, and the youngest was…yep…behind us!  yikes!  oh well, apparently, that part of the trail is known for having bear encounters with no attacks on record in the history of the park.  so it was very cool to experience.

After kings canyon and sequoia national parks we headed over to one of the quintessential drives in the country…The Big Sur Highway.  It had experienced massive amounts of landslides this year due to the record rain falls and had been closed for a couple months forcing an out and back experience from the bottom then a days drive out and around to the top for another out and back experience since the highway was closed right in the middle.  Lucky for us…IT OPENED THE DAY WE GOT THERE!  NICE!  and a beautiful drive it is.  we dug in to the backcountry of Big Sur with some hiking and backpacking with an amazing hot spring with a temp of probably just over 100F right on a river at the end of our hike.  That was fantastic and luckily not very many people were there with us that night.  we were lucky to get out when we did, though. as we were hiking out there were upwards of 40 people hiking in. wow. that’s too much. apparently, mid march on a wednesday is the best day to enjoy the hot springs and redwoods on that trail, the most popular trail in the Big Sur backcountry.

after big sur, we headed to sacramento to visit nicole’s bro for a great dinner of tacos and margaritas! woke up the next morning, I (patrick) GOT MY NURSING LICENSE FOR CALIFORNIA! DONE!  nice.  that makes being back in Minnesota that much easier right now.

Well, had a bit of a drive getting back to the good ole midwest USA for the wedding.  hmmm, let’s see, Sacramento to Minneapolis = 36 hours and 2000 miles. yikes. that’s a lot of gallons of gasoline!  marking the end of the first leg of the adventure.  6 months on the road, 15,500 miles, 35 showers (and we remember every one of them!), 20 states, 5 natural hot springs, 3 spider bites, 2 dog bites, 2 tornado warnings, and a space shuttle launch. well, there’s a bit more to it, but you get the picture.

HA!  The blog has been fun so far, although it has been something I wish to which nicole and I were able to pay more attention.  We have not included many photos in the postings at all…not impressed. Good thing nicole included some in her pet project of the travelogue!  but to enjoy time in life to the fullest at the time, less time is able to be spent on recording it.

In this day and age in the US society especially, I believe we spend too much time recording memorable moments and not enough time experiencing them.  We simply have less and less time.  When they say you have only one life to live, they mean it.  I am a firm believer that just knowing what your dreams are and holding on to them is the hard part.  There is a downside to dreaming, though.  The biggest problem with achieving even one of them is that you may become anxious to reach another!  And, that creates hope…and as Morgan Freeman so eloquently states in the movie Shawshank Redemption, “Hope is a dangerous thing.”  Not sure how many folks watch that movie with the thought that it applies directly to themselves…but it does.  It applies to everyone.  Staying within the walls of a person’s daily life can be much easier and safer in the short term.  Hell, we got T.V. to watch to keep us entertained.  What more do ya need? human nature comin atcha loud and clear.  But, without dreams and the crazy notion that they can be achieved, we are nothing but robots with a heartbeat.  We fall into the trap of consumerism way too often and think less and less for ourselves and our dreams.  Spend less money, spend more time, buy fewer things, have more experiences, make more friends, see more places, live a little while you have the chance.

I have a bit of time this week in a very familiar place (mom’s house!) so I’ll have some time to include more of the photos.  the blog may be taking a bit of a break…we’ll see. the adventure will continue soon, though, with nicole and I hiking from two harbors, MN to Canada on the superior hiking trail if our plans work out! very excited for that!  we haven’t tried “through hiking” before…it’s the type of hiking that is ongoing by resupplying in small towns along the way.  we hope to do 13-15 miles/day average for about 2 weeks.  If it goes okay, we hope to graduate to one of the Grandaddy’s of the long trails i.e. The Colorado Trail, The Appalachian Trail, or The Pacific Crest Trail someday.  These are just dreams…in which case the hard part is taken care of! 😀  (for some reason, if we ever actually do one of those trails I’ll have a different idea of what was the hard part).

Excited to be back in Minnesota for now, but bittersweet that this leg of the adventure is over.  can’t wait to restart the engines!


