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Sunday, October 30, 2016

CONTEMPLATING THE TRAILS AHEAD

It really meant a lot to me that my wife told me to go biking with the guys and enjoy myself today.  I'm equally appreciative that Mark changed his plans to join Kristain and I.  I've been hanging out in Michaux State Forest now for almost 10 years and, until  today, I never  managed to get there when the foliage was at it's peak.  Today it happened...and it was nothing short of  amazing.

Taking in the view from the vista in Michaux State Forest.  Check out this ultra kool photosphere of the view -- October 30, 2016

Mark and Kristain met me this morning at 9.  If I'd of known that it was going to be 65 degrees at 6 AM today we would have left earlier.  Today was just one of those late autumn days here in Pennsylvania that make you happy to just be alive...and I was happy to spend it mountain biking in Michaux.  Today's ride somehow combined the destination ride, the exploratory ride, and the "let's just take our time and have fun" ride.  It was, for me, the best kind of ride.  

Laurel Lake and the fall foliage in Michaux State Forest -- October 30, 2016

THE DESTINATION RIDE


The colors were brilliant today and I bet, that if I were to go back tomorrow, half of the leaves will be on the ground.  It was the perfect day to be mountain biking.  We did have a destination in mind...the Vista view northwest of Pine Grove Furnace State Park.  It's my favorite place in the forest.  I was last there in July...and I was really looking forward to experiencing it with the colors at their peak.   After riding down the biking path that connects Pine Grove Furnace with Laurel Lake we headed up the single track that twists and turns and climbs up the Vista...over four hundred feet of elevation in just about 3 miles!  The climb sounds really intense...but it's not.  It just flows up. I often say, that when I bike I want to make sure that anything I climb is worth climbing!  Once at the top of this trail, nature doesn't disappoint.  No evidence of the state park below, no cars, no roads, and no noises (except what nature provides.)  Amazing, beautiful, peaceful, and satisfying...it IS my favorite place...and today I made sure to take some time and soak it in.

I took this pic while up on the vista today.  I liked it so much it's now the background pic on my blog.  Check out this ultra kool photosphere I took while I was there! -- October 30, 2016


Kristain Hains -- October 30, 2016


Kristain checking out the view -- October 30, 2016


If it wasn't for Mark...I would never have known about this place.  Thanks, Bud -- October 30, 2016

THE EXPLORATORY RIDE


I didn't expect to go exploring today...Mark and I usually do that on our own.  But today, when we got to a fork in the trail on the top of the ridge we turned right instead of left...which provided a nice deviation from our normal route.  At times the trail was hard to see...but it was there...and it's been ridden.  Ultimately, it took us to a super cool rock outcropping that faced the west side of the mountain looking towards Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  A nice find which leaves us with more to explore.  That's the magic of Michaux...there is ALWAYS something around the corner that you've never ridden...and the trail you find never goes where you expect it to!


Mark and Kristain riding fire road which provides a conduit to various single track in the forest -- October 30, 2016

My 2016 Stumpjumper...of all the bikes I've owned this one is my favorite -- October 30, 2016

An odd find deep in the forest. Looks to be a fire fighters emergency kit -- October 30, 2016

Kristain and parked our bikes while we explored a rock outcropping today -- October 30, 2016

Kristain climbing to the top of the rocks we found today -- October 30, 2016

The view looking towards Chambersburg isn't as nice as the one at the vista or Tumbling Run...but it was still super kool -- October 30, 2016


THE "LET'S JUST TAKE OUR TIME & HAVE FUN" RIDE


At the end of the  day, if your not having fun, why are out on the trails?  Mountain biking is my hobby.  There was a time when I did a lot of racing (and there is absolutely nothing wrong with racing) but now I just want to ride my bike.  I'm not breaking any speed records...and I really don't care.  Mountain biking is now a time for me to laugh, talk, and ride with my friends.  It's  a time to share experiences, stories, sights, and a common love for being outside.  There are few mountain  biking pics that don't include smiles.

