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Monthly Archives: April 2012

Blue

A blue lobster on a Blue Pearl yields a blue Sunday.

Blech. 20120429-145315.jpg

 
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Posted by on April 29, 2012 in Random

 

Trouble

Sometimes, these three are just cute.

We had been in Target to pick up dress shoes for the kids.  And, somehow, they all ended up finding hats they just needed to have.  (I did not advise them on how to wear these hats.)

 
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Posted by on April 27, 2012 in Kids

 

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The Birth of a Highpointing Family

Everyone knows that I have been bit by the hiking bug in a big way.  As a result, peak bagging lists seemed a natural progression.  I’ve pointed out some of the ones I am keeping track of in a previous post.  Well, since then, I have certainly added the Catskill 3500 list into the mix.

But, those limit me to the Northeast region.  And, I want to explore as much of this country as possible.  And, I want to show my kids as much of this country as possible.  So, a list that I’ve decided to tackle, and my children and Drea have embraced have had pushed onto them is – Highpointing the 50 States.

I saw your eyes glaze over.  It is ok.  It’s the same thing that happened when I described it to Drea (that is, until she realized that Hawaii had a highpoint).

So, you are wondering, what is highpointing?  Well according to wiki:

Highpointing is the sport of visiting (and finding) the point with the highest elevation within some area (the “highpoint”), for example the highest points in each county within a state. It can be considered a form of peak bagging.

  • The goal is to attain the highest “natural point.” In other words, regardless of what man-made structures have been placed on top, the goal is to stand atop the highest “natural point.”
  • If the natural high point is covered with a structure and that structure is accessible, even on a limited basis, entering the structure and standing over the presumed high point is the goal. If the structure is completely and permanently inaccessible—e.g. a military base or private telecommunications tower – the goal is to reach the highest accessible natural point. At times, The Highpointers Club will deem a highpoint closed due to private property issues and may allow an alternative spot very near the highpoint. But, this is only in extreme and special conditions. Some of the highpoints are open on certain dates only and the Club expects all members to abide by these dates.
  • Any route to the top – walking, climbing, riding a cable car, dropping off a helicopter – is a valid means of attaining the high point. Each individual must decide what constitutes good sport. Many will prefer reaching the high point under their own locomotion, but the goal of highpointing is reaching the highpoint – means is a personal choice.

Still with me?  Ok, good.  As mentioned in the wiki quote that you just skipped over, I’m not alone in my desire to reach this achievement.  And, just like any other subject, when there is more than one person trying to achieve a similar goal, someone formed a Highpointing Club.  (So, what if the most prominent photos on their homepage seem to indicate that the average age of members is deceased!)  And, there is this view point from my list-obsessed friend Steve, who’s reasons for wanting to tackle highpointing list aren’t too dissimilar to my own.

With regard to the last bullet, when possible, I fully intend on taking the hiking approach.  For example, the high point of New Hampshire is the summit of Mount Washington.  Now, everyone and their grandmother could drive up there.  Boring.  Or take the cog railway.  Really?  Come on!  Where is the adventure in that?  Where is the challenge?  Where is the journey?  Not for this highpointer.  I’ll be taking the long way, thanks.  (Not to mention that Mount Washington is on my NH 4000 & NE 100 lists… but my point still remains.)

Curious what the highpoints of your favorite states are?  You know you are!  Here’s a map view.  And, here’s a list.

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Close.... but not the true highpoint.

All right, with all of that said, it only seemed logical to tackle the home state’s highpoint as the start of this adventure.  And, as I had the children for April Vacation this year, and I’ve been starving for some hiking, the time was right to dip our toes into the highpointing waters.

Now, Rhode Island’s highpoint is truly a massive summit of 812′ on the top of Jeromith Hill.  Shockingly, this is not the lowest high point of the United States; that honor belongs to 345′  Britton Hill  in Florida. (Of course it does, Florida gets all of the freaking rejects.)  Despite it’s minor elevation, Rhode Island’s highpoint was not-too-long-ago known as one of the most difficult highpoints to achieve, due to land owners that were particularly ornery and trigger-happy.  Yes, I said trigger-happy.  Check that link out!  Thankfully, all of that nonsense is in the past, and RI’s highpoint is accessible 7 days a week between the hours of 8am & 4pm.

