Friday, May 30, 2014

Mountain Biking at Raystown Lake

I had never been to Raystown Lake.  In April we went to the lake for family gathering.  While there we went out riding on the Allegrippis Trails.  These Trails were very well maintained and fun to ride.  The flow was smooth and had a pump track feel for many sections.  The ups and downs were not too intense, but you could get a little winded depending on how hard you are riding.  You could spend a day or more riding the trails.  Rent a Cabin locally, or stay in one of the many State or Private Camp Grounds in the area.  If you don't ride mountain bike then you can rent a boat, go fishing on the lake, take a hike; just take the time to get lost in the woods.  I would recommend taking the time to travel to Raystown Lake and take a ride on the trails, you will not regret the decision to ride.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Mount Joy Pennsylvania

If you know me you know that I love to take photos.  I always have a camera in my pocket; the cell phone makes it very easy to snap a photo when something interest me.  This winter I took a series of photos of the town that I live in, Mount Joy Pennsylvania.  Some are unedited, and others are post possessed. Some hot summer evening I will walk around and take similar photos to see how the scenes have changed.

The Mount Joy Water towers,  1 million gallon tank and a 1.2 million gallon tank can be seen for miles around. 

The Mount Joy Amtrak station cuts through town.   There are plans to build a new station in the next year.

Spanglers Flour MIll sits just behind the post office in the center of town.

The new covered walkway from Public Parking behind St. Marks United Methodist Church to the Amtrak station

Mount Joy Post office

Jim Roberts West main Auto, they do good work here, both of our cars go here for oil changes and maintance

Mount Joy Church of God

Former Gerberich Paybe Shoe Factory

Looking west on Main Street Mount Joy

Again looking west on Main Street Mount Joy 24hrs later with a coating of snow.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Its been too long since Ive published on my blog

Its been too long since Ive published on my blog.   I'd like to say I've been fishing this whole time, but that is not the case.  It's the case of I think I am too busy to write anything important or share the ongoing adventures that my family has completed.  So I promise to add something as often as possible.  I will recap along the way.  Here is a video I made this winter.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

PSU Game with Karen

Karen and I went up to the PSU vs Purdue.  We had a great time, and love each year we go.  My father-in-law was there to with my Brother-in-law and some friends.   We were happy that they won.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Humility: Connecting the 5 Stages of Grief with Starting Crossfit, My Story.

Why did I start Crossfit in the first place?  I had many different reasons but from a broader view it was a  personal goal of becoming better;  beyond that I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.  After all I expected to join a journey, a journey that many other people before me had chosen to embark upon.  The Crossfit experience for many new people follows a general process.    To put it into context of what my experience was like  I can use the Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s  5 stages of loss and grief;  Denial and Isolation,  Anger, Bargaining, Depression, and Acceptance, as a model.  It is a loose connection, but I was at a transition, a transition where I had lost control, my independent view of my personal fitness.  While the stages of grief were short lived, It still happened.  First a review of the stages of grief.
  • Denial:  A conscious or unconscious refusal to accept facts, information, reality, etc., relating to the situation.
  • Anger:  Anger with one’s self, and with others, detaching them from the reality of the situation.
  • Bargaining:  Facing the situation, one will bargain or seek to negotiate a compromise.  Usually doesn't result in a sustainable situation.
  • Depression:  Sadness, regret, fear, uncertainty, and the person have begun to accept reality.
  • Acceptance:  Emotional detachment and objectivity ensues.