Selfie time!  Dave Raymond & Kristain Hains -- October 30, 2016

Kristian Hains -- October 30, 2016

Mark found a snake!  God...I hate snakes! -- October 30, 2016


Looks like the only person who hates snakes more than me is Kristain.  The look on his face says it all! -- October 30, 2016


Mark Lentz, Kristain Hains, and David Raymond in Michaux State Forest -- October 30, 2016

Push, Kristian, Push! -- October 30, 2016

Mark Lentz -- October 30, 2016

Selfie on top of the vista!  Dave Raymond, Kristain Hains, & Mark Lentz -- October 30, 2016


Kristain Hains -- October 30, 2016

Kristain took this pic of me taking pics on top of the vista -- October 30, 2016

David Raymond -- October 30, 2016

Yep...I'm so very appreciative to my wife for selflessly telling me to go out with my friends today...and just as appreciative to Mark for switching his plans so he could hang out with Kristain and I today.  You see, November will mark ten years of riding in Michaux for me and Mark and rest of the crew...but today's ride will be my last for quite some time.  As great as I feel on my bike, my back is falling apart again, and I'm told I'll be out of commission for quite a while.  No one looks forward to having surgery...but I cautiously am.  I can pedal all day long.  I ride and feel like a million dollars but I can't stand up or take a walk with my wife for more than a minute...that's unacceptable and no way to live life. It's time to get this fixed so that I can enjoy the nature and the hobbies and the life I love living for a long time to come.   I've got a lot of things planned for my time on the couch...a lot of stories to write about...and time to contemplate the trails that lie ahead.

Life is a journey...not a destination.


David A. Raymond -- October 30, 2016


Today our trails led to Mountain  Creek Campground where Kristain picked up the tab for the ice cream.  Thank, Bud! -- October 30, 2016

Friday, October 28, 2016

MY BIKE'S NOT TOO TIRED

On those days that I ride my bike to school my students often notice that it doesn't have a kickstand.  That kind of boggles their mind.  Then they ask..."How come you just lean it against the wall?"  My corny response is that "my bike is tired....actually, it's two tired."  Before you roll your eyes, please understand that I work with 140 8th graders each day (and this is my 22nd year!)  Please cut me some slack...those corny jokes get me some street cred.

It's October and I'm no longer KEEPING AN EYE ON THE CORN.  The scenery; however, is just as amazing! -- October 28, 2016

The reality is...as anyone who rides a bicycle can tell you...when I'm on my bike it becomes a living part of me.  No matter how tired I am after a day of teaching my butt off, once I get on my bike I feel like a new person.  It literally energizes me.  So, on a Friday afternoon, as I walked up the driveway and into my garage after a long week of teaching in hormone heaven...I passed my bike hanging on the wall.  After kissing my wife, prepping dinner, and pulling on the gear I headed out for a brisk ten miles.  My bike wasn't too tired this afternoon...and as soon as I started down the road...neither was I.

My 2012 Specialized Roubaix and my 2016 Stumpjumper provide me with so much energy and so much fun! -- October 28, 2016

Life is a journey...not a destination.


David A. Raymond -- October 28, 2016

I'm surely not too tired to make my wife dinner and celebrate her long deserved and long overdue promotion! -- October 28, 2016

Monday, October 24, 2016

THE CYCLE OF CHANGE

First came the rain, then the wind, then the temperature drop.  There's no doubt that Fall has finally arrived in south central Pennsylvania.  Yesterday was the first day that I pulled on my white biking jacket to keep me warm.  (Halfway up Starview Road I realized that I probably didn't need it.)  The foliage, here in York County, is just about at it's peak. Like the the temperature, the leaves too are changing...but this year (I'm not sure if it was the above average heat of the summer or the lack of rain in the area) the colors aren't as spectacular as last year...maybe it's just my imagination, but that's my perspective.

