Bellingham, WA
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Travel/Vacation Adventures

Summer Vacation
Wind River Range, WY & Sawtooth National Recreation Area, ID
5-20 August, 2006

Deep Lake Cirque

After our hike on the John Muir Trail last summer, we were aching to return to the mountains. We stumbled across a book that included 30 classic treks around the world. In it a hike through the Wind River Range in Wyoming (southeast of the Tetons) as well as a tour of the Sawtooths (about 90 miles north of Boise, ID) were outlined. Both sounded incredible and we decided to do both. The Winds absolutely stole our hearts: They now top my "all time favorite locations" list as well as my "must return soon" list. Countless stunning lakes, relatively little elevation gain and loss while hiking, an incredible array of wildlife, diverse terrain and vistas, and fierce-looking solid granite towers were just a few of the factors that impressed us. It was tough to top this and our hike through the Sawtooths was a bit less inspiring, although still beautiful. After cleaning up one night in a hotel in Stanley, ID we shifted our focus from backpacking to shorter term adventures: paddling an inflatable kayak down the Salmon River and rock climbing in WY. Our final day, we toured Salt Lake City, UT before flying back to GA. What a time!

Full Story || Photos || Map
Daily Stats (Winds) || Daily Stats (Sawtooths)

Spring Break
Manatee Springs State Park and Crystal River State Park, Florida
Cumberland Island and Okefenokee Swamp, Georgia
16-19 March, 2006

Melinda & Molly at Manatee Spring

Spring Break 2006 was a blast. We began our trip by meeting up with Molly’s parents and sister in Crystal River, FL for a private manatee tour. Watching other boats filled with 12-20 tourists, we felt really spoiled to be the only 5 on the boat with our wonderful guide, Doreen. Our first encounter took place near the edge of one of the manatee sanctuaries. These sanctuaries were basically small areas near the banks of the river marked off by buoys in order to indicate to humans that they were not to enter. The first few manatees were chomping away at the seagrass and moving in and out of the sanctuary – not so exciting, but still cool. The more exciting encounter happened away from the sanctuary. A group of 4-6 manatees were exhibiting signs of spring fever and were courting. The group swam around us repeatedly and bumped into us. We were able to hold onto the backs of the manatees and swim along with them for quite some time. Often, one of them would surface with their snout inches from our face. It was quite incredible! The next day we headed north to visit Cumberland Island and the Okefenokee Swamp with Melinda.

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AT Through The Great Smoky Mtn National Park
Tennessee/North Carolina
75 mile section of the Appalachian Trail (AT)
4-7 November, 2005

Appalachian Trail near Fontana Dam

Skeptical, but willing to try it. This summed up our pre-trip thinking on the 75 mile section of the Appalachian Trail through Great Smoky Mountain National Park we were about to hike in four days. What would we think of our hike through the “long, green tunnel”? How would the rodent-infested shelters be? And what would be the primary differences between the AT and the JMT?

Regardless of the answers to our questions, Brian was chomping at the bit to do some more hiking and backpacking after our great summer excursion. So, we dehydrated some dinners, bought a new ¾ length ultralight Thermarest, and laid out our equipment for the hike. Having planned to do the trip over my fall break, we realized we might need to adjust our plans when it snowed in the mountains the day before we were planning to leave. Additionally, the leaves had not even begun to change, an extremely unusual phenomenon in early November. So, we waited until the next weekend and left Athens for the hills of North Carolina at 5:00 a.m. on Friday. After about three hours of driving we arrived at Big Creek Ranger Station, the ending point of our upcoming hike, and waited for the Hike Inn shuttle driver, Jeff, to arrive and chauffeur us to Fontana Dam.

Full Story || Daily Stats || Photos || Map

John Muir Trail Trek
Yosemite N.P. to Mt. Whitney - California
191 miles in 11 days
4-21 August, 2005

Shaen, Tracy, Molly, & Brian

Although Brian and I have done a lot of backpacking in the past, our trip this summer certainly topped the others we've done; not only was it significantly longer and tougher than other hiking trips we've been on, it also required a lot more preparation. Having read Ray Jardine's book on lightweight backpacking (see the links at the bottom), we decided we should try out some of his ideas. The problem with trying some of his ideas was that in order to truly lighten our load, we needed to reduce the weight and bulk of a lot of our equipment, not just one or two components. So, we set out on a summer-long sewing expedition. Brian sewed his backpack and our tarp, net-tent, and sleeping quilt, as well as a variety of ditty bags, clothing bags, and other storage bags. Since I was taking classes full time, I sewed only my backpack, but also did the majority of the food prep: chopping and dehydrating lots of dried fruit and meat for jerky, preparing dinners and often dehydrating components of them which would take too long to cook or would be too heavy, and packaging and weighing everything to be certain we would have enough. We finished preparing just in time and really enjoyed the new, lighter approach to exploring the back country.

