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Ketchikan, Alaska’s First City.

Posted September 11, 2013 By admin

 

The welcome arch in downtown Ketchikan, Alaska.


 

September 11, 2013
 

We docked in Ketchikan at 7 a.m. It was a cloudy, gray sky day but that didn’t surprise me because Ketchikan is one of Alaska’s wettest cities with more than 15 feet of rain per year. On our way down the ship’s gangplank, we were greeted by Ketchikan’s welcome arch, which read, “Welcome to Alaska’s 1st City”. With a population of 8,000 in its city limits it was the first community one encountered while heading north along Alaska’s Inside Passage.

Our first stop on the waterfront was the Ketchikan Visitors Bureau where we acquired information on tours. We decided to explore Ketchikan on foot. Our journey began at the welcome arch in the touristy downtown area. We left the shops behind and headed north to Whale Park. The small park decorated with flower gardens, created an inviting setting for the Chief Kyan Totem Pole, which was a replica of a pole raised in the 1890s for the Tlingit chief. 

Next to the park, we had our second totem sighting, a replica of the Chief Johnson Totem Pole. Ketchikan has the largest collection of totems found anywhere in the world. There were over eighty poles scattered throughout the city. Some were ancient poles kept in climate-controlled protection, several were standing poles raised almost a century ago, while others were recently carved replicas.

We turned left onto Bawden Street and started followed Ketchikan Creek. In the summer months, Ketchikan Creek was one of the best places to see salmon gather by the thousands to spawn upstream. We stopped by a fish ladder and watched salmon try to jump up rushing waterfalls to return to their native streambed. None had gone the way of the concrete ladder, a series of pools arranged like steps that allowed fish to travel upstream around the falls.

We continued to walk along the creek until we arrived at Deer Mountain Tribal Hatchery. This facility raised fish to supplement the wild stocks of Alaska salmon. The hatchery backed onto a small but charming park, with ornamental ponds, and paved paths. We walked through the park and down Deermount Avenue until we arrived at Thomas Street, a wood-plank street built over the water. Thomas Street, which overlooked a marina in Thomas Basin, was lined with historic buildings, which were once part of the New England Fish Co. cannery.

As we continued our tour, we discovered another wooden walkway constructed along the shores of the Ketchikan Creek. Historic Creek Street was built over the water because it was too difficult to blast away the rocky hills surrounding the creek. The antique boardwalk perched on wooden pilings; used to be lined with bordellos that  catered to anglers and bootleggers. Now it is one of Ketchikan’s best tourist attractions home to historic buildings filled with picturesque shops and restaurants.

After shopping, it was time to head back to our floating hotel. At 1 p.m., the ship undocked and started on a 650-mile cruise to Victoria, B.C. We had plenty of time to play before we arrived the next day at 6:30 p.m. in our last port of call.

Fair winds,

Kathy

“The Rock”, a monument in downtown Ketchikan.

 

A popular place to buy fresh salmon.

 

Chief Kyan Totem Pole in Whale Park.

 

A replica of the Chief Johnson Totem Pole.

 

A concrete fish ladder on Ketchikan Creek.

 

Tour Ketchikan by land and sea in this amphibious vehicle.

 

Ketchikan Marina in Thomas Basin.

 

Creek Street, one of Ketchikan’s best tourist attractions.

 

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We Launch Into Sitka, Alaska !

Posted August 22, 2013 By admin

 

Boats float in beautiful Sitka waters.

 

 

August 22, 2013 

 

At 6:30 a.m., our cruise ship anchored in Sitka Sound. It was July 17, 2013 and a glorious seventy-degree morning. We had until 2:30 p.m. to explore the quaint town of Sitka, but first we had to board a launch and motor two miles to the docks.

Sitka is situated on the west side of Baranoff Island and is only accessible by sea and air. This picturesque town sits just opposite Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano. Sitka is surrounded by the Tongass National Forest, which provides numerous opportunities to see Alaskan wildlife. The town of 9,000 residents is primarily a fishing community but rich in Russian heritage.

The city was founded in 1799 by explorer Alexander Baranoff who was hired by the Russian-American Company to colonize the area and set up a fur trade. Sitka became the capital of the Russian Empire in Alaska and prospered by the sale of sea otter pelts. After years of success, the economy went bust because of the declining sea otter population. Eventually, Russia decided to sell Sitka and all of Alaska to the U.S. in 1867 for $7.2 million.  

