Sunday, November 21, 2010

Moonlight Monuments

The hiking meetup group holds a few other cool events throughout the year: Halloween corn maze, a summer picnic, and when the full moon is on the weekend, a Moonlight Monument Hike.

My friend Alyssa is a new DC-area resident, so I invited her to attend this. I thought it would be fun and inexpensive. We met the group at 5 pm between the White House and Washington Monument, along the Mall side of Constitution Ave. It was already dark so after splitting into 3 groups of varying size, the hike leaders handed out glow-in-the-dark necklaces and we set out. We went with the "fast" group of about 40 people, while the "medium" and "slow" groups, each about the same size as ours, trailed behind.

First up was a short walk to the Washington Monument.

Washington monument
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

We took a few pictures and before long, our group leader was rounding us up for the walk to Jefferson. We left early and walked fast, in order to put some space between our group and the other groups.

Jefferson memorial
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

We had a little time to walk around the rotunda before we gathered up and headed to the Roosevelt monument. That one has a nice waterfall area, but my pictures didn't turn out too well. We headed on to the Korean monument and the Lincoln memorial.

Lincoln memorial
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

The Lincoln memorial was very well lit, and despite the number of other people out visiting, it wasn't too hard to get a nice pic, because of the amount of space available. Alyssa set the timer on her camera and we were able to get a pic of us in front of the Reflecting Pool, with the Washington monument in the distance.

Reflecting Pool
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

From there we walked the short distance to the Vietnam memorial, and then went to the World War 2 memorial.

World War 2 memorial
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

And that was the end, other than getting back to the Washington Monument. Overall it was a fun tour, and one that anybody can do on their own. It was quite nice at night, everything is lit up and it isn't crowded at all.

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Seattle Weekend

I flew back to Seattle for Dawg Dash weekend, and Waffle Fest.

  • Hike

  • But first, I met up with my friend Carrie for a hike. We mailed back and forth setting it up: I definitely wanted to hike, but I wasn't sure of any good routes, since it had been quite some time since I moved away. We settled on 6-8 miles with ~2000 foot elevation gain, which sounded reasonable. She brought more friends and we drove out to the Teanaway forest area to hike to Navajo Peak.

    Originally uploaded by klbarrus
    These three are serious hikers!

    What we wound up doing was 13 miles and ~4500 foot elevation. Carrie is a strong hiker - I think she goes every weekend all year long, sometimes both days - and perhaps overestimated my hiking fitness in her ambition to summit, and probably didn't measure the route too carefully. ;) It was a tough hike, and I was dragging a bit by the end.

    Originally uploaded by klbarrus
    Navajo pass. The summit is another ~1200 feet up.

    The view at the top of the pass was spectacular, and worth the hike. I was ready to turn around at this point, roughly 5.0 miles in with ~3200 feet of gain - that would have been enough for me. But Carrie wanted to summit Navajo peak, and it was "only" another 1.5 miles and ~1200 feet... so we headed up. It was snowing at the top, so the view wasn't too good. Despite how tough the hike was (for me at least), it did feel good to reach the summit.

    Originally uploaded by klbarrus
    Just below the summit, as fog and snow moved in.

    I don't think I slowed them up too much, but I know I did. We got back to the trailhead as the sun was setting so it was good timing overall. Afterwards, e were famished and ate at a Mexican restaurant in Cle Elum.

  • Dawg Dash

  • The next day I ran the Dawg Dash in the rain. We were lucky: it rained lightly before the event, and poured afterwards, but during the event it didn't rain much at all.

    The Dawg Dash is a fun event because it is dog friendly, and one of the UW homecoming events. After the race we retreated to Francesca's for Waffle Fest, a UW themed waffle brunch hosted by Francesca. Yum!

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Corn Maze

I drove up to Thumont, MD for a hiking group meetup at the Lawyers Moonlight Maze. The theme this year was... Iron Man.

Ironman Corn Maze
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Giant Robot pumpkin targets.

