Tuesday, October 02, 2018

Trail Quest - State #50! COLORADO!!!

From the beginning of this trail quest, I had planned on saving Colorado for last - and what a fun grand finale' it proved to be! Running buddies, family, and friends all wanted to join in on the celebration of the completion of the quest. We rendezvoused at brother-in-law Andy's home in Fraser, crossed the street and there was the Fraser River Trail just waiting for us on a spectacularly beautiful Colorado day. Photos by various folks do a marvelous job of capturing the joy of the day.

Just a bit excited as we prepare to head to the mountains. Thankfully, Paul is a good sport!

The gang's all here (at Andy's house in Fraser).

And a few moments later...  Trail ho!!!! 

Yep! The Fraser River Trail!

A gorgeous Colorado day and trail run.

Taz approves of the day's events. He has been along for 23 of the states of this trail quest. This one, with a short drive, lots of friends, and cool crisp Colorado air is mighty fine as far as this pup is concerned.

Speaking of being along for the adventure - brother-in-law, Andy, has been a part of each of my big running adventures. He crewed on the second day of my run to Michigan (while Kendall was still working), he cycled alongside every step of the way of my 60k for my 60th birthday and he was trail guide and host with the mostest for this Trail Quest Grand Finale'. Thank you Andy Miller!

And thank heavens for running buddies - those who drag themselves out of bed at oh-dark-thirty to run at a time that fits my schedule, offer encouragement, and cheer me on every step of the way. I was delighted that Anita, Connie & Randall were able to join me on the Colorado run and am so very thankful for all the other running buddies who have put up with me!

And so there you have it, #50 is in the log!

But there would not have been a number 50 - or 01-49 (plus D.C.) - or a run from Boulder to Petoskey, or a 60k 60th birthday run, or many a run to and through the hinterlands while traveling and training if not for Mister Kendall.  I am so very lucky to have you in my life.

Monday, October 01, 2018

The Mighty Mid-Atlantic

Two weeks after returning from our New England trip, we flew to the Mid-Atlantic with the goal of running Maryland, Delaware, West Virginia, Virginia, and D.C.  I am happy to report: Mission Accomplished! And what a great trip it was! In addition to the running goal, we really wanted to take the time to play tourist - and that we did.

First! Maryland and Delaware
Chesapeake City - with homes from the 1800s
We actually made reservations in advance (a rarity for us) and spent our first night in a wonderful little Bed and Breakfast in the historic town of Chesapeake City, strategically located on the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal which happens to have two trails along it: the Ben Cardin Trail in Maryland which runs right into the Michael Castle Trail in Delaware - two states in one - and, better yet, not only efficient but a grand running venue for this water-starved Great Lakes girl. As soon as we finished checking in at our BandB we crossed the bridge to the trailhead and off I went, first on the Maryland trail (State #46) then onto the Delaware trail (State #, yep, 47!).

Heron along the Maryland portion of the canal

More restful waterfowl along the Delaware portion of the canal
The next morning we were treated to a lovely breakfast on the balcony outside our room, overlooking the canal and the trail just across the way.

West Virginia and Harpers Ferry

West Virginia, State #48 (can you believe it?! state 48!!!!), was a trip through history as I ran a trail in Harpers Ferry National Park. The trail started in thick woods, continued along rivers (Harpers Ferry is bounded by the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers) and ended in town with many glimpses into Civil War days.

Virginia and Mount Vernon

There is no getting around it - if you travel through the mid-Atlantic states, you will be diving into history - a phenomenon we fully embraced. Thus I chose the Mount Vernon trail for my Virginia run (state #49!). What's better than a run along a magnificent river followed by a visit to the home of our first President? Thanks George!

D.C. - the non-state but required by my eldest
Yes, my eldest, in addition to requesting a postcard from every state, also said that D.C. was a necessary component of this Quest. What an adventure this component presented. The C&O canal had recommended by lots of runner folk so that is where we headed for the D.C. trail. Imagine our surprise when we found out there was no way to get from the road we were driving parallel to the canal onto the actual canal trail! But we found a feeder trail in Georgetown which we thought would do the trick. Ha!
A lovely start to the trail
Observers - not bothered at all by this human intrusion

Flora to go along with the fauna

 Oops! But, hey! It looks like I can get through! On! On!

