Archive for the ‘bicycles’ Tag

Oldy, Moldy Rollers on the Even Older New   Leave a comment

What should be the true “Old man river”, the New River is considered the second or third oldest continuously flowing river on the planet, perhaps 300 million years old.

Whenever involved in a project we are really good at plowing through the first 97 percent.  That last 3 percent can be a problem, however.  We remodeled our bathroom,”finished” some months ago, but still have not replaced the ceiling light and vent combo.  The old one still sits there, cover gone who knows where enjoying the apparently unlimited postponement to its removal and exile unto the great landfill in the sky.  So it is with the trip from this summer.  I still have posts to make on that.  I swear, someday they will be done.  Or I will be dead.  This may be a closer race than I would like to think it would be.  Be that as it may be, such as it is, so be it, que sera, sera or something like that, I really got sidetracked by the Olympics.  I am an addict.  I think back, how did I ever really enjoy it when I could not simultaneously record on 4 channels with my DVR and then scan 30 hours of broadcast a day to condense it down to a manageable 8 hours of viewing?  Heaven forbid I miss any of the air rifle competition!!  So I was thinking, I need to get back on track.  And we did!  Though not necessarily the right one, in terms of finishing what I had started.  Railroad track was more like it, or at least where track used to run.  Now that we had our bicycles, see previous posts for the Mickelson, Myra Canyon, Galena and the Hiawatha trails, we decided on Friday to go to the New River Trail State Park up the road in Virginia.  The park averages 80 feet across but runs for about 57 miles.  Its claim to fame is that it follows the New River or Chestnut Creek along a very well maintained rails-to-trail multiuse trail.

OK, we didn’t do every mile of this trail, only about 25 plus a couple of miles off the main trail.  We will cover the rest on later visits.  We aired up, saddled up and began our ride after paying for a shuttle from Foster Falls to Cliffview, just outside of Galax, Virginia.  This is a beautiful area with rolling hills, some deep valleys and waterways lined with forest or cliffs.  This is still the home of bluegrass music, but don’t fret ( Get it? Llike frets on a guitar?  Nevermind!), this is not a scene out of Deliverance.  The trail is moderately used so your body would still be warm when found if anything happened, but it won’t!

We started at Cliffview. Kinda wimped out, saved two miles by not starting in Galax. We had not done over 18 miles and were a little nervous, needlessly as it turns out.

Rails from near the trail that is rails-to-trails.

We start off down Chestnut Creek.  You very quickly come upon a park, Dannelly Park,  next to the park that has camping and would be a great place for a picnic, as well.  Very soon you have the feeling that you are many miles from civilization.  Some might think that anywhere in this part of Virginia would be many miles from civilization.  Wrong.  It can be very rural but there is plenty of civilization.  Along this stretch you see a few farms and homes but mostly, it is just a mixed eastern forest.  We have to come back when the leaves turn this fall.  It must be beautiful.  A few miles in you cross a bridge that has an excellent view of a small waterfall along the Creek.  The trail almost forces you to stop every now and then because of the scenery or some attraction.  It keeps you from turning this into a forced march.

Chestnut Creek Falls. Small but very pretty!

Nana sets the pace! My view for 27 miles. Not bad!

There are some remnants of the old railroad along the way, including some crossties sticking through the trail, evidence of locations where water towers had been, a few leftover pieces of equipment and even the outline of a turntable at what at one point had been the end of the line near Cliffview.  Mostly, though, forest, stream and sky.

A couple of guinea hens, I think, along the trail. Not really wild. We did see deer and many birds. Bears sometimes come down from the mountains. 

Along Chestnut Creek.

Nana scouts a tunnel downstream from Gambetta.

Emerging from the first tunnel.

Railcut through cliffs along Chestnut Creek.

You cross a small road at Gambetta.  Unfortunately, you can see where a development is in place across the creek.  I didn’t see any houses but the road and utilities were in.  This was sad to see.  A line of houses along the river here, or anywhere, rather ruins the near wilderness atmosphere that exists along most of the trail.    A bit farther along, at a little over nine miles, you arrive at a bridge that crosses the New River just nest to where Chestnut Creek merges gently into the main watercourse.  The New starts up near Boone in North Carolina.  The name give more than a clue as to the types of people that came through this area.  Farther down stream there is Austinville, the birthplace of Stephen F. Austin.  By the time the New River gets to this point it can be quite wide at times, though usually not very deep.  There are places where when the water is low, one can almost walk across.  After heavy rains it can have moderate class rapids in places.  Many canoe the New or kayak.  The trail itself is often used by those on horseback.