Posted by: wheelsandfeet | June 3, 2011

SoCal…still there!

but who knows where the border between NorCal (northern California) and SoCal (southern california) is exactly…I think people just make it up as they go, local or not!  let’s say it’s just north of santa barbara…near San Louis Obispo.

well, right now, nicole and I are hangin out in a cool smaller city called Visalia, Ca.  Just a crazy town.  ya look around at the people and who knows where anyone is from…could be asian, could be latino, african american, could be european…oceania…the only culture I haven’t seen here is middle eastern.  it’s but the restaurants say otherwise.  I’m likin it.  old town main street stuck in the late 80’s early 90’s with sales on clothes all over the place.  huge homeless population hangin out at the park.  about 50 miles from sequoia/kings canyon national parks and sequoia national forest where gear heads, tree huggers, and hunters all kinda just get along.  pretty cool little part of the country.

Well, here’s to getting to know a little this and that of SoCal!  Rob and I (patrick) spent some time in the hills of the San Bernardino National Forest at his favorite spot.  a great time with some good food and a great view of the San Joaquin Valley (I think…) overlooking west Palm Springs…?…we were also able to be “trail angels” to some very cool pacific crest trail hikers for a few days!  water? pop tarts? anyone?  they definitely took full advantage of our stash!  and it felt great to help out.  some of those folks were getting their butt kicked by the pacific crest trail and needed a little respit.  rob and I did a little kayaking on Big Bear Lake.  very cool, but had to pay $15 each for a day permit! ridiculous.

picked up nicole at the LA Airport on the 24th and headed in to venice beach for a comfortable night’s sleep on some random street recommended by the Venice Beach Man, Rob Dew.  great hanging out with him in Venice Beach for the short time that I was able…here’s to hanging out with him more. can’t wait for nicole to meet him. still waitin for nicole to meet him.

Nicole and I continued up the coast.  we stayed at Lou Carrillo state park where the ocean meets the hills.  a pretty cool park. each campsite had some privacy which is a pretty unusual thing along the socal coast!  we had a great time watching surfers for a couple hours…dreaming of having our own boards! well, at least I was 😀 nicole’s gonna start with a boogie board. 🙂  and we’ll see where it goes from there…

from there we headed up hwy 1 to Montana de Oro State Park.  a very cool park, rugged socal coast with plenty of room at the campsites.  good mountain biking and great trails along the coast with some very cool tidal pools and “gnarly” coastal waves.  downside was a lot of ticks! yikes. oh well! worth it, none-the-less, of course.

across to Fresno we went to store our stuff at a public storage place.  $1 is true (plus $22 administrative fees) for the first month!

off to Lake Isabella, The Kern River, and some awesome Hot Springs for Memorial Day Weekend.  ARGH, holidays for working people…they really get in the way of our fun! 😀  what to do with so many people around!  well, the remington hot springs was a great place to hang out for a couple nights!  and Miracle Hot Springs was very cool, too.  the hot springs on the Kern River are worth a visit.  so cool. and free…FREE.  national forest is OUR LAND…let’s use it!

we went to Sequoia National Forest for the next three nights. found an awesome spot right on a stream where the trout fishing was great.  we picked up a ridiculous amount of garbage from the previous ‘CAMPERS’.  well, those folks threw their garbage everywhere and since the rain/snow on the saturday night of the memorial day weekend “forced” them into their cars to drive back to LA in the middle of the night, we could tell they felt no need to worry about the tents they left still staked in.  But, we found 8 cold beers and some really cool petroglyph and pictographs near an old rock/cliff dwelling not far from our camp! that was well worth the work it took to pick up the camp area. please, pack in pack out! (but it’s okay to leave the beers! :D)

at this camp we met a great couple who have been traveling for years.  we actually had heard of them in New Mexico because the woman writes an E-Book on free camping state by state! her name: marianne edwards!  so cool to have their acquaintance especially after we had heard of them a few months ago!  they even cooked us up a great meal.  that was cool.

off to the Freeman Trail, a very cool bike/hike trail of the sequoia giants where we saw “The George Bush Tree” if you can believe there is such a thing.  and, yes, IT WAS STILL STANDING!  he didn’t use his chainsaw to cut down this 250 ft 1500 year old beauty.

We then checked out the trail of 100 giants.  so cool to see these trees, the largest living organisms on earth.  ridiculous, really.  so we took the hwy out of the sequoia national forest late last night to see the sunset over classic california horse ranch country on a tiny windy 2 lane paved road, J37. very cool road. would be cool to do a road bike on that one.  great great country here.

Now, we need to get going to the sheriff’s office so I can get my fingerprinting done…gotta start the process of getting a temporary work permit for travel nursing in California.  exciting! but good grief, there’s a lot of red tape…california has the most.

very quick post this time…no re-read! I hope it’s okay!  😀

off to sequoia national park and kings canyon national parks!