So, on Sunday, April 15th, we took the drive out to Foster, RI.  Upon driving up the numerous hills along Route 101, I was struck with how significant some of them seemed; a few of them had several hundred feet elevation change between them.  From the East, you pass a highway sign that indicates you are on Jerimoth Hill, it even indicates that it is the state’s highpoint.  However, the true highpoint is not actually on the highway.  After passing the sign, we did a U-turn and found the matching sign on the other side of the road.  We parked and climbed out of the van.  It was only then, that I told the kids what we were there to do…. and that they had to hike to do it!  This was met with some shock, guffaws, and some grumbles.  All of which, I was expecting.  They asked how long of a hike it would be, and I assured them, it would be the shortest hike of their young lives.

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We followed the big conspicuous red sign indicating the legendary Jerimoth Hill Trail.  We labored up the pine needle riddled trail from the main road about 50 yards and stumbled upon a survey marker.  But, alas, that was a false summit.  Undaunted, we pressed on.

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Not a summit marker...

After another 25 yards, or so, we arrived, exhausted, at Rhode Island’s true highpoint.  It was a beautiful sight to behold; encircled in trees was a hunk of granite protruding from the ground, with a cairn 2 or 3 feet high erected on top of it.  The views were grand… Nope.  There were no views.  But, dammit, we became highpointers this day!  One down, 49 to go.

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The kids on the summit! Yay! (This was also the start of Brady trying to sabotage *every* photo with some ridiculous pose or face.

The children... exhausted after the monster hike!

 
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Posted by on April 25, 2012 in Hiking, Outdoor Adventures, Travel

 

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A Bathroom Surprise

I’m waaaay behind in my blogging and much has happened.  I’m going to try to play catch-up a bit this week.  The posts may not follow a true timeline – but, no problemo.

Silly tourists doing tourist things.

Back in the first week of March, Drea & I took a long-overdue vacation to the Riviera Maya in Mexico.

Now, based on the title of the post, and the fact that we went to Mexico, you are probably making inaccurate conclusions about what this post is actually about.  Rest assured, neither of us were victims of Montezuma’s Revenge or is this post about poop at all.

We had a great time down there.  Really, it is difficult to travel to Mexico (the tourist-safe areas anyway) and not have a good time.

We spent one day walking up and down 5th Ave in Playa del Carmen.  We went to Señor Frogs for lunch.  But, the scene was pretty lame.  Apparently, during the day, Señor Frogs is a pretty family-friendly place.  It’s not until night time that it picks up.  Not interested in hanging with the families and over-paying for mediocre food & drinks, we moved on.  We then found ourselves ordering a bucket of beers at the Tequila Barrel.  We met a couple from Canada and had a nice time chatting and drinking with them.

Drea doing her Vanna impression

At some point, we had asked our bartender for the best places to hangout in Playa.  We told him we wanted the real flavor, somewhere locals would go, as well.  He told us about a few dance clubs that he would be hitting that night.  Those aren’t exactly Drea & I’s scene, but he did seem to have his finger on the pulse of the area.  So, we asked where we could get the best authentic Mexican food.  He immediately started talking about Mi Pueblo.  This excited Drea & I because we had actually eyed this restaurant earlier and thought it had potential.

Mi Pueblo was everything we could have asked for and more.  A quaint little restaurant in the heart of Playa.  Our only issue with the restaurant was that after looking over the menu for several minutes, a waiter dropped an iPad on our table that had photos of each dish.  We had already been having a difficult time narrowing down what we wanted to order because everything sounded delicious.  You would have thought that the photos might have helped.  Nope.  Exactly the opposite!  Not only did they sound good, but everything looked freaking fantastic!  All the iPad did was complicate the ordering process.  Since there were only two of us dining, it would have been incredibly wasteful for us to order one of everything on the menu.  But, that’s exactly what we wanted to do!

The door to a magical land...

After settling on dining options, Drea excused herself and disappeared behind the door that was emblazened with one Spanish word every gringo knows – baños!