I had about an hour before sunset, so I headed straight for the maze(s). They had 3 set up, each of different length, with several checkpoints to find inside. I did the blue and green ones on the map, finishing up in the darkness, which was a lot of fun. I made it out in time to catch the movie, Iron Man 2, and I stayed to watch a few minutes... but since it was late I decided to leave.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

North East tri

Maryland is filled with blunt names for various landmarks and places: for example there is Gunpowder Falls State Park with an associated Hammerman swim area. The swim of a popular tri over in Cambridge, MD occurs in the Choptank river... for months I'd hear people mention "getting ready for Eagleman... planning on a swim in the Choptank". I thought it was a natural wave machine. But no, it turns out that is the name of the river, the Choptank River. It may indeed be shallow and windy with lots of choppy waves.

So in the northeast corner of the state is a city named... North East, MD (amazing!) which puts on a sprint and olympic tri. Some friends signed up so I did too.

Six of us wound up going: four doing the sprint, two doing the olympic. What made this interesting is one friend, Amanda, loves to camp so she suggested we all stay at Elk Neck State Park and camp beforehand!

Now I like camping. I do. I also like to sleep in a real bed before an event. Plus I have no camping gear anymore, I had offloaded most of it to various friends before moving from Washington to Florida (I was NOT about to sleep on the ground in Florida!). But since everyone else was camping, I joined the group after some hesitation. I was able to rent a sleeping bag and split a tent so that was taken care of.

North East tri
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Me, Amanda, and Mike after we finished.

The event was fun and the weather was great - cloudy and cooler than normal. It sprinkled lightly and later that afternoon the skies opened up for heavy rain. But during the event it was fine and we all had a good time.

I did an overall 1:48:12, good for 10th out of 19th in my division.

The camping was fun as well - we munched on chips, lit a campfire and made smores, got to sleep early. However I think I'll go the luxurious route of getting a hotel room before future events.

Saturday, July 03, 2010

Hashawha Hike

To start off the holiday weekend, I carpooled up to the Hashawha Environmental Center near Westminster, MD. The hike featured an easy loop in the surrounding forest, and a "raptor center", where injured birds of prey are kept and nursed.

The raptor center was less than a mile from the hike starting point, and while we were there we saw a few of the birds. The bald eagle drew the most attention.

Bald Eagle
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
This bird got his own large cage.

They had several species of owls, including this pair of Great Horned Owls.

Great Horned Owls
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

We set off again following the trail, and came to an old cabin that is probably in use as a storage area.

Historic Cabin
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Our loop was a figure-8, from the raptor center we passed the historic cabin, then into the woods around past the cabin and raptor center. From there we added on a flat ~1.5 miles to a lily pond and enjoyed sitting there for a few minutes.

Lily Pond
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

I saw some people fishing, but didn't see any frogs.

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Hilton Area Hike

I drove up to Patapsco Valley State Park, Hilton area, to meet the hiking group for a mid-week after-work hike. Since I enjoyed myself on the previous trip, I bought a state park pass and got to use it for the first time.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

The hike was a nice short 2.5 mile loop with a few decent hills. The trail went from a forested area across a utility right-of-way, back into the trees and then back across the clearing again. It was a nice sunny evening with no bugs and low humidity, a great time for a short hike.

Fallen Tree
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Sunday, June 27, 2010

Celebration Sprint Tri

I looked forward to this event, the Celebration Sprint Tri, my first tri in about 2 years (I missed the 2009 season in Florida for various reasons). It was a challenging, hilly bike course, and I'm happy with how I did.

2:10:39, 51/104 in M40-44, 329/667 M, 548/~1400 overall

  • Swim - 0.62 miles (1000 m) in 28:25, 67/104 M40-44

    Yeah I'm a slow swimmer, finishing in the 65th percentile. The swim at Centennial Lake was okay overall, low visibility, but the water quality was much better than expected. Race officials clearly skimmed the surface of algae and plants before the event.

  • T1 - 4:03

    Transition was a flat field, but the bike exit was up a grassy hill. Had to step carefully or slide.

  • Bike - 17.5 miles in 1:05:27, 64/104 M40-44.