Posted by: wheelsandfeet | May 15, 2011

Posted by: wheelsandfeet | May 15, 2011

moab to…Venice Beach? Rome? Athens?


Nicole is enjoying herself in Europe spending euros on good times right now.  Her “Camelback Trip”, that is vacation from a vacation (when’s the last time you’ve had one of those??), is spending quality time with one of her BFFs :D, best girlfriends EVER, like OMG! Hello!?!…like, really, oh my god, like, really?  dude. RAD!

Hahaha…Venice Beach must be getting to me.

so, from Moab we continued in to canyon country.  fantastic fantastic time.  mark my words…Grand Escalante Staircase will be one of the top ten destinations for adventure travel in the US, if it’s not already.  This place is surprising, exciting, adventurous, less traveled, stunning.  free.  FREE.  That’s an easy way to get spoiled.  suffice it to say, SoCal, southern California is not, even with the good and dear friends who have been giving me the idea of having a place to go back to for the last 4 days.  so clutch.

Moab to Canyonlands to Goblin Valley and little wild horse canyon and Bell Canyon Loop to Capital Reef to Boulder Mountain to Hole-in-the-rock road and quintessential slot canyon country including zebra canyon and mule canyons (and countless others that we didn’t make time to do) to upper calf creek and lower calf creek canyons and creeks. it’s even prettier and more refreshing than it looks. I swam in it!  a cool cool 😉 experience. weeehoooo!  From calf creek to Zion to Flagstaff/Jerome (phenomenal must do)/Prescott and the Prescott Art Fair.  Then off to Pheonix where Nicole flew to Minneapolis-New York-Rome and soon to Athens for some time in the islands as well.  Awesome. I’m jealous…and Lonely! 😦  But I tend to make due 🙂

So lucky for me, I spent some time in the Cleveland National Forest, Laguna Meadows, and an awesome awesome road called Pine Creek that can lead to great horseback riding, mountain biking, road biking and free camping. and only 45 minutes into San Diego…

luckily ran into a great great old friend who was gracious enough to let me stay at her place in San Diego! fantastic. thanks Kris! and now I need to do some painting in exchange for storing the trailer and kayaks in her garage while I enjoy the heart of Venice Beach with my dear old friend Rob Dew who I lived with when I was in NYC.  great 4 hour bike ride around Venice beach today and now I need to enjoy a dinner soiree with a fantastic crew of gypsies as rob puts it.

time for organic! (city folk 🙂 Mmmm….and wine. and film.

that’s all for now!

Posted by: wheelsandfeet | April 28, 2011

Santa Fe to Moab…

well, we took a shower yesterday! that was big.  The shower was almost as good as our hike through Natural Bridges or the hamburgers on the grill with a salad to boot last night.  😀  I’m just not sure if I should mention how long it’s been since we took a shower…how about I get to what we’ve been up to lately and if I remember, I’ll mention how long it’s been at the end of the post.