When we arrived in port, our first stop was the Alaska Raptor Center. The center is Alaska’s only full-service avian hospital and educational facility. Each year, they provide medical treatment to 100-200 injured bald eagles and other birds. Their goal is to release the birds back into the wild. Some are treated and released while others require extensive rehabilitation. Some birds become permanent residents, because even after treatment they aren’t able to survive in the wild.

While touring the center we saw over twenty resident eagles, falcons, owls, and hawks.  We met Volta, a beautiful male bald eagle who has been at the center since 1992. He was rescued after flying into a power line and is the center‘s patriarch and star of their educational program. We also met Tootsie, a Northern Saw-whet Owl. She arrived at the center with a broken left wing. She is the resident “cutie”, standing only eight inches tall and weighing three ounces. Tootsie elicits a smile from everyone she meets.

One of the highlights of our Sitka tour was visiting Fortress of the Bear, a refuge for orphaned brown bear cubs. The organization rescues cubs and raises them until they’re old enough to go to a zoo or sanctuary. If not saved they would be euthanized by the State because there is no other place to care for them and returning the cubs to the wild would result in them dying. This wonderful organization gives these foundlings a chance to live.

As we stood up above the five resident bears on a high platform, we had a great time watching them actively romp, wrestle and swim. It was wonderful to see the very playful bears enjoy their surroundings and interact with each other. It almost seemed as if they liked making us smile. Three of the bears were four-year-old siblings. The other two were brothers each weighing 1,000 pounds. The owner and staff were very knowledgeable and provided us with informative commentary. I was glad we had the opportunity to see the magnificent animals and support their fortress.

We ended the day in downtown Sitka, where we walked around the picturesque town and explored small shops and galleries. Standing in Totem Square, we had a magnificent view of Mount Edgecumbe. The square offered amazing waterfront views. Colorful fishing boats and gliding eagles captured our attention. In the distance, snow-capped mountains sparkled. We thoroughly enjoyed our Sitka experience but it was time to board a launch and head back to our ship.

Fair winds,

Kathy

 

Volta, a rescued Bald Eagle.

 

Tootsie, a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

 

Two brothers posing for the camera.

 

A rescued brown bear at the Fortress.

 

A magnificent view of Mount Edgecumbe from totem Square.

 

A waterfront view of colorful fishing boats.

 

A totem pole displayed in Totem Square.

 

A fishing boat heading out into Sitka Sound.

 

Cruise passengers board a launch to motor back to their ship.

 

Mount Edgecumbe, a dormant volcano.

 

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The Awe-inspiring Glacier Bay!

Posted August 12, 2013 By admin

 

Gliding through blue-green waters in magnificent Glacier Bay.

 

 

August 12, 2013  

I awoke to another magnificent Alaskan day. The sun was out in full force and it was only 4:45 a.m. Now that’s early for me, but this time of year the sun rises at 4 a.m. and sets at 10 p.m. giving Alaskans a long summer day. I was too excited to sleep any longer because it was the day we would explore Glacier Bay.   

Glacier Bay National Monument was established in 1925 and renamed Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve in 1980. The park encompasses 3.3 million acres and Glacier Bay lies in the middle of the huge preserve. Its many inlets and fjords contain sixteen active tidewater glaciers fueled by enough snow to flow out of the mountains and down to the sea.

At 6:45 a.m., we entered Glacier Bay and a few minutes later stopped at Bartlett Cove (Park Headquarters), where two park rangers boarded the ship to spend the day as our guides. Throughout our stay in Glacier Bay, they provided informative commentary as we slowly made our way fifty-five miles north to the tidewater glaciers.

The captain opened up the bow of the ship on three levels so we could have a sweeping view of the bay. It was breezy and cold on the bow so most of us donned hats and winter parkas. Along with a warming sun, there was a coffee and hot chocolate station set up on deck to help take the chill off.

As we glided through the green-blue waters of Glacier Bay, the reflection of the ice-capped mountains in the still water lent an air of solitude and tranquility to our visit. We saw wildlife all around us. Humpback whales waved to us with their tails as they dove in and out of the water. High-soaring bald eagles glided through the air scanning for prey. At one point, I saw a bald eagle float by on an iceberg. What a cool way to cruise!