Upon her return, she exclaimed “That’s not at all what I expected behind that door!”  Despite that confusing me, I ignored her pleas for me to go to the bathroom.  For the first time in ever, my bladder wasn’t acting like it was the size of a damned pea.  I enjoyed our beverages, our apps, and my main course (all of which lived up to our lofty expectations!), before even feeling the urge.

Finally, I did.

And, holy shit was she correct!

What I found was this beautiful courtyard of this stylishly appointed boutique hotel.  The bathroom was actually a flight or two down the stairs within the courtyard.  (A couple photos are below.)  I really was wishing I had been able to get a peak into some of the rooms.

I was curious about the hotel, Hotel Jungla Caribe, upon returning back to the states.  It looks well appointed, has favorable reviews on Trip Advisor,  and it’s cheap.  Drea & I actually have a wedding to attend in the area next year, and we may try to spend a night or two here.

Looking over the courtyard. (Not shown - the pool)

Love the look of the hallway...

 
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Posted by on April 24, 2012 in Travel

 

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An April Fools Day Hike Up Monadnock

On April Fool’s Day, two fools headed up the second most hiked mountain in the world; Mount Monadnock.

Well, that sounded like a good opening line.  In all honesty, there was nothing foolish about this endeavor.  It was a gorgeous morning.  Even if it did start with finding the van encased in a frost that almost appeared hairy on closer inspection.

After heading out from Waltham, and making record time, I arrived in good ol’ Jaffrey, NH around 9am.  As I was spearheading this hike, I had suggested we hike a trail that neither of us had ever hiked before.  The only issue was that I wasn’t exactly sure how to tell Mike, who didn’t have a Monadnock map on him, where to meet me.  I had sent a text telling him to head to the main lot area, but to follow signs for the campground.  Unfortunately, there weren’t really any signs directing you towards the campground.  A few texts later, and I was able to get the right directions into his hands.

Besides, our cars, there were only two other cars in the lot.  That alone was enough to tell me that his hike would be different from previous hikes up Monadnock.  Often times, you end up passing more people than you can count on these trails.  And, had we chosen one of the other main lots, that may have been true for this hike.  But, on the way up, we only saw three other hikers, and one was a woman that caught up to us at some point.

We started up on the Birchtoft Trail, which heads up the east slope of the mountain.  It is quite a gradual incline, as compared to some of the other trails I have taken.  It really wasn’t until we crossed the Cascade Link trail and onto the Red Spot Trail (guess what the trail markers were!), that the real steepness kicked in (about 600 vertical feet in 1/2 mile).  But, this approach still feels “easier” than that of the White Dot or White Arrow trails.  About a 1/4 mile from the summit, the Red Dot Trail merges with the Pumpelly trail and meanders it’s way across the granite to the summit.

As you can tell from the photo above, the clouds had started to roll in by the time we reached the summit, but it was pleasant up top.  I had hiked in only a thermal shirt the entire way up, and only needed to throw another layer of warmth and a windbreaker to remain comfortable as we rested.  The temps at the summit were probably mid 30’s and the winds were very light.

On the way down, we decided to check out the Pumpelly trail a bit further.  I expect that I will be hiking this trail a few more times in the future as I try to find the Pumpelly Cave.  The trail itself, follows a ridge that provides some nice views to the north of the mountain.  About a mile and a half from the summit, we hopped onto the Cascade Link.  The Cascade Link was certainly the more technical of the trails that we hiked this day.

It was a fun day on the trails.  It just made me even more eager to get out and do more hiking.

—–Hike Stats—–

  • Date: 4/1/12
  • Elevation: 3165
  • Elev Gain: 1807
  • Mileage: 5+?*
  • Trails: Up:  Birchtoft -> Red Dot –> Pumpelly.  Down:  Pumpelly –> Cascade Link -> Birchtoft

*Something that drives me bonkers about the maps handed out by the Monadnock Park Staff is that it does not include any trail mileage. Yes, there is a 1/2 mile representation in the legend… but most good hiking maps have the mileage markers for each trail printed near the mid point of the trail.  Given that this is the second most hiked mountain in the world, attracting tons of families, and first-time hikers annually, you think that the maps would be better.  Seriously, NH Parks & Recreation, get on that!

 
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Posted by on April 3, 2012 in Hiking

 

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