So, we went from Santa Fe to Tent Rocks Park for the day. Then off to Gallup, NM for a short bit to check out the shops. Not a destination town, but if you want to buy local artisan jewelry, turquoise, etc…this place is awesome.  the prices are hard to beat.  stayed at the lovely local wal-mart just outside Gallup for the night.  water, bathrooms, and redbox.  what more do you need? off to Canyon de Chelly in the morning.  what a treat. and we were there for a free hiking tour of the canyon given by a local navaho woman who had been giving tours for 18 years.  very cool.  can’t say enough about canyon de chelly.  the camping is free just inside the park, although it’s primitive.  but that’s no problem!  then on to Monument Valley!  free camping there as well. and the views are amazing. right in the heart of the beast. the vistas are awesome and again, free camping means primitive with a biffy. but well worth it!  woke up for the sunrise and a morning walk for a couple hours with Malto.  Then, rather than pay for the drive around the valley in a four wheel drive vehicle, we decided to take our mountain bikes for a spin!  about a 15 mile round trip ride right into the valley.  they should consider renting mountain bikes for this ride.  such a great way to see it.  from Monument Valley we drove through ferocious winds…so sick of winds…not just breezes, but winds getting up to 50+ miles/hr in the rig is a real gas guzzler and a ridiculously frustrating way to drive.  From Monument Valley we drove to Goosenecks State Park followed by Valley of the Godsbackcountry road where we stayed for the night.  Goosenecks refers to the path of the Green River (?) shaped like a goose’s neck viewed from above.  amazing sight.  Valley of the Gods is a fantastic round trip backcountry road that’s nice enough for the VW where you can just pull off the road and camp in several places along the way with views of awesome desert scape and desert towers.  We actually had a fire that night!  so nice.  we checked in to the kane ranger station to get a weather report before we embarked on some backcountry canyon hiking near grand gulch only to find that the weather was not looking good.  cold and wet.  really???  and here I thought we were in canyon country at the best time of the year.  oh well! that just meant that we needed to continue to Natural Bridges National Monument where we did some great hiking and backcountry camping as well.  Even though we expected some inclement weather, it still surprised us!  rain 3 days in a row? snow??? yep, snow.  and a couple inches at that.   I’m not sure if you’ve ever tried to drive on clay when it’s wet, but I don’t recommend it. especially in a VW Eurovan.  wow, that was quite unnerving.  even parking on the stuff for it to rain overnight made for a pretty restless couple night’s sleep for me!  yikes….what if we just start sliding on the wet clay, down the hill, and into the canyon?  hmmm…I had to stay up and check the tires late just to make sure we weren’t slipping even though we pulled up on some rocks to level out the ole VW.  well, I’m writing this now, so I guess we made it. 😀  we hiked natural bridges for an afternoon. got lost…continued downstream from Sipapu Bridge beyond Kachina Bridge all the way to the park boundary rather than UP the merging canyon/river at Kachina Bridge to the next Natural Bridge.  luckily Nicole noticed the tiny little park boundary sign!  yikes.  same thing happened to another older couple that we ran into later on in the day!  the map is crap and to get to the final bridge, the trail jogs up a canyon wall that takes you back to a parking area for a scenic overlook.  weird….at the time.  and still makes us wonder how many people end up doing what we did.  the next day we hunkered down and made some jewelry!  it rained and snowed, sleeted, hailed…good grief.  but we stayed nice and dry in the rig.  after the crappy weather cleared, I ended up using the crazy clay and made an adobe fireplace out of the rock fire ring! crazy working with that stuff. it’s no wonder the ancient ones used it for building material, as folks continue to do quite often these days.  we found the time to do a canyon hike called north mule canyon. one of the easier and more obvious canyon hikes in the area.  We had no idea the learning curve for wondering around canyon country was so steep.  Mule canyon was great, though. nice weather, awesome ruins still containing relics inside them.  there is an amazing amount of things to do in this lovely state of Utah and the learning curve really keeps it interesting.  From Mule Canyon, we headed up to Moab where we are now…online for the first time in a couple weeks…with cell coverage (in town, anyway…not at camp), a great selection at the grocery store, still a primitive campground but with a grill!, right on the colorado river.  primitive camping is prevalent here in moab with the drop the payment in the box ethic. but, it can be full! get here early in the day especially if you want a good site.  We biked slickrock yesterday. that was a tough but great workout.

I guess that’s what we’re up to!  hangin out in a coffee shop!  gettin all excited to go do some laundry…somehow missing out on some really nice weather.  I don’t know why, but that’s the way it goes as you all well know!  we still forget that there are daily responsibilities and feel guilty that we’re not outside on such a nice day…what a great thing to forget for a while.  I guess that’s part of what are road trips are all about…

just a thought before we go for now, here’s a little quote we ran across while reading at Cass’s in Arroyo Seco, NM.

You can’t separate individual struggle from universal implications.  My well-being depends on the planet; the planet’s health depends on me. “Whenever we try to pick out anything by itself, said the naturalist Jon Muir, “we find it hitched to everything else in the universe.” So at the bottom of trying to fashion a simple (and healthy) existence is the necessity to protect the very web of life itself.

I’m gonna try to throw on some photos in this post…hopefully it all goes well.  they’re pretty random, though…

Posted by: wheelsandfeet | April 17, 2011

Finally heading out of New Mexico!

Well, it’s been a month in the great state of New Mexico…and we feel like we just got started. well, not really…we had a great experience in New Mexico and there are so many more things we wish we could see, but the wheels gotta keep turnin.  We’re off to Canyon de Chelly, Arizona for tonight to get some fantastic canyon hiking going in the morning.  check out those views. amazing.

