Category Archives: Flowers

The Exhilaration of Slowing Down

How do you convey an emotion with a photograph? How do you set the tone and allow the viewer to feel what you felt? Real photographers have been pondering and struggling to answer these questions for a century and a half now, with varying degrees of success.

I’m no artist. I take photos for fun. So, my photos may need a bit of explanation to create a ‘feeling’.

Here’s the setup:

I like to mountain bike. David and I love to share being in the woods on a bike with others, so when our neighbors showed an interest, we were happy to show them ‘our’ trails. The day was spectacular. Sunny skies but not too hot and barely humid. Still in high summer, everything was lush and green.

Problem was, our neighbors are 20 years younger and a whole lot more fit than me. Adventure Race fit. Personal Trainer fit. Now, don’t get me wrong, they were as gracious as could be and really were enjoying the day. But, after a couple of hours of desperately trying to keep up with my nice friends, I’d really had enough of being the anchor. The ball and chain. The person who makes the ride last twice as long as it should because she’s so slow!

So, I begged off, taking another route through the woods. I know the trails well so David was sure I’d be fine. David, by the way, can hang with almost anyone on a bike. One young admirer said David has ‘old guy strength’. I would dispute the ‘old guy’ description but David is very strong on a bike!

For a while, off on my own, I rode at my typical slower pace, thoroughly enjoying nature all around me. The birds were outdoing themselves singing their sweet songs. I startled a young deer. After a while, I saw a side trail I’d never used before. I knew it would be short since it appeared to be a fisherman’s trail down to the water. So, I took it.

Around a bend, I stopped. Oh, it was a beautiful spot! Very peaceful and calm and beautiful, beautiful. Time to relax here for a while! Do you ever find yourself somewhere, or perhaps with someone, and get a sense of ‘right-ness’? Like you’re in the exact right spot at the exact right time? That’s where I was!

I pulled out my camera and took some shots. Can you feel it?





– Jane

Virginia Mountain Bike Weekend!

The Tramper, though we love her dearly, is taking up way too much space in our driveway. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAMore importantly, David’s workshop is totally blocked with the Tramper in the driveway. No projects or cars can go in or out for servicing. Horrors!

The Tramper will never be sold and will never be retired. Just…. out of our hair! Some friends made a lovely offer so we’ll relocate the Tramper soon. But first, one more trip!

It was just a long weekend. A tiny speck of time compared to the Voyage. But big fun!

Ready to go!

Ready to go!

We attended the Virginia Mountain Bike Festival held each year near the Shenandoah in George Washington National Forest.

We love this bike fest! The attendance is small but the trails are huge. They even un-complicate the camping a bit by feeding us a few meals.

Our rides varied from 2 hours to 6 hours and we had loads of fun! To get to the gorgeous singletrack trails, an hour of road riding was required. Road riding is not our favorite (danger from cars, exhaust fumes, blazing sun, etc.) but we were richly rewarded for our efforts by views from the spine of the mountain.


Knowing that you climbed the mountain by bicycle power makes it all the sweeter! Did I mention the trails can be quite rocky?


This segment of trail is tame compared to some of the others. But, I was fighting for my life on the truly rocky bits. No time for photos!

Seen in the woods, on the ridge top: Pink Ladies Slipper! It’s the first time I’ve photographed them in the woods. Enchanting!



Here’s a bouncy bridge over the poetically named North River. I had fun jumping on it! I don’t think the friends who were with me had as much fun on the swaying, leaping bridge as I did, though.

The Tramper was a cozy haven when the weather turned chilly.

He, Rich! Refuse to smile for the camera at your own risk!

Hey, Rich! Refuse to smile for the camera at your own risk!

Another great weekend with the Tramper!

– Jane

The Voyage Continues

Or does it?

If you read between the lines.  If you’ve read all of the comments and our replies.  If you’ve glanced at a map or noticed a change in our pace.  If we bothered to tell you anything at all.  Put these pieces together and take note.  A circle is completed as we write from our Towson home.  Travel decisions each day were affected by so many things.  We left in hopes of “6 months to a year on the road”.   A chance to bike, hike, ski and live wherever the day took us.  One hundred and ninety days later we felt the calls homeward.  Each day on the road we asked, “where should we go tomorrow?”