I had made a conscious decision to start Crossfit and surrender myself to the journey, knowing that I would be uncomfortable, anxious, and nervous.  I was na├»ve to what I didn't know or what I thought I knew.  Despite my readiness to start, and my supposed unbiased, objective approach I still had my challenges.  My internal mind was racing, and my internal mind was racing.  I knew that I would go through all of these stages when I started, I was objective enough to realize that fact, but still; I would experience the thoughts similar to the following.
  • Denial:  I was an athlete, and I thought that I was in adequate (enough) shape to do what was required of me to participate in Crossfit.  I told myself that lifting the bar was no problem ,  I could squat parallel, that I had the necessary mobility, that I knew what I needed to do to be successful.
  • Anger:  What do you mean I need to squat with the PVC pipe, I can do more.  Air squat: I can do it with the bar, come on, I am not that weak.  Don’t tell me that I CAN’T do something.
  • Bargaining:  Look I can do this, I can do these pushups without scaling, I know it will take me twice as long as you want it to, but I can do it.  I wanted to use the 10 lb plates instead of the skinny 5 lb plates.  I’m tired today, can I skip a portion of what you want me to do.
  • Depression:  I guess I’m not as good as I thought I was, man this stinks, I really am out of shape, I am getting my ass kicked, do I really want to continue doing this, is it all worth it?  I am sore and tired, and I don’t like it, stupid Crossfit.
  • Acceptance:  Ok, I can do this, it’s not too bad, you know what who cares what other people think, and actually you know what most of them went through this exact same thing I just went through.  I can do this over time.  It’s all ok, I’ll get better in time, I like what is happening.  I’ll keep going.

                The stages were quick, two weeks of the basic course was all it took for me to get through this process.  The trainer and other members of the gym were helpful in motivation and encouragement.  Cognitively I knew what to expect, so the process was not too daunting for me to overcome. I was able to move to the acceptance stage rather quickly.  Past experience in the humbling process helped me gain perspective.
 I would suspect that there are individuals who may have a tougher challenge, and the process for them may last longer everyone is unique and comes with different skills and background.  If they don’t receive the right support at the Box or at home, then it would be easy for them to not last longer than a few months.   This grief process can repeat itself again and again depending on what is happening with the individual and their personal goals in the Box.   Maybe they want to do an advanced level of training and they can’t, or they start to see decline, start missing attendance and stop all together.
I think that it is important for the trainer to understand that there is a surrender of personal authority by the client to them, and that the individual may likely need additional support beyond the physical.  They may not ask for it, being too embarrassed to admit the need for help, but likely they need it.  I think it is important for the perspective Crossfit member to realize upfront that this will be a challenge, and to have an honest conversation with them to be realistic and open to a step wise growth and development process.  Tough conversations might ensue but, they are necessary for any real success.  Ignoring the process would not be beneficial for long term sustainability and success. 
As children we rolled, over, raised ourselves up, crawled, pulled ourselves up to a walking position, walked, and then ran, all with the support of our parents or caregivers.  We didn't just run from day one and we didn't do it without coaching and support.  Realistic goals, support, conversation, and understanding are necessary components for personal success.


Monday, August 19, 2013

How I got into Crossfit 6 months later…….

Chances are if you are reading this you have heard about Crossfit.   If you haven’t there are a variety of resources that you can look up in the interwebs, just do a simple search.   Crossfit is many things, but the generally accepted definition of Crossfit is that it optimizes fitness through constantly varied functional movements performed at a relatively high intensity.  Crossfit is not for everyone, nor will I tell you that it is for everyone.  This is my story about my discovery of Crossfit.
I like many other people heard the good and bad about Crossfit.  I was skeptical since it reminded me of my Army days and I was not sure that I wanted to get back into that sort of training.   I have been involved with athletics since I was a little kid.  My background was predominantly running and cycling. Weight training, strength and conditioning were NOT something that I was involved in.   Not to say I didn’t know anything about weight training, I knew the basics, but the Olympic style of lifting that is predominant in Crossfit was not something I could easily perform.  I will get into that later post.
After nearly 5 years of false starts and feeble attempts to get myself motivated to return to a level of fitness, a small push from my friend Art started my journey into Crossfit.  Prior to my start in Crossfit, my attempts at a fitness program were like a child with a new toy.  At first I was intrigued, wrapped up in the newness, the uniqueness, the joy it provided.   I quickly lost interest becoming board with the familiarity knowing that it would not change.  The difference; Crossfit provides the necessary variation from day to day to keep you engaged wanting, waiting for more thwarting the boredom that was lurking in the corner. 
 I went to the Crossfit Gym and observed a class on a Thursday Evening.   I liked what saw, the team work the support the cheering and supporting of each other.  It wasn’t hard to convince me that this was the right choice.  I tend to jump in hard, so I contacted the owner and signed up for a two week introductory class that started the following Monday.   I was confident that I could do this Crossfit thing.  I knew that it would be hard for me, but I also knew that if I stuck to it I would see other tangible benefits.
I told myself that I would give myself some time to adjust and if it wasn’t for me then I would move on to something else, perhaps back to cycling.  I knew that it would be hard work.  I anticipated that, despite being out of shape, my years of experience and a base fitness would carry me through needed workload to make it through those first few weeks.  I knew how to suffer and work through the uncomfortable feelings I would experience. 