My bike parked under the same KEEP PENNSYLVANIA BEAUTIFUL sign as it was on September 2, 2016.  The sunflower fields east of Mount Wolf have changed significantly, yet Pennsylvania is still Beautiful -- October 24, 2016


What remains of the sunflower fields along N Sherman Street Ext just east of Mount Wolf -- October 23, 2016

Farmer Dan's Pumpkin Stand along Canal Road just west of Manchester, PA -- October 11, 2016

The retention pond next to Beshore School Road in Manchester, PA.  The colors just aren't as vibrant as last year.  Still...there's nothing like this time of season.  -- October 23, 2016

Change, like the turning of the seasons, is inevitable.  I often remind myself that change makes things different...and different isn't necessarily better or worse...it's just different.  Yesterday, as I passed the same sunflower field that I photographed six weeks ago, I noticed that it was different...but yet just as beautiful in a new way.  You see...change is all around us.  We can't avoid it.  It's necessary, and ultimately, it can't be stopped.  Change CAN be embraced, though.  In the past, I would make comments about how "ugly" winter was.  How I missed the colors of Spring, Summer, and Autumn.  Then, a few years back, my wonderful wife surprised me with a Christmas trip to Thomas Jefferson's home, Monticello.  Of all the nerdy things I experienced on that trip, the biggest take away for me was the colors I saw in photos we took there.  The seasons had changed, winter was upon us, but yet the colors were there.  Not the same as they would be in the summer...but there was no denying they were there.   Since then, the change of seasons has been so much easier for me.

Thomas Jefferson's Monticello -- December 29, 2012


This picture of the gardens at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello opened  my eyes  to the amazing colors of the winter season -- December 29, 2016


My wife, Robin, and I at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello -- December 29, 2016

For the past twenty years, cycling has, in one form or another, been a part of my life.  But even this has changed drastically over the years.  The bikes I ride, choice of attire, frequency, duration, distance, and company all have changed. (Wow....great material for later on!)  None of it has ever stayed the same.  A lot of the change has come from choice...some from necessity...but it always precedes some new, and sometimes great, adventure.  Over the years I've realized that, what ever change may come, the way it impacts your life is your own internal choice.  None of us has the power to prevent it, but we all can decide whether or not we will embrace it.  So, whether it's the change of seasons, a change of routine, a change in what ice cream shop we go to after a ride, a change in our job, or a life change that is out of our control...the cycle of change is ultimately like a bike.  You've got to ride it to go somewhere.

Life is a journey, not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- October 24, 2016

One thing that doesn't change...I love dropping in on my son at Subway.  He's Manchester's best (and most intense) Sandwich Artist -- October 23, 2016

Friday, October 21, 2016

MY FASCINATION WITH SQUIRRELS

I have ADD.  Hell, at this very moment, I can feel my attention being pulled in about six different directions.  (I literally had to delete and retype that last sentence four times!)  Now...I didn't know I had ADD until my lovely wife, Robin, suggested that I go see the doctor.  Apparently I had the incredibly annoying habit of looking at everything around me ("Oh, look!  Squirrels!) instead of the person who was talking.  Even though I may be completely paying attention to the conversation, my behavior gave the appearance to others that I really didn't give a sh*t.  Not a good impression to leave.  

This pic, which shows the positive effects that exercise has on the human brain, is in The Atlantic's article "Exercise Is ADHD Medicine."  (Hillman et al, Pediatrics/The Atlantic)

 I survived childhood with a lot of structure...a very loving (but strict) mother, Catholic school up to and through 8th grade, then football, track & field, and musicals in high school.  All these things helped to keep me focused.  It's probably why...actually I KNOW it's why...I love structure in my life.  I figured out, at an early age, that, for me, life is so much better when I'm either mentally or physically engaged in something.  All this was validated, the other day, when I was reading an article in The Atlantic called "Exercise Is ADHD Medicine." (I love to remind my wife that the doctor DID NOT add the H to my ADD diagnosis!) 

