Head case

When my editor at Blue Ridge Outdoors magazine heard I was going on a national parks road trip, he suggested that I write a blog series for www.blueridgeoutdoors.com based on this journey. I wrote the following post as the initial entry for that series, and I wanted it to introduce readers to the idea behind this trip that they might read about through the year. I also wanted to convey this experience in a way that they could connect to, so I hope this accomplishes that. Stay tuned for updates on the series! This first post is a little weird, but I hope you like it🙂.

Trailhead sign just off US-322 south of Clarion, Pennsylvania.

Trailhead sign just off US-322 south of Clarion, Pennsylvania.

It only took half an hour to drive from my home to the trailhead, but it felt like a lot longer. My short hike on the North Country National Scenic Trail today will be the start of several goals for this year, and it’s been a rough road so far just to get here. And I haven’t even gotten out of the car.

It’s January 11, a little less than two weeks into the new year. I set a resolution to hike at least 100 miles on this trail this year, and I’m pretty sure I can do it if I can work out the logistics in my ever-shifting schedule. The trail stretches across the “red plaid nation,” as the website called it, from New York to North Dakota, and it runs right through the county next to mine here in rural western Pennsylvania. Plus, I should be visiting some other areas of the country where the trail runs this year, so I hope I’ll get to see a few different sections, at least.

Well, we’ll see, I think pessimistically, squinting as I spot the trailhead from behind my salt-frosted windshield. It’s cold out there, and I’m a little grumpy right now. Continue reading

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Revised plans in the wake of sniffling

Not a mountain, but I'm not complaining.

Not a mountain, but I’m not complaining.

Somehow, it’s been nearly two weeks since I got sick with this lingering bug, which has morphed from the flu to a sinus/upper respiratory thing to laryngitis, so this big national parks road trip I had planned to kick off over New Year’s is temporarily on hold until I’m back to 100 percent. I was really looking forward to my planned New Year’s Day hike in Acadia National Park and witnessing the country’s first glimpse of the sunrise in 2016 from the summit of Cadillac Mountain, but maybe I can do that next year. Still, definitely a drag.

On the positive side, the quarantine has given me some good time with my folks and my dog that I would have otherwise missed out on, and I’ve been able to work on a few assignments from the comfort of a recliner versus the back of a station wagon or a crowded coffee shop filled with distractions, so that’s been helpful!

Since the reason I wanted to start in Acadia was tied to a specific day and I missed that, I’ve shifted some plans around and am now planning to start local and then head south. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, National Parks road trip, Outdoor Recreation, Parks, Travel | Tags: , , | 15 Comments

Frustrating start

Very bad timing to get sick :(.

Here’s hoping this will get me back in hiking shape soon.

I guess it’s true what they say — life is what happens when you’re making other plans. I was looking forward to a spectacular kickoff for this national parks road trip with a sunrise hike in Acadia National Park, but the flu bug apparently had a different idea. The way I’m feeling now, I’m not up for a 13-hour drive in bad conditions to Maine, let alone a several-hour pre-dawn hike in sub-freezing temperatures through a foot of snow, so I’m going to plan to travel to Acadia later in the year when the park is more accessible and I’m in a condition to enjoy it.

If I’m up for it on Friday, though, I might schlep over to the North Country National Scenic Trail for a shorter New Year’s Day hike — it meanders through a few counties near me in western Pennsylvania on its seven-state path from New York to North Dakota. How will you spend the first day of 2016? On TV, this year’s Rose Parade celebrates the National Park Service’s Centennial celebration with the theme “Find Your Adventure,” so there’s something to do even if the weather doesn’t cooperate. However, there are tons of outdoor events happening at national, state and local parks all over the country, including a number of ranger-led First Day Hikes, so take advantage of the day away from the office and get a jump start on your New Year’s resolutions!

I may have to cheer you on from the couch this time, though😦. Send me your pics from your adventures!


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Kicking off a new year of adventure

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

In addition to icons like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, the National Park Service also oversees lots of amazing places that many people don’t know exist. For example, Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve features a 19,000-acre dune field high in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains of southern Colorado.

A few years ago, Subaru ran a commercial in which a group of friends travels to the easternmost point of the U.S. each December 31 to be the first in the country to ring in the new year. That idea has stuck with me since then, so with 2015 rapidly drawing to a close, I did some research and learned that the summit of Cadillac Mountain in Acadia National Park is the very first spot in the U.S. where you can see the sunrise in winter. As it turns out, that works perfectly with the adventure travel plans I’ve been developing for next year.

August 25, 2016 marks the 100-year anniversary of the signing of the National Park Service Organic Act and the founding of the National Park Service, an action that unified the nation’s existing parks under one umbrella and laid the groundwork for the preservation of America’s future federal lands. To celebrate this Centennial, and frankly to bring to life a dream I’ve had for years, I’m going to spend 2016 roadtripping to all 59 national parks and as many of the national seashores, monuments, battlefields, historic sites, parkways, preserves, recreation areas, scenic rivers, and other National Park Service sites as possible. Continue reading

Categories: Adventure, National Parks road trip, Outdoor Recreation, Parks, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Things are about to get interesting

In the summer of 2009, Paxton and I hit the road for a month and trekked all over the country.

In the summer of 2009, Paxton and I hit the road for a month and trekked all over the country. There are more stories out there than one person could ever write in one lifetime, but I’m aiming to tell as many of them as I can.

A few days ago, I saw a tweet celebrating Robert Frost’s famous poem The Road Not Taken, which was, according to the article, published 100 years ago this month. The timing struck me as particularly apt, because I’ve recently decided to take an unconventional path of my own. When I look back on my life in 50 years and consider the choices I’ve made, I hope this will be one that “made all the difference.”

For six years now, I’ve worked as a magazine editor, and although writing articles has always been part of my job, I’ve had to devote less and less time to writing as my career has chugged along. Although I’ve enjoyed learning about and handling the other tasks necessary to put out a magazine every month, my main passion is researching new subjects and interesting people and sharing what I’ve learned through the written word. Continue reading

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