The Struggle With The Slow

D's Slide shows, Walking And Losing Weight

I enjoy hiking and backpacking. There is something about being in the woods that you don’t get out here in civilization. It is often very quiet. The alpha dogs and the corporations are not here. There is the wind and the sound of birds. And there is the struggle reaching the next ridge.

Last year I went on a hike to McAfee’s Knob here in Virginia. After about the first five miles I was hiking alone. Everyone else in our great group of Central Virginia Trailblazers had moved ahead to the camping area. But a couple of them came back and took my pack so I pretty much ran to the campsite. You really feel the difference when that load is lifted.

This year we are going to McAfee’s Knob again. And my goal is to do it unaided. I continue to walk nearly every day, 6 or 8 miles. I continue to try and understand my body and its nutritional requirements. I’ve lost a lot of weight but that’s really not the answer. You have to do a lot more than lose weight if you want to climb even these small mountains in Virginia at my age. Water, carbs, and the rest is very important. I’m hoping that this time things will go better.

Being sixty something means something different to me. I look around and see a lot of folks in my age bracket who are slowing down. Relaxing. I never had much of an opportunity to be so active when I was young. Kids and my government job slowed me down. But, as they say, “it’s never too late”.

We shall see. I think that a lot of it depends on what is burning inside you.

And do you ignore it? Do you fall asleep? Or do you take a chance and burn up some miles. Do you get outside and breathe the air. Feel your lungs try to do their thing.

Recently someone we know died after a short illness. He had pulmonary fibrosis. I think about him sometimes when I am hurting as I go up a steep slope. And I thank God for the pain. Because it means this body is still working. It functions as it did decades ago. It just needs more time to do the same thing.

And a little love.

McAfee’s Knob

Douthat State Park Weekend Retreat / Hiking In Winter

D's Slide shows, More Photos, Walking And Losing Weight

This past weekend the Central Va Trailblazers went up to the mountains to do a little wine tasting and hiking. We also ate out a couple of times. And the weather was nice. There’s still some snow in the upper elevations and a nice, cool breeze to help with the climbing agenda.

We played this game on Saturday night that was pretty funny at times. You had to say some phrases that not everyone was comfortable saying. I was asked to say a few of those. But I didn’t care because after drinking a few beers I don’t comprehend the English language.

No, actually that’s not right. We just lose a few of our inhibitions, thankfully, after a few. They are such a pain in the ass to have hanging over your head most of the time. I suppose they are necessary. And you don’t want to lose all of them, I guess. So apparently there are a lot of these games floating around and I’m trying to remember the name of this one.

Maybe you have played it. Anyway, it kept us up until almost midnight and then it was lights out in about two minutes. A day of walking around the mountains and doing a lot of other stuff (like drinking and playing party games) will do that to you.

It may have been my favorite CVT event so far. Douthat State Park has won an award (Outdoor Recreation Award for: Romantic Spots, Biking Trails, Educational & Historical Facilities, Fishing, Hiking) and it’s easy to see why after walking the trails. There were also many stream crossings which were a lot of fun and good practice for those of us who would like to learn the best way to do such things. They mostly seem to dry up in the summer. But they are raging now with all the snow melting and the rain we have been having.

We have some really good cooks in this group, as well. The food was excellent.

So the name of the game we played was Cards Against Humanity. I tried to Google but it wasn’t on any of their card game lists. It should be.
It was hilarious . . . but don’t plan on bringing it to the church group picnic.




We Go To DC/ Andrea Bocelli In Concert

D's Slide shows, D's Writing, East Coast Travels

It has been cold and rainy here in Virginia for awhile now and Betsy was sick with a stomach virus that laid her up in bed for a few days. So as the day approached for the Andrea Bocelli concert in Washington DC I was not sure if we would even be able to go. But my lovely wife rallied and the skies cleared up, although it remained cold. We drove two hours up to the southern reach of the Metro system and glided the rest of the way to the Verizon Center.