As we drove down from the Rockies toward Denver, my answer was “maybe we should head home?”  This thought was cemented as we spoke of finances.  A warm day of mountain biking was enough to detain us in Kansas, but not to change our direction.  A few grey days on the road, and storms that kept threatening from the North nudged us Eastward.  A final clear day, snow on the Ohio and Pennsylvania grass led us to see I-70 as a good way home, despite previous months of avoiding Interstates.

Over my shoulder we knew the Baltimore sign depicted the long road from Fort Cove, UT

With a quick picture over my shoulder we knew this Baltimore sign depicted the long road we drove from Denver, and Utah near Zion and Moab

Locals had led us to unexpected jewels!  Serendipity showed us safety and regular smiles!  I got to ski a whole lot!  We hiked peaks, canyons and caverns!  Jane saw warmth and wildflowers!  In fact, today we see the old tricks of March; wet snow, heavy branches and refrigerated blossoms.  No worry, it melts fast this time of year.



The pressures that led us home were many.  We ran out of paper towels.  The Tramper account has seen only withdrawals for months now.  Both of us need to find jobs and pay some bills.   Marfa kept raising concerns about that big Continental Divide.  If needed, I’d imagined a plan to rent a truck in Utah, towing the heavy Tramper over the mountain passes to Denver if necessary.  With  Jane driving the 4Runner sans trailer, it would do fine.  The concerns continued, passes provided 25 mph crawls, but the transmission temperature never went out of control again.

Ahh, but the concern for this and other bits went on.  The 5  Day weather reports gave us windows to travel in.  (I won’t tow in snow and have even avoided rain as much as practical)  Safety is always a lens of concern for me.  My focus on joy and adventure is tempered by wanting to get home safe.  My responsibility to “keep Jane safe” is not just a funny topic.  Many nights were lightly slept in anticipation of noises or vehicles arriving nearby.

Yes, we crested one of the highest points in our journey, skied a few more times, and headed East.  I poked fun at our nation; “they’ll be nothing to do between here (Summit County, CO) and the Appalachian Mountains.”  “My cousin used to drive from Colorado to Baltimore in 36 hours.  We’ll be home in 3 or 4 days”.  Fortunately Kansas threw a surprise at me.  The world is full of surprises.  You’d think I would have remembered that lesson from earlier in the “Voyage”. 

We have many thoughts to share.  We have over 11,000 pictures to peruse and condense to a more sharable 100 or so.  We have memories of our longest “vacation” ever.  We have lists of new friends.  We have blog and Facebook followers.  And we have lots more to say.  We will be looking back at the trip and looking at its impact on us.  One visitor we met in Colorado asked, “How has your perspective changed”.  I shied from an answer, telling him I will know more a few months after our return.  If I don’t change actions or lifestyle, how can I say my perspective has changed?

We wonder if there are other questions out there.  We are likely to post retrospective thoughts.  Maybe a bit of logistics, maybe we’ll post what we’d do differently, perhaps a few suggestions for future travelers.  I want to post a piece with all of the barns we saw.   I see a whole post of cool things seen on trucks.  Trains became our favorite night time neighbors.  Wind energy prompted inquiry all across the country.  We hope to add more thoughts and questions.  Our life now has the vision of the Tramper.

Over all it was such a treat!  Jane and I lived in a 70 square foot space, awoke and stayed together 24/7 and not once broke into fisticuffs as Jimmy Cotton, our new friend in North Carolina had feared.  We truly hope that as we traveled, you enjoyed.  As we posted pictures, you felt a fraction of the awe we shared.  Surely if we can do The Voyage of the Tramper, whatever you are dreaming of is possible too!


