Tag Archives: Adventure

Crack For Animal Lovers

I guess I must just be slow or something, but I just discovered Explore dot org.  This is a site with tons of animal live cams.  Some with audio! I have spent too much time here this evening watching bears at Alaska’s Brooks Falls in Katmai National Park  fishing for salmon in a river.  Single bears and a mommy with cubs!  It’s also fun to watch the fish trying to jump up the falls. The comments are interesting too.  The people who frequent the bear site know some of these bears by sight.  Wow.  But the one I really can’t wait for is the one in Africa.  It’s night there as I type this.  Elephants, hippos, etc…!

Just click Explore.org and enjoy!  Scroll down past the bears for the other cams and comments.

Le Tour! (Don’t Talk To Me In July)

WOOT!

Le Tour de France.  The toughest bike race in the world.  Twenty-one days of racing in 21 different places, 22 teams, 198 riders risking their various body parts 4-6 hours every day on the flat and in the Pyrenees and the Alps, averaging 23 – 54 kph (14.3-33.6 mph) depending on terrain, 3,535 km (2,196.55 miles) total,  and just 2 rest days. For 3 weeks I will be watching online mesmerized by one of sports most breathtaking and grueling spectacles.  I love it!

Like road running, road cycling is easily accessible by the fans.  Take 33 seconds to watch what it is like for the riders being ‘cheered on’ by their fans.

http://www.cyclingfans.com/node/23937

Some quick tidbits:

  • There will be 14 million goodies passed out by the publicity caravan to roadside spectators. Caravan vehicles have to be stripped down to street legal every single day before they can move to the next day’s stage.
  • There will be an estimated 10-12 million spectators.
  • 40,000 night beds reserved for those involved with the race.
  • 2,000 journalists
  • 660 cities crossed

Want to know more?  Visit Cycling News’ Tour de France by the Numbers.

My children are already rolling their eyes and ‘Le Tour’ doesn’t start till tomorrow!  Hmmm, actually in about 7 hours from now… 😀

I like to spread the cheer.  If you live in the U.S. and would like an all access pass for online viewing (cost $29.99), go to NBC Sports here.   Sometimes you can view for free on sites like Eurosport, but it’s limited to whatever coverage they have. Quite often you can watch in real-time, which isn’t bad if you’re an early riser.  Two good places to look for links:  Cycling Fans dot.com and Steephill TV.

Let ‘Le Tour’ begin!  WOOT!

Ryder’s First Trip To The State Park (Part 2)

We're here!

We’re here!

"Mom, what is that?"

“Mom, what is that? It’s loud and jumps all over the place!  Will it eat me?”

"What's that, Ryder?  Let's go look."

“What’s that, Ryder? Let’s go look.”

"Yes!  Good Boy!"

“Yes! Good Boy!”

"It's wet!"

“Good boy, Ryder!” /  “Mom, it’s wet!”

"Are we done, mom?"  "Okay, Ryder, let's go!"

“Are we done, mom?” / “Okay, Ryder, let’s go!”

"Ryder, waaaait!!!"

“Ryder, waaaait!!!”

Ryder and Spider Bait checked out the cave.  Ryder goes on alert and shortly after people show up!

Ryder and Spider Bait checked out the cave. Ryder goes on alert and shortly after people show up!

The springs, of course!

The springs, of course!

Ryder checking out the view from the path that led up to where a hotel and spa used to be over 150 years ago.  The wall Ryder is standing on is very, very old!

Ryder checking out the view from the path that led up to where a hotel and spa used to be over 150 years ago. The wall Ryder is standing on is very, very old!

I found this really interesting lichen.  It was four inches across!

I found this really interesting lichen. It was four inches across!

We spent some time letting Ryder follow his nose on nearby trails. Dogs need to be dogs!

We spent some time letting Ryder follow his nose on nearby trails. Dogs need to be dogs!

And then Spider Bait and Ryder led the way back!

And then Spider Bait and Ryder led the way home!

Of course, this being me and all, it wasn’t quite that simple. 😀  Upon reaching the car we realized we hadn’t brought a towel to dry Ryder off with or a sheet to protect the back seat. *shakes head* So back down to the creek in a rocky spot to bathe the dog and then make sure he stayed out of the mud on the way back to the car.  That kept the mess to a minimum.  We’ll remember next time!

Ryder’ First Trip To The State Park (Part 1)

A month ago, right before things went crazy around here again, Spider Bait and I managed to get Ryder to the State Park for the first time.  The walk to the Mineral Springs would be an easy jaunt along and over and through a creek.  The weather was gorgeous and with all the rain there would be plenty of flowing water to introduce him to.

Not far into the woods I came across this gorgeous patch of wild monarda.  The scent was heavenly.

