Hiking Mt. Washington

After living in the NE for over 20 years, for my birthday this year in late June, I finally hiked Mt. Washington! Being the highest peak on the East Coast of the U.S. at 6288 ft, it felt very rewarding to finally take this on. We hiked from the west side taking Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to Lake of the Clouds AMC Hut and then taking the last 1.4 miles to the summit via Crawford Path. The total distance is about 4.5 miles, hiking ~3800 ft in elevation change, and it took us about 4.5 hours with a few stops. Our plan was to also hike down the same day via Jewel, but once to the top, the sky opened up and it started to pour like there was no tomorrow. Later we find out that this is almost a daily occurrence between 1-3pm, so keep this in mind if you’re thinking about hiking up and down in 1 day.

Instead of risking an ankle injury on the way on slippery rocks, we were able take the Cog Railway down along with many other hikers that had the same idea. Luckily we made it on, but had to sit on the floor of the train. Despite having a wet ass and not being able to take in the scenery, I was so thankful that we got on.

It was an amazing experience and being able to stay at the Mt. Washington Inn wasn’t so bad either. It made it a complete and awesome experience! If time allows, bring your tennis racquets and golf clubs. There are 4 clay courts and a 18 hole/9 hole Donald Ross designed course.

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See Flickr Slideshow >>

Helpful Links for the Hike

Lower Cape: Storm Plato

Immediately following Blizzard Nemo which dumped over 30″ of snow in Boston, we got hit with another storm in the Lower Cape named Plato. Nemo forced us to post phone our trip, but then Storm Plato decided to followed us down the weekend after. However, we made it safely to Provincetown this time before the storm hit. The gusting winds and ocean views were amazing.

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Local Flavors of Pittsburgh PA

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With the good memories of a work visit to Pittsburgh back in 2005, I recently went back again in April for a long weekend to see the city and to also visit Fallingwater. It’s an eclectic, environmentally friendly city with lots of architecture and good food. Having 3 rivers that transect the city helps to make it feel like you’re always close to the water, which I love.

The bird photos are from the National Aviary. I recommend it, if you like to see birds and penguins up close and personal.

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Boston’s MBTA Fare Strike at Park Street

[pullquote author=”Boston Fare Strike@Riseup.net”]”They say FARE HIKE, We say FARE STRIKE!”[/pullquote]

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Passed by folks putting the word out for an upcoming MBTA fare strike at Park Street Station downtown Boston. My monthly subway commuter pass increased by 18% from $59 to $70 starting in July. That is a pretty significant increase. On the other hand, I believe it’s been many years since the last increase.

Boston fare Strike @ Riseup.net encouraging commuters to participate in a public meeting to plan the next action on July 19th, 6pm at the Bandstand. Boston Fare Strike is a coalition of organizations and individuals that came together to meet the July 1st fare hikes with a fare strike. They see this action as a step in the long-term struggle to not only defend Public Transit, but to improve and expand it to better serve the people of Boston and the surrounding areas.

Driving 1700 Miles in 10 Days in the Southwest

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In the heat of the summer, July 2011, we took a 1700 mile, 10 day, driving trip in the Southwest from Phoenix, Arizona to Santa Fe, NM, to Mexican Hat, UT, to the Grand Canyon and Sedona, AZ. We drove on track and off track and explored many towns and sights in-between include the Mother Road Route 66 from Holbrook to Albuquerque, NM.

See SW Trip Flickr Slideshow >>

See Trip Route >>

Read Notes from the Road by Randall Armor >>

Photographers That I Like

Lee Friedlander, 1962

When composing and snapping photos, I’m drawn to shapes, patterns, and reflections in landscapes and streetscapes alike. The following are photographers and artists that influence and inspire what I see.

by Lee Friedlander
Photo by Lee Friedlander courtesy of The Fraenkel Gallery, San Francisco.

Lee Friedlander   View website

[pullquote foo=”bar” author=”Lee Friedlander”]”Witness is borne and puzzles come together at the photographic moment which is very simple and complete. The mind-finger presses the release on the silly machine and it stops time and holds what its jaws can encompass and what the light will stain.”[/pullquote]

Continue reading “Photographers That I Like”

Sedona: An Oasis in Arizona’s High Desert

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[ See photos in Flickr Slideshow > ]

During the heat of the summer this past July, we took a 1700 mile driving trip around the SW from Phoenix to Santa Fe to Mexican Hat, UT to the Grand Canyon, with a pit stop in Sedona before flying back to Boston from Phoenix. It was wonderful and tremendous trip with many roads driven, trails hiked, and photos taken. We sweated our asses off, but it was all worth it. We were there the first week of July when the heat was a sweltering 115 degrees on the hottest of days and when a haboob swept through Phoenix. See summer trip photos here.

After seeing the Grand Canyon for the first time, which made me feel like a splat of color in a Jackson Pollock painting, we arrived in Sedona as our last stop before heading home. Just coming from the Canyon, which is breath-taking and amazing, Sedona’s colors are even brighter with more intimate hikes. I know this may sound goofy, but you are part of the landscape when hiking in Sedona instead of looking into an amazing 360 degree painting. Of course both has it’s perks.