Day 173 – 03/02/2013 – Spring Break in Three Rivers, CA

So much of our trip lately has been in winter weather. We planned it that way. So we could ski a lot on the Tramper Voyage. If we wanted lots of warm weather first, we would have left in the Spring, not the Fall.

David could have stayed in Colorado, skiing every day until Monarch Mountain closed in mid-April.


David, happy in the snow!

But me? I need me some warm weather! So, being the wonderful husband that he is, and also thinking that a little warmth sounded good, David was all for seeking Spring.


It was cold in the Mojave Desert in March

We found it! You would think that the Mojave Desert would be warm and sunny. Not! It was pleasant enough to hike but we were still wearing gloves  and hats.

After the Mojave we went to see the big trees in Sequoia (in the snow), and camped in a tiny town just down the valley from the Park entrance. It’s called Three Rivers.


Three Rivers was down in this valley – in a warmer climate from the Sequoias so close by. The elevation change makes all the difference!

We spent 3 nights in the Hidden River Campground. Here we found a totally different world from that of the big trees, high in the Sierra Nevada. It’s seventy degrees and sunny! Woohoo!


Look at all that Spring green.

Few bugs were around so the Tramper door stayed open. Folding lounge chairs were brought out. The hammock was unpacked and swinging in the shade. We ate meals outside. We could walk outside into the gentle, warm, sunny day and breathe a big sigh of relief! A bonus – the stars were incredible and we didn’t have to bundle up to gaze at them.


It was warm enough to make David’s radiator replacement job almost pleasant

Flowers were blooming. Birds were singing sweetly in trees that had tiny leaves unfurling. The rivers, all 3 of them, made happy splashing noises with peepers and frogs in full chorus.




Does anyone know this flower’s name?

The town was friendly and looked to have a healthy economy. The main street was short with lovely side streets winding into secluded little dells. Just down the highway was the San Joaquin Valley, bursting with orange and almond trees and vineyards.


We thought it was possible that, on the Voyage of the Tramper, we might find an area to invest some more time in. A place to stay, to be off-grid, grow our own food and welcome family and friends. With the beauty of the area and the temperate weather, Three Rivers would seem to fill the bill exactly. But, California is so far away from Maryland. The entire expanse of the country is between Three Rivers and Baltimore. Too far to see family and friends…


So, we continued on the Tramper Voyage, saying goodbye to a sweet little town in a beautiful area. We so enjoyed the respite from Winter. Maybe we’ll visit again someday.

– Jane

DAY 97 – 12/20/2012 Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin, TX

We are always inspired by people who dedicate their energies to preserving and protecting nature. President Lyndon Johnson’s wife, forever and affectionately known as “Lady Bird”, began conservation efforts very early in her life in Texas, culminating in the creation of the  Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center in Austin in 1982.


She used her public platform as First Lady to “introduce people to the beauty and diversity of wildflowers and other native plants”.


The day we visited the Center was chilly but beautiful.


Because of the season, there were very few flowers in bloom for our visit.


Indian Blanket

But, thankfully for us, there is more to the Center than just flowers.



Lady Bird, and the Center, were into “Sustainable Landscapes” before sustainable landscapes was a catchword. The Center is a model for green roofs as well as water conservation, a must in arid Texas.

Pipeline leading from the water-collecting cistern

Pipeline leading to the water-collecting cistern

LB travelled all over the country during her husband’s term in office and until the end of her life in 2007. She won the Presidential Medal of Freedom and the Congressional Gold Medal for her work in beautifying our nations highways with wildflowers.

Behind the Center, on 279 acres, is a showcase for her beloved Texas landscape. Gravel walks and numerous informational plaques explain how this place is kept in harmony with nature.


The Texas environment was shaped by frequent wildfires.  Now, those fires are suppressed, allowing forest to develop and overwhelm the native savannah. Livestock grazing and farming increase damage to the countryside. The Center showed us Texas as it used to be (in many places, it still is).


There are resources at the Center and online for those who want to create a more natural landscape in their own backyard.


We went away with some good ideas for when we get back home.

Ground glass mulch!

Ground glass mulch!

– Jane