Friday, January 1, 2016

Las Vegas / Grand Canyon / Zion Nat'l Park (Nevada/Arizona/Utah)

 photo Bellagio-01_zpsoxvyl8es.jpg

With the last few remaining days of leave that we had to spare before heading back to work, Rebecca and I decided to mark off one of our "bucket list" trips. After a few days of watching air fare and seeing no definite trend, we pulled the trigger and booked two tickets to Las Vegas. It's one of the cheaper hubs, and a good jumping-off-point for so many epic destinations.

 photo Fremont_Street-01_zpsaepmjb2t.jpg

Although the outdoor destinations were the real attraction on our trip, we did have a fun time taking in the sights of Las Vegas. We both agreed, however, that Old Vegas had much more style than the new version on the outskirts of downtown.

 photo Container_Park-02_zpsy8f8mps9.jpg

Fremont Street even had a Container Park filled with shops and restaurants. I've been ogling modular tiny homes lately, so seeing them used so well was inspirational.

 photo Container_Park-03_zpsej0d1vmx.jpg

The Grand Canyon was breathtaking! It's unbelievably vast - a sight that must be experienced in person.

 photo Grand_Canyon-01_zpserbdbtqe.jpg

The sights at the Grand Canyon were well worth the 4.5 hour drive, but Rebecca and I agreed that we'll have to make a return trip when we can dedicate several days to hiking/rafting/riding within the park.

 photo Grand_Canyon_Pan-01_zpsfh24zzbr.jpg

The next destination was Zion National Park in Utah. I'd seen photos of the park, and had wanted to explore it first hand for awhile. In contrast to our trip to the Grand Canyon, we were able to explore on the ground-level of Zion. I found a spot to park and we bushwhacked to a suitable elevation to check out the beauty around us.

 photo Zion-05_zpsfv2mjwib.jpg

 photo Zion_Rebecca-01_zpspgmdymzk.jpg

On our way to the Grand Canyon, we passed over the Hoover Dam. Because of the length of the drive, though, we had to leave in the early a.m. and couldn't see what lay below us. On our final day we had some time to spare, so we took a short drive to see what we'd driven past several times by that point.

 photo Hoover_Dam-02_zpsubzcih4d.jpg

 photo Hoover_Dam_Rebecca-01_zps8xzsbsxf.jpg

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Wineberry Cabin (Stanardsville, VA)

 photo Group-01_zpsmdneoejr.jpg

We've been to a great many PATC cabins over the years, but I was most impressed by Wineberry. Its two-tiered porch, stained glass windows, and outdoor cook area were great.

 photo Rebecca-02_zpsctcjnkcv.jpg

The hike into the cabin was short - only about half a mile - so we brought all the toys including a chainsaw, four mountain bikes and, of course, the quadcopter. Elmer even brought his guitar to keep us entertained while we sat back and relaxed.

 photo Elmer_Plays-02_zps0dtig9d1.jpg

On these trips, the idea is to kick back and take it easy, but we kept ourselves busy on Saturday gathering firewood and exploring the woods by foot, bike, and Phantom.

Jeremy made use of the raised cook surface as he prepared a white bean & chicken chili for us that night.

 photo Jeremy_Cooks-01_zpsqdgouz3a.jpg

We tried exploring the trails around the area, but soon found a locked gate. Instead, we parked the Jeeps and hiked to a lookout with the dogs.

 photo Jeeps-01_zpsuv7wmjju.jpg

On Sunday we cleaned camp, restocked the cabin with wood, and took the traditional dip in the spring-fed outdoor tub. This time of year would usually signify a brave plunge into the cold water, but this December's unusually warm temperatures made it a brisk but refreshing splash.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Turducken (Richmond, VA)

Last weekend we drove to Knoxville (no post, busy week) to visit friends and buy a DJI Phantom 3 quad-copter. After watching how-to videos all week long, I was chomping at the bit to take the copter out for a test drive.

As chance would have it, the annual Turducken Bike Polo Tournament was taking place in Richmond, so I was able to test out my flying skills there.