After that, we’re plannin on spending a few weeks in canyon country of southern Utah.  we bought a book on hiking around the colorado plateau that is awesome thanks to the wise words of advice from our week-long roommate, Cass Adams, in Arroyo Seco.  gotta check out his book, by the way! it’s fantastic.  we need to keep reminding ourselves to try to stay simple, remain frugal and efficient to feel good about ourselves and feel good about trying to spare the environment.  mother nature is so patient with us, really.

In Santa Fe:  canyon road (amazing artists’ centered retail and galleries), Georgia O’Keeffe museum, Santa Fe Museum and a great gallery of photos on the environment including some Ansel Adams originals…my favorite.  “The oldest” house…although that’s in conflict with The Oldest House is St. Augustine, Florida!…Hmmm…we did some great hiking along the trails that are just up Canyon Rd. in the Santa Fe National Forest…great views from above looking down the city.  Such a great, mellow city Santa Fe is…Mellow…not to confuse it with other cities that are Hip!  they don’t like “HIP” in Santa Fe…some people try and some businesses try and they just cut it around here.  funny to watch, though. 😀  the folks here have class and don’t need to be hip.  so many folks come here to get away…get away from New York. get away from Los Angeles.  they meet in the middle to explore their creativity and be mellow…here in Santa Fe.  We also saw the oldest Church in the U.S.! that was very cool…the walls are from 1610 or something. so cool.

so where did we stay, you ask?  😀

Upaya Zen Meditation Center.  what a fantastic place.  here we spent some time meditating and hanging out with our old pal, Wulffie.  he’s working there for a few months on barter: room, board, meditation, etc for light maintenance services.  what a great place to be for a few months and just a short bike ride from the Santa Fe plaza and all that Santa Fe has to offer including the daily line up of Native American artists work by hand for sale along one side of the plaza.

right now, we’re about to dig in to a small pizza and soda at a little italian joint while we get our raingear back in waterproof shape at the laundromat! it’ll be a while until we see the option of getting online! wish a luck in canyon country and don’t watch the movie 127 hours in the mean time! 😀

Posted by: wheelsandfeet | April 12, 2011

correction…mardi gras was more than a month ago…

just finally posted the last tidbit a bit later than when I wrote it…well, when I wrote most of it, anyway.

headin to santa fe tomorrow.  taos for a couple weeks has been a treat.  the culture here, along with the mountains, the gorge, rivers, hot springs, shops, galleries, gracious host/short term roommate in Cass Adams and his lovely daughter, Sophia.

it’s been fantastic and very laid back here in Taos.  it’s ridiculous that I never got here before now especially since I was living in Durango, CO for 1.5 yrs. that’s ridiculous.  I was on my way here from Durango one time, though.  what a crazy day that turned out to be.  I broke down somewhere near Chama, NM on the way to Stagecoach Hot Springs.  Well, Stagecoach…I FINALLY MADE IT! 😀  AND IT WAS WORTH THE WAIT!  sitting in a hot spring in the bottom of the rio grande gorge right next to the mighty rio grande river.  fantastic.

anyway, heading to santa fe tomorrow to visit with the ole wulfman again to rudely interrupt his space of meditation…again…oh well. it’s his day off.  😀


Posted by: wheelsandfeet | April 10, 2011

At the base of Taos Ski Valley…

So, where were we?  New Orleans…hmmm, so that was about three weeks ago…and we’re still heading west!  Nicole’s been doin great on keepin up the travelogue.  If you haven’t checked it out here’s a quick synopsis and some links of our travels from New Orleans and Mardi Gras to skiing Taos and climbing Wheeler Peak, the highest point in New Mexico.

just outside Lafayette, La: Catfish Heaven Campground, Acadian culture, a day trip to Avery Island that is the very tip of a salt dome larger than Mt. Everest now mined and sold to Cargill and is also where Tabasco is produced.  Tabasco plant tour and Avery Island Jungle Gardens including Bird City…and, of course, another Tornado Warning…

Austin, TX: mountain biking walnut creek park, SOCO,  Barton Springs and Zilker Park (the city does an awful job promoting this place online…it’s an awesome park) and a crazy dude kite rollerblading, Jarid and Laurie’s pad…

Enchanted Rock State Park: campin at a nearby ranch, climbing (not the big stuff you might see…just a few climbs on top-rope up to about 70 feet or so).