At 11:15 a.m., we arrived at the head of Tarr Inlet. Here we explored Margerie Glacier, named for the French geographer and geologist Emmanuel de Margerie who visited the Glacier Bay in 1913. Inside the inlet, calm blue-green waters were dotted with chunks of ice. The massive glacier towered 250 feet above us. The mile-wide ice flow stretched twenty-one miles from the south slope of Mount Root on the Alaska-Canada border to Tarr Inlet.

Our ship slowed and coasted within a quarter-mile of the massive ice face. Passengers lined the bow with binoculars and cameras to capture a view of the towering ice queen. Its sheer green and blue walls, smudged by black debris carried down from the mountainside, towered from the water’s surface. The jagged edges left in the top of the glacier from pieces falling away, formed intricate shapes and patterns.

The ship spent about a full hour in front of the Margerie Glacier. The captain allowed plenty of time for everyone on board to see the glacier by turning the ship slowly so that all sides faced the glacier for a considerable amount of time.

As we crowded the rails, a hush came over the ship. Suddenly, we heard a loud crack, and then a noise that sounded like a thunderclap. The silence was shattered as a chunk of ice crumbled and slowly fell into the water. Margerie Glacier was actively calving or breaking off ice chunks. As chunks continued to fall, Kittiwake gulls circled over pools of ice looking for fish.

At 1 p.m., we left Tarr Inlet and spent the rest of the afternoon cruising south through Glacier Bay. We passed by John Hopkins Inlet which is home to nine glaciers. As I looked down the inlet with all of its magnificent icy rivers, I saw snow-covered Mount Fairweather in the distance. Hanging glaciers on mountainsides glistened in the afternoon sun. Sparkling icebergs floated by in calm, icy waters. I hated to leave such a magical place.

As we cruised out of Glacier Bay, I was inspired by its rugged beauty. I was also humbled and in awe of its snow covered landscapes and icy sculptures. Only God could have created such a masterpiece. 

Fair winds,

Kathy

 

Entering awe-inspiring Glacier Bay.

 

A stunning mountain landscape.

 

A mountain covered with a blanket of snow and ice.

 

A lonely iceberg floats in placid Glacier Bay.

 

A hanging glacier sparkles in the sun.

 

The rugged beauty of the mountains.

 

Swirling glacier art.

 

The snout of Margerie Glacier.

 

Margerie Glacier towers 250 feet above us.

 

Up close and personal with Margerie Glacier.

 

Gliding slowly along, the ship leaves a gentle wake behind.

 

A mountainside covered with snow and moss.

 

A glacier on the move.

 

The solitude and tranquility of Glacier Bay.

 

Leaving humbling Glacier Bay.

 

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Juneau On My Mind !

Posted August 7, 2013 By admin

 

At 1 p.m. we dock in Juneau, Alaska.

 

 

August 7, 2013

As we steamed through Gastineau Channel, surrounded by green-forested hills, the ship was bathed in late morning sun. With sixty-degree temperatures and a radiant blue-sky day, it was a glorious time to be in Alaska! We were just south of Juneau and would be docking soon.

Juneau, nestled at the base of the Coast Mountains is Alaska’s capital city with a population of over 31,000 residents. Though it is a sprawling city, the downtown area is tiny and can be walked from one end to the other in fifteen minutes. Good luck with trying to drive to Juneau. You can’t because Juneau is landlocked and only accessible by air or water.

Juneau is the only capital with a glacier in its backyard. The Mendenhall Glacier, just thirteen miles from downtown, is just one of the thirty-eight major glaciers that flow from the Juneau Icefield, an expanse of interconnected glaciers that sit behind the mountains next to Juneau. We had to check out this frozen “slip and slide” so we hopped on a tour bus.

When we arrived at the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center, we could see a large bluish white river of ice in the distance. The view of the twelve-mile long alpine glacier, as it spilled down the valley, was truly an impressive sight. We were a mile away from it but had the opportunity to hike to its terminus at the edge of Mendenhall Lake.

