Wednesday, April 27, 2016

THE WONDERS OF THE WOODS -- April 27, 2016

Nature is amazing and mountain biking has given me an incredible mode in which to experience it.  I've seen an owl swoop down out of a tree and attempt to pick up a red fox.  I've seen a hawk come out of no where to snatch up a black snake that was sunning itself of the trail.  I've seen deer and black bears.  I've watched a snake eat a toad and wild turkeys run defiantly thought the woods. I've watched Tim play with turtles and Glenn throw rocks at rattlesnakes.  I've videoed dung beetles rolling a chunk of crap across a trail and even taken selfies with horses.

I yielded the trail to this horse and it's rider.  After a nice conversation (with the rider) the horse seemed comfortable enough with me to take a selfie -- June 1, 2014

There is no shortage of deer in Potapsco Valley State Park, MD -- July 10, 2012

Timmy likes his turtles -- July 20, 2010

This black snake was so large (approximately 5 feet) that, until I ran over it while riding at Rocky Ridge, I thought it was a branch laying on the trail -- August 19, 2015

I hate snakes.   There's no way for me to over state that.  I can recognize black snakes...but when I see something like this I run like a little girl.  Timmy and I saw this one coming out of the tunnel at the Lakes -- April 18, 2015

Yes.  This is a rattlesnake attempting to eat a toad.  I did not stick around long enough to see if he finished his meal -- June 28, 2009

Billy found jaw bone of a deer at the top of Dead Woman's Hollow Road in Michaux State Forest -- May 22, 2010

Billy, Tim, & I paused for a few minutes to watch these two dung beetles roll their prize across the shit.  Check out the video below!  --  May 22, 2010

You would expect to find deer and snakes and even dung beetles in the woods...but it's the man made structures, objects, and oddities that have intrigued and perplexed me.  As a history teacher, I'm completely taken back by, and appreciative of, the amount of "lost history" that can be discovered (and sometimes uncovered) in the woods.   Thanks to my friend, Mark, I've learned how to spot what is left of a lot of these structures.  The wonders of the woods aren't limited to just the wildlife.  Sometimes they open a window to the past and the people who lived and worked there.

A spring house located in the mountains near Raymond B. Winter State Park -- July 14, 2011

While biking in Raymond B. Winter State Park, Mark, Mikey, and I came across this huge amphitheater built into the mountainside -- July 13, 2011

A stone fountain that once greeted visitors (or Japanese prisoners in WWII) coming into Camp Michaux.  Located in Michaux State Forest -- August 12, 2013

Remains of a structure on the grounds that once were Camp Michaux.  Located in Michaux State Forest -- August 12, 2013
For a map of a self-guided walking tour of Camp Michaux click here.

Somebody build this Lean To on the ridge near Chickies Rock in Lancaster County, PA -- April 13, 2014

A water spillway built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.  Located in Penn Roosevelt State Park -- June 27, 2014

Abandoned structures litter the hillsides above the remnants of an old flour mill in Potapsco Valley State Park, MD -- December 28, 2015

These old abandoned houses can be found in the middle of Potapsco Valley State Park, MD -- December 30, 2013

On Dynamite Shack Trail you will find an actual dynamite shack.  Located in Michaux State Forest-- August 21, 2013

This barren spot in the hillside is a charcoal terrace.  A charcoal platform (or terrace) will appear as a flat area, usually 10-15 meters across.  They were active in the mid-to-late 1800s and early 1900s to make charcoal to use as fuel in iron furnaces.  The technique was to cut cord wood in four foot lengths and stack it in a sort of tepee arrangement.  A hole was left in the middle of the stack for a chimney.  The whole stack was then covered in dirt.  Burning logs were thrown in the chimney, and the pile of wood cooked for about two weeks until is was turned into charcoal.