Many of the Sedonians that we met professed that Sedona has a way of pulling you in where you’ll keep coming back. And they were right.

I love to travel and if you do too, I know you’ve also said to yourself while in some foreign place, ‘I have to come back. There’s just so much more to see.’ For once, we followed through on our wish and we ventured back. With the help of pre-Christmas rates and a free airline companion ticket, we returned to Sedona for a week and used it as a spring board to explore surrounding areas.

The following is our rough 10 day itinerary for the trip with some select photos for those pondering a visit to Sedona:

12/15, Thursday Night

  • Flew Delta from Boston to Phoenix on at 5:30pm flight with a stopover in Cincinnati. Flying Jet Blue is preferred as they offer non-stop flights with reasonable prices, but the free companion ticket with Delta with one stopover was a steal.
  • Stayed overnight in Phoenix: DoubleTree Hotel booked via Hotwire. It’s a very nice, desert style hotel for a quick night stay. I give it 3.5 stars out of 5.

12/16, Friday

  • Brunch at the Daily Dose in Scottsdale, AZ— Great find on Yelp. Delicious SW style food!! I had the BEST homemade veggie burger in recent memory.
  • Visit Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin West in Scottsdale. Took the 90 minute tour of the campus. Well worth the $32.
  • Meander to Sedona in the late afternoon.
  • Check in at our B&B for the week, The Canyon Wren Cabins and chilled out. The breakfasts are simple and delicious. Mike and Melina were gracious hosts and helped with tips on where to go and supplied us with Red Rock Canyon and National Park passes to use for the week. There is no TV, phone, or internet access here, so it’s a great way to be off the grid to recharge. The cabins are cozy with a wood fireplace and kitchen. I highly recommend it as a place to stay while in Sedona. We loved it and would definitely stay there again! See their Facebook page.

12/17, Saturday

  • Hiked the West Fork Trail in Oak Creek Canyon off of 89A in Sedona. Beautiful snow covered trail that was about 5 miles round trip. We counted 7 creek crossings along the way.
  • Grilled dinner on the gas grill at our cabin.

12/18, Sunday

  • Raining day in Sedona.
  • Paid for day use of gym/spa: Los Abrigados. After a work out, swam in the outdoor heated salt water pool and jacuzzi.
  • Chilled out at Stakes and Sticks and watched the Pats and Denver game. We were only 1 of 2 tables that rooted for the Pats. Pats won 41-23!!

12/19, Monday

  • Spent the day at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. We stayed here for 3 nights on the last trip where Hermit Road was closed off to cars. During this week, Hermit Road was open to cars so we drove out to Hermit Rest and hiked the Rim Trail to Pima Point.

12/20, Tuesday

  • Explored Route 66 East of Flagstaff towards Winslow (see map).
  • Visited: Sunset CraterWalnut CanyonTwo Guns (site of an old zoo, now a ghost town), abandoned Twin Arrows Rest Stop.
  • Ate at Salsa Brava off of historic Route 66 in Flagstaff per recommendations from Mike and Milena. Winner.
  • Walked around Flagstaff at night before stores and restaurants closed up. Cute small scale town/city with nice restaurants and shops in historic downtown. Snowbowl Ski Resort is only a 20 minute drive from here!!!!

12/21, Wednesday

  • Drive and explore Route 66 West (see map):
    • Bellemont
    • Williams
    • Ash Fork, AZ
    • Seligman (A must see for historic, kitschy Route 66.)
    • Peach Springs
  • Our intent was to drive all the way on Route 66 to the California border and also see Oatman, AZ, but night fall came fast and we decided to turn back at Peach Springs. Next time, we’re planning to drive this route from Las Vegas to Flagstaff, so the adventures will have to wait until then.

12/22, Thursday

  • Hiked Doe Mountain in West Sedona off of Desert Road (map). Highly recommend this hike. Once on top, you can walk around for a 360 view of Sedona Red Rock country.
  • Spent our last Sedona evening relaxing with a must try dinner at Elote (local favorite). Make sure you call for a reservation.

12/23, Friday (See map)

  • Check out of Canyon Wren Cabins.
  • Explored Jerome, Cottonwood, and Prescott before arriving in Phoenix for the night.
    • In Jerome, walk around the town center for the stores and wine tastings. It’s an old mining town with a history of booze, women, and the wild west.
    • Stop by the Antique and Things shop in Cottonwood. If you like old signs and gadgets, you’ll find it here.
  • Stay near Scottsdale also booked on Hotwire: Scottsdale Resort and Conference Center. The golf/tennis resort was much more than we needed, but it was very comfortable with a bar where we were able to grab a late night snack.
  • Bartender was very knowledgeable as a Sommelier. We tried an Arizona Stronghold red that was fantastic. He made us an absinthe and rye whisky drink at the end of the night called Sazerac that was a perfect end of the evening cocktail.

12/24, Saturday

  • Homebound in time for Christmas!!! Fly out of Phoenix back to Boston to arrive at 10pm with a stopover in Detroit.
  • As an aside, I woke up sick as a dog and couldn’t hold my food down. I feared not being able to survive the flight home without holding it together. The good news… I held it all in and together : ).