My 8th grade class at St. Thomas Catholic School in Bedford, PA.  Yep...that's me in the front left.  I still wonder how that kid grew up to marry such an amazing, successful, & beautiful woman like my wife, Robin  --  May 1986

Bedford Bison's 1990 Seniors.  I'm #51 third from the right in the front -- August 1990

I spent four fun track and field seasons throwing javelin with my best friend in high school, Aaron Housel. That's me on the right -- May 1991


I'm on the far left playing the role of Lazar Wolf in the musical Fiddler on the Roof.  The "bald" wig turned out to be a pretty good look for me! -- 1991

I do take, what I like to call, my "concentration candy" every day.  My boss loves that I no longer glaze over when he puts a spread sheet in front of me during a team meeting.  But, in my opinion, no pill can ever replace the benefits of activity.  For me, nothing brings me back into focus like riding my bike.  It doesn't even have to be a long ride.  Just the other day I took my bike up to Rocky Ridge and only rode 4 miles.  It doesn't seem like a lot..and to some not worth the short drive to the park..but, at that moment, it was just what I needed to quiet my head and pull me into focus. It was enough to break a sweat, get the heart pumping,  and get those chemicals flowing  in my brain.   Just me, my bike, and a quiet head...with nothing to distract me but..."Hey look...squirrels!"

Enjoying Rocky Ridge County Park -- October 16, 2016

Life is a journey...not a destination!



David A. Raymond -- October 21, 2016
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Thumbs up from my principal, Mike Alessandroni.  He knows I took my concentration candy before our field trip to Gettysburg National Military Park.  No squirrels up here!  -- May 24, 2016

Saturday, October 15, 2016

AWESOME SAUCE!

Kristian had never ridden Patapsco Valley State Park in Maryland...so we had to go.  The trip down Interstate 83 to Arbutus, Maryland takes a little more than an hour...but the drive and the traffic was worth it.  The two of us experienced, possibly, one of the best rides I've had in a while.  It was typical Patapsco...twisty single track, log build ups, scattered rock gardens, "Blair Witch Houses," challenging climbs, and "hold on tight" downhills!  All in all, 15 miles and 1,600 feet of climbing of mountain biking bliss!  It was, in Kristian's words, "Awesome Sauce!"  

David Raymond & Kristain Haines.  "FRIENDZ" -- October 15, 2016

So...Kristian confided in me today that he's not a big reader and, when I send him my my blog, he really only looks at the pictures.  So...let's let the pictures tell the story of today's ride.  It really was "Awesome Sauce!"

Kristian Hains & David Raymond taking a break near the Patapsco River.  Check out this super kool photosphere of the area -- October 15, 2016

Kristian Hains -- October 15, 2016

The power of Mother Nature is amazing.  Damage to the area from this summer's unprecedented and historic flood in Ellicott City is still apparent -- October 15, 2016

Kritain having a "Huffy Toss" moment half way through our ride today -- October 15, 2016

Yes...literally 10 minutes after Kristian's "Huffy Toss" moment we spotted what looks to be a Huffy at the bottom of the ravine! -- October 15, 2016

David Raymond.  The idea for the angle of the picture was totally Kristian's -- October 15, 2016

Kristain Hains -- October 15, 2016





Kristian Hains & David Raymond in Patapsco Valley State Park -- October 15, 2016


Kristain was totally impressed with the "Blair Witch" houses near the Connector Trail in Patapsco.  Here's another ultra kool photosphere of the area -- October 15, 2016


Watching Kristain ride brings a huge smile to my face.  Check him out below -- October 15, 2016


David Raymond -- October 15, 2016


Kristain  Hains -- October 15, 2016

Cascade Falls in Patapsco Valley State Park -- October 15, 2016


Yep...Awesome Sauce! -- October 15, 2016


Life is a journey...not a destination!


David A. Raymond -- October 15, 2016
All pics courtesy of SQUIRRELS WITH CAMERAS.

Awesome sauce!  Picked up my brother-in-law, Donny, on the way home -- October 15, 2015