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Saturday, June 16, 2018

A PERFECT DAY

The "Month of Gray" (formerly known here in south central Pennsylvania as the month of May) has finally come and gone.  The end of yet another successful school year has ushered in my unofficial start of summer, and along with it, a string of nice weather.  Actually, we've had some amazingly nice weather...low humidity, blue skies, and high temps around 80 degrees.  I couldn't have asked for conditions to be any more perfect for my first summer ride in Michaux State Forest.

On our first Michaux ride of the summer, Tim and I headed to my favorite vista to catch the amazing view of the forest below. -- June 12, 2018

Tim's bike (you can also see mine leaning on the rock in the distance) resting along the trail a few feet away from the vista.  The mountain laurel, Pennsylvania's State Flower, is in full bloom on the left of the trail. -- June 12, 2018

A perfect day for a ride in Michaux State Forest. -- June 12, 2018

Enjoying the cool waters of Tom's Run near the end of my ride. -- June 12, 2018

Tim Sindlinger riding in Michaux State Forest. -- June 12,  2018

Tim Sindlinger riding a super cool section of trail near Michaux Road. -- June 12, 2018

A lot of thought was put into deciding where, in Michaux, Tim and I would ride this week.  We ultimately decided that the best way to initiate ourselves into the summer mountain biking season was to make the climb up the my favorite vista and soak in the beauty of the forest below.  From there, Tim and I just began to make things up as we went.  We explored parts of Buck Ridge Trail, pedaled a little bit of fire road, and zipped through some super cool single track that carved it's way through the forest landscape.  Tim and I wrapped up our day with a descent down the ridge and a stream crossing through Tom's Run.  A day of beautiful weather, beautiful scenery, good company, a whole lof of Vitamin N...yep, our first summer ride proved to be just about perfect in so many ways.


My summer kicked off with a trip to Mesa, Arizona to see my nieces and my nephew.  We managed to get out one evening for pizza and ice cream.  Left to right:  Isaac Raymond, Sophie Raymond, Jackie Raymond, & Uncle Dave.   -- June 9, 2018

Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- June 16, 2018


While in Arizona, I managed to bust out my brother's old Cannondale (circa 1990) for a 10 mile desert ride.  Gotta love the 90+ degree heat at 6:15 AM!  -- June 10, 2018

Here are the GARMIN maps and data from my first Michaux ride of the summer and my desert ride in Arizona.  Happy riding!




 Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website. 

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at YOURTRUENATURE.COM and PA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION.

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Saturday, June 2, 2018

HOME AWAY FROM HOME, Pt. 1 (STILL THE SAME)

My parents first took my brother and I camping in 1981.  The preparation involved for our family camping trips was a sight to see.  Dad had a 1976 Subaru, in which he and my mom seemingly packed half of our household belongings.  On those first camping trips, my mom and dad really made sure that our campsite would literally be a "home away from home."  On the Coleman grill (while listening to her Neil Diamond tapes), my mom made pancakes for breakfast and dinners that consisted of meals such as spaghetti and beef stew.  It was like we were at home...but in some ways better.  It was on these trips, at the age of 7, that I was introduced to campfire food...hot dogs roasted over the fire, smores, and my all-time favorite, mountain pies.

My mother, Kathy Raymond, preparing dinner for us at Rocky Gap State Park. -- 1981

Left to right:  My father, Dave Raymond, me (age 7), and my younger brother, Jacob at Rocky Gap State Park. -- 1981

Our family continued to camp at Rocky Gap State Park, located in the mountains of western Maryland, for the next 8 years (ending in 1989 when they began to conflict with the busy high school sport schedules that Jake and I had).  As I child, I didn't view camping as a relaxing event....actually, just the opposite.  The days were filled with activities that I enjoyed with family, and, as we got a little older, the friends that mom and dad permitted us to invite to come camping with us for the weekend.  I remember fishing of the docks, swimming in Lake Habeeb, riding bikes, and canoeing with my parents.  Fun times...and great memories.