Big Bend National Park, hiking Chisos Mountains, kayaking santa elena canyon (wow.), climbed , red plume agate hunting Woodward Ranch, McDonald Observatory and The Star Party, Marfa Lights

Carlsbad, NM; Carlsbad Caverns National Park (not my photo), burgers on the grill with Tabasco barrel wood chips

Guadalupe National Park

Met up with Wulffie in Las Vegas, NM.  that was great! did a few cool things: Montezuma Hot Springs, Hermit’s Peak Trail, the movie Paul, Red Dawn (filmed entirely in Las Vegas, NM!)…creepy for me since it was one of my favorites as a kid and a huge inspiration to get tot he mountains! 😀  Right when we rolled into Las Vegas, New Mexico, I saw a truck that looked exactly like the one that big brother Patrick Swayze drove into the hills in the movie.  I mentioned that to Nicole as we passed by it.  We didn’t even know at that point that the movie was filmed there.  WEIRD!  hiked and stayed in Carson National Forest about 10 miles out of town.  also saw the movie Paul in an old theater right in old town Las Vegas…NM…while we were there which was also partly filmed there!

Santa Fe; Silver Saddle Motel…(we’re heading back to santa fe this week to pick up some mail and check it out!)

Taos Ski Valley: Snow!  and 3-6 more inches of it the night we got here!…ski, hike bull-of-the-woods trail to the bull-of-the-woods pasture yurt, butt sled return, climb Wheeler Peak, future of Taos…NEW LIFTS TO THE TOP OF KACHINA PEAK getting up to 13,000 ft on some crazy exposed terrain.  I never knew that the runs at Taos Ski Valley were so wickedly exposed.  seems like the Canadian ski park terrain ethic to me versus what I have seen, anyway…awesome.  here’s a quick link to some of the terrain on Kachina Peak where the proposed lift will be going rather than skiers having to take the 1hr hike along the ridge to get there…

We’ve been in Taos, NM for two weeks now.  we’ve been staying in a little village called Arroyo Seco just down the mountain from the ski valley and just north of the town of Taos by about 5 miles…called on a room for rent and asked if we could just rent it for the week…it has worked out just fantastic.  we’ve ended up staying with a guy who has a wealth of knowledge of the canyon area that we’re heading to next.  His name is Cass Adams, author of The Soul Unearthed, touching on my interest in Ecopsychology or basically therapy in the woods…funny thing is that his girlfriend who moved out (to make the space for us to enjoy for the time being) is a nurse on a med/surg floor…my current occupation, ay…weird.

right now, we’re contemplating what to do in the country of canyons!  canyon de chelly, canyonlands, natural bridges, antelope canyon, havasu canyon/falls, maybe arches, capital reef…hmmm, just saw the film of 127 hours depicting the heroic feat of a self rescue Aron Ralston endured.  a learning experience for sure and fair warning of what to pay attention to when adventuring around in the canyons of southern Utah!

It’s been nice having a room with a bathroom for a week.  very nice.  we’ve had a kitchen. a wood burning stove. a washer and dryer. a dishwasher. a place to put the trailer and kayaks while we explore the area of Taos.  it really is fantastic here.  saw Cass (temporary roomie) play some harmonica at a tea shop in town yesterday.  saw the rio grande gorge and the bridge spanning it…crazy. soaked at ojo caliente hot springs for a while after hanging out in Bandalier National Monument.  visited a really amazing building technique highlighted in a few communities in around Taos called Earthship. Taos Pueblo is also a really amazing area that we visited.  hung out at stagecoach hot springs for a couple hours…wow…right along the rio grande river IN the gorge…

that’s a quick synopsis of the latest.  wish we had more access to the internet to keep up with the blog!!!

and now time for MORE MORE MORE! 😀

Posted by: wheelsandfeet | March 14, 2011

From Cape Canaveral on to the west!

Good grief.  A lot has happened since the space shuttle launch!  It has been a whirlwind of travel and road trippin for us.  From Cape Canaveral we scooted across northern Florida via Jacksonville and Tallahassee.  The road through northern Florida was pretty uneventful.  I (Pat) had done it a couple times before and was not looking forward to it.  But, a surprisingly cool little rest stop lightened the mood quite a bit!  At first, when we found out the bathrooms at the rest stop were out of commission our mood was not lightened, as you can imagine.  The alternative was to find a tree, of course!  well, in looking for that said tree I stumbled upon an awesome little boardwalk trail through some cyprus swamp!  Nice!  crazy the highway upkeep folks didn’t market this trail more for all the work that was put into it.