I was ready for the Monday morning 6am Basics Class.  I showed up, and over the next six months I would learn what I did and didn’t’ know and more than I would ever think I would learn about fitness and conditioning.  I am still learning today, and will continue to learn.  Next:  My first few weeks and the ego check.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Blackburn ATC to Harpers Ferry Day 3

Today was a short 12mi into Harpers Ferry.  We woke up early with the plan to get into town by noon with plans to stop at the Appalachian Trail Headquarters and grab something to eat.
Like clock work Courtney was up and out of the tent and helped me get our food and heat up water for breakfast.  This would be our only trail meal of the day.  We packed well, after breakfast all we had were a few snack bars, and candy for the morning hike into Harper's Ferry.  We packed up or packs and headed up the hill to the trail.
The morning was cool and it was easy hiking along the trail.  One issue with being the first out on the trail is dealing with all of the spiderwebs that span across the trail.  We usually get our best miles in before lunch.  On longer trips we like to stop mid day for a long hot lunch.  You might be wondering why we heat a hot lunch and a cold dinner on the long summer days?  At the end of a 18mi day who feels like cooking on top of setting up camp?
The trail crossed out of Virgina and into West Virgina. Courtney likes to pose for pictures, she thought that this would be a good spot for posing.  We had some minor uphills to contend with, but before we knew it we were on our way down into town.
We made it into the outskirts of Harper's Ferry and headed to the Headquarters.  The kids were looking forward to getting two more state patches (PA, WV,). 
While at the ATC we got our picture taken.  All thru hikers and section hikers get their pictures taken if they are through Harper's Ferry on Foot.  Each year there is an album and these photos are uploaded online (you can search for any hiker, any year if they had their picture taken).  We got ours and headed into town to the Cannonball Deli for lunch.
The blue numbers are section hikers, and the red numbers are thru hikers.
Harper's Ferry is a really cool town.  We would recommend a visit. 

After lunch we headed back up the hill to the ATC, picked up our packs and walked to the Teahorse hostel to pick up our car.  What a great weekend to be out on the trail.  We look forward to our 11 days in July.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Rod Hollow Shelter to Blackburn Appalachian Trail Center Day 2

We spent a comfortable night in our tents and woke up at 6am to get ourselves up and ready to get on the trail by 7am.  Its the quiet moment just before you wake up that you don't want to end.  It quickly came to an end when Courtney looked over at me and said, "Hi Dad."

Without saying anyting Courtney began the process of packing up her gear.  We got out of the tent and packed up the tent.  I decided to let Karen and Brandon have a few minutes more sleep.  It works out well to have Courtney and I together and Brandon in Karen together because we have similar sleep habits respectively.

While Karen and Brandon broke down their tent, Courtney and I collected our food bag that we had hung out in the woods.  We next lit up the stove for some hot water to use in our oatmeal and my coffee.  The three thru hikers who shared our spot were now up and packing up gear, one of them packed up quickly and was off on the trail with a plan of big miles this day.
We ate our breakfast and were off on the trail headed into the Roller Coaster.  This is a 14mi section of the Norther VA Appalachian trail that goes up and down all day long, just like a Roller Coaster its name sake.  They are not huge hills or long hills, its just that they go up and down all day long and it is very difficult to get into a consistent rhythm.
Our plan was to hike 18mi to Blackburn ATC center with a stop at Bears Den Hostel for lunch.  It was a cool day and a little wind was blowing.  Before long we entered the roller coaster, a sign welcomed us to the start of the section.  For the next few hours we continued north on the trail, crossing paths back and forth with other hikers heading north.  Before long we made it to the Bears Den Hostel for Lunch.
At the hostel we picked up some cokes (for hikers only, must know secret code), and spread out on a section of the lawn and ate our lunch  It was a nice mid day break.  Refueled with the food, we continued on our way to our destination, where on a clear day you can see the National Cathedral in Washington DC.
We knew that we would be getting to our destination later (530pm) so we decided to enter from the second entrance, that passed a camping site on the way down to the Blackburn ATC.  It was a busy weekend and we figured the lower sites would be crowded.  Once we set up our tents we loaded up my pack with our food and headed down to the picnic tables outside the Cabin. 

