How smokey is it in the Pacific Northwest? Very, depending on the day and the place, as windblown smoke from nearly 40 wildfires sweeps across the region. This was last week in the Columbia River Gorge of Washington and Oregon between Hood River and the Bonneville Dam. Video and info from a Portland TV station is here.
- Skyline Blue Ridge
- Florida Keys
- Craftsbury SuperTour 2015, II
- Craftsbury SuperTour 2015
- Oregon Coast & Portland
- Austria & the World Masters
- Natchez Trace Parkway
- Plainfield Flower Farm
- Croatia’s Dalmatian Islands
- Home Share Now
- Santacon + NYC2
- Algonquin Park
- Irene Clean-Up, Waterbury, VT
- Irene Aftermath
- La Belle France
- 2011 NCAA Nordic Ski Championships
- Craftsbury Eastern Cup
In May friends biked the 650 miles of the Skyline Drive and the Blue Ridge Parkway, from Front Royal, VA, to Cherokee, NC, and I got to go along. It’s an amazing stretch of road, ranging in elevation from about 560 feet at the northern end of the Skyline Drive in Virginia to 6,053 feet near Richland Balsam, NC. Little traffic before Memorial Day. Virtually no potholes. Consistently stunning views of mountains in all directions. Overlooks, tunnels and turnouts. Your federal tax dollars at work. There were eight people and eight bikes and all the gear jammed into the big blue heavily bumper-stickered Sprinter van borrowed from another friend’s indie rock star nephew, Chadwick Stokes (of Dispatch and State Radio) and his band. Along the way there was a 13-mile climb and a 10-mile descent and lots of other ups and downs. Top, sunset near Big Meadows Lodge, VA. Below, the road and views from it as it winds over the ridges. And flame azaleas and a note stuck along the Appalachian Trail in Virginia. Click here for a slideshow from the trip.
In the Florida Keys, especially for someone coming from the frozen north, the color is blue: warm blue ocean water running to emerald blue-green, setting off white beaches and a big unobstructed sky that highlights the clouds and the expanse of sea on the Atlantic and Gulf shores.
It’s a unique and beautiful place, but to an outsider on a short visit, it seems a shame that Theodore Roosevelt didn’t set it aside as a national park or a national monument when he did the same for the Grand Canyon in 1908.
There’s not much land in this stretch of islands that runs about 125 miles from just south of Miami to Key West at its southern tip, the southernmost point in the continental U.S., 90 miles from Cuba. Much of it within a stone’s throw of the constant traffic on U.S. Route 1 is covered with hotels, condos, strip malls, shell shops, sandal outlets, marinas, and housing developments that were created by dredging up the bottom to make house lots and canals where wetlands once were. Key West, the most intensively populated place, is one of the most attractive because so much of the old architecture has been preserved.
The national, state and municipal parks and wildlife refuges are beautiful and have saved some of the Keys for public use in something close to their natural state. Tourists come from around the world. Freshwater comes from the mainland via a 130-mile-long water main. Sewage treatment is a big issue because nutrients from even treated sewage degrade the quality of the surrounding water. Residents and government are working to build treatment plants with deep wells to dispose of treated effluent and they are attempting to protect the Key deer and the coral reefs, but they have a lot to do.
So it’s April in Vermont and there’s still snow. Business as usual, except if you come from Ubon, Thailand, in which case it’s cause for curiosity and celebration. Perhaps followed by a large cremee, maple or otherwise. Part of a cultural tour of the Northeast arranged by Montpelier’s Linda Wheatley.
If you find yourself in Ottawa, go to the National Gallery of Canada. It’s downtown, in between the By Ward Market district, the Parliament and the Chateau Laurier, not to far from the Rideau Canal and the Ottawa River. Not only is the art collection stunning, but so is the building. Southern light streams into it, changing constantly, and putting you in the mood to appreciate art. Especially when it’s 9 below zero F outside. These were all taken with an iPhone 4s.
The USSA SuperTour and the Dartmouth Winter Carnival brought high-level cross-country ski racing back to Craftsbury Outdoor Center over the weekend. Top, Johnson’s Jennie Bender leads a freestyle (skate) sprint heat Friday. Below, the women’s 10-k started in falling snow on Sunday; Hans Halvorsen of Williams College in the freestyle (skate) sprint Friday; volunteer Carol Van Dyke trying to stay warm; Rebecca Rorabaugh of Alaska Pacific University after winning the 10-k; a Dartmouth skier with the traditional Dartmouth Winter Carnival look. Click here for a full gallery.
Top nordic skiers from around the country raced in the USSA SuperTour on Friday and Sunday at the Craftsbury, VT, Outdoor Center, which has become one of the nation’s top nordic sites over the past few years. Conditions were superb, grooming world class and the competition serious. Top, New Hampshire’s Kris Freeman leads the pack in falling snow in the 30-k classic race Friday. Freeman wears the yellow bib of the overall tour leader. Below, the lineup for the sunny, cold sprint final is reflected in former Vermonter Jennie Bender’s glasses. She now skis for the Bridger Ski Foundation in Montana and won the sprint Sunday. Below, Rebecca Rorabaugh (front) of Alaska Pacific University Nordic leads Emily Dreissigacker of Craftsbury in a sprint heat; Dakota Blackhorse-Von Jess of Bend OR, in the green bib of the tour sprint leader, en route to winning the sprint; Zach Caldwell of Caldwell Sports in Putney applies wax and, bottom, Tyler Kornfeld of APU after finishing third in the sprint. Click here for a link to a gallery from both days. Info on the Craftsbury Nordic Center is here.
The blizzard missed central Vermont, but we still have lots of winter going on. Above, wet snow landed in the higher elevations, coating everything, and then a cold snap pasted it in place (Elmore, VT). Below, skating, Curtis Pond, Calais, VT.
Moodie’s Used Cars, North Wolcott, VT