Thursday, May 18, 2017

MD, PA, IN, MI - lots of visiting friends

Early May included a lot of driving and visiting friends, less 'exploring', pictures, and out in the woods time, so I'm reverting to even more generic summarizing than the typical posts, for some of the stops at least...

May 5-7
After a little hiking around Massanutten, we head to my MTU running teamies, Christy and Paul's, just outside Baltimore for a few days of meeting their kids and pup, fantastic grilled pizza and spatchcock chicken on a Big Green Egg, lots of chatting, and even a couple long runs on nearby trails in Harford Glen Park and Gunpowder Falls State Park. While Christy and I were putting in some miles, Rudy helped Paul chop the remains of a very large oak they recently had to take down, and make another cheesecake! So much goodness.

May 7-9
Made our way to see another MTU teamie, Megan, just outside Philadelphia. Megan is in academics and was super busy with end of semester work, but we still got in some good visiting and eating (she made us a simple, but delicious pasta dish) and I was ambitious enough to make some bread and pizza and blackberry crisp. Got in a little strolling and jogging around her nice neighborhood, a pretty chill couple days for Rudy and I.

Finally some rhododendrons in bloom
May 9
We depart Megan's and drive about four hours west to camp near Raystown Lake. Pretty damp day, so lots of hanging out, I did get in a stroll on the Horsefly Trail though, starting a little binge of geeking out on birds. I managed to identify a black and white warbler and common yellowthroat - heard and saw many more of course! Dinner was easy bean burritos, gaming was Hand and Foot - Rudy win.

May 10
Later to wake than hoped, but enjoyed the nice sunny morning watching (mostly listening to) birds - notable sighting was a scarlet tanager. We drove to the other side of the lake for trails. Raystown Lake Trails have a good reputation, and I did enjoy them - nothing too technical or steep - but I really couldn't discern much difference between easy, intermediate, and advanced trails - Rudy agreed, a nice area, but maybe not worth making any big trips for.


Though I should also say that a lot of trails were closed due to pipeline construction, so could normally get two days of fun from the system. A 15 mile run for me, and Rudy biked a similar route, but tacked on another little loop I left out. After our few hours of activity, we drove to the South end to check out skills park, but that was also closed. And we just missed the open hours for the Visitors Center, but there were some decent nature trails to check out, including a nice little bird habitat area with lots of bluebirds, swallows, sparrows, wrens, and cat birds.

Chock full of birds

We eventually went back to prior night's spot as the sunny afternoon clouded up (supposed to be rainy the next day.) Ate lentils and rice and played Hand and Foot and Rummy 5000 - Leslie wins both.

May 11
Rain started up a little sooner than previously forecast, (once again we were freed of the internet to get weather updates) but I got in an hour run in mostly light rain. Could've avoided some of the precipitation if there was less dawdling while I woke up, but I did get to see an oven bird! We continued to head west for a long day of travel, extended after I managed to break the speaker, resulting in a little shopping near Pittsburgh. The drive through Pennsylvania was mostly in the rain and fog, not bad scenery though, and just a little traffic headaches around Pittsburgh. We continued along the West Virginia and Ohio border to Wayne National Forest in Ohio, stopping at the Ring Mill Campground along the Little Muskingum River.

Ate butter and parmesan spirals (I think maybe the blandest Annie's noodle and cheese product we've tried so far) and watched Django Unchained.

May 12
Still damp, but a nice morning. Soooo many birds! Seemed like a lot of them were higher up in the taller trees, but I did get to spot a couple indigo buntings, along with sparrows and wrens, an American redstart, and I belived spotted towhees (the Eastern variety should be more common here, but ?) We continued to drive through southern Ohio and into Indiana, occasionally weaving into West Virginia and Kentucky to our destination a little south of Columbus, IN to visit Dan, who Rudy knows from college. There was much learning and excitement with Dan's solar power system and Chevy Volts. Dinner was burgers.

May 13
Another long run for me. Lacking ambition to find an enjoyable route, or drive anywhere, I spent 24 miles on roads to get in six miles of trail at Muscatatuck Park. At least it was a nice little park that looked to be most utilized for camping and picnics as I didn't see any people on the trail.

did come across a cute little turtle though...

I didn't seem to do too much damage with all the pavement, we'll see what the next few days bring, and it was probably good mental training! During my excursion, Rudy helped with adding solar panels to a barn addition being constructed.

Dinner was teenage boy food (there are two of them there!) - fish sticks, chicken bites, hot pockets, corn dogs, and fries. After spending way too much time on the computer, I finally hung out on the deck and enjoyed the pleasant evening. more chatting

May 14
We leave Dan's and head to Brown County - I think we ended up in National Forest for camping, there is a mix of federal and state land in the area. We both got in some running on the Nebo Ridge Trail, pretty back-country, but a nice tread through the woods. I was able to ID a few of the plants around our camp:

Blue eyed grass

Dinner was bean burritos and game was Hand and Foot - Leslie win.

May 15
A lovely sunny morning. We headed north to Brown County State Park. Rudy bought a permit (on top of the State Park entr) allowing him to ride all the trails, but I stuck to the free beginner trails, since I wasn't to anxious to do a ton of crazy biking anyhow. The easy trails were actually pretty fun and a sufficient outing for me. We ended up with sun and 80s again - like summer! After the bike rides, we went back south to camp in Yellowwood State Forest. Ate some rice and lentils and played a gam of Hand and Foot - Rudy win.

May 16
I got in a nice short gravel road run before our longish drive north. We made a stop at Nick's Kitchen in Huntington, Indiana, which is supposedly the birthplace of the pork tenderloin sandwich. Rudy got the tendorloin and I checked out the house made sausage sandwich - food was OK, but the pie was really good!

Rudy's large pork tenderloin

Black Raspberry, 'Hoosier' Sweet Cream, and Rhubarb

After lunch we had a few more hours of driving to get to my MTU friend's place in Hamburg, MI - Jess and Clint, and we got to meet their new baby Kora. The rest of the day included a nice stroll, awesome visiting, and yummy salmon salads.

May 17
Clint and Jess had their normal work lives to attend to, so we were on our own for the day. I got in a run on the Lakelands Trail, which is a paved rail trail, but there is enough of a shoulder that I mostly stayed off the pavement. Then a little laying around in the sun before we headed to Brighton Recreation Area for biking - decent trails, we each had fun - me with the easier trails and Rudy on the more advanced stuff. Not much time before our working friends returned home and we had some burgers - beef and portabello - and got in some good visiting.

May 18
A short run for me, then Rudy and I headed to Pickney State Park to bike the Potowatami Trail. I somehow got onto a shortcut, but got to experience most of the 17+ mile loop - another nice trail. And another hot day - we took a dip in Silver Lake before leaving the park. A little chill time, then strolled to Hamburg Pub to meet Patrick - one of my former coworkers, who is also an MTU grad and really into biking. It was a lovely couple hours of catching up, with snacks at the pub, followed by tacos back at Jess and Clint's. Another chill evening, which fantastically included watching some Bob Ross painting mindlessness.

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