Uh Oh. Even climbing the hill along the fence line doesn't lead to a successful detour. Ah well. Turn around I must.

How 'bout that! I'm running in a National Park! I had no idea!
 After all the zigging, zagging, to's and fro's, I find my way back to Kendall.

 ...but not without a few souvenirs. (A week later and I've still got mud on these shoes!)

Run done, it's time to play tourist! Which, of course, included a run along the dirt track around the National Mall.
First toward the Washington Monument

Then around and toward the Capitol

We saw many fantastic museums, but my favorite may have been the Newseum.

Errata dots the bathroom walls
Alice Allison Dunnigan sculpture -
she was the first African American female journalist to receive White House Credentials

John and Marcie (my cousin and his wife) hosted us our last few days of the trip. Such a wonderful visit!

The Meditch Murphey Vaughan Miller gang!

 All in all, a magnificent trip leading up to the grand finale' of the Trail Quest!

(Inscription within the Lincoln Memorial)

Wednesday, September 12, 2018

New England! A 9-State Trail Extravaganza!

View from the Bar Harbor Campground

After completing the first trail of the New England Trail Extravaganza, I turned to Kendall and said "This was the oddest start to one of our trips ever." Why?
  • 60 miles into the trip, Hedwig lost its turbo pump and we had to limp back to Boulder at a stately 25 mph. The mechanic said he'd have to order the part then it would take several hours to do the repair and we were probably looking at a Thursday start to the trip rather than the planned Monday start. Amazingly, Tuesday at noon Kendall got a call saying Hedwig was ready. Kendall informed the mechanic he was "my wife's new best friend," got hold of Paul for a vehicle shuffle, we set a world record for loading Hedwig and were high fiving each other and on the road by 2 p.m.
  • Thursday night we got a call informing us that my brother was on his way to the ER. We called Paul and he said he was on it. It turns out Dave had a kidney stone and would just have to wait it out - and Paul said we should continue our trip, that he had everything "under control." So continue we did.
  • Friday was the first of the nine trail runs - the Allegheny River Trail - where I set off on the wrong track and spent an hour sloshing through mud and streams before finding the right trail ...something new for the trail quest chronicles.
But all in all, it was a fine trip. A bit too much driving perhaps (three days to get to the first trail and three days to get home from the last trail), but beautiful country, a wonderful collection of trails, and delightful visits with family and friends along the way. It's going to be a challenge to whittle down the pictures as I take you along on this New England journey.

Pennsylvania - State #37 - Allegheny River Trail
This run started at the 1907 Franklin Belmar Railroad Bridge.

After crossing the bridge, there was painting on the asphalt pointing down a set of steep rickety steps for the trail. Taz and I carefully picked our way down the steps and, knowing we had to head north with the river to our left, I looked north (to the right) at the bottom of the steps and saw a dirt trail which we then followed...and followed through mud (with Taz sinking in almost to his knees at one point), rivulets, monster puddles and to where the trail completely disappeared.  'Twas a rather discouraging turn of events - but a rather beautiful spot.

We doubled back, set off on a side trail and discovered it went to a very official looking asphalt trail - Hooray! - and ran happily along. An older couple was walking toward us so I thought I'd double check and asked if this trail went to Franklin. Their answer: "No, it goes to Cranberry." Hmmm, I don't know Cranberry. They said I should go back to the bridge, go down some rickety steps and be sure to turn right. I told them I'd done just that but I'd try it again...maybe I missed something. Try it again I did, found myself going on exactly the same trail as the first time, remembered the quote  “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different results” and thought maybe I should give a closer look at that river off to my left. Looking hard at it I thought maybe it was river overflow rather than actual river so I went back to the bridge, down the rickety steps, and, instead of turning right and going on the dirt track, I turned left, went downhill on some asphalt and, lo and behold, there was the sign for the trail - Allegheny River Trail off to the right...on asphalt...no more mud - just one measly hour of searching to find it!

The trail itself was quite lovely: river on one side, flowers and trees as far as the eye could see, deer that appeared on the path behind us (pointed out to us by a cyclist who said he'd seen a bobcat while on the trail a couple of weeks earlier - and me and Taz just fresh from floundering through the woods!).