When we reached the glacier, I was captivated by its immensity and blue color. The color was due to the density of the ice crystals. The compressed ice absorbed all other colors in the spectrum and reflected blue, which we see. We were able to stand on a sand bar that hugged the shore of the iceberg dotted lake, and view not only the glacier but also Nugget Falls.

Nugget Falls, located to the east of Mendenhall glacier, drops 375 feet into Mendenhall Lake. It is fed by Nugget Creek, which in turn is fed by a Nugget glacier, a tributary glacier. As we stood admiring the view, the cold water made up of glacial snowmelt, covered us in a chilly, misty spray. Mendenhall Lake was supposed to be a great place for bear sightings, but it was time to see another Juneau wonder.

Our next stop was Glacier Garden, located seven miles from downtown Juneau. When we arrived, we were surrounded by beautiful gardens full of colorful flowers, native bushes and trees. The most unusual sight was upside down trees, known as the ‘Flower Towers’. They had their tops buried in the ground and their roots thrust up in the air, forming a basket that cradled brilliantly bright trailing flowers. Netting and mosses formed a bed in the center of the root ball for flowers such as begonias, fuchsias, and petunias to bloom. 

Along with touring the gardens, we had a ride up Thunder Mountain to view the riches of the Tongass National Rainforest. After navigating the rainforest, we were met with a panoramic view of the Mendenhall Valley, downtown Juneau and Taku Inlet. This was truly an unforgettable botanical garden experience.

We enjoyed a glorious day in Juneau but it was time to head back to our cruise ship.  We were once again ready to be pampered. It was time to rest up because tomorrow we would be exploring Glacier Bay.

Fair winds,

Kathy

Rodge strikes a pose as we cruise into Juneau.

 

Mendenhall Glacier

 

The terminus of the glacier at the edge of Mendenhall Lake.

 

Mendenhall Glacier.

 

Nugget Falls cascades down a cliff east of Mendenhall Glacier.

 

‘Flower Towers’ in Glacier Garden.

 

Beautiful gardens full of colorful flowers in Glacier Garden.

 

Colorful flowers and umbrellas for sale in the Glacier Garden Shop.

 

View from Thunder Mountain with Juneau in the distance.

 

A view of the Gastineau Channel from Thunder Mountain.

 

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North To Alaska

Posted August 5, 2013 By admin

 

We say goodbye to Seattle and stunning Mt. Rainier.


 
 

August 5, 2013

As we left Elliott Bay, Mt. Rainier, capped in glistening white powder sparkled in the sun. The Seattle skyline was decked out in all its splendor. It was a blue-sky afternoon filled with panoramic views of the snow-capped Cascade and Olympic Mountains.

My husband Rodge and I were not on two wheels but on a Holland America cruise ship. I am deviating from my normal cycling stories to write about our first northern exposure along Alaska’s Inside Passage. It was an amazing way to celebrate our 60th birthdays.

On July 13, 2013, our cruise left Seattle at 4 p.m. (PST). To get to our first and northern most port Juneau, we had to steam 1,000 miles north along the coast of Canada and the Inside Passage of Alaska. The top speed of the ship was 20 knots (or 23 mph) so it would take us over a day and a half to arrive there.

While the Captain navigated us through Puget Sound and the Strait of Juan de Fuca, we became familiar with our massive floating hotel. We were ready to be pampered! That night we acclimated to cruise life by eating our way through the Lido buffet, rocked to the onboard entertainment and ended up donning our complimentary terry robes.

At 5:20 a.m. the next morning, I awoke to a gorgeous sunrise over Vancouver Island. I sat out on our veranda and soaked up the magnificent view as we glided through calm waters. By noon, the ship had cleared the Island and was entering Queen Charlotte Sound. The wide-open waters of the sound could be somewhat dicey especially in the winter months. As we traversed the sound that July afternoon, we were greeted by a light chop.

Our route took us along the western shores of Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii), which consists of over 150 Islands that stretch over 186 miles long. The rugged mountainous coast with its steep rocky sides was dotted with Sitka spruce, hemlock and cedar forests. It looked like a remote and uninhabited land.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, we continued to steam along Haida Gwaii. In the early hours of the morning (July 15), we cleared the island and crossed over into Alaskan waters. When we awoke that morning, we were in the Alaska Time Zone and had to set our clocks back one hour. We had all morning to sail through Frederick Sound and up Stevens Passage until we arrived in our first port of call, Juneau.