Trestle bridge at Fries Junction.

Fisherman at the confluence of the New River and Chestnut Creek.

The New is not a free flowing river as there are many dams that generate hydroelectric power.  As a result, there are sections that are actually lakes with submerged shorelines often dense with aquatic vegetation.  I don’t really know but I bet there is some pretty good fishing along here.  We was quite a few small boats and some fished from the banks.  You pass two dams along the trail in this section, Byllesby and Buck dams.  They are placed in an are where the river narrows as it passes through the ancient remains of a towering mountain range, the Iron Mountains.  There are many high cliffs in this area.

Buck Dam generates electricity.

While we had a picnic lunch near Buck dam, by sitting in one place we had a better idea of how many people use the trail.  Many came by in a short time.  Very young children on tiny bikes with their parents to fully decked out in cyclist clothing, grey haired women who were wonderfully not acting their age!  While resting and checking out the moist wooded area near us we spotted and Easter Newt.  Fortunately, I didn’t handle him before lunch as he excretes poison through his skin.  The version we saw is also known as the red eft.  This is the middle period in the life cycle of these little guys where they wander about trying to find new water sources before they become fully aquatic adults.  They stay in this terrestrial stage for about three years.  They can live up to fifteen years.

A red eft, an Eastern Newt in its terrestrial stage. Sort of like adolescence! Like human adolescents, better not to mess with them. These can excrete a poison onto their skin.

So on we went.  Our legs felt pretty good but after 17 or 18 miles the booty began to get a little sore.  A little hard on the prostate, too.  We passed near Austinville which in times past was a center for lead and zinc mining.  You can still see remnants of the mining hear, abandoned sidetracks and tunnel entrances.  The mines went as far as 1100 feet below the surface.  The lead was used before and during the civil war to produce lead shot.  Near the end of the portion of the trail we road, Interstate 77 passes overhead and just past this is what is called the Shot Tower.  Lead would be taken to the top, melted and drops allowed to fall 150 feet, hardening into a sphere on the way down, dropping into water to cool and then exited out to the river banks through a tunnel, in those early times, by slaves.

The second tunnel along the trail.

View from the bridge near Ivanhoe that crosses back to the right side of the New River.

Closed mine entrance along the trail. Lead and zinc were extracted here.

Interstate 77 passes over the trail, crosses the New River.

The Shot Tower near Foster Falls.

Our journey ended just past the Shot Tower at Foster Falls, where we began our shuttle to Cliffview.  Foster Falls has beautiful camping spots.  No driving in to the campsite.  Load your stuff up on little yellow carts and pull it in!  Most of the campsites are very near the water with beautiful view to a small island or the series of rapids over angled rock that forms the falls.  No huge drops, just a series of small drops that form a linear pattern across the river.  Cliffs rise up in the distance.  On the park property is a furnace used for smelting iron ore, also found in the area, and many old building.  One old building, that had been used as an orphanage, is being slow converted into a bed and breakfast.  Something to look forward to!  After we finished the trail portion, which actually extends many more miles to Polanski, we wandered about here looking at the old buildings, watching children wade far out into the river, canoists arriving, and a train of horses taking visitors off into the forests along the river.  I hope the people who live in this area and Virginia, generally,  appreciate what a gem they have here.  I might note also that the staff there was friendly and helpful.  A perfect day on the go for Papa and Nana.

Old smelting furnace.

Hard to see from this angle, but one of the small drops along the New River at Foster Falls.

The river is very shallow here at this time of year. Children and fishermen wade far out into the river.

Galena Trail   1 comment

We have now left our furry friends to the north and have driven along the north shore of Lake Superior, a very apt name.  I will talk about that in another post but things have moved faster than my ability to post lately so I will have to work backwards sometimes.  Like this time.