Camping cousins.  Left to right:  David Raymond (age 11),  Joshua Rendulic, Jacob Raymond, & Lucas Rendulic -- October 1984

 Canoeing with my Uncle, cousins, and father on Lake Habeeb in Rocky Gap State Park.  (Left to Right:  Uncle Ed Rendulic, Joshua Rendulic, Lucas Rendulic, David Raymond, and Dave Raymond) -- October 13, 1984

My father, Dave Raymond, at Rocky Gap State Park. -- August 1985

That's me...age 11...hanging out at our campsite. -- August 1985

Sitting around the campfire with my childhood bud, Reese Smith (left). -- July 1985

My mom making us dinner.  I'd bet money that my boom box on the right side of the pic is playing Neil Diamond's Hot August Night album! -- July 1986

I guess, by 1988, I had reached my moody teenage years (so sorry mom & dad).  Wish I still had those blue Chuck Taylors!  -- August 1988

In 2013, my wife, Robin, and I, revived the tradition of returning to Rocky Gap.  It's our Memorial Day get away.  It's a time for us to relax and recharge.  It's also a time for us to hike and enjoy the nature that we are immersed in.  This year Robin and I took an amazing  hike around Lake Habeeb and then down into the gorge that is below the lake's spillway.  As evident in the name...Lakeside Loop traces the entire perimeter of Lake Habeeb.  In it's entirety, Lakeside Loop is a five-ish mile hike that is marked incredibly well with orange blazes. The two mile section of Lakeside Loop that Robin and I hiked was lined with blooming mountain laurel and ample evidence of local wildlife. 


Hiking Lakeside Loop at Rocky Gap with Robin. -- May 26, 2018

Blooming mountain laurel in Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 26, 2018

Evidence of beavers near Lake Habeeb.  These stumps were near Lakeside Trails at Rocky Gap. -- May 26, 2018

Lake Habeeb as seen from the edge of Lakeside Loop. -- May 26, 2018

Lakeside Loop is marked with signs and orange blazes on the trees. -- May 26, 2018

Ultimately, the goal for the day was to take Robin to the spillway beneath the dam...which, if you didn't know any better, you'd think was a natural waterfall. The rocky trail leading into the gorge is easily accessed from a Shortcut Trail that runs up the ridge, away from the lake, and perpendicular to Lakeside Loop. It's about as visually simulating of a hike as you can imagine...rocks of all sizes, streams, and the distant sound of water crashing.  Making your way to the spillway requires you to leave the marked trail, head towards the sound of the crashing water, and climb over a few boulders.  It's only about 100 yards off the main trail and a nice addition to the hike.

Pausing beneath the Lake Habeeb spillway after hiking into the gorge at Rocky Gap State Park. -- May 26, 2018

The spillway beneath the dam at Lake Habeeb. -- May 26, 2018




The gorge beneath the Lake Habeeb spillway at Rocky Gap. -- May 26, 2018

The trail leading to (and out) of the gorge is steep and rocky...but very beautiful!  It's marked well with white blazes. -- May 26, 2018

Robin and I had a first on our trip to Rocky Gap this year.  As we wrapped up our hike...we decided to check out how much it would be to rent a canoe for a short time the next day.  My first canoeing experience was here, at Rocky Gap, with my parents.  I can remember going out with my parents and my brother.  There were also a few occasions when my Aunt Rosanne, Uncle Ed, and my cousins Josh and Luke would camp with us.  I specifically remember canoeing with them.  As for canoeing with Robin...it was a lot of fun.  I pretty much had a smile on my face the whole time as we traced very trails we hiked the previous day, paddled to the dam, and then back.  A few rain drops hit us along the way...but that just added to the experience.


Canoeing with Robin on Lake Habeeb. -- May 27, 2018

To me, the most amazing thing about Rocky Gap State Park is how, after all these years, it's still the same.  Everything is recognizable...the beach, the lake, the campsites, and the camp store are just as I remember them.  Sure...there are a few changes here and there...but the park that I remember as a child is the one I see when Robin and I return each year.  
This is why I love Rocky Gap State Park...and why Robin and I return each year.