This was Taz's longest run ever (just over 2 hours) and he was one tired puppy. But still found some pep when he spotted Kendall at the end of the trail!

In the meantime, it's going to be a while before these shoes get their shine back on!

A two-trail day!
New Jersey - State #38 - Paulinskill Valley Trail
I had flashbacks to yesterday's mud slinging adventures when I saw that this trail was dirt - but was quickly reassured when I discovered that it is well-marked and that mud and puddles were well below ankle height.

For the most part, the trail ran deep in the river-bounded woods but had a couple of surprises with farm-land crossings, historic markers, and a run along an airport border! Unlike yesterday's  run with the frequent company of cyclists, Taz and I had this trail pretty much to ourselves until we got quite close to the trail's end at the delightful village of Blairstown. 


Blairstown is named for its most prominent citizen, John Insley Blair, who lived there in the 1800s and is the 25th wealthiest American of all time having built a huge railroad empire. Blairstown's historic district boasts landmark buildings that are virtually unchanged since the 1800s - making it a very fun town to explore after the run.

Connecticut - State #39 -Farmington River Trail
The afternoon run, the Farmington River Trail from Farmington to Collinsville, Connecticut was quite a contrast to the morning's trail: asphalt, a more urban setting, many more people (walkers, cyclists, runners) - but still lovely along the Farmington River - a national Wild & Scenic River. As an extra added bonus, part-way through the run I met up with Donna E., a fellow member of the Dead Runners Society listserv group. Donna lives practically within spitting distance of the trail (she had recommended it to me) and ran with me into Collinsville where we enjoyed some well-deserved ice cream, cold drinks, and conversation.


Rhode Island - State #40 -Blackstone River Valley Trail
Such a little state, yet such a nice big round number! And a fine trail made even finer with the company of Kendall's cousin, Sarah who lives in Massachusetts about 35 miles from the end of the trail. We talked about everything under the sun as we ran - more conversation time than we have ever had together since I joined the Miller family - then headed to her home after the run for the best meal of the trip - all things Massachusetts and scrumptious!

That's Hedwig over there - on the wrong side of the river!

Massachusetts - State #41 -Minuteman Trail
Another trail with a running buddy! This time with grad school buddy, Joel, and along the historic Minuteman Trail. It was quite the sensation running along where such a monumental battle had taken place...it gave me shivers...

Maine- State #42 - Acadia National Park
I have been wanting to run in Acadia National Park since I first heard about the running in Acadia National Park. And now that I have run in Acadia National Park, I must say - if I lived near there, I would run there every day ...until the snow got too deep, then I'd cross country ski there. It is exquisite!

Eagle Lake


Jordan Pond

From the Ocean View Trail

Dogs are allowed on the buses we used to travel to/from trailheads!

And the day is capped with Maine Blueberry Pie. The best!

New Hampshire - State #43 - Ammonoosuc Rail Trail
The Very Very Best Thing about this trail was the trail's end on the Bath Village Covered Bridge, built in 1832, the longest covered bridge in New Hampshire and one of the oldest bridges in the U.S.  What a fantastic way to finish up a run!

Beaver lodge?

 Vermont - State #44 - Island Line Trail
The Island Line Trail came highly recommended by both friends and on-line reviews and they weren't kidding. This is a fantastic rail trail both for views - Lake Champlain is spectacular - and for how the trail has been managed, with two-lane asphalt in the center for bikes and smooth dirt tracks along each side for runners and walkers. And the ferry to get from one side of the break in the causeway to the other was quite the treat as well!  This now rates as my #1 favorite rail trail.

A view of the Causeway

The break in the Causeway - the ferry is unloading on the far side

I ran from There to There!

Look who's there to greet me at the end!

 New York - State #45 - Red Sandstone Trail on Sugar Island on the Raquette RiverThe highlight of this trail was meeting up with my friend Kosta in Potsdam and going to the trail with him and his daughter. Kendall, Kosta, and Ira walked while Taz and I ran and we met back up towards the end of the loop trail. An excellent grand finale' to this New England Trail Extravaganza!

Yes, New England was very very good to us!