What remains of the Pine Grove Iron Furnace.  Located in Pine Grove Furnace State Park -- July 2014

This is not a little green animal...but the waste residue that would build up in the bottom of an iron furnace.  That's some heavy metal!  Located in Pine Grove Furnace State Park -- July 2014
There is more though.  More than the animals you would expect and the man made structures from long ago.  Every now and then, while mountain biking, we come across something that just makes us scratch our heads.  Things that beg the question, "Who the hell put this here?"  These are the things that sometimes bring the biggest smiles to our faces.

Merry Christmas...mountain biking style!  Brent and I came across this random tree, deep in the woods of Potapsco Valley State Park, all decked out for the holidays -- December 28, 2015

I still have no idea what this is...but Tim, Billy, and I found it east of Piney Ridge in Michaux State Forest -- July 20, 2010

I know that we are just one of many groups to take American Standard Trail to find the urinal nailed to the tree.  Located near Jim Thorpe, PA -- July 2008

Mark Lentz and I found this old gas pump deep in the wood of Potapsco Valley State Park .   I'm convinced that, if Mark could have fit it into his Camelbak, that pump would be at his house! -- August 13, 2015

Someone found it necessary to carve seats out of these tree stumps in Potapsco Valley State Park, MD -- August 2, 2011

My all time favorite find...this golf cart is located in Potapsco Valley State Park, MD.  Next time I drive, Tim! -- June 26, 2012

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- April 27, 2016

The last thing I ever thought I would find in the mountain bike with a sign that read "4-SALE or Trade for Russian Bride & Dog."  Thanks Mark, Glenn, & Kristian!  August 2008

Thursday, April 21, 2016

A VIEW FROM THE TOP -- April 21, 2016

I do a lot of climbing for someone who is afraid of heights.  Nothing extreme...but when I'm biking or hiking and come across a bunch of boulders or a random structure that gives a view of the land below...I want to take a look.   I have a definite sense of fear...which is what keeps me alive.  I don't wander near the edge of a cliff and I always make sure that, before I make my way up, I have a plan on how to get back down.  My phobia isn't one that keeps me off of roller coasters or from visiting the Grand Canyon...I just hate standing at a precipice with nothing between myself and falling to my certain death.   

It's peaceful when you climb to the top. If you climb high enough you sometimes can't even make out a building, a car, or another person.   The world below seems almost untouched by human beings. No car road side construction noise.  Worries and stress of everyday life temporarily float away in the breeze.  How do I find these places?  Sometimes hiking, but usually while mountain biking or riding my road bike.  All the sidewalk walking I've been doing the past few weeks has made me appreciate the views from above...and anxious to get back up to them!  Here are just a few to share.  I hope you enjoy.


Pole Steeple is one of the most famous trails in Michaux State Forest.  Very rarely will you find yourself there alone...but the view of the mountains in central Pennsylvania is astounding.  Throught the trees, on the right, you can catch a glimpse of Fuller Lake.  August 5, 2015


Climbing Sky Top Drive, just west of Dover, Pennsylvania, is no easy task.  You can expect to climb almost 600 feet in under a mile!  But once to the top,  the view of York County, Pennsylvania is beautiful!  November 20, 2011


Chickies Rock sits along the Susquehanna River in Lancaster County.  At one time, seven iron furnaces operated in the area. Remnants of a few of the furnaces can still be seen.  Today, it is a great place to hike and get a birds eye view of the Susquehanna River dividing York and Lancaster Counties.   April 21, 2012


I can't remember any details about this picture I took way back in June of 2007 except that,  while mountain biking in Black Water Falls, we came across this scenic look out.  Wow.  


A short detour off of the yellow trail in Patapsco Valley State park will take you to this scenic overlook.  December 30, 2013


I love Ohiopyle State Park in southwestern Pennsylvania ('s not in Ohio!)  As a child, my mom and dad brought me here often.  Now, I take a trip there each year with my wife Robin and my son Alex.  Baughman Rock Overlook is just one of many things that will mesmerize you at Ohiopyle.  July 20, 2014


I don't have to go too far from home to get this view from Rocky Ridge County Park.  From here you can see Ski Roundtop, Three Mile Island, and the Susquehanna River.  


