MainAKBigOver the past several months and over 18months since my visit, I find my interest in Alaska intensifying.  Not sure why.  I have a map of the state over my desk at work and find myself frequently staring at it, wondering about the weather, wildlife, people and terrain – with no rhyme nor reason. What is the draw to the state?  The adventure of visiting?  The raw climate and accompanying weather?

Each night when I check the weather forecast, the drill seems to include checking on Anchorage, Fairbanks and Prudhoe Bay as well.   Imagine seeing this summary in the sunrise/sunset section:

Prudhoe Bay Weather

I can’t help but think it would be great to experience this – although those who do tell me I would change my tune after living without light for a few months…

Well, I still see another visit in the cards – hopefully sooner than later.  Thinking about it is a bit overwhelming – where to go and when, how long and what activities?  Maybe I can talk the family into moving there for a few years?  Nawww, never happen…  But, a 10 day visit might…


To Indianapolis then La Crosse, WI

Mississippi Backdrop - La Claire, IA

Mississippi Backdrop

After over 1200 miles on the road, made it to La Crosse, WI on the banks of the Mississippi.  All has gone well; no mechanical issues, the old body has held up and the young one has done nothing eventful – all in all a good trip so far.  Lunch at the Blue Iguana in LaClaire, IA – nice Mexican place..  Saw some other old farts heading to the Rally.  Judging by the age of the participants, doesn’t appear that anything crazy will happen there.

We managed to get off the 4-lane highway for the last couple of hundred miles and having great fun on the mini-twisties…  Should make it to St. Paul tomorrow am and can dig into the BMW culture – we’ll see how long that lasts…  Might be a short stay…

Bodega Brew Pub

Bodega Brew Pub

Found a nice brew pup in La Crosse – Bodega Brew Pup – great beer and food.  Not the best portrait of the 2 of us, but my arms were not long enough to get the whole scene.

Now ready to crash after 12 hrs on the road.  We did get stung by the time change – planning off by an hour. So, to bed early and off to St. Paul early tomorrow.

More later!

St. Paul Bound!

Ben Ted bikes-1Well, finally getting on the road again after over 2 years…  Ben, my son, and I are heading to St. Paul next week to attend the BMWMOA Rally in MN.  Should be a great ride, about 1200 miles and my 1st with Ben on his Versys.  We are heading out Tuesday morning (hopefully early) and plan on doing the ride in 2 ½ days.  About 2 days at the Rally then heading back.  Might be a bit of a push, but we’ll see.  No real agenda and we are camping along the way.  Should be fun to mingle with over 6,000 other riders, albeit a bunch of old farts like me.  Folks from all over the world will be there as well as many locals from our area.  Will be great to be on the road with Ben and sharing the freedom – leaving the cares behind for a few days…

I think many folks hear of a motorcycle rally and immediately think of Sturgis and all of its craziness.  Not this one, pretty subdued…  just a bunch of BMW riders getting together to exchange stories, look at the newest junk to add to their bikes and share a little camaraderie before heading back to the grind. Hope to get a chance to post a bit from the Rally and ride, but not a priority.

Biggest challenge will be dealing with the mid-west highways and the boredom – hopefully. More later!

Pileated Woodpecker Family

My wife spotted these guys on a hike in a local preserve and suggested I park myself in the woods to get a couple of shots of them.  Unfortunately, I was at the limits of my camera lens, so the quality is not the best.  Fun to watch though…  Now, if I could just afford a $8k lens, I could do a lot better!

Where's Mom?

Where’s Mom?

Feeding the little ones...

Feeding the little ones…



2014 Schuylkill Sojourn

DSC_1068Each year, it seems that I am somehow involved in the Schuylkill Sojourn, an event organized and managed by the Schuylkill River Heritage Area/Greenway Association. It is always well-organized and subsequently a lot of fun for the participants, whether they be day trippers or in for the full 112 mile 7-day event. It seems that I always excitedly anticipate the event and am pretty energized the first few days, but, depending on my role, look forward to the arrival in Philadelphia signaling the end of the event. Just a lot of activity and I am always trying my best to fulfill commitments.