The best new tradition that Robin and I started at Rocky Gap is inviting my father and Mary Jane to have dinner with us while we are camping.  I'm glad I can repay the experience to my dad...we have a lot of good memories here. Left to right:  Mary Jane, Robin, David, Dave (dad) Raymond. -- May 27, 2018


Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- June 2, 2018


One of the most awesome changes to Rocky Gap is the snack shop located between the camp store and the beach.  They serve ice cream and milkshakes.  My favorite way to wrap up an afternoon of hiking. -- May 26, 2018

Here is the GARMIN map and data from our days of hiking and canoeing at Rocky Gap State Park.

Happy hiking...Happy paddling!







Interested in hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at YOURTRUENATURE.COMHIGH PEAKS HIKING, and PA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION.

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Saturday, May 19, 2018

JUST RIGHT FOR US

Mark has this saying.  Actually, it's a line form an obscure John Mellencamp song... "When it's too tough for everyone else...it's just right for us."  It's a mantra that encapsulates a certain kind of mountain biking that he and I both love.  It's the kind of mountain biking that has no real destination.  It's the ride that possibly requires a GPS, a map, or at the very least...cell reception.  This particular kind of mountain biking demands that there be no real time constraints.  Inevitably, on this ride there will be a ton of backtracking, a climbing to mileage ration that is completely obnoxious, and yes...it will include the infamous "hike-a-bike."  The final component of this ride is a friend who knows more about mountain biking than I do and can navigate his way out of just about anything.  A friend who finds craziness just a fun as I do.

Mark Lentz and David Raymond exploring parts of Michaux State Forest that were not familiar with us.  If you look closely, you can see that the downed tree broke an old wooden gate at the entrance of a logging road.  --  April 29, 2018

It's this kind of ride that Mark and I set out on the last weekend of April.  The weather was still a little crisp when we pedaled out of the Big Flat parking area in Michaux.  Our destination was the northwest side of the ridge below Ridge Road...an area of the forest that I had not ridden in almost a decade.  Mark's basic plan was to descend 3 Turn Road and then just explore.  Nothing like knowing, that no matter what we run into during the ride, we would have to climb 500 feet in a mile and half on a fireroad to get back to Big Flat!  Yep...it would be one of THOSE rides.  The area around 3 Turn Road skirts the boundary of the State Forest and Mark and I took a lot of caution to make sure that we stayed within those boundaries.  A lot of the trails we found, that at first looked promising, ultimately led to "cul-de-sacs" for logging vehicles.  A few of the trails we tried disappeared into the overgrowth and one, in particular, disappeared in to what looked like acres of downed trees.

Not knowing exactly where we are going and what (or who) we will run into...Mark and I made certain to stay within the confines of the State Forest.  You can see the State Forest boundary markers  nailed to the tree that my bike is leaning on. -- April 29, 2018

This promising looking logging took us more than a mile into the forest before turning into a huge "cul-de-sac." -- April 29, 2018




The ridge, far in the distance, is where Ridge Road is.  We parked a mile on the other side of Ridge Road.  So cool! -- April 29, 2018

Welcome to the neighborhood!  While backtracking out of this "cul-de-sac" in Michaux, I spotted this out of place boxwood shrub.  Apparently someone, who didn't want in their yard anymore but who didn't have the heart to just through it away, trekked back here and planted it in the forest.  Cool. -- April 29, 2018

By the time we finished our ride, Mark and I had explored more that 17 miles (my Garmin data is a little off) of the forest that was "new to us."  Actually, considering that I found zero STRAVA segments on our ride, I'm pretty sure that what we rode would be new to most mountain bikers.  It amazes me that, after 13+ years of mountain biking in Michaux State Forest, that there is so much of the forest that I've never seen (let alone, ridden).  A day of backtracking and bushwhacking and climbing might not sound like fun to a lot of people...but it is for me. The fun lies in the not knowing what we will be riding and what we inevitably will be pushing and carrying our bikes up, down, through, around, and over...but mostly I really just love the time spent exploring and searching and just riding with a good friend.  Ultimately, these exploratory rides are the best way for us to find new trails to ride...and, just as importantly, figure out where NOT to ride.  This certain kind of mountain biking isn't possible each time we ride and might not be for everyone...but like Mark says, "When it's too tough for everyone else...it's just right for us."