We met the care takers and some of the local ATC crew who were having a weekend gathering.  Thru hikers can pay some $$$ for a spaghetti dinner and pitch their tents near by.  Fresh water, and a solar shower are available for use.  We spoke for some time with the caretakers, the trail care taker and his wife (forgive me I forget their names, Pete I think).  After our dinner, we headed back up to our tents and turned in for the night.
It was a long day, but a nice day.  The kids have come so far in their ability to hike and handle the terrain and the miles of the day.  The people we met on the trail always are so friendly and are happy to talk to us and hear our story.  The AT is truly a community.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

1 I’ve got an Idea

Why would I ever…..

So you want to go backpacking with kids, where do you start how do you do make sense of the gear, the options, the logistics. Finding the resources, the contacts, the websites, books, and other sources can be a very complex and daunting experience. Relying on others for first-hand experience is in my opinion, the option for reliable and relevant information. It is important to understand that there are a multitude of opinions and options, often one person’s opinion is the exact opposite of another’s opinion.

Much of what I have learned was through years camping and backpacking experiences. I am always looking for more information, better ways, first hand experiences from fellow backpackers. I have spent many hours scouring the sources of information, researching and gathering information to create a foundation for backpacking that I share with my kids and others. I have drawn on my professional education and background as a researcher to make sense of the data and information that is available.

The best option for reliable and relevant information is first-hand personal experience, but you have to build your knowledge from somewhere. You do it one step at a time, creating opportunities to learn, explore and gain the necessary experience for future success. Including your family in these learning opportunities is a valuable experience.

There are many options and opinions. Over time you will listen and learn from others, but ultimately you will develop your own approach refining what works well for your adventures with your family. It is my hope that I can share with you my experiences, knowledge, and advice to aid you in a successful backpacking adventure. If nothing else it is my hope that you can experience what it is like to backpack with kids by reading this book.

Friday, May 31, 2013

Appalachian Trail: Manassas Gap to Rod Hollow Shelter

During the Memorial Day weekend my family filled in another section of the Appalachian Trail.  This time we did a 46mi section from Manassas Gap VA to Harper's Ferry WV.  Another in a series of trips toward our eventual goal of completing the entire Appalachian Trail as a Family.
With three days to hike we started our tip early on Saturday morning with a drive to Harper's Ferry.  We had plans to meet Laurel from the Teahorse Hostel for a shuttle to our starting point. 
Random rock pose
As an aside, Laurel had shuttled us north two years ago when we started our journey on the Appalachian trail.  She is a lovely lady who is so nice to talk to and provides a wonderful service and hostel for hikers, bikers, and travelers to stay at while in Harper's Ferry.  We would highly recommend her services.
Our hike started just after 9 in the morning.  With a wonderful forecast of low 70s all weekend we knew that this would be a prefect weekend for our trip.  Our first day was a moderate day with good trail and a walk through skymeadow state park for a total of 17mi for the day.
Dicks Dome Shelter, stop for Lunch
This trip the kids were able to carry more of their own gear.  Brandon carried his sleeping bag, sleeping mat, clothes and personal food and water.  Courtney carried her sleeping bag, clothes, water, and snacks for the day.  As the kids get older they are able to shoulder more of the weight, reducing the lbs that Karen and I carry.
The kids were able to keep up a 2.5mi average pace on this day, moving quickly over the rocks and over the water.  This trip had many more water crossings than any other trip prior.  Balancing on rocks and logs, using hiking poles, my or Karen's hand to get across the water.  By the end of the trip they had mastered the art of water crossings.  Karen; did NOT particularly enjoy the process of walking across rocks and logs. If we were lucky we had a bridge over the water.
Rod Hollow Shelter
Memorial day weekend is a busy weekend for the Trail, we knew that there would be a lot of people wanting a place to say for the night.  With our destination being a popular stop for the night (just before the roller coaster), we knew that we needed to get to the shelter area and set up camp.  We arrived around 430 in the afternoon, dropped our bags in a tenting area just off of the trail and go to work on setting up our tents.  Just as we began our work a scout troop walked by on their way to the shelter.  They ended filling up the remaining tent spots by the shelter.
Brandon and I filled up or water bottles from a spring near the shelter.  This spring was a piped spring that was flowing nicely.  While filing up water (with our sawyer squeeze, the best filter in my opinion) we were talking with a boy scout group from Maryland.  They have 125 boys in their troop, it dwarfs our Troop of 24 boys.  They were doing a short over night hike and had come through most of the roller coaster that day.
Dinner was the usual fare of noodles and a meat.  No fire tonight, in fact we have never started a fire of our own while on the trail, its just not something we do.  After hiking for 17mi all day the last thing we want to do is make a fire.  If it were the winter and we needed heat, then maybe we would start a fire.
Courtney crawled into our tent and got was ready to get some rest, this was round 8pm.  Soon after three thru hikers sauntered in and set up their tents just next to ours.  They had done 28mi that day, 10 more than us.  I chatted with them for a little bit about their trip so far, and provided them with some ideas about Maryland and Pennsylvania.  They had questions about our kids and how they did hiking.   When our family tells them that we do the same amount of trail miles most Thru hikers to each day, it becomes apparent that we are serious about what we do.
It was a wonderful day, the next day we would have to make it through the roller coaster, 13.5mi of ups and downs.  Its not that there are huge hills with long ascents or descents, its that its a constant up and down that plays havoc on your quads, hamstrings, and calves.  Sunday we had 18mi to go, so it was important that we had a good nights sleep.  The first nights sleep on the trail is always the worst.
Skymeaddow state park