    I've been biking the course nearly every week since the middle of April, so there were no surprises. It is a hilly long course for a sprint tri, making it fairly challenging overall.

    On the bike course...

  • T2 - 2:17

    Had to be careful again, this time going down the grassy hill without sliding.

  • Run - 3.3 miles in 30:30, 31/104 M40-44.

    I was able to hold a good pace for 2 miles, at which point I had to slow and walk for a few seconds. It was sunny and hot, but it was the hill on the way back in that did me in. Despite these problems, I somehow managed a run time in the top 30th percentile of my age group!

    Running in the shade...

A net result in the middle of the pack is good for me - I seem to remember a lot of bottom 20th percentile finishes previously.

The Mid Maryland Tri Club had fantastic support, everything from bike pump patrols in transition before the event, to tons of volunteers, to a very nice tent near the finish line, with smoothies and refreshments, BBQ, snacks and drinks. WoW! On top of that, two club members took photos of every competitor they could, put the pictures up on Flickr, and are tagging them bit by bit.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hang Gliding

One activity I always wanted to try was hang gliding. So when I saw the DC/MD/VA Adventures meetup group plan a trip out to Highland Aerosports for tandem hang gliding, I signed up!

I arrived a few minutes late, but in time to meet the group and receive the flight briefing, which covered the basics of hang gliding including how to steer. 14 or 15 people signed up to hang glide so we split into two groups. I was in the 2nd group which turned out to be six people.

hang gliding group
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Saturday's second group of pilots.

Since Highland Aerosports is located on the Eastern Shore near Ridgley, MD, and the area is flat in general, our hang gliders were towed aloft by ultralights. No running launches off the side of a hill or cliff! Instead, the instructor lay in a hammock-like bag, we got in our own on top, and were towed to the right altitude.

hang gliding launch
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Waiting to be towed aloft.

The tow line is basically fishing line, and once we hit the proper altitude (I chose to do 2500 ft), we disconnected.

hang gliding ascent
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Soaring above Ridgley, MD.

At this point, the instructor did a few turns and let me practice a bit. With a hang glider, shifting your weight controls everything. Pull forward to speed up, push back to slow down. Pull right to turn right, pull left to turn left. In the picture, I am holding the frame and doing the moves as he called them out.

hang gliding steering
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Grabbing the frame to control the glider.

After getting comfortable with steering, I flew over farms, taking gradual turns and heading over other landmarks. Steering wasn't too difficult, but I found accuracy was tough - the glider takes a few seconds to react, so I would continue to turn past the heading I wanted. More experienced pilots can compensate for this oversteering by coming out of a turn a few seconds early and make smaller adjustments.

I had 12 to 15 minutes aloft since the glider constantly descends. If you are license to fly solo, you can try to find thermals and stay aloft for as long as possible.

The overall experience was a lot of fun, more enjoyable to me than the tandem skydiving I tried - that was all adrenalin, where this was calmer. I felt like a bird, soaring over the countryside and making slow turns to change directions.

hang gliding descent
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Coming in for a landing, circling the airport.

Once we dropped to low enough altitude, the instructor took over controlling the glider and landed us. Tandem gliders have a frame with wheels, so we didn't need to land on foot, stalling the wing and the right height and dropping. Instead we landed like a plane and it was very smooth.

Everybody really enjoyed this trip. Sunday's group is larger, with 40 or so people signed up, and I bet if the feedback continues to be so positive they'll schedule another trip out.

Baltimore 10 miler

I've lost a lot of money over the years, by registering for and paying for events I've wound up missing (sick, out of town, etc.) Many events give a discount if you register early enough, to tempt you to commit (plus race directors want to fill their events). But, some events hit their registration limit and close, so it becomes a balancing act: save money vs. risk not being able to enter due to the event filling vs. risk not attending an event some weeks/months away. So it was quite nice to be on the other side of this for once - a friend of a friend wasn't able to attend the Baltimore 10 miler, and I got their race number!

The race itself was well organized, 4000 runners, and had really nice "premiums" (race gear). Not just some mere cotton T-shirt, this race included a very nice logo running jacket. I just had to do a little swaperoo in line since I needed a different size.