All I can tell you is that this amazing view is somewhere south of Route 30  and west of Gettysburg, Pennsylvania.  Mark Lentz and I passed through here while mountain biking on Columbus Day 2015.  October 12, 2015


I had a perfect September day to ride my bike from my dad's house in Bedford, Pennsylvania to the top of the hill beyond Breezewood, Pennsylvania...taking the Lincoln Highway (Route 30) the entire way.  This is the same view (minus the PA Turnpike below) that British General John Forbes would have seen as he and his men made their way westward to wrestle control of Fort Duquesne from the the French in 1758.  September 20, 2014


One of the most secluded spots in Michaux State Forest.  I accidentally found it while looking for Tumbling Run.  I  call it "The Top of the Rocks."  It is located south of Woodrow Road and on the east side of Ridge Road.   May 8, 2011

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- April 21, 2016

A view from the top of Tumbling Run in Michaux State Forest.  Mark Lentz first showed me this spot (Thanks, Mark).  I chose this magical place to propose to Robin Arnold.  She said "Yes."

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

THE DIESEL & THE DEW -- April 19, 2016

 Let me first acknowledge that all credit for the title has to go to my college roommate, Chris Lowe.  I can remember him making the comment, over twenty years ago, that "The Diesel & The Dew" would make a great name for a country music song.  Thanks for the title, bud.  

For the past two weeks I've been taking daily walks as my back continues to heal.  I began with walks around the block...but, about a week ago, I managed to bust out of the development for the first time.  My struggle has been trying to find a way to "mix" it up.  Walking the same sidewalks and loops is beginning to get old.  

A little piece of nature and history tucked away in the industrial park directly behind my house--April 19, 2016
Today, I ventured down the sidewalks into the industrial park that is expanding in the fields behind our development.  I knew that there was a Friendly's distribution center and a Starbucks plant back there....but I had no idea just how many structures, businesses, and sidewalks were directly behind my house.  Tickled to death with my new found walking route, I came across the most amazing thing.  Left to stand among the loading docks and idling 18 wheel diesel trucks was an old barn and mill pond...all that remains of the farmland that once  sprawled across the area.  I imagine this is exactly what Chris had in mind when he came up with "The Diesel & the Dew."  Interesting combination.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- April 19, 2016

Dave Raymond & Chris Lowe
Room 247 McCloskey Hall//California University of Pennsylvania

Sunday, April 17, 2016

PARTING WAYS -- April 17, 2016

Yes, it's can fall in love with your bicycle.  It becomes and extension of your body, moving with you on the road or down the trail, becoming one with you...literally, becoming a part of you.  So much so, that if a friend offers to allow you to ride their bike, it feels odd...even foreign.  Your bike can actually develop a personality or reputation.   Often you find yourself talking to it, encouraging it, and maybe even swearing at it.  You go places with it...a companion that will help you navigate any road, trail, bog, or rock garden.   Heck, you may even name it!  And, if you are like me, you spend precious time carefully taking care of it.

Top of Cooper Mill Road near Raymond B. Winter State Park.  My first big mountain bike trip after purchasing my 2011 Stumpjumper--July 13, 2011
For the past five years my 2011 Stumpjumper has been all of the above.  Reliable, trustworthy, and up to any task I put it to.  It's been up mountains, down fire roads, through swamps, and across rock gardens.  I've ridden it on trails in four states (Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, & Delaware) and crashed it in more places than I care to count.  I've raced more adventure races with this bike than any other (an unsung hero of Team White Squirrel) and it has accompanied Mark Lentz and I on dozens of exploration rides.  It has been beautiful in it's simplicity.  My first hard tail mountain bike since I parted ways with my 2006 Stumpjumper back in 2007.  Easy to fix, easy to maintain, and amazingly fun to ride.  In short, it's been a good companion.

