Overseas Highway (Key West, Florida) 06-Feb-2018

Key West Florida

Years ago, work took me to Key West, Florida; a type of work that did not allow The LovedOne to join me. So when she expressed an interest in seeing Key West for herself, we planned a mid-winter trip to drive the Overseas Highway (I’d only flown to Key West before), spend a few days in the Keys, and also visit some of the national parks in South Florida. Our thinking was that this would be a nice break from the snowy winter we were expecting, and from all the snowshoeing we’d be doing.  Well, we haven’t had much snow or any snowshoeing, but it was a very nice break just the same.  We prepared ourselves for our visit by re-reading some of Carl Hiaasen’s nominally fictional novels about life in South Florida.  Call them “fiction” but his stories do capture the eccentric and frenetic gestalt of Miami and points south along the Keys.  The Conch Republic has its own special take on different, so Hiaasen’s Bad Monkey is essential reading for Key West visitors!

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Antelope Island State Park (Utah) 18-Sep-2017

WAntelope Island State Park Utah

After hikes in the Ruby Mountains Wilderness and Great Basin National Park, we decided to enjoy some “big city” civilization (and a wider selection of microbrews) by heading over to Salt Lake City. Once there, we found time – amongst the bookstores, microbrews, and restaurants – to visit Antelope Island State Park, located about 40 miles north of the city.  On our last and only visit to this park – while escaping briefly from a conference in Salt Lake – we’d had to deal with a fog so thick that we couldn’t see much beyond the hood of our rental car.  But we’d heard that it was quite a beautiful area – when visible – so we took this opportunity to actually see it for ourselves.  Well, long story short, it is an amazing outdoor venue, with spectacular views of the Great Salt Lake, along with the Historic Fielding Garr Ranch and free-ranging bison (among other desert animals of various sizes and temperaments).  The folks in Salt Lake are lucky to have someplace this nice so close by…

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Wheeler Peak (Nevada) 16-Sep-2017

Wheeler Peak Great Basin National Park Nevada

Another goal for our visit to Great Basin National Park was a hike to the summit of 13,063-foot Wheeler Peak. This is the highest peak in the Park and the second highest in Nevada, the first being 13,147-foot Boundary Peak [climbed in 1985] near the California border.  State boosters are quick to point out that, since part of Boundary Peak slops into California, Wheeler Peak is the tallest peak entirely within Nevada (so there!).  There is also some glowering when the uninformed confuse Nevada’s number two Wheeler Peak with New Mexico’s highest point [climbed in 1993] which is – wait for it – also named Wheeler Peak (good old George M. Wheeler sure got around).  Anyway, the climb of Nevada’s Wheeler Peak is a straightforward hike on a clear and easily followed trail, the only tricks being the weather and the altitude (the hike is all above 10,000 feet).  Fortunately, we were able to wait for good weather and we’d also spent a couple of days acclimating elsewhere in Nevada.

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Ruby Mountains Wilderness (Nevada) 13-Sep-2017

Ruby Mountains Wilderness Nevada

This hike was part of a hastily arranged roadtrip to Nevada to escape the wildfire smoke that was smothering Southern Oregon.  It was also an opportunity for me to visit a few localities I’d missed in years past, such as the Ruby Mountains Wilderness, which is located on the Humboldt-Toiyabe National Forest about 30 miles southeast of Elko, Nevada.

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Tettegouche Lakes Loop (Minnesota) 09-Jun-2017

Lake Superior North Shore Minnesota

Our second to last day on the North Shore suffered less than optimal weather, necessitating excessive sitting around, so we decided to do a longer, more involved hike on our last day to compensate for such sloth.  The rest of the family decided that sloth, or perhaps golf (?), worked better for them and that we were on our own for this romp in the woods. After consulting Andrew Slade’s Hiking the North Shore guidebook (2014 edition), we settled on the Tettegouche Lakes Loop (his Hike #24) because it seemed to offer some wide views interspersed with close-ups of lakes.  At 10 miles of hiking and 900 feet of elevation gain (depending on how you measure it), plus a scramble up the “Drainpipe,” it seemed like a great way to further fritter away our golden years.

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