-sidebar:  as we’ve taken time to see the country and what the people have to offer, it’s amazing how close a business can be to making some serious profit and basically just chooses not to take that last little step to stick it’s head above the rest-

But, since it wasn’t marketed (back to the boardwalk trail…), no one else was on it!  Malto had a great time and we were sure to keep him from jumpin into the murky unknown of southern cyprus swamp.

Off to Wakulla Springs! This place is fantastic and very user friendly for some day use recreation.  preserved well.  even the tour boats (yep, touristy, but worth it.) were electric.  Alligators, snakes, variety of birds and turtles, plant life, crystal clear water and worthy side notes like, “Over there is where The Creature From The Black Lagoon was filmed.”  also, Tarzan and a few other films were made at Wakulla Springs.  12 miles and 320 feet deep as explored so far.  250 millions gallons of water comes out of the springs daily.  fossilized mastodon skeletons. take an interactive tour on the webpage to explore the cave for yourself! interesting stuff. florida is pretty surprising.

then off to more of the panhandle!  ever hear of Alligator Point?  We hadn’t either! it was pretty cool. recently known for the clamming as highlighted on the TV show America’s Dirtiest Jobs.  classic setting.  The peninsulas in Florida are so cool.  and…POOF!  THE SUN WENT DOWN! again? where the heck are we going to sleep?  “Oh, there’ll be a Wal-Mart or a rest stop somewhere…”  HAH! not this time.  Enter in Hotel Boondocking, as the road trippers so eloquently call it.

Off to Destin!  Destin, Florida.  “If it wasn’t for the Hurricane of ’95 (that’s Hurrican Opal), this place wouldn’t have been so developed.” huh?  I thought hurricane’s were devastating to the local economy!  well, since this hurricane hit Destin, the development took off like wildfire and now the hotels line the beaches like they think they’re on the florida atlantic coast!  crazy.  but there are beaches that are saved and preserved.  where the road used to run the beach and folks were passively allowed to camp alongside it pretty much anywhere, the road has been rerouted and the beach sand dunes have been preserved and are now state park or they are littered with hotels…amazing coastline, though.  The Emerald Coast to which it is commonly referred.  beautiful white powder sand, the kind that squeaks when you walk on it, that runs into the turquoise waters.  RV HEAVEN is Destin.  There’s the Hilton at Sandestin that might ring a bell.  highly advised to not stay at Henderson Beach.  although it’s beautiful, it’s busy.  Very Busy.  There’s a beach called Grayton Beach State Park that is a more mellow stay.  We didn’t stay there but know that it’s not as busy and the beach is just as perfect.  We also stayed at Topsail State Park for a night.  Great place for campin.  cheap and clean. the walk to the beach is quite a ways, though. 1/2 mile…but that keeps the place mellow!

From Destin we cruised through Mobile for some awesome oysters…and some Mardi Gras paraphernalia from a parade the day before.  We learned that Mardi Gras actually started in Mobile!

Our learning curve for the south really started to shape up at this point.  We learned a bit from Nicole’s friend, Carol, who was gracious enough to let us stay at her place for a night in Ocean Springs, Mississippi.  A fine night of dinner and wine, gettin a basic 1,2,3 on the local area, and a clean bed! NICE! Thanks so much Carol!  Mmm…and the doughnuts at the local bakery…mmmm.

The road continued down the Gulf Coast.  From here, we began to see some of the real devastation of Hurricane Katrina.  A beautiful coastline and beautiful white sand beaches as far as the eye could see.  Across the road inland, a cement staircase leading to no where.  where there were once amazing mansions, No house.  where there were gorgeous Oaks, No trees.  An address painted on the sidewalk.  devastating.  a 10 story hotel deserted.  the beach deserted.  We went to get gas and the gas station was out.  it was eery.  There was a fella at the gas station whose wife went back to college in Minneapolis.  He asked me how long the drive was to get back to Minneapolis.  I wasn’t sure, our route was a bit indirect… 😀  but I guessed maybe 20 hours…he said he was heading up there at the end of the month. he couldn’t wait.  couldn’t wait to get out of there. Biloxi.  wish we had more time to check out the heart of it. spend some dough in an area hard hit.  years from the time of the disaster still struggling.