I did 1:28:47, pretty good given the hills on the course, and the hot conditions. Living in Florida hasn't given me much heat tolerance, although it is possible I am slightly better off than the average runner.

The 10 mile race is very popular in this region, with so many events around: Cherry Blossom 10 miler, Army 10 miler, Baltimore 10 miler, Annapolis 10 miler, probably many others I just haven't seen yet. I don't remember this being a common distance in Washington or Florida.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

McKeldin Area Hike

I've become a big fan of, which is a "network of local groups" and lets people with various interests organize activities. It is great for somebody new to an area, like myself.

After a little searching, I found a local hiking group that offers several hikes a week, including short ones during the week. So rather than sit around Thursday evening, I decided to attend a hike in the McKeldin area of nearby Patapsco Valley State Park. I could have biked or run but sometimes it is nice to mix it up and be active in a different way.

Six of seven of us met at the trailhead and started out for a short hike before dusk. Everybody was pretty friendly, including the hike/group leader Kellie, who coincidentally lived in Central Florida for a number of years!

River Bank
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

The terrain was rolling hills with one major descent to a path along the river. After some small rapids, we climbed back up to the starting point.

Originally uploaded by klbarrus

Kellie brought her dog which had a lot of fun running back and forth between hikers. At the top of the rapids her dog went in for a drink but stepped a little too far and was afraid to come back. He just froze up and looked at us for help. So Kellie and another hiker Steve got close and were able to reach and help him back. Her dog is a German Shepherd, but is getting old (12 years or so)... plus with the rapids nearby I think he just got nervous. The good thing was the rapids were short and slow so I think the dog would have been fine had he slipped - he would have just had a ride for 100 feet and then come to shore thoroughly soaked!

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Virginia Day Trip

Two brothers I was friends with in Junior High School managed to find me via searching on the Internet: Jim and Steve Dean. I've moved several times, but this is a special case - we were in Frankfurt, (West) Germany attending Frankfurt American Junior High School! I hadn't seen either of them in about 25 years, so I was looking forward to meeting up again.

I drove down to Stafford, VA to meet Jim, and we drove onto Mechanicsville, VA (outside Richmond) to visit Steve. I brought one of my yearbooks, and Steve had his collection out as well. It was fun catching up on the years, and meeting Steve's wife and kids.

Jim mentioned he and Steve had picked up geocaching, an outdoors hobby I was into when I lived in WA but let slide in FL. That's because I couldn't imagine poking around bushes and going off trail (a little) in FL where there are snakes and spiders and so on. :) So we planned to look for a few while I was there - we found four, putting me at 99 finds total!

One spot had two caches nearby - the Pole Green Church. It is an interesting story, but what caught my eye was the church itself - there isn't anything left but the brick floor (and I'm not even sure that is original). To help people visualize the church, what is there is the outline of the structure, windows and doors. It looks odd, like a floating mirage, at least to me.

Historic Pole Green Church
Originally uploaded by klbarrus

We had a good time finding the caches, spending a few hours walking around trails in nearby parks.

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Cherry Blossoms

Cherry Blossoms 1
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
I went into the DC looking for cherry blossoms, and this is what I found. I guess I was a week or so too late!

Cherry Blossoms 2
Originally uploaded by klbarrus
Fortunately, a few cherry blossoms were around in suburban Maryland. :)

The purpose of my trip was to pick up my packet for the Cherry Blossom run tomorrow. I've always heard about this event and wanted to run it, and now that I live near DC I can! After getting my info, I wandered around a bit and caught a bit of the festival, occurring along the Mall at various stages.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Snow Enjoyment

Here's another one:

How Much I Like Snow
moar funny pictures

And with that, I'm venturing out to see how much shoveling I need to do.


I'm on my fourth day off work, due to the mid-Atlantic snowstorm (thank goodness these are all paid days off!), and I fiddled around with the chart creator from Graph Jam.

moar funny pictures

Eventually the snow will melt, spring will arrive, and training can start!