Kelly’s Rapids – Reading, PA

This year, although my numbers may be a bit off, the entire trip was sold out with about 65 folks signing up for the entire trip and an average of about 110 folks on the water each day, more or less. Canoe Susquehanna, the on-water guides for the event do an exceptional job. No less admirable, the phenomenal job done by the Greenway staff to keep things organized, meals served, porta-potties in place and a myriad of other details. With the details managed, all the participants need to do is show up, follow a few simple directions and paddle the daily mileage as specified to succeed. Some paddling on flat water and some a bit more exciting, but always safe. I think that everyone, no matter the skill level, got their money’s worth on this trip!

Bots Gather for Aerial Shot

Bots Gather for Aerial Shot

This year, I volunteered my limited skills as a photographer for the event and had a lot of fun documenting the activities. Had some great shots and a lot more missed opportunities for the same. For me, the job of photographing, processing and posting all of the photos was a bit overwhelming – a learning experience. I came away form it with a lot more respect for those folks who do this for a living – something I could only aspire to. Trying to capture interesting photographs while the subjects and background constantly shift, exposures change and water/sky combinations baffle the most complex digital imaging systems is a challenge. There are many variables to respond to, any one of which can cause a photograph to end up in the digital trash can. Great experience though.

Now, I am waiting for the deluge of requests for specific images (digital or paper) from the participants – not quite organized enough to respond to them.

In any case, a great event and always worth the time to participate no matter the role. If you get a chance, give it a try next year – but sign-up early as the spots fill up fast!

To see more pictures of the event, please visit the photo site by clicking HERE.


Perkiomen Paddle

Had the chance to get the new canoe (Wenonah Wilderness) out for a bit of a paddle in preparation for the upcoming Schuylkill Sojourn.  Well, after hundreds of hours in a kayak, actually maybe thousands of hours, I felt like a real amateur in a canoe.  The Perkiomen is not the easiest place for a first time paddle either.  Shallow, rocky and many, many portages.  Seems like I spent more time walking the canoe than paddling.

After about 2 ½ hours on the water I had only traveled about 4 miles down this rocky creek.  I was probably a bit more conservative than I needed to be, but didn’t want to leave kevlar on all of the rocks in the creek.  Might have been better off in a Royalex material, would have cared Great Blue Heron-1much less about damage…  My intent was to get some time coordinating paddling, navigating while simultaneously taking some photos, and this little jaunt was good experience and prep for my upcoming photo mission.

In any case, was a nice day and for the 1st time in a long while, I was focused on peddling and my surrounding rather than work and other things that tend to fill my mind.  I did drift mentally a few times and one of them ended up with me in the water and the canoe floating away.  Not a big deal in 12″ of water, but taught me a lesson.

Common Merganser

Common Merganser


Saw lots of wildlife including deer, mergansers, egrets and even what I thought was an otter or large weasel. Are there otters on the Perkiomen?  I wouldn’t have believed it!  Unfortunately, didn’t get a lot of good photos as I kept the camera in the waterproof case and could not get it out in time for many of them.

Lots of activity on the Perkiomen Trail, being  a nice Saturday morning and all.  People sure stared at me, some fool dragging a canoe down about 3″ of water in the middle of the creek.  Overall, a pleasant morning, good exercise and learned a bit of respect for the handling of a canoe in moving water, not as easy as I thought.

Little Sally Has to go…

Well looks like the dream of doing the Transamerica Trail is kind of dead, for at least a few years.  Domestic obligations, demands of work and the drain on the bank account have all conspired to  take this ride/adventure off the table.  I am not sure what happened, but cash flow is tight and, as a sole practitioner, I just can’t afford to take the time off to do the ride.