Not far into the woods I came across this gorgeous patch of wild monarda. The scent was heavenly. You can’t see in this photo, but the area was alive with bees and flies and many other insects taking advantage of the nectar.

"What's that?!"  Ryder wasn't sure the 'brown' water was still just water. :)

“What’s that?!” Ryder wasn’t sure the ‘brown’ water was still just water. 🙂

Ryder finally decided it was worth dashing through.

Ryder finally decided it was worth dashing through.

Along the way was this gorgeous boulder.

Along the way was this gorgeous boulder.

I asked Spider Bait to see if he could get Ryder to investigate the boulder.

I asked Spider Bait to see if he could get Ryder to investigate the boulder. Notice how Ryder has his head down, nose glued to the ground.  I was waiting for him to wander into the water somewhere and get a snoot full, but he was paying attention and only snorted mud. 😀

"Ryder, what's that?" Our phrase to get him to check something out.  Very useful when he's spooked over something.  "Let's go up!"

“Ryder, what’s that?” Our phrase to get him to check something out. Very useful when he’s spooked over something. “Let’s go up!”

Of course with a slow loading camera I had to chose to wait for the 'up' part. There was a brief scrabble and slide off, but instead of being deterred, it fired him up.  A more determined assault followed.  Success!

Of course, with a slow loading camera I had to choose to wait for the ‘up’ part. There was a brief scrabble and slide off, but instead of being deterred, it fired him up. A more determined assault followed. Success!

Such a good puppy!

Shoulder rub! Such a good puppy!

Another interesting boulder with lovely growth on it.

Another interesting boulder with lovely growth on it.  It is amazing the places plants find to grow and thrive.

Spider Bait and Ryder traversing the creek.  Ryder now considering himself an old hand.  Not all the time in the creek was training time.  Where this trail is located, the creek is part of the trail.  Large rocks have been placed to help keep your feet dry, but when the water is up - expect to get wet!

Spider Bait and Ryder traversing a rocky portion of the creek. Ryder now considers himself an old hand. Not all the time in the creek was training time. Where this trail is located, the creek is part of the trail. There are two wooden bridges put up where the creek is too rocky, steep, or deep for easy crossing for the average person. You can see the one up near the cave in the background of this picture.  Large rocks have been placed to help keep your feet dry in shallower parts, but when the water is up – expect to get wet!  (and muddy!)

We're here!

We’re here!

More to come!

 

My Favorite Part Of Summer – Let “Le Tour” Begin!

Le Tour de France begins tomorrow!  Squee! The next 23 days will be filled with thrills and excitement!  My family will groan and complain, “Not again! Noo…”. 🙂

For those of you who don’t know, Le Tour de France is one of the premier bike races in the world.  It is held every July for 3 weeks and for 3 weeks I will be watching online mesmerized by one of sports most breathtaking and grueling spectacles.

This is an aerial view of Le Tour – the views of the French countryside are breathtaking.  Who knew you could build on the tips of the mountains?!

My dad got me hooked on the Tour de France as a child.  Every July, every day, we looked for news of “Le Tour”.  It was the only bike race covered on the news channels in the U.S. at that time.  And all we got were the highlights.  Later came cable.  But that got way too expensive.  And then one year I found out you could get it online.  Swoon!   Every summer I pay to watch Le Tour de France online.  Live and on demand so I don’t miss a thing.  So don’t talk to me in July.  July is for “Le Tour”!

Le Tour de France is the toughest bike race in the world.  Twenty-one days of racing, 22 teams, 198 riders risking their lives every day, 4-6 hours every day, averaging 23 – 54 kph (14.3-33.6 mph) depending on terrain, 3,360 KM (2087.8 miles) total,  and just 2 rest days!

Fun Fact:  There is a Caravan of advertisers that precedes the race start by 2 hours.  Think Macy’s Parade. It costs 150,000 Euros for 3 vehicles.  There can be up to 250 vehicles in groups of five roughly covering 20-24 km (12.4 to 14.9 miles) along with 600 caravaners, 12 gendarmes, 4 traffic motos, and 3 medical vehicles.  They estimate that the advertisers put out about 11 – 16 million pieces of merchandise a year, roughly 3,000 to 5,000 a day, each.  Investment by advertisers can cost 200,ooo to 500,000 Euros.   One total kept by a 1994 advertiser:  170,000 caps, 80,000 badges, 60,000 plastic bags, and 535,ooo copies of their race newspaper.

But what’s really fun?  These vehicles have to be stripped down to street legal every day for the road trip to the next day’s start and then reassembled.  So, too, all the media booths, awards stages, advertising booths, and staging areas for the race.  Every single day.  It’s a small army moving around the country of France for 3 weeks every year.