I grew up camping; either car camping outside of Gettysburg or hiking over the hill from my childhood home to the banks of the Pequea creek with my Dad, Cousin and Brothers. We built lean-tos out of tarps and branches for shelter, learning the basics of camping from my father, establishing a foundation, a working knowledge about living in the outdoors. There were trials, tribulations, injuries, false starts, laughter and successes. It was one step at a time with my parents, establishing an order, a set of rules that my three brothers and I would learn to follow every time we went out camping as a family. We learned to love the outdoors, and as we grew older we began to extend our world of camping and backpacking through trips with school or with friends.

My love of the outdoors continued through college, the Army, and into my marriage and the birth of my son and later my daughter. I didn’t want the addition of children to hinder adventure. I knew that I wanted my kids to experience the same joy from the woods as I had as a child, and I didn’t have to do it alone. I am fortunate to have a wife who loves the outdoors just as much as I do. She is right there by my side each time we go on another backpacking adventure.

Every time we are out on the trail with the kids we hear similar comments “how do you do it,” “what is your secret” and “you give me inspiration to get my kids out on the trail, but I don’t know how.” There is much to learn when backpacking with kids. Patience, resilience, determination and leadership skills are only the beginning of what can be learned in the outdoors. Through experiences both professional and personal, conversations, education, research, and exploration, I hope to provide you with my experiences in a way that are meaningful, relevant, and useful so that you too can share the joy of backpacking and the outdoors with your family and friends.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

Through the Fog

The weather man was wrong, today was to be mild and warm.  Instead it was foggy, damp and cool, but that didn't stop the fun for the day.  I headed out for an early run.  I decided to check out the small network of trails around Chickiess Rock Park just north of Coumbia in Lancaster County Pa.  I ended up down next to the railroad.  Some day this section of the railroad will be interconnected north and south of here.

Later in the day Karen the Kids and I went up river to the rail trail that starts at decatur street in Marrietta.  This secion will eventually connect south and north through Bainbridge.  The kids rode thier bikes, while Karen and I hiked along side.  It was a lot of fun to be out there with the family.

The railroad bride is the end of the current trail.  Eventually they plan on extending it under the railroad tracks up to Bainbridge.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Saturday Ride 22 December

Burn off some of those Christmas cookie calories.  Friendly paced, two abreast ride for ~ 40+ miles. 

 Meet at Elizabethtown HS parking lot at 9 AM and 9:30 at Mount Joy Mennonite Church.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Dusted off the Bike for a little this morning

I pulled my Bike out of the corner, dusted it off and rode over to the Mennonite Church to meet the ride at 930..... I lasted until Nissley Vineyards.....  It was nice to get out and ride.