Where's Waldo Wednesday - 5/16/13-5/30/13

Friday, May 31, 2013

Where's Waldo Wednesday - The point of the week where more is behind than ahead and the weekend, and thus playtime, is the bright light at the end of the tunnel.  Why did I call it Where's Waldo Wednesday?  No particular reason really...other than I like alliteration and it is fun to say.  Try saying it five times fast!

A weekly (more like biweekly) series of what's new around here and other ramblings like things I found interesting on the internet this week or cool runs I did, kind of like a weekly synopsis.  Originally, I was going to do this on Sunday and call it Sunday Synopsis but then I couldn't decide between Sunday Synopsis and Sunday Summary...so I did the only logical thing and decided to write it on Wednesday?

This week's edition is actually less than two weeks so it's somewhat of a double header because I missed last week but there are some fun/important things to include...so you get ~two for the price of one.  Also, that means this post is probably WAY too long for you so you may just want to skip through to options of interest.

The Week's Happenings

After I finished up the spring semester two Tuesdays ago, Michelle and I had some time to hang out before I headed down to the Outer Banks to vacation with my parents and grandparents.

1. Vacation in the Outer Banks!  I'm not sure the last time I vacationed with my parents...maybe the summer of 2010 after I graduated and flew into Richmond from Alabama???  Either way its been far too long.  Although the drive isn't too terribly long mileage wise (273 mi.) it's a solid 7 hour drive without stops and makes for a good day of driving.  I wound up leaving around 1:30PM on Friday and arrived just before 9PM.  I decided to take 460 the entire way, which is a more scenic and relaxed drive than the interstate, and the lower speeds helped me feel better about lugging my kayak across the state and eased the fear of it flying off somewhere along the interstate.  Everyone else had a pretty lousy drive with my parents normal drive (~5 hours) taking closer to 13 after losing a tire on a trailer they were towing and then getting caught behind a hazmat cleanup on 95, the same mess that delayed my grandparents but we all made it SAFELY and were together Friday evening!

Outback LOVE.

We managed to pack a lot into the three days my grandparents were there.  On Saturday morning, I headed off early to meet up with the Outer Banks Running Club for a group run of about 9 miles and then planned to continue on my own.  I found the club via their Facebook page and asked for spots to run while I was down there for a week with a terrific response.  Unfortunately, the weather had other plans for us and I was the only person who showed up aside from Ed the coach for the marathon training group.  However, I did manage to win the raffle for the week (because I was the only one there) which meant I received a pretty sweet tote/gym bag.  The weather cleared later in the afternoon and I hitched a ride with my grandparents/parents who were headed out to a garden show and managed to get in 19 miles including the run back home from where they had dropped me off.  

Saturday evening, we went out to an amazing dinner at Kelly's, which has been in business almost 30 years, and afterward we grabbed a few family photos!

2. Wright Brothers National Memorial  On Sunday, we enjoyed a rather lackadaisical morning and eventually ventured down the road (literally) to the Wright Brothers National Memorial which is part of the National Park Service.  Michelle and I visited the memorial, which sits up on Big Kill Devil Hill, in January but it was neat to see it with my parents and grandparents and in much warmer (not necessarily nicer) weather.  It is incredible to think what Orville and Wilbur accomplished and how much those first four flights changed the way we live today. 

Model of the Wright Brothers' First Flyer.

Love the architecture of this building, which was constructed in 1959 and totally looks the part!

It all looks good facing this direction.  However, the other...

The impending storm which we narrowly escaped!

When Michelle and I visited the memorial in January, we stayed up on the hill and watched the sunset which...for future knowledge closes at 5PM...Oops!  We didn't venture up the hill on this particular visit but the photos below are from Michelle and I walked up the hill in January.

The rest of the afternoon was fairly relaxing, mainly napping and lounging before heading out on an evening run in the Nags Head Ecological Preserve just down the road.  This was a suggestion of a place to run by one of the folks in the Outer Banks Running Club and after researching it a bit I decided I would give it a try.  I was hoping to get in a long run but the humidity AND BUGS were horrible!  I managed 9 miles but they were ugly.  The trails are really, really short and I misread the map initially thinking that I would be able to get in a long run with trail lengths of 2.75 and 3.75 and connecting a few other trails and making loops.  Wrong.  I soon discovered the trail distances were from the trail entrance and that the outer loop wasn't really 3.75 but only an additional mile when including the "gateway" trail which had me doing quarter mile laps around a pond.

I took several photos during my run but they all came out blurry...so you get signs of the entrance!

Interestingly enough, the Nags Head Woods Yuengling 5K, which had its 30th running this year, starts at the parking lot for the ecological preserve and had just taken place the previous Saturday...maybe next year.  Once I figured out I wasn't going to get in the mileage I wanted to inside the preserve, I decided to make a big loop of the road leading to the preserve and the main highway on the Outer Banks, 158.  Although I'm not a huge fan of humidity (but really who is?) the bugs, specifically horseflies, were the real reason to leave the preserve and head toward the highway.  I suppose I should have known better with the standing water.

3. Elizabethan Gardens and Bodie Lighthouse  On Monday morning, we decided to make the trip across the sound to tour the Elizabethan Gardens.  The weather had us worried as the forecast called for scattered showers throughout the day but we decided to brave it and try anyway.  Did we ever luck out!  The weather was beautiful and the gardens were gorgeous.