Fair winds,

Kathy

 

 

The Seattle Skyline.

 

Sunrise over Vancouver Island.

 

Wake art in water colors.

 

We cruise along the western shore of Haida Gwaii.

 

An early morning cruise ship sighting on the way to Juneau.

 

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Bloom Where You’re Planted

Posted February 18, 2013 By admin

 

Kathy with her Little Finger carrot harvest.

 

 

February 18, 2013 

Along with cycling I enjoy container gardening. I am a novice but with each new crop, my thumb is greener. Because I live in Florida, I can grow crops year round so I have more opportunities to learn. Yesterday I harvested bounty from my winter garden and was surprised at how well my Little Finger carrots grew. When I pulled them up, I was amazed at their color, size and sweet taste.

Three months ago, I planted carrot seeds into a container (26 inches long x 19 inches wide x 10 inches high.) I had no idea what would grow or if anything would grow. Unlike my lettuce, spinach, and broccoli, I couldn’t watch them grow. I could see the greens growing on top, but had to have faith that the taproot (carrot) was growing in the soil. I didn’t know what they were going to look like until I pulled them out of the ground.

I started thinking about the phrase, “Bloom where you’re planted”. The carrots didn’t have a spacious garden to spread their roots and grow, but still adapted and flourished in my small container. In life, we may find ourselves in circumstances that aren’t to our liking or may be beyond our control. Sometimes we may feel trapped and have no room to grow.

Whatever the situation, instead of letting this bring us down, we should adapt and try our hardest to rise above the situation. Whether it’s in your job, family life, etc. accentuate all that is good and build on that.  

Like “The Little Carrot That Could”, rise above with that “can do” attitude and change “I think I can, I think I can” into “I know I can, I know I can.” Look at it as a growing season in your life. Persevere with a positive attitude. You will bloom and grow into an amazing person.

Tailwinds,

Kathy

 

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The Laundromat Inn

Posted January 29, 2013 By admin

 

Cindy and Mary Anne washing clothes in the Laundromat Inn.

 

January 29, 2013 
 

In the summer of 2000, I cycled across America from California to Virginia with two friends, Cindy and Mary Anne. I met them on a bicycle tour of the Mississippi River in 1997. For two months we cycled self-contained with all of our gear loaded on our bikes. 

On June 7, we left Burney, California and headed out into a beautiful morning. It would be a short thirty-mile day to McArthur, California. We were riding in the Cascade mountain range and would be experiencing several challenging climbs.

For the next twenty miles, we were captivated by a brilliant blue-sky morning.  Deer watched as we rolled by their wooded playground, and some were curious enough to greet us in the road. Far to the northwest, Mt. Shasta’s snow covered peak seemed to peer over my shoulder. Like a comforting friend, it kept me company along the way and inspired me on long climbs. Pine and cedar trees dotted the landscape along the narrow road. It was a great time to be communing with nature.  
When we arrived in McArthur, we found a small RV park in the town’s Intermountain Fairgrounds. We secured a tent site, and other than two RV’s had the whole place to ourselves. We parked our bikes and sat down at a picnic table for a snack. It was 1 p.m. and Cindy, a fifth grade teacher, had a former student coming to visit. As we sat there munching on crackers, the wind picked up and nasty clouds started moving in. Our site was out in the open with no protection from the elements. It was cold!

After Cindy’s company left, the weather got ugly. It started raining and black clouds began hurling lightning bolts. There was no way we could stay there. We’d get soaked, fried and then blown away. After some discussion, Cindy suggested that we ask to stay in the park Laundromat. She said she had done it before on other bike trips. Well Mary Anne and I had never heard of such a thing and thought Cindy had lost it.  

She proved us wrong. She asked the park manager and got permission for us to move into the Laundromat Inn. So, with little fanfare we wheeled our mighty steeds into Suds-R-Us. What a great place! We were out of the elements, had a payphone, a huge sink, clothing racks, a coke machine, comfortable chairs and our own washer and dryer.