Taking a break with my 2011 Stumpjumper in Potapsco Valley State Park, Maryland--July 31, 2012
However, after five years of continuous riding, the time had finally come to part ways with an old friend.  With the purchase of my new Stumpjumper I have to say goodbye to the old.  Trust me, I'd love to keep it around as a spare bike...but that's just not in the cards right now.  So, after one last meticulous cleaning, I took my old bike to Gung Ho one final time so the guys at the shop, who so skillfully built it for me five years ago, could carefully box it up for me so I could ship it to it's new home in Big Bear City, California.  My hope is that whoever ends up with my old bike will appreciate it and take care of it as much as I did.  It has a lot more ride left in it and I'm sure it will serve them well.  As for me, I have a brand new 2016 Stumpjumper hanging in the garage waiting for my back to heal. It's almost time for me to begin a new relationship.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond -- April 17, 2016

The last ride with my 2011 Stumpjumper -- April 16, 2016

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

LIVIN' IN YOUR OWN SKIN -- April 13, 2016

Taking time for yourself isn't always the easiest thing to do.  It can be hard, actually.  The stress of everyday life can seem overwhelming and sometimes downright demoralizing.  My boss often talks about keeping your triangle balanced.  Making sure that you make time each day for family, work, and leisure.  I buy that....I've been burned out before and it sucks.  My "me" time is, more than often, spent on my bike.   When I mountain bike it is always with a friend.  I do that for my wife so that she doesn't worry about me when I'm in the woods.  There are times when we have a lot of conversation and there are times when we just ride and soak up the trail.  But ultimately, even though I'm with a friend or group of friends, there is "me" time.  Time spent with myself just "being."  Time for worries and stress to disappear with each passing tree...allowing life to slow down, triangles to come back into balance, & leaving me with a sense of peace, happiness, & the enjoyment of just living in my own skin.  

Taking time to soak in life & enjoy a little "me" time near Woodrow Road in Michaux State Forest -- April 14, 2014

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond--April 13, 2016

Friday, April 8, 2016


"Squirrels with cameras."  That's the tongue in cheek answer I sometimes give when asked who takes the pictures of my friends and I mountain biking.  The real answer is, most of the time, I do. I often wonder if the guys I ride with are annoyed with my constant picture taking.  Every ride will be interrupted at least once and documented with, at minimum, a group shot.  It's how I make connections and memories...but by no standards whatsoever am I a professional photographer.  I have no real concept of the science, dedication, and hard work that goes into professional photography.  All that being said, I love love I take a lot of them.

  Back in 2006, when I first started riding with Mark, Tim, and the rest of the guys, I had the brainiac idea to go to Wal-Mart, purchase a couple disposable 35mm cameras, and shove them into my Camelbak with the rest of my gear.   I did this for about a year.  The end product being a bunch of grainy, dark pictures of us riding in the woods. (Here's some proof!)  Then, in June of 2007, I purchased my first digital camera after seeing how well Mikey's worked on our trip to Blackwater Falls, West Virginia.   Now-a-days, I just use my cell phone.  I say all this to stress that there is significantly more luck than skill involved when I do happen to snag a cool picture of a friend on a moving mountain bike.  Honestly, I think most of the guys I ride with take better pictures than I do...they are the one's who took the pictures of me!

So, since I am still  not "doctor approved" to ride for at least a month or two, I picked (in no particular order) my twenty favorite "friends on mountain bikes" pics.  I have no idea how a professional photographer would grade these pictures...and for all I know they would think squirrels with cameras really DID take the photos... but each of these pictures bring back great memories and I'm proud of them.   Enjoy!

Dave Raymond--August 14, 2014--Michaux State Forest

Timmy took this pic of me in Michaux State Forest.  I really dig the red filter that highlights my helmet and the red trim on my 2011 Stumpjumper.  One of my favs, Tim!  