Although the trek took a major portion of our vacation, we were also able to spend a few days in Bishop after we were finished. It was wonderful to see Brian's parents and spend some time with them and Tracy. We visited Rock Creek Lodge twice, each time enjoying the incredible homemade pies and the great hamburgers. We also drove up to Mammoth and enjoyed a great dinner at Bergers with an after dinner tour of Twin Lakes, which is where Ron and his family used to camp as kids. Chatting with Don and Paula across the street was also nice, as we haven't gotten to see them too much in recent visits. We also enjoyed getting together with Rick and Sharon to share our trip photos and find out what was going on in their lives. It was very nice to have a few days to relax and recoop after our hefty hiking trip before returning home! At the end of the trip, Tracy gave us a ride back down to LA, where we stayed with Brian's grandma and visited with his Aunt Wendy. Then we flew back to Athens, where our neighbor, Jesse, who always exemplifies true "southern hospitality" picked us up from the airport and brought us home. (He also mowed the lawn for us, meaning our yard was somewhat under control after being gone for over 2 weeks! How great is that??)

Trek Overview (pdf) || Daily Journal/Stats || Map
Ray Jardine Links: Ray Jardine || Beyond Backpacking || Brief Philosophy ('The Ray Way')

Boston, Massachusetts
12-14 February, 2005

Annabel & Molly

Only a year after our first trip to Boston, we headed back to get a taste of winter, enjoy the perks of the city and visit with friends. Fortunately, we decided to visit a good number of weeks after Boston's huge snow storm which literally shut the entire city down for almost a week. Witnessing the remnants of the storm much later, we were surprised at the incredible impact tons of snow must have on a city with no parking space and people everywhere. Jen's tales of her hikes to work in 3 feet of snow were quite entertaining. Because there was so much snow, she related, you were virtually walking through a tunnel of a sidewalk and woe to those who did not shovel their portion of the sidewalk and sent the pedestrian retracing her steps through the glimmering stacks in search of an exit. Most people walked on the road for many weeks because of this. Another interesting snippet, Boston has to truck their snow out of the city to a snow farm because there's no place to put it in the city. It was quite amazing to think about the ramifications of so much snow in such a metropolitan area. Perhaps the craziest part of the storm was the effect it had on the parking lot behind Jen's house. She took 2 hours to shovel out a spot for her car only to have her parking lot neighbor ram his snow bank into her newly shoveled cave. She assured us she boldly informed her neighbor that the snow would be moved and not by her.

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Western Washington
Mount St. Helens, Olympic NP, Victoria, B.C., North Cascades
9-24 July, 2004

Sunset on the Olympic Coastline

What a time we had on our trip to Washington State this summer! The diversity of the places we visited within only the western part of the state was awe-inspiring; from the Olympic coastline, to the Ring of Fire, and from the Olympic mountains to the Alp-like North Cascades, we found ourselves constantly marveling at the natural beauty surrounding us.

We began our trip in Seattle and were extremely surprised to discover how cool it was (62 degrees in the house in the morning). Lynn Martindell was kind enough to let us stay at her house the night we arrived at 3:30 a.m. and fixed us an excellent pancake breakfast the following morning. We sat outside on the deck which overlooked Lake Sammamish (pronounced sa-MAM-ish) and enjoyed the extremely brisk morning. I found myself searching for more warm clothes (jeans and a sweatshirt were not warm enough) – quite a transition from typical GA summer weather. After breakfast and some grocery shopping, we headed for Mount Saint Helens.

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The Metallic Man - Street Performer

New Orleans, Louisiana
29-31 May, 2004

Memorial Day Weekend Destination: New Awlins , LA. Home of the famous Italian muffaletta at Central Grocery, the beignets eclipsed by powdered sugar at Café Du Monde, the strange street performers frozen in one position while wearing an exquisite costume in the extreme heat and humidity, and the world renowned chefs all of whom own their own restaurant.

Full Story || Photos (Ours) || Photos (Long's) || Map

Boston, Massachusetts
3-7 April, 2004

USS Constitution: Jen & Molly

Balmy temperatures and bikinis on the beach were not the theme of our spring break this year. Instead we traveled from Athens to the windy, and still slightly winterized city of Boston where we had some amazing experiences. From meeting up with old friends and relatives and eating like we were on our second honeymoon to touring the historic city of Boston as well as the beautiful rocky shores of the northeastern coast, we thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

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Morning Glory Pool
Yellowstone & Grand Teton National Parks
23 July - 2 August, 2003

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