Mark Lentz carrying his bike.  Yep...it was one of those kinds of rides. It even included a "hike-a-bike" and a little bushwhacking when the trails seemed to disappear.  What a day!  Thanks, Mark. -- April 29, 2018

Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- May 19, 2018




Here is the GARMIN map and data from our day of exploring and mountain biking (and bush-whacking) in Michaux State Forest.  

Happy riding!





Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at YOURTRUENATURE.COM and PA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION.

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Saturday, May 12, 2018

MORNING BIKE RIDES WITH MY MOM

I have this nice little memory of my mother that is uniquely mine.  I don't have any pics of it...just the memory.  I really don't remember the year or exactly how old I was (but I can guess I was around seven or eight years old).  The memory is of my mom waking me up early in the morning so we could take a bike ride together.

My mom, Kathy Raymond.  This pic was taken in Ohiopyle State Park. -- November 1980
My mom, if my memory serves me correctly, rode a super cool 5-speed bike that she and my dad got at the JCPenney's in Altoona, PA.  No gears for me...my first real bike was old school...a single speed with a sparkly blue paint job and a banana seat!  I have no clue how many times mom and I got up early to do this and why my brother and my dad weren't involved...but I know she and I did this more than once.  Here, however, is what I do remember...vividly.  I remember riding down South Juliana Street with the cool morning mist hitting my face. We both had a head lamp, the size of a grape fruit, attached to our handle bars so we could see in the predawn hours.  I can also remember pedaling early in the morning on the quiet streets of the normally busy town of Bedford.  I have no problem recalling the exhilaration of descending the hill past Fort Bedford and down to the river...and then climbing (or possibly pushing my bike) back up the "super steep to a kid" hill that becomes North Thomas Street.  Our ride then took us past the old Bedford County Jail and Saint Thomas Catholic School before making our way to Lafayette Street and back home...just as the sun was coming up.

Yep...that's me in 1980.
It's a neat memory that I think about often...especially today, the eve of Mother's Day and just a few days past the 15th anniversary of my mom's passing.  To this day...I'm not sure why she and I  went on those rides alone...but I know that we did and the memory is always with me.  I'm not sure if my mom knew it but, by going on those bike rides with me, she created a memory that is uniquely mine.  Thank you so much, mom.  I love you.





Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- May 12, 2018


Happy Mother's Day to all the mom's out there.  Today, my son, Alex, and I did some Mother's Day mulching for my amazing wife Robin (who I KNOW my mother would have loved)...capped off, of course, with a root beer float from the Bobcat Creamery. -- May 12, 2018


Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails that I feature in my posts?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at YOURTRUENATURE.COM and PA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION.

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin

Friday, April 27, 2018

ALL THE REASONS WHY

Recently, an article I was reading in a cycling magazine grabbed my attention.  It was all about the "why?"  Why do you ride your bike?  I read on as people from all over the country chimed in and shared their own personal "why."  It really got me thinking about all the reasons why I ride.  Narrowing it down to one thing...one overriding reason as to WHY I love to ride my bike...has proven difficult.  Some reasons why, like overall health, have been a constant and others, like training for races, have ceased to be important to me.


Enjoying the view at the top of Baughman Trail from Baughman Rock Overlook in Ohiopyle State Park. -- June 13, 2017
I have this internal desire to ride my bike all of the time.  My brain is always trying to find a time slot in the day for me to turn the pedals.  Just this morning, prior to coming to school, I was in the rain putting my bike in the back of my truck, with the optimistic feeling that the weather would clear and the trails at Rocky Ridge would be open at 3PM.  But that "internal desire" doesn't answer the "why" question.  So, I sat down and made a list of all the reasons I ride...hoping to come up with a theme.  The list looks like this...