There was only one laundry customer that night: a young man working construction in the area. He was surprised when he walked in and saw three loaded touring bikes, clothes hanging everywhere and Cindy cooking up a storm on her little gas stove. While he stuffed his clothes into the washer, we told him about our bike trip and our weather-related tale of woe. After dinner, we folded laundry and settled into our sleeping bags for our first all-night pajama party.

A week later, Mary Anne and I had another Laundromat Inn experience in Arco, Idaho. This time Cindy opted to camp out in the blustery, stormy weather and dozed off with her tent flapping and swaying in the wind.  

Tailwinds,

Kathy 

 

Cindy posing with our loaded drying rack.

 

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A Down-home Flying Machine!

Posted January 18, 2013 By admin

 

A view of the down-home flying machine in Benoit, Mississippi.

 

January 18, 2013


The “Mighty Mississippi Bicycle Adventure” was one of my favorite supported cycling tours. In July 1997, I had the opportunity to ride 1,600 miles down the Mississippi River from Minneapolis, Minnesota to New Orleans, Louisiana. Along with twenty other cyclists, I pedaled through sleepy river towns, and bustling cities; spun along locks, bluffs and levees; and biked by fertile farmland, cow filled pastures, cotton fields and vast plantations. It was a memorable three weeks cycling along Mark Twain’s river of dreams.   

One day I had the unique experience of riding with Jay, a pastor from Frankfort, Kentucky. Jay, referred to as the “pedaling pastor,” was riding to raise funds for Habitat for Humanity. He rode a vintage ten-speed bike held together by dirt and rust, which caused him to shake, rattle and roll down the road. The two-wheel relic needed a prayer, or some divine intervention! 

 On our eighty-mile day from Clarksdale to Greenville, Mississippi, we rolled through steamy delta countryside by an occasional trailer scattered among cotton fields, soybeans and catfish farms. At mile sixty, we entered the small town of Benoit. While talking with the locals, Jay heard about a woman who lived in a 727- airplane fuselage. According to the stories flying around town, she purchased the plane from a scrap yard for two thousand dollars and then for a mere four grand had it towed to her property on an oxbow lake. Since it was only a couple of miles away, we had to check it out!   

With directions in hand, we rolled out of the gas station and turned onto a dirt road. We were told to ride down the road until we came to a levee. The hot dusty road led us by barns and dry fields scattered with an occasional old cud chewer reminiscing about its former cow tipping days. After passing the levee, we cycled through a refreshing green forest of pine trees. I welcomed the cool shade as we rode by house after house set back in along the lakeshore.

We cruised around several minutes looking for the grounded aircraft. Where was the down-home flying machine we were told about? With no success and no one around to ask, I was wondering if we had the right lake or even the right state. Considering the odds of having an airplane fuselage in ones neighborhood, you would think it would be easy to find. Finally, I heard Jay shout, “Da plane, da plane.”

We found the long awaited dream house hovering by the water. Propped up on metal and concrete, the white fuselage had a carport on each side that simulated wings. The tail less wonder was huge and had enough windows in it to gear up a “peeping Tom” into overdrive. We had a great time posing with the 727 but with no one home to question we could only wonder what was lurking inside. Maybe wingback chairs with color-coordinated seatbelts and floating devices decorated the dive.

 Soon, it was time for our layover to end. Cleared for takeoff we taxied onto a runway made up of decorative lighting and hit the road. What a great find in rural Mississippi!  So the next time you’re in the market for a new home, think outside the box and see if you can land yourself a 727. Just think of the unique experience you’ll have living in an airliner. The sky’s the limit!

While writing this blog I was curious to see if there were any stories online about the plane. Here is what I found: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sB8eLH72-es

Tailwinds, 

Kathy 

 

 

Another view of the tailess wonder. (The back of the plane where the tail has been removed)

 

 

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A Submarine Called Santa Fe

Posted January 5, 2013 By admin

New Franklin, Missouri… the beginning of the Santa Fe Trail.

 

 

January 5, 2013

How did I get involved in my passion, bicycle touring? It all started with a submarine called Santa Fe. In January 1994, my husband was in command of a newly built attack submarine, USS Santa Fe (SSN 763) in Groton, Connecticut. During the submarine’s new construction phase, members from the host city, Santa Fe, New Mexico participated in the ship’s christening and commissioning ceremonies.