I would STRONGLY suggest any DJI pilot modify the controls in order to reverse the UP/DOWN stick. I like the feel of "pulling back" on the stick to gain elevation, and that instinctual response seemed to work well as I quickly picked up the navigation of the aircraft and had ZERO crashes on my very first attempt.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Asheville (North Carolina)

 photo Kitsuma_Trail-02_zpsjn81dolc.jpg

This trip has been on the calendar for a while. Its date was set when we were invited to attend Carrie and Steve's wedding at the Black Mountain Sanctuary, but its timing could not have been more perfect. The fall colors were in full effect, my Jeep was roadworthy again, the cold was sort-of-exciting in our cozy digs - but let's face it. Asheville has been a great trip over, and over, and over, and over, ...

One of the highlights this time around was our airBnB, the eco-tiny house in Alexander, NC. It was immaculate, well designed, and fucking adorable.

 photo Tiny_House-01_zpsnugwvwd2.jpg

On Sunday Rebecca and I chose to tackle the Kitsuma Trail in Black Mountain, NC.

 photo Kitsuma_Trail-03_zps7i7ja9qe.jpg

The trail began with a series of steep climbs, punctuated with switchbacks. As compared to the climb at Sherando Lake, it was just as steep, but shorter and less technical. Surprisingly enough, the downhill was far more technical. I slammed the seat down to its minimum and tried to stay light on my pedals as I sailed from rock, to root, to rock. Rebecca followed suit and skidded her way down, above the rainbow floor of sun-burnt leaves.

 photo Kitsuma_Trail_Rebecca-01_zpsbxl0cnxt.jpg

As these weekend getaways go, we'd just hit our stride when it was time to go! After the quick 10-mile ride, we packed the bikes and headed north in search of BBQ [on a Sunday afternoon]. A few hours later we were greeting the dogs and preparing for Monday morning.

Until next time...

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Mammoth Cave (Kentucky)

 photo Dennis_and_Rebecca-01_zpsz6a86qvb.jpg

When I learned that I'd be heading to Louisville, KY to attend ICUEE, I immediately checked to see its proximity to Mammoth Cave National Park. The park has been a destination I've been hoping to reach for a few years now. I was delighted to learn that it was only about an hour south of Louisville, so I decided to drive to the expo and stay in Kentucky a few days following the event.

 photo ICUEE-01_zps9ovltezh.jpg

The expo was a fun eye opener to the wide variety of manufacturers in our industry. The Morooka machines had a good showing, despite the rainy weather during the first half of the show.

 photo ICUEE-02_zpskb7aqpfp.jpg

I camped in the Hoosier National Forest two nights before Rebecca's arrival. The first spot was especially epic, as I perched my hammock above the Hemlock Cliffs.

 photo Hemlock_Cliffs-06_zpse0lko9uw.jpg

Rebecca was flying in to Louisville on Friday to meet me for the drive to Mammoth Cave, so I snuck in a visit to Mega Cavern in between. The bike park was pretty fun and definitely a unique experience to ride dirt jumps underground.

 photo Mega_Cavern-07_zps7ckj9pxt.jpg

The second night of camping was at the Indian-Celine Lakes Recreation Area within the Hoosier National Forest. After hiking for a few minutes, I found a dry creek bed to call home for the night.

 photo Celine_Lake-03_zpsmh6oq0jy.jpg

At last, the main attraction was upon us!

With only a couple of tours offered this late in the season, Rebecca and I signed up for the Domes & Dripstones Tour. It was a good introduction to the cave, although the entire tour only covered 0.75 mile. We decided that our next trip there would be a good opportunity to sign up for the longer, more advanced Wild Cave Tour.

 photo Cave-01_zps5wp1qvmb.jpg

A free backcountry pass allows visitors to camp at one of several camp sites within the park. We chose the First Creek Campsite, just over a mile from the trailhead. It was late when we began the hike to our site, so the short hike was perfect.

 photo Rebecca-01_zpsjc6lr3u7.jpg

After a week away from home, I was excited to head east to Virginia. On our way back, we swung by the New River Gorge Bridge for a quick glance before finishing the drive.

 photo New_River_Rebecca-01_zpsaop9zwba.jpg

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Snowshoe (West Virginia)

During our final trip to Snowshoe for the season we discovered that the lower road gap, which had been closed for several years, had been rebuilt. After a couple of test runs to gauge approach speed, I launched myself off the lip. Definitely a nice way to cap off another fun season.

Snowshoe 2nd Road Gap from dennis throckmorton on Vimeo.