I like to spread the cheer.  If you live in the U.S. and would like an all access pass for online viewing (cost $29.95), go to NBC Sports here.   Sometimes you can view for free on sites like Eurosport, but it’s limited to whatever coverage they have. A lot of times in real-time which isn’t bad if you’re an early riser.  Two good places to look for links:  Cycling Fans dot.com and Steephill TV.

Woot!

And the Iditarod Begins!

The Last Great Race on Earth

I love this race.  I have followed this annual dog sled race off and on since it began in 1973.  More on than off, but college, small kids, and cable TV issues interfered here and there.  Thank heavens for the internet!

I enjoy watching all the mushers and their dogs, but I  sorely miss Susan Butcher who died in 2006 after battling leukemia.  I do have two other favorite women mushers I keep track of, though,  Aliy Zirkle and DeeDee Jonrowe.  Here are a couple of quick videos:

For those of you unfamiliar with the Iditarod, The Last Great Race on Earth, here are some quickie facts:

  •  Normally the Iditarod is run from Anchorage, Alaska (Which is actually the ceremonial start.  The official start is in Willow just outside Anchorage.) to Nome, Alaska.  The Iditarod is around 1000 miles.  It differs a little between the Northern Route (run in even years) and the Southern Route (run in odd years).  Except this year!!! This year due to lack of snow in the lower part of Alaska, they moved the start to Fairbanks! That means that they’re going straight across the middle of Alaska.  All the checkpoints below Ruby have been eliminated.  Added are Fairbanks, Nenana, Manley, Tanana, and between Galena and Koyukuk they added Huslia.  So the mileage is roughly the same as normal years.  But minus some of the more difficult parts of the mountain ranges.
  •  More than 50 mushers enter each year.  This year there are 78. Only experienced mushers can participate and must have completed three smaller races in order to qualify.  No one convicted of animal neglect is allowed to participate.  If the Iditarod Trail Committee feels a musher is unfit before or during the race, they will not be allowed to compete.  And, yes, they have yanked mushers out in the middle of the race.
  •  There are 26 checkpoints on the Northern Route and 27 checkpoints on the Southern Route.  All mushers must check in to these checkpoints in order.  This year there are only 20 checkpoints.  This is a problem for the mushers as the distance between some of the checkpoints is quite long.  This means carrying more gear and food than usual and spending more time resting in the rough on the trail. This will be harder on the dogs.  The lack of the more difficult sections in the mountains should help balance this out.
  •  All mushers start the race with 16 dogs on the tow line.  With 78 teams this year that’s 1,248 dogs on the trail.  They must finish the race with no less than 6 dogs.
  •  Mushers are allowed to drop dogs at the various checkpoints but must check in with all the same dogs they left the previous checkpoint with.  If you lose a dog out on the trail, you’re done.
  •  Vet checks are required for the dogs before the race and they are also inspected when a musher stops to rest at the checkpoints.  Any dogs that do not pass the pre-race vet check are not allowed to start.  Dogs not in good shape at the checkpoints are not allowed to continue. Like with human athletes, no performance enhancing drugs are allowed.  If you want to know all that’s required, read this article:  http://www.adn.com/article/20150305/start-line-iditarod-dogs-all-get-ecgs-blood-chemistry-scans-and-worming
  •  During the race the mushers are required to take one 24 hour layover anywhere on the trail, one 8 hour layover along the Yukon River (a difficult and often nasty portion of the race), and one 8 hour layover at White Mountain, just before the last hard haul into Nome.
  •  Dogs burn about 5,000 calories a day.  This along with the need for regular hydration means that the mushers must stop regularly along the trail to feed and water their dogs.  This entails building a fire and melting snow for water.  The mushers are required to carry a pot that holds no less than three gallons of water, but it still takes a serious chunk of time to get the dogs fed and watered.  Did you know you can burn snow?  You have to add water to the pot to avoid this.
  • The fastest winning time is 8 days, 18 hours, 46 min., 39 sec.
  •  In Nome, at the start of the race, a lantern known as the “Widow’s Lamp” is lit and hung on the Burled Arch. This lantern remains lit until the last musher arrives safely in Nome, which takes anywhere from 13 days to thirty. The last musher is awarded the Red Lantern award, which is, in fact, a red lantern with a plaque on it.  Here’s an article about the fact that this year there are 5 returning red lantern recipients.  http://www.adn.com/article/20150308/iditarods-5-returning-red-lantern-recipients-hesitantly-embrace-races-most

Well, so much for a few facts.  I love this race and could go on and on.  Here are some links if you want to follow the race:

The official website Iditarodhttp://iditarod.com/   I like to read the news stories here as they often include local cultural and historical facts.  But this is the place to go to find out where everyone is on the trail.  And they have musher profiles.  Just click on “Race Center”.  They occasionally  have some videos you can watch even if you haven’t paid to be an “Insider”.