Chris Keller--August 10, 2011--Rocky Ridge County Park

I took this pic of Chris Keller on Rusty Chair trail at Rocky Rocky Ridge County Park.  I love the intensity on his face.

Dave Raymond--May 11, 2015--Rocky Ridge County Park

Turn around is fair play.  Chris Keller took this pic of me riding down trail 9 at Rocky Ridge County Park.

Mark Lentz--August 2008--Pisgah National Forest, N.C.

Mark leading the way on the first ride of an incredible four day trip to Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina.

Kristian Hains--August 2008--Dupont State Forest, N.C.

The first of three great amazing pics I captured on Ridgeline Trail in Dupont State Forest, N.C. 

Tim Sindlinger--October 25, 2015--The Lakes, York County Pennsylvania
Tim crossing under the power lines at the Lakes.  I tried using a red & green filter.  I thought the result was kind of cool.

Dave Raymond--June 7, 2014--The Lakes, York County Pennsylvania

A great ride at the Lakes with Tim Sindlinger.  I completely dig how the sun was highlighting the trail. 

Brent Shirk--September 2, 2013--Rocky Ridge County Park

My neighbor, Brent, taking on the trails at Rocky Ridge County Park.

Dave Raymond--August 16, 2011--Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland

Mikey Nardelli captured this photo of me climbing a huge rock face at the base of Cascade Trail in Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland.

Glenn Medice--August 2008--Dupont State Forest, N.C.

The second of three great shots on Ridgeline Trail in Dupont State Forest, N.C.  The blur in foreground is Mark Lentz.  

Kevin Hardy--August 7, 2010--Lehigh Valley, PA

Kevin had more guts than I did when he decided to ride the see-saw set up on the trails at Lehigh Valley.  I captured this shot a moment before it tipped downward.  

Dave Raymond--September 5, 2015--Swatara Gap State Park

Tim Sindlinger took the pic of me dodging low branches at Swatara Gap State Park.

Tim Sindlinger--November 12, 2011--Rocky Ridge County Park

My favorite pic to Tim.  It captures, in my opinion, the essence of Tim....riding with a grin on his face.  

Mike Nardelli--August 9, 2011--Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland

Mikey had more balls than anyone else riding that day when he decided to ramp off of this log build up.  The picture doesn't do proper justice to scale of this stunt.  Nicely done, Mike.

Mark Lentz--August 16, 2011--Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland

It's not every day that a recumbent cyclist rides past as you are waiting for a friend to fix a  mechanical.  It's also not every day that the recumbent cyclist offers to let you ride his bike will your friend continues to work on his mechanical.  Mark took advantage of it.   Looks like fun!

Dave Raymond--June 1, 2014--The Lakes, York County Pennsylvania

Tim Sindlinger took this straight on shot of me riding on trail 1 on the top of the ridge at the Lakes.

Chris Keller--August 25, 2015--Michaux State Forest

Chris Keller taking his turn on the rocks south of Woodrow Road in Michaux State Forest.

Derrick Rorrer--July 2, 2013--Patapsco Valley State Park, Maryland

Mild mannered bike shop service manager during the week...mountain bike daredevil on the weekend.  Derrick boldly goes where I choose not to.  

Dave Raymond--August 1, 2015--Swatara Gap State Park

Tim Sindlinger somehow shot this ghostly image of me riding trail D at Swatara Gap State Park.  Where the heck is the front of my bike?!  Amazing!

Kristian Hains--August 2008--Dupont State Forest, N.C.

In my opinion, the best mountain bike pic that I've ever taken.  Kristian Hains getting some massive hang time on Ridgeline Trail in Dupont State Forest, N.C.

Life is a journey, not a destination.

David A. Raymond--April 8, 2016
Be sure to check out the All Trails Lead To Ice Cream website for all of our ride pics!