The entrance to the gardens.

The camera on the iPhone 5 is simply amazing!  I'm now accustomed to bringing a P&S with me but the iPhone is still my primary camera 90% of the time (all of the photos labeled IMG_#&@*).

Their anniversary, of 61 YEARS, just so happened to fall on the week they were at the beach with us.  

We then ventured down to the Bodie Lighthouse (apparently pronounced Body), which Michelle and I visited in January as well but again with much nicer weather this of year, and walked around for awhile but opted not to climb it (although its' 219 stairs are nothing compared to what I did last month at the Duke Energy Tower climb!).

Afterward, we headed home for naps although I opted for a short kayak trip out in the sound.

I only went out for about a half hour but the wind was pretty decent once I got away from the shoreline and out toward the conservation area.  

4.  Sitting and Relaxing!  We managed to see and do a lot in three short days but had yet to make it to the beach.  On Tuesday, we headed to the beach to do nothing...well my parents planned on doing nothing but I decided I would try getting in a short run on the beach.  I had never run barefoot aside from a few games of frisbee on football fields during high school and college but decided to give it a try.  It wasn't until the next that I realized how taxing running on the sand really was, I woke up feeling sore muscles I didn't even know I had.

The rest of the week involved a lot of this...and it was AWESOME!

5.  Riding on the New River Valley Trail!  Unfortunately, like all good things the vacation to the Outer Banks came to an end on Friday and I made the long 7 hour drive home which was rather uneventful.  On Saturday morning (after I got in a quick run), Michelle and I packed up our bikes and headed south to Draper (exit 94 off of I-81) for a date Michelle had planned for us.  We managed to get the bikes out for short ride last week when we went down to South Main Kroger but had yet to go out for a ride longer than 5 miles.  The New River Trail is not a paved path, however it is a rails-to-trails path and is nearly pancake flat!  Michelle opted for her mom's mountain bike while I choose to bring the Tricross-commuter, which has much narrower tires but did fine on the ride.

It was a big weekend for cycling in the New River Valley.  We found out after after arriving when we noticed the aid station set up alongside the trail that the Wilderness Road Ride was going on but the course did not use the trail (thankfully!) and Sunday featured the Mountains of Misery.  We however, were not out for misery but instead a leisurely ride of about 10 miles.  A cold front had come through Friday evening that made riding in jeans and a t-shirt a bit chilly.  

The aid station (red canopy) for Saturday's Wilderness Road Ride and Michelle headed off toward lunch!

Most of the section that we rode was covered like the photo above on the right, only the beginning (left) and bridges were not canopied.

So I have managed to get two of these photos recently. 

One of the many awesome bridges along the trail!

We were too far away when this photo was taken.  Next time, I think I'll set the camera in front of us and have us ride by it instead of it starting out behind us.

Cool bridge across the river!

The scenery off of the trail is gorgeous, it's just hiding behind that tree that got in the way.

For some reason I really like how this shot turned out!

The ride was AWESOME.  We had perfect weather and it was just a fun day but both of us were starting to get a little hangry so we turned around headed back toward the start.  Michelle had planned our ride so that we started in Draper where the Draper Mercantile and Blue Door Cafe is so that we could grab lunch after our ride, brilliant!  The Draper Mercantile building has been around for a long time (>120 years) but the restaurant inside, the Blue Door Cafe, has only been open about a year. 

The Draper Mercantile as you approach from the New River Trail.

The Draper Mercantile also has a bike store in the bottom which I thought was really neat!

The food was delicious and the ambiance even better...and although I we only rode 10 miles I wasn't about to pass up homemade ice cream!

The inside of the restaurant/store was really neat with a stage and small shop with local artists!

The Draper Mercantile building previously served as a post office 

After lunch, I set up the ENO Doublenest Hammock for the first time and we enjoyed laying in the warm sun before calling it a day!

The Tricross commuter townie.

6. Hiking the Cascades!  On Sunday, Michelle, Gillie and I hiked the cascades with her parents.  This is a really moderate hike that is fun to do at any time of year, in fact Michelle and I hiked the cascades when it was 19 degrees out to see the cascades frozen. However, on Sunday it was a gorgeous mid-70's day and absolutely beautiful!

Flowers blooming at the trail entrance.

View on the way up.

Michelle and I at the top, much different than back in January 2010

Gillie saying "Guys!  Hurry up!  I see it!"

Michelle and her parents!

Interesting Internet Findings

Again, I've been slacking on the blog updates but as you can see I've been busy enjoying the outdoors.  Below are some neat things I found around the web.
  1. To mark the 60th anniversary of Edmund Hilary, a Russian base jumper made the highest base jump EVER off the north face of Everest! 
  2. A friend sent me a link to this AWESOME Kickstarter project for bike wheel LEDs. 
  3. And to highlight that the lyric made its' fundraising goal ($50,000!).  So excited it'll continue to be a Blacksburg icon on College Avenue.
It's been an awesome couple weeks and I'm so excited to spend another summer in Blacksburg and look forward to spending lots of time outside.  Tomorrow, I'm attempting GOING TO (it's all mental right?) run The North Face Endurance Challenge 50 miler!

And with that, I'm off to bed to wake-up at 3AM for the North Face 50 miler!


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