The second site is the Alaska Dispatch News: http://www.adn.com/section/iditarod    You do not have to subscribe in order to read articles and watch videos.  And they also have a map and standings listed as well.

Just one more tidbit!  You may occasionally hear them comment that someone’s running with a single leader.  “What’s that?” you say.  When the going gets tough, the mushers put their tough guy lone wolf type leader on a single lead out in front of the rest of the dogs.  This is the dog that gets the job done and prefers doing it alone.  “Quit” isn’t in their vocabulary.  They not only help “marshal the troops”, so to speak, they also have to have an instinct for the trail.  Knowing the best line of travel and where the trail is in a white out situation is invaluable to the whole team.  It takes a lot out of them being out in front on their own, but when it’s nasty, that’s where they prefer to be.  A good lead dog is priceless.

Nome, here they come!

The Mineral Springs In Winter

I’ve been dealing with a case of cabin fever here recently as the weather has been bitterly cold and not safe for me to be out in.  But the sun was shining Wednesday with temperatures in the 20’s, so I figured I could handle it if I broke out the heavy-duty winter gear.  With winter coming to a close, I decided to see the mineral springs in all their winter glory. It was supposed to be a joint trip with Spider Bait as my companion, but a meeting beckoned and I was on my own.  So I bundled up against the nasty cold (I have circulation issues) and off I went.

It was a quiet walk through the woods.  It was midday on a weekday and I had the trail to myself.  Crisp clean air and no one talking over the muted gurgling of the creek and the occasional bird.  Heaven.

I love seeing all the little things that can live on rock.

I love seeing all the little things that can live on rock.

The left side of the springs.  I love all the colors from the minerals in the rock.  The cascade of frozen water on the right is the water from the creek that flows into the little gorge.

The left side of the springs. I love all the colors from the minerals in the rock. The cascade of frozen water on the right is the water from the creek that flows into the grotto.

The front view of the grotto.  Long frozen ice falls glittering in the sun.

The front view of the grotto. Long frozen ice falls glittering in the sun.

Here's a side view of the falls from the right.

Here’s a side view of the falls from the right.

Here's the bowl the flowing water from the springs has formed over time.  Notice the spring water hasn't frozen.  It is a constant 58 degrees.

Here’s the bowl the flowing water from the springs has formed over time. Notice the spring water hasn’t frozen. It is a constant 58 degrees.

Here is a picture of the back of the grotto cave.  The whole front was a nasty sheet of ice, so I wound up using the wee creek from the flowing mineral waters to creep into the cave.

Here is a picture of the back of the grotto. The whole front was a nasty sheet of ice, so I wound up using the wee creek from the flowing mineral waters to creep behind the ice falls.  Not that the inside was much better!  Though the grit falling off the ceiling helped give me traction.

The view looking out.

The view looking out.

The backside of the falls.

The backside of the falls.  That little sliver of creek to the left is how I got inside.

Ice!

Ice!

I had trouble with the lighting inside.  Gah!  These are feathery ice crystals that formed on the ceiling at the back of the little cave.  This photo was taken without a flash.

I had trouble with the lighting inside. Gah! These are feathery ice crystals that formed on the ceiling at the back of the grotto. This photo was taken without a flash.

Same crystals with a flash.

Same crystals with a flash.

At this point I left the grotto and went up a side path to sit on a bench above the grotto and take in some sun.  It was blissfully quiet except for a pair of Pileated Woodpeckers drumming and squawking.  But since they can be quite shy, I was more than happy to share space with them.  Sorry, no pics.  They didn’t get close enough for my cheapo camera to see them as more than just specs in the trees.

Eventually I was forced by the cold to get a move on.  I had gotten wet climbing around and wet plus cold is Bad.  So back down the trail to the grotto I went.

Say, "Hi!" to Spider Bait's stand in, his walking stick.  I grabbed this as an afterthought on my way out the door.  It helped me survive many treacherous spots on the trail and in navigating the ice in the cave.  Thanks for the help, Spider Bait!

I felt a need to acknowledge the absence of my son.  Say, “Hi!” to Spider Bait’s stand in, his walking stick. I grabbed this as an afterthought on my way out the door. It helped me survive many treacherous spots on the trail and in navigating the ice in the grotto. The walking stick is 5 feet tall, if you’re wondering.  Thanks, “Spider Bait” for the company and the help!

My first selfie.

My first selfie.  My son said there had to be a picture of me on my trip.  Ugh. (I won’t tell you how many times I had to do this to get my whole face in the photo.) Time to go home!

Beautiful ice patterns in the creek.

Beautiful ice patterns in the creek.

The way home.

The way home.

Hope you enjoyed the walk!  If you would like to see our summer pics of the mineral springs, go here.