Sertao small-1As a result, the recently purchased BMW Sertao 650 is on the block.  I feel really bad as I looked long and hard for the bike, have it customized for the trail, but just can’t justify it sitting in the shed until finances turn around.  So, it is goodbye Little Sally…  She is listed on ADVRIDER, IBMWR and on the BMW Owners Site.  A couple of inquiries so far, but am in no rush…  Maybe things will turn around before she goes…  Fingers crossed…

The Invitation – Oriah Mountain Dreamer

I have always liked these words – have parts of this under a picture of a trip to the Boundary Waters Canoe Area hanging above my desk.  Look at it frequently  when working, especially when there seems no light at the end of the tunnel, and thought I would share:

A Cairn Along the way (just before the AK border)

A Cairn Along the way (just before the AK border)

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

The Invitation – Oriah Mountain Dreamer

Doing what you love – vocation with a purpose…

How many of us jump out of bed in the morning with a fire in our belly and a passion for going to work?  Kind of an oxymoron – the thought of fun/enjoyment and work?   I recently stumbled across a site that rekindled – or should I say opened a wound that has been festering most of my life.  The wound, that I thought had pretty well scarred over, is that of working in a field or a job that rarely brings a sense of purpose – a job that you don’t embrace or are excited about.  A job that at best, provides the freedom to pursue passions and interests outside of the 40 hrs/week that earns our livings.

Yscouts-logo-300x851Well, the vocation with a purpose may not be as far-fetched as you might think say the folks at “Y-Scouts” – the group that runs the company that developed the web site that I mentioned above.  The Y Scouts are all about poking  those who have settled for less than they really should have in their job – those who are working without a purpose.   They preach the pursuit of purpose in work, and not settling until you find it.

I think back to the days as a youngster that were timeless, filled with interests and childlike curiosity – long before you were supposed to “know” what you wanted to do with your life.  Remember those days?   For me it was a passion for anything aquatic – from dissecting planaria to dreams of riding along with Jacques Cousteau as he explored the ocean.  I can remember taking SCUBA diving lessons at 13, well beneath the age where certification was allowed; taking marine biology classes over the summer with the University of Delaware in Lewes, DE at 15; finally attending school in FL where SCUBA diving as a required course and marine biology was a constant theme on campus.  Then reality struck – how in the hell can you make a living doing this?  Switched to the engineering curriculum in order to have a shot at getting a job upon graduation – been on that path ever since…

The Y-Scouts site is lots of fun – if you can control your envy of those who are doing what they love.  Lots of fun exercises and inspiration, especially on the pages related to “How do you find your WHY?”  I really liked some of the snippets in Paul Graham’s Essay: How to Do What You Love.  A bit wordy and rambling, but, all good stuff and worth poking around a bit.

Check out the Y-Scouts site at: Send ’em a resume and join the team – What the worst that can happen?  But before you do ask yourself a couple of questions (these came from somewhere on the Y-Scouts site):

1. What would you do tomorrow if money was no object?  Would you still get up and do what you are doing now?

2. If you knew you only had a few days to live, would you still do what you are doing between now and the big day?  ( a little melodramatic, but you get the point…)

Hmmmm…  Enough of this rambling…  it’s too much fun.  Need to get back to “working”, bills gotta be paid…

Rene Comier at Hermy’s

BMW 650

BMW 650

Had the opportunity to attend a presentation by Rene Cormier at Hermy’s BMW in Port Clinton this past Saturday. What a great opportunity to chat with someone who has actually done what many of us dream about. Rene presented on his 5 yr adventure around the world on his BMW F650 of about 100,000 miles.  I had the opportunity to chat with Rene and Colette (Rene’s wife) about his adventures and how he is trying to offer a taste of the same through his motorcycle tours in Africa.  Hard not to get excited about…


Bullet Hole In the Gas Tank

Interesting how cavalier Rene is about all of the “hazards” described by so many adventure riders – maybe all of the risks of international motorcycle travel are a bit hyped by unsubstantiated ride reports? However,  a closer inspection of the bullet hole in he 650’s gas tank gives me pause.  With a little more discussion,  I found that this incident occurred here in the good ‘ol US, before the trip even started…

Check out Rene’s book “University of Gravel Roads” and all about the tours in Africa on his website Renedian Adventures.  I kind of like the looks of the Victoria Falls to Cape Town tour, but any of them look to be a trip of a lifetime.