A couple of months ago, Nana mentioned that she wish she could bike ride sometimes.  I had been waiting 25 or 26 years to hear that but could never on my own justify spending the money.  What a waist of time.  Yes, I know I said waist.  I’m not stupid and meant exactly that.  We could have been burning pounds around the middle all of that time.  And by the way, it was also a waste of time.  So within two weeks we had two spiffy more-than-I-meant-to-spend-on Treks.  So before our journey we had made a number of outings and built up our feeble miles a bit and learning to control our balance on mostly paved or very smooth greenways and such. As I have previously mentioned, for both of you following this thing, we brought the bikes on the trip and have had several really good rides.  But as so often is the case, I may have over reached on our last ride.  Just a bit.  No injuries but frayed nerves.

We had left the Okanagan region for Kaslo in British Columbia.  We had seen many creatures such as rabbits and squirrels.  Oh, I know that doesn’t seem like much but deer were far less rare.  We’ve seen a couple of bears on the trip as well.  These weren’ t the Jellystone type that are mostly tame and come to your car hoping for Hostess Cupcakes, which I would never give up even if the bear had its teeth wrapped around my skull.  I might share some if he asked nice.  But not the filling.  We never did, to our disappointment, see a moose, Nana’s favorite, I think.  We did see beaver, eagles and lots of other creatures.  Had we come upon a grizzly, which frequented the areas around Kaslo, I reassured Nana that after I out ran her I would be sure to get help back as soon as possible.  She said that wouldn’t be a problem after she threw some ground meat on me, maybe a little bacon, and just sat there until the bear moved on.  Neither thought these were very good ideas.  As scary as this would have been, nothing was scarier than our ride on the Galena.  (insert Kettle Drum rumblings here).  The Galena Trail is a trail just outside of New Denver, British Columbia, along one of the many linear lakes that can be 100 miles long but only a few miles across or less.  Absolutely stunning country.

Now for younger or more experienced riders this might not have been a big deal but we were Nana’s and Papa’s.  I think it was on Monday, Monday, or was I just California Dreaming?  Whoops! Wrong Papas!  Anyway, this is not a very long trail as some go but it was no greenway.   Basically, we were doing single track much of the time.

Start of the Galena. Happy in our ignorance.

The beginning of the trail is flat but only about 5 inches wide, just have to work on balance, which neither one of us have in spades by any means.  So on we go.  Soon we can hear the roar of the river to our right.  Well, not exactly, you also have to look down about 700 feet and to the right.  The trail is on the edge of the drop.  Again, no big deal if you are confident.  I wasn’t too bad but Nana was really confidant.  Confidant that she would soon be dead.

Nana contemplates the afterlife. Not the narrowest point on the trail with cliffs.

 

Not all of the trail was this way.  Some was worse.  There were some very narrow up and down hills with curves and no run-outs if your brakes were wet and it was slow to stop.  This whole region had been flooded so there was much aqua on the trail.  This equals wet brakes.  So there were times it was prudent to walk it.

Sections of trail not Nana and Papa proofed.

 

With long drops, sometimes better to walk if not confident as newbies.

Not all was terror, however.  It was a beautiful trail.  A fine place to die if there ever was one.  Unfortunately, no one might actually ever find our bodies.  But there were some fantastic scenes along the way.

The river far below.

Waterfall along the way to the moment of terror.

 

Little did we know that these moments of beauty and joy, coming like a roller coaster, alternating with mild to extreme discomfort and wondering if the insurance was paid up, were mere distractions as were the most peaceful times along the trail.

Nana, go!

 

And then we arrived.  Finally, we approached the river itself, having risen up through countless cataracts and waterfalls to our level.  But were was the trail?  No, not to the left.  Only forest and briars.  Not to the right!  Rocks and more trees screened the view to the river crushing around the bend, swollen and roiling like water boiling on the stove.  And what was this contraption ahead?  Well, it was the way across.  The only way.  One needed to load the bike, unhook and pull yourself and the bike across the river, dangling just feet above the maelstrom.  And it was so.

Now for me, it was like being 10 again.  For Nana it was like all of her kidney stones and childbirths rolled together with every scary movie she had ever seen.  But she was brave.  And she did the deed.  Our version of Amazing Race.

Mounted and ready to unhook.

 

Papa having a blast!

 

Victory!

 

That is not joy on Nana’s face. But she is brave!

 

Nana’s fear overcome. This because she is thinking how many pieces she needs to chop Papa into so that no one will find the evidence of the deed she contemplates.

 

And so we completed our journey with no significant injuries.  Though many were considered both accidental and purposeful.  Nana is braver and Papa is wiser.