okay! MARDI GRAS!  Time for New Orleans!  It was all too easy to pull in to New Orleans and get in touch with a buddy of a good friend from College.  Thanks to Jon hooking us up with his buddy Jon, we were able to store our vulnerable stuff (bikes, kayaks) in a safe spot in Jon’s courtyard.  Thanks Jon! 😀 Pat O’s is a damn lucky establishment, my friend. a short walk from the French Quarter with port-a-jons a couple blocks away set up for the big Mardi Gras shindig! Perfect!  Ohhh, we spent some quality time in New Orleans. Such a wanderer friendly city.  slept in the VW right on the street in front of Jon’s place.  so cool. so cool.  We lived it up! Saw The Radiators live at Tipitina’s, a MUST SEE music venue. had crawdads! Beignets! burgers at Port of Call! Jambalaya! Beans and Rice! MMMmmmm.  Hurricanes! Shrimp Gumbo! Mardi Gras Beads!  Parades! when you go to New Orleans for Mardi Gras, don’t hesitate. have a great time.  easy easy to stay mellow! just get off Bourbon St.  easy, EASY, to get CRAZY!  BUT REALLY, when you’re on an adventure, it’s hard to kick back and let loose from kickin back and lettin loose!  strollin down royal. listening to the street musicians. watching the street performers…some of the best in the world.  enjoy New Orleans, a city of heart and soul.  just don’t get into a fight or piss on the street and you won’t end up in jail!  😀

I’m gonna stop here for now…so we can get some pictures in here.

Posted by: wheelsandfeet | February 25, 2011

Sometimes, a set back is a step in the right direction.

Here we are back in Cocoa Beach/Cape Canaveral!  We ended up spending a relaxing 3 nights and a couple days at Tori’s place in Tampa. What a relief that was…and it gave Malto a good chance to recover.  He is definitely on the mend, running, playing, barking, whining, and relaxing. I think his breathing rate has finally returned to normal. We were actually pretty worried about it for about 3 days but thanks to Tori and her hospitality (even while she was out of town…impressive!), we all got back on track.  We ended up taking Tori and her friends’ advice to head out to a place called Fort Desoto, the Tampa and St. Petersburg locals’ favorite hang out on a nice weekend. We got lucky and the weather was perfect. During the days the temp was about 80 in the sun and at night it was about 60.  Those temps kept us happy.  We were able to go road biking along the park to the beach, kayak to a pristine key called shell key for some shell hunting, go fishing off the pier, take short jogs at dusk when it started to cool down, and malto was able to hang out at a dog park that had an off the leash beach as part of the deal! It was so nice.  Oh yeah, and the bird watching was fantastic.  We saw a Wood Stork!  it was so cool.  We both highly recommend this park for camping if you’re anywhere near Tampa.  The beach of Fort Desoto State Park has been ranked Americas top beach in 2009 for the second consecutive year by  Impressive. and when it comes down to it, with the options of activities they have and the easy access to them (we were able to kayak right from our campsite through a couple small bays out to the Gulf of Mexico), we both would agree that the park boasts a fantastic beach, among other things.  Fishing from the piers requires no license, you can have a fire at the campsite and most of the campsites are right on the water.  The camp has three sections, one of which is dog friendly.  Fort Desoto is great.
After blowing off some steam at Fort Desoto, we jumped in the VDub and headed for the Atlantic coast.  On the way, we decided to stop by the Salvador Dali Museum in St. Petersburg.  The museum had just opened up its new building  just over a week before we were there for the visit.  Amazing work in an amazing structure.  Costly at $21 per person, but well worth it.  The museum displays 96 original works of art and several sketches and videos.  He used ALL mediums to express himself.  We could’ve spent all afternoon there contemplating the meaning of life from his perspective with undertones of color and emotion, dark and light, humor and intensity.  We gave ourselves a measly hour but the hour was well spent.  Salvador Dali.  Wow.
Onward and over to Cape Canaveral/Cocoa Beach for the big launch of the Space Shuttle Discovery, its final mission!  What a fantastic display it was…we saw it with Chris and Russ, bringing us all back together like we were over a month ago at the humble beginning of our wild extended visit to Florida.  As it turns out, we were emotionally ready to leave Florida over a week ago, but we were so lucky to extend our time here as much as we did because we have had a great great time.  The Space Shuttle Launch was quite a sight to see and one that will never be forgotten.  Hopefully, it represents us launching our efforts on to another region of this great country in search of more interesting experiences.  We’re learning how important set backs can be.  It’s funny how a set back can spring you forward to a wonderful and exciting journey if you are able to allow the set back to lead rather than fight the way forward.  Go with the flow.  Sometimes, it’s nice to just Let It Be.



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