Category Archives: PEOPLE

We love to ride: Pass this on

-David

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.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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!

-David

DAY 189 – 03/17/2013 – LARPing in Trotwood, Ohio

Rolling through gray hills, we sought a campground. Parking overnight at Walmart has its charms. But, so few that we really prefer a nice campground in a park. Well, actually, our favorite thing is to park somewhere off the grid. Someplace where nobody else is and amenities are nonexistent. Where we see only woods and sky.

But, in a populated area just outside of Dayton, Ohio, an official campground is the way to go. We saw Sycamore State Park on the map and navigated our way over. We found the park alright but were having trouble locating the campground. Could it really be that small, grassy area with a spot-a-pot, right across a street from a row of houses?

Unconvinced and without signs for guidance, we drove deeper into the park, down an unmarked road. The skies overhead were roiling with sinister rain clouds, ready to drench us any minute. Where the heck was the campground?  But wait, we must be getting close to something, there are cars parked along the road up ahead.

A young man got out of his car and ran, as if he were late for something. Um… he’s wearing a cape and carrying a giant sword. Oh, where the heck are we?

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Around the next bend, we saw even more people with capes and swords. And horns. And clubs.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

OK, now we see. These folks are LARPers! Live Action Role Playing.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We stopped to say hi. They looked scary but turned out to be very nice! They were happy to pose for some photos as they prepared for battle.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

They also knew where the campground was. That grassy lot with the spot-a-pot was it.

In summer, the lot would be pretty with leaves on the trees and warm breezes. In nicer weather, the locals hike and ride horses on the park trail system. But tonight, it’s cold and wet but a good-enough place for the Tramper to sleep for the night on the way back home to Baltimore.

Yep, we’re headed East. The Tramper Voyage will soon take it’s Baltimore hiatus. Oh, we’ll still be blogging. We have a number of summary posts in mind. A map of the Voyage, technical stuff from David, etc. And the Photo of the Week, of course, will continue.

Yes, we have lots of things to post. So, stayed tuned.

Meanwhile, we observe that homemade apple cobbler for dessert made the leafless Sycamore State Park park warm and cozy!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

– Jane

East Does Not Meet West!

You know the saying “The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence”? In other words, we believe we might like something we don’t have better than the thing we do have. Well, that old saying does not always apply to cross country travel. Why? Because, compared to the American West, the American East is definitively greener. But, no one from the West wants to go there!

We have found, on our travels throughout the country, that this is true.

People who live on the East Coast almost universally, except for those who don’t travel at all, wish to go and see the marvels of the West. The Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite, Zion, Grand Teton, Arches, the Redwoods. The list goes on and on.

The West contains landscapes of a staggering nature. Sheer beauty so different from what Easterners are used to seeing, it’s a shock to the system. A wonderful shock, to be sure, but of high, amazing drama. And, to know that all these natural wonders belong to every American and that we hold them in trust for all to see, well, you just have to go!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

And go we do! Easterners flock to the West. But, Westerners do not flock to the East. Why, I’m not totally sure. I think they’re not saying, because “if you can’t say anything nice, don’t say anything at all”.

We frequently asked folks we met out West if they’d ever been East. “Well, no.” was the number one answer. Most folks didn’t say anything more. Except maybe: “There’s so many trees! You can’t see but a few yards away, maybe a quarter mile at the most. I feel all closed in, in the East.” or, “It’s too crowded there. Too many cars. I can’t drive in that”.

So, the only conclusion we come to is this: Westerners don’t believe there’s anything good on the East Coast. We sometimes would tell them that we “followed Fall down the East Coast”. “Oh, yes. The leaves. It must be beautiful. I might go see that someday.”. But, they haven’t yet and didn’t make any plans to do so.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

But, consider these facts, my Western friends:

1. Our country began in the East. John Adams, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson. All were born here and created the foundations of America here, in the East. There are buildings – whole towns – that are hundreds of years older than things out West. (That white guys built, anyway. Those Ancestral Puebloans built things long before white guys landed in the Caribbean.)

old-north-church

2. The American Civil War and the Revolutionary War took place on Eastern soil. There are hundreds of battlefield sites and there are structures still standing that saw the agonies of those wars. Come and learn something!

gettysburg-battlefield-tours_28_550x370

3. Our nation’s capitol, Washington D.C., sits regally on the shores of the Potomac River, waiting for all Americans to come see how our government works. There are many thrilling museums and monuments to behold and be proud of.

Lincoln_Memorial

4. New York City. The Big Apple, huge and exciting, glitters on the Hudson.

78235puz_TimesSquare_.Composite

5. Come see something moist, for heaven’s sake. The rivers, creeks, stream beds and reservoirs are full! Of water! Hard to believe, but true. The East is waterland! Down South is steamy, with hanging moss and palm trees. And very friendly people with a great cuisine. And they’ll show you how people used to live, before we found all that space, out West. Up North, you’ll find a different culture. And those famous leaves.

100_6937

So, here’s an open invitation to our new, Western friends. Travel East. Stay with us and we’ll show you around the Mid-Atlantic. Just bring along some Valium – it might be too exciting!

– Jane

DAYS 164 to 168 – Grand Canyon National Park, AZ

02/21/2013 through 02/25/2013

Millions of people from all over the world have visited the Grand Canyon. Billions of words have been written about it’s beauty and awesome-ness. So, we’ll try to limit our words and mostly give you pictures.

Here are some of our reactions to the canyon:

JANE: We arrive at the canyon’s edge as night falls. I’d been told that the Grand Canyon would be amazing, but I really didn’t know it would be beyond words! How to describe standing on the rim? (and you can stand right on the rim; there are few railings here) I’m crying now as I write this, thinking about seeing the canyon for the first time – and every day after. I have to stop and struggle for the right words. It’s beautiful. It’s breathtaking. It’s bigger than you could possibly imagine.  My soul follows where my eyes look and soars over miles and miles of the multicolored, impossible landscape. That such a thing could be, in this world, is awe inspiring. Looking at the Grand Canyon, you get the feeling that anything is reachable. My spirit was transported to the highest pinnacle, the lowest chasm. How could this small, fragile vessel of a human body contain a thing so huge? Wow! I have no other words to describe it.

Take a look at the slideshow. Make it big! Turn it up! These pics needed some music…

In such a place, it’s no surprise that we met some new, great friends. Eva and Robert. They were enjoying something that I have no stomach for: sleeping in the back of a pickup (with a cap) in zero degree weather and snow. And yet, as you’ll see in the photos, they were happy and beautiful! Stronger than me, they are for sure. We shared meals with them and a fantastic hike down into the Canyon with them. They were a joy! We hope to see them again somewhere, sometime.

The Grand Canyon belongs to all Americans. You should go and see it – soon!

DAVID:  One of my favorite things was watching families and couples take pictures of each other.  It looked trite at first, then I saw the beauty.  The beauty of sharing that first reaction that keeps hitting you for days and every time you turn around.  The light, ledges, shadows and sheer heights all grab you over and over.  Its hard to walk away.

I am a speck.  A speck in space and time.  The canyon is SO big, vast, as a barrier you must travel hundreds of miles in either direction to get around it.  You can’t see it all without turning or tipping your head.   Neither breadth, nor height.  It is not a spectacle, just to be stared at; you can walk in.  You can walk WAY in.  For hours you can walk down.  Then for more hours, you can walk back up and out.  Switchback trails go down for hours into millions of years of geology lessons and multiple climates and wildlife zones.  You HAVE to VISIT yourself!

Here’e the slide show:

– Jane & David