 

Posted July 12, 2012 by papaandnana in Attempted humor, Roadtrip

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Burn Down, Build Up   2 comments

It was 2003, August, a typical summer day in the Okanagan.  Nothing was ever typical again in the Kelowna area after the day a lightening strike started a fire that became a holocaust along the ridge above that city, descending toward the 90,000 or so residents present at that time.  It was like a fiery curtain dropping upon the stage of a Wagnerian opera.  The latter true because there were great heroes in the battle to fight this thoughtless enemy.  Over 60,000 acres were scorched, hundreds of homes destroyed and many others damaged with many people displaced for over a year, if not forever.  Finally contained 36 days after it began, smoldering fires occasionally relit all the way into the spring after the snows melted.  Yet, there were those heroes during and after the fire.  During, it was the firefighters from many locations that came to battle the beast.  While much was lost, not one life was lost.  The Okanagan Mountain Park Fire had many specific affects on the people of the area.  One in particular was the destruction of 14 of the 18 railroad trestles that formed a key section of the Kettle Valley Railway Trail through Myra Canyon.  In a few short miles there were 18 trestles clinging to the side of the canyon walls at over 4000 feet, but 3000 feet above the valley and the town of Kelowna below.  The KVRT is a huge trail project but for biking amateurs like us this is the section most visited due to the incredible scenery, trestles and tunnels.  This, along with the wine, attracts many tourists to this area in the Okanagan.  But the fire threatened all of this.

Photo “stolen” without credit from a kiosk on the Myra Canyon Trestles section of the KVRT. The destruction of one of the 14 destroyed trestles, of 18 along the trail.

Faced with destruction of the trail’s trestle’s, and in the context with so much other reconstruction, the region, city, civic groups and businesses came together and completely rebuilt the trestles.  Much of it, if not most, with volunteer labor often working in precarious situations.  If you bike at all, you must come here to see the fruit of their efforts.

Sammy is a trail host for this section of the KVRT.  She is a friendly and enthusiastic supporter of the trail.  Her friends are jealous of her job which takes her outside all day, meeting and helping people on the trail.  She will fix a tire and patch up a scrape.  She loves her job and it shows.  She and another trail host clearly remember the events of 2003, though they were still young.  She and her family were evacuated but her companion host’s family lost their home to the flames.  He and hundreds of others had to live with family or friends for over a year until their homes were rebuilt.

Sammy, a trail host on the KVRT, a mature and enthusiastic supporter of the trail who remembers the horrors of the great fire of 2003.

Today, evidence of the fires is all too plain.  The boundary between destruction and preservation is often measured in feet.  Ten years later, though black  charred trunks stand like an army’s spikes the lower forest is regrowing, providing lush habitat for many animals, flowers, berries and cover.  What is not so good for us in the long haul may be best for a forest, as painful as that might be.

Lush regrowth 10 years after the fire.

Trestles hang precipitously above the canyon.

Posted July 7, 2012 by papaandnana in Roadtrip

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Big wheels keep on rolling   Leave a comment

What a wonderful day in the Black Hills.  Nothing black about it.  Bright beautiful skies most of the time, perfect temperatures, a downhill ride.  Makes 18 miles easy.  Saw a kingfisher fishing, cows mooing, water gurgling, wheels pressing crisply into the fine gravel and sand.  Raptors soaring overhead.  At times we were totally alone in this world, this magnificent creation.   We shuttle up with a couple of gentlemen from Florida and Georgia.  We started talking about a restaurant in Georgia and turns out he lives in that same town.  His family has a house in Maggie Valley.  Small world sometimes.

Papa, Nana preroll picture. Please see the photos on the separate page for the Mickelson Trail.

We rode on the Mickelson Trail.  Its 100 miles from Deadwood to Edgemont but we only had time for 18.  I may have to come back for the rest.  Tunnels, rushing streams but gentle brooks through meadows.  Utter solitude and beauty for much of the trail and best of all it was down hill most of the way.  We then drove to Billings, Montana and finally had time for a swim.  Along the way there, though, it is so hard to describe the vistas that seem to stretch completely around the world back to the other horizon.  Showers in the far south, brooding, rolling clouds to the west and blue skies to the north.  As we passes the Little Bighorn Battlefield, with all this regions emptiness, probably depressing to many, it is easy to see why wars were fought over it.  Since it is indescribable I guess I better stop trying.  However, we did detour to a famous landing sight for aliens.  If you remember the superb documentaryClose Encounters of the Third Kind, the events of which somehow were never reported in the new media, about the crazy many who made mountains out of mashed potatoes ( I new potatoes had eyes but “toes”?  Shouldn’t they be potateyes?) because he had been contacted by the alien landing party.  I wonder if that guy will every come back.