In honor of the commissioned submarine, Santa Fe author Elaine Pinkerton sent the crew a copy of her book, The Santa Fe Trail by Bicycle. Inspired by the book, the Chief of the Boat rallied several of his shipmates around the idea of cycling the Santa Fe Trail as a personal test and as a way to visit the submarine’s namesake city.

After getting permission from the command, plans for the trip started. The USS Santa Fe Lightning Express bicycle club was formed to organize, plan and help train those interested in cycling the trail. The trip was open to crew members and their families. I jumped at the chance to be a part of the amazing adventure.

At the age of 41, I was a bicycle-touring novice and didn’t own a bike. The closest I came to cycling was riding my indoor exercise bike. Over the next nine months, I immersed myself in information on bikes, cycling equipment and training. After months of preparation and the purchase of my new Cannondale R-500 road bike, I was ready to spin all the way to Santa Fe.

 

The fifteen passenger van that supported us along the trail.

 

On the morning of September 15, 1994, eleven crew members and I started on our way to New Franklin, Missouri, the start of the Santa Fe Trail. We rode in a fifteen-passenger van that hauled a trailer packed with gear and six bikes. The remaining bikes were stowed on top of the van along with two car top carriers. One thousand miles later, on the morning of September 16, we arrived in New Franklin. We were ready to spend our two-day layover exploring the historic town and meeting its people during their Santa Fe Trail Days Festival.

After two days of parades, cow patty bingo, live bands, picnics and a carnival, we left New Franklin on September 18 and headed out into a crisp fall morning. The start of our two week, 1,129 mile supported bike tour had begun. As I spun my pedals, I was filled with excitement and expectation. I knew that the ten of us cycling were in good hands. We had the support of the van and its two drivers. All we had to do was head west and enjoy the beautiful day. 

 

In New Franklin, we pose in front of the Santa Fe Trail Monument before starting our trek.

 

As we cycled along the trail through four states, we were proud to represent the newly commissioned fast-attack submarine, USS Santa Fe. Along with promoting physical fitness and the Navy, we cycled to honor our namesake city. In the towns and cities that we stayed in, we presented ship’s plaques, pictures and information on submarines to every Chamber of Commerce, American Legion and group that supported us. It was truly an amazing two weeks.

When we arrived in Santa Fe October 1, 1994, we were greeted by the Mayor and treated to two days of parties, tours and a hot air balloon festival. It was a memorable time. The kind people, places and experiences I encountered along the trail are still with me today. This was my first long distance cycling tour and I had come through unscathed and with a sense of accomplishment. I was hooked on touring and ready to once again take to the highway and explore America.

So, try something new in your life. It doesn’t matter how old you are. It doesn’t matter what season you’re in. Follow a dream. Take a chance. Start on a new journey. You never know where that “beginning” will take you. Who knows, I may meet you some day cycling along the backroads of America!

Tailwinds,

Kathy

 

In Santa Fe, New Mexico posing with city officials at the Santa Fe monument.

 

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Oh, the Places You’ll Go!

Posted January 2, 2013 By admin

 

Alpine meadows at Logan Pass in Glacier National Park

 

January 2, 2013

 

One of my favorite things to do on New Year’s Day is to watch the Rose Parade. The parade theme this year was “Oh, the Places You’ll Go!” based on a book written by Dr. Seuss. We can all benefit from its message of following our dreams, with faith, patience, a “can do” attitude and perseverance.

Whether you are starting 2013, a new school, a new career, or a new relationship, you start out with high hopes and enthusiasm. Along the way, you may face adversity that will disappoint, worry, or cause you to give up. This is where you have to maintain a positive attitude, focus on the goal and push through.

When I begin a new cycling trip, I try to start out with a positive attitude and an acceptance of what lies ahead. I never know what I’ll find down the road or around the next curve. It could be a blessing or an obstacle. Yes, it could be a heavenly tailwind or a wicked mountain pass. What gives me comfort, is knowing that with faith, patience, and perseverance, I will conquer that mountain. When I get to the top, I am grateful, stronger and feel a sense of accomplishment.

So where will 2013 take you? Just follow your dreams! Oh, the places you will go!

“You’re off to Great Places. Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting, So… get on your way!” Dr. Seuss

Tailwinds,

Kathy

 

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