-Riding my bike makes me happy.
-Riding my bike keeps me focused.
-Riding my bike helps me to explore and enjoy nature.
-Riding my bike keeps me from getting too fat.
-Riding my bike allows me to enjoy time alone.
-Riding my bike allows me to enjoy time with friends.

I know I missed a few...but just creating that small list brings into focus the bigger "WHY."  It's clear that I ride my bike because it positively affects me both mentally and physically.  Cool...but what about my biking friends?  I wondered what their "WHY" was and I asked them to complete this sentence:

"I ride my bike to..."  


Here are their responses in the order in which I received them.  Thanks to all of my friends and family who helped me out with this one.  Enjoy!

MIKE ALESSANDRONI

Mike Alessandroni riding at the Gettysburg National Military Park. -- August 3, 2016


"...experience freedom." 
 




JAY ZECH

Jay Zech at the conclusion of the Cradle of Liberty Adventure Race. -- June 28, 2009.


"...be more happy."




MATT LINNANE

Matt Linnane in riding in Michaux State Forest. -- August 15, 2017


"...to push my body and to work out OUTSIDE.  Oh...and I ride to pick up chicks, they love the spandex!"




MARK LENTZ

Hanging out and riding the trails around Camp Tuckahoe with my fellow homo sapien, Mark Lentz. --  February 3, 2018


"...to have fun, hang out with other homo sapiens, and to be by myself."




TIM SINDLINGER

Tim Sindlinger doing his best to avoid "cabin fever" by riding at Rocky Ridge County Park. -- October 14, 2016


"...to escape the indoors!  I catch cabin fever easily and I don't handle it well."




ROBIN RAYMOND

On  a ride with my beautiful wife, Robin, in West Palm Beach, Florida. -- December 1, 2017


"...for the pure joy I experienced in my youth--the freedom, the wind on my face, and the thrill of a downhill ride."




CHRIS KELLER

David Raymond and Chris Keller riding in Swatara State Park. -- April 7, 2018


"...exercise, relieve stress, and hang out with cool people."




MIKE ALICEA

Mike Alicea in Michaux State Forest. -- June 14, 2014


"...relieve stress.  When riding my mind is clear and the trails are wide.  In that moment, I leave behind the bustle of daily life."




ALEX RAYMOND

Alex Raymond riding his bike through Point State Park in Pittsburgh, PA. -- October 2017

"...to get from point A to point B...it's a fun way to do so.  It's a lot more challenging than driving and far more exciting because you have more time to think to yourself and get an awesome workout.  It also gives me the opportunity to sing to myself because I know that no one on the road will hear me."



Why do Mark and I ride?  So we can get back into shape! Mark Lentz and David Raymond at the Lakes. -- April 13, 2018



Life is a journey...not a destination.



David A. Raymond -- April 27, 2018
What is your "WHY?"  Feel free to post it in the comments below.  


One of the biggest reasons I ride is so that I don't feel so guilty going out for a deep-fried PBJ at Todd Conners in Fells Point, Maryland!  Left to right:  David M. Raymond, David A. Raymond, Robin Raymond, & Mary Jane Raymond -- April 21, 2018

Here are the GARMIN maps and data from a few of the rides featured in this post.   Happy riding!













Interested in biking or hiking some of the trails featured in this post?  Check out the TRAIL MAPS and TRAIL HEADS tabs on the ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM website.   

All of my posts are available at ALL TRAILS LEAD TO ICE CREAM and, if you get the chance, be sure to visit the good folks at YOURTRUENATURE.COM and PA PARKS and FORESTS FOUNDATION.

"WRITE SOMETHING WORTH READING OR DO SOMETHING WORTH WRITING..." Ben Franklin