Famous Alien landing sight. Though only the ramp actually touched the ground with a bunch of anorexic nudists from another star system.

 

 

Lights in the Mirror!   2 comments

Sewer drain clear and we can hit the road. Meeting new friends with flashing lights, “registration please”.

Nana:  Well the journey begins as well as the memories.  It didn’t take long to have our first memorable moment, very reminiscent of times past.  The scenery around Morganton was very familiar as well as the red and blue flashing lights in the rear view mirror!!   Yep, you got it or rather Robert got it, his first ticket of the trip.  He is trying to break his past record of two in one trip.  We’ll keep you posted.   We also will be checking out all the rest stops between here and Vancouver.  Doctor said I will have to carry all six stones and my urinary track infection with me.  So I’ll be drinking alot ( unfortunately not alcohol) for the next four days until meds are gone.  But I’ll be sipping wine on the deck on Pender Island in no time.  Really the trip has been pretty dull so far besides that.  We did decide to bring our bikes up to our room tonite, not the best quality inn.   Robert will be riding his bike for the rest of the trip.  Love to all and don’t miss ya yet, but blood pressure sure is down!

Posted June 13, 2012 by papaandnana in Roadtrip

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Our Babies   Leave a comment

Papa: Recently we adopted.  It was fairly expensive but at our age you have to pay what they want and get what they have.  It was Nana’s idea, though it had been lurking in the back of mine for quite some time.  Once she brought it up I just couldn’t say no.  I pretended to resist.  “Don’t you think we’re getting too old for this!”  “No!” she said, “It’s not like we have to take care of them during the night.  We’ll just stick em in the garage and check them in the morning.”  “OOOOOK!” said I. “What about travel?” “We can hook them on the back of the car, strap them really tight and off we go!”  We were asked if color mattered.  ‘Course not.  So one is red and the other is, well, I don’t know that color exactly, kinda violet or something.  Maybe you can help from the baby pictures.  It felt a little odd sitting on them but how else are you going to get them to go!! Not surprisingly they behave much better with chains.  To get them to stop what they are doing you just squeeze real hard.

We’ve gone all over with them.  We are certainly not experts.  Don’t want to go too far or the whining will start and just not end!  And that is Nana!  So we have to limit ourselves.  Now on our little journey beginning really soon…Look to the left!  Not long now!…we have some big plans for them.  Roads, and trails and hanging on the back for thousands of miles.  I think they will do just fine!  Not much use if you can’t ride them hard.

I’ve been trying to take some wildlife photos around the house so I could pretend to have taken the pictures down the road, where in spite of often being surrounded by wilderness we will probably see nothing that hasn’t been run over a dozen times.  I fixed up the neighbors’ dog to look like a moose, blurred the picture, and voila! But I need more to fill up the photo book.  We have a tiny, itsy pond in the front and there is a really big frog that lives there joyously eating anything that comes flying by in the night, attracted by the street lamp.  I think he has a mate because there are times when I think I hear two splashes after a lot of noise making.  He hears really well and I will notice him diving from quite a distance from me reacting to the sound of my approach.  So I took the tripod, set up my camera and attached my new remote shutter, aimed it at his favorite rock or at least the one he has stained with what I assume to be frog tutu.  Now he is there regularly, everyday.  So two hours go by, batteries run down and all I can see are two bitsy eyes sticking out of the water.  I swear, I saw bubbles around his head where he had to be laughing at me.  No fooling this one.  What you don’t know, my little slimy friend, I grew up in Louisiana and I know how to use a gig, and while not a Cajun, I will eat about anything and that includes Kermit.  At least I will spare him the indignity of having his innards laughed over by middle schoolers in the science lab,or forced to ridiculously twitch his legs while being electrocuted.  Just a quick hot oil bath and its over!  Mmmmm.

Bicylcle Collage 1

Our adopted young’uns! That pink (?) one looks just like her Nana!

Bicycle Coillage 2

Our new babies! Aren’t they cute. Just check out those sprockets!

Posted June 7, 2012 by papaandnana in Attempted humor, Roadtrip

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