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Category Archives: Travel

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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Breckenridge Brewery

Decisions... Decisions....

I just stumbled upon the following ad from the Beer & Whiskey Brothers Blog:

It’s currently about lunchtime. And between the time, and the above ad, I was transported back to the Breckenridge Brewery, where my sister, brother-in-law, Drea & I had a great lunch on our way to the Denver Airport a couple of weeks ago.  I had a pulled pork sandwich that was fantastic.  And the beer… well, I can’t say that I have ever been disappointed with a Breck Brew.  With my sandwich, I had the Double IPA, which I believe is what “Bob” is holding in the ad.  For dessert, I had an “Avalanche.”

It was the perfect send-off for our flight.

 
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Posted by on February 8, 2012 in Beer, Travel

 

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Daydreaming

Really wish we were back here right now…

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Posted by on February 1, 2012 in Beer, Travel

 

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So Many Places to Explore


visited 28 states (56%)

These are the states that I have “visited” thus far. I don’t consider driving through a “visit.” For it to qualify as a visit on my map, I had to spend some amount of time there. For example, I have been to New Orleans on a day trip. But, I didn’t count that as a “visit.” I’ve been to the “Four Corners” of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, & Arizona, and drove across much of the top of New Mexico. But, I didn’t count that as a “visit.” I have driven through every state on the East Coast several times. But, I haven’t really done anything in Maryland, for example, to qualify as a visit.

So, this is a To-Do list, of sorts. Although, there are so many of these states that I want to re-visit down the road.

Click on the map to make your own.

 
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Posted by on June 24, 2011 in Travel

 

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A Riddle

I have a riddle for you.

How do you drive 540 miles, over the course of three days, and not really go anywhere?

540 Miles.

Possible 540 Mile Round Trips from Providence, RI

  • Sunday River Resort, ME (450 miles)
  • Cooperstown, NY (462 miles)
  • Newport, VT – right by the Canadian border (520 miles)
  • Burlington, VT  (530 miles)
  • Philadelphia, PA  (540 miles)
  • Bangor, ME (568 miles)

Possible Destinations within approximately 540 Miles – One Way

  • Montreal (370 miles)
  • Caribou, ME (455 miles)
  • Niagara Falls (460 miles)
  • Toronto, Canada (544 miles)
  • Pittsburgh, PA (565 miles)
  • Morgantown, WV (560 miles)

Answer: Drive back and forth from Providence to Rockport Three times in one weekend.


Truth be told, every mile was worth it because each one was for my children.  (I’ll do a weekend re-cap soon.)  But, still… that was a shit ton of driving without really going anywhere!

 
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Posted by on June 21, 2011 in Travel

 

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Great Weekend

So, this past weekend, we visited Brian and Carrie in New Jersey. On the road south, we stopped for dinner and to introduce Drea to Five Guys. After eating way too much, we got back on the road and burped our way to Jersey with little-to-no traffic at all. (It is always surprising going over the George Washington Bridge with light traffic.)

We spent the night and next day catching up. And, Brian spent most of Saturday smoking. And, although that is true (and I gave him shit for it as any good friend would, in this instance I mean smoking up some food on the BBQ. We had delicious stuffed jalapeños and stuffed portabella mushrooms, both wrapped in bacon, and chicken with a couple of different marinades. No pics were taken, but damn was it yummy.

Saturday night, we headed back into the city to catch the Red Sox at Yankee Stadium. It was all of our first trip into the new stadium. And, prior to leaving the house, Brian mentioned that one of his friends who had been to the new ball park said that it reminded him of “something that should have been built by Nazi Germany.” It was very plain, very industrial looking. And, part of you does expect to look around and see Iron Eagles throughout the place. I’m fine with thinking of the Yankees logo as a swastika. It was kind of a disappointing stadium. Hell, even the Detroit Tigers Stadium has more personality, and that city is BROKE.

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Hard to see... but note the empty seats

We had the pitching matchup of Josh Beckett vs the fat man (CC Sabathia) on a nationally televised game at 7pm on Fox. When it was time for the National Anthem to be played, our group was blown away by the fact that it was a recording. I can’t think of a single time I have been to a professional stadium and had the national anthem played on tape. Shocked. Furthermore, the crowd was late showing up, acting as if they were Dodgers fans. And, there were tons of empty seats.

The game itself was great. Beckett pitched a shutout and the Sox won 6-0. It was a great feeling to be in Yankee Stadium watching their fans stream out of the park in the 8th inning.

After the game, we hit a bar across the street that was an absolute scene. I absolutely should have been taking photos of the patrons. (Stupid me forgetting my camera in my car.) Afterwards, we headed back to the parking garage where I snapped the nighttime photo of the front of the stadium. When we woke up in the late morning, we were rather surprised to see the Baseball Tonight crew broadcasting from that same garage a few feet from where we had been parked.

As always, it was another great weekend with Brian and Carrie!

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Late night view of the stadium

 
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Posted by on May 18, 2011 in Food, Sports, Travel

 

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