And so it turned out to be one of the loveliest experiences we have had in quite a long time. Emerging from the subway there were tents and vendors with many, many Christmas items next to the National Portrait Gallery.

Then we went to dinner at Corduroy with a good friend of ours, Kurt, who has worked at the Library of Congress for over thirty years. And then we said goodbye and headed for the concert. Andrea was amazing as usual. There were five encores ending with his amazing rendition of Nessun Dorma. I never really expected to see Andrea Bocelli in concert so this was an amazing treat, a Christmas experience I will never forget. Betsy had a great time, too, and we enjoyed the adventure together. Back to the Metro we went and down I-95 where construction is ever present. We got home well after one in the morning and I was asleep about two minutes after my head hit the pillow. Daily walking has its rewards.

Shenandoah National Park / Car Camping At Big Meadows

D's Slide shows, Walking And Losing Weight

Here are some photos from our trip last weekend to the Shenandoah National Park in western Virginia. We had a good time car camping at Big Meadow and visiting the lodge. There is a taproom downstairs in the lodge and a great view outside of the Shenandoah Valley.
Deer wander around the campground. A mother bear and her three cubs traveled through on Saturday.  Some of the more adventurous Trailblazers went hiking both days.  I explored the trails around the park, tried to take some photos and pretty much avoided any strenuous activity.  Here are the photos.

Fireworks And Reflections On God / RLS and B12

D's Slide shows, D's Writing

The 4th of July celebration is behind us now. It’s in the rear view mirror. And if you would like to look in that rear view mirror here are some photos of it. We had a nice dinner at my favorite watering hole, Legends Brewery, and managed to scurry up to the bridge overlooking the James River here in Richmond to see the works as in fire in the sky works between the rains that have decided to become part of our daily lives here.


My last two outings with the Trailblazers were cancelled because of rain. We were going to walk 3-4 miles around the University of Richmond but the thunder and lightening dissuaded us. And we were going to float down the James River tomorrow in inner tubes but there are flash flood warnings tonight. Because it just keeps raining down, down to the ground where it forms rivers, lakes and pools of disappointment.

Bummer. Usually all the lawns are brown by this time every year. But not this year. I really like but living in the Amazon, not so much. What’s going on? Mother Nature is doing something different this time around. And who can blame her? She has a reputation she must uphold. Good job, sister.

I am still walking daily because it really doesn’t matter if you get soaked from the inside out or the other way around. And I’ve been making some progress with the RLS. Restless Legs Syndrome can drive you crazy. But as it turns out the vibes are muted by serious doses of B-12 “sublingual” during the day. We are talking about 6 or 8 tabs of 2500 mcg. The bottle only recommends one per day so I may be seriously OD’ing on this stuff. But it has a very calming effect on the legs and I can think of worse ways to go.

While I was walking today I was thinking about God. How many people are there on the planet now? Six billion? And God may be able to predict what each of those souls is going to do but He/She can’t be totally sure. Because we have free will. We are capable of making U-turns and all of that. But at the same time God apparently knows the future before it happens. So She/He knows if we are going to surprise Him/Her.

So I wrestled with this one for about a mile and a half. I was listening to The Doors and Inception and a few other things, walking and wondering when it was going to start down pouring on my head. And trying to understand this seeming contradiction.

At some point during this walk I decided that God must have different compartments for this stuff. There’s one part of Her/Him that knows what we are going to do from here to eternity. And then there’s another part that lives in the moment and is surprised when we act unpredictably.

But then I thought, just as this really steep hill came into view, why, if God has different parts, would he only have two parts? Maybe He/She has a huge number of parts. Maybe, since She/He is infinite He/She has an infinite number of parts.   So God is not really One God at all. God is an infinite number of Gods.

And God spends as much time getting to know Herself/Himself as He/She does getting to know us. Except that it doesn’t take time if you are God. It all happens in the moment.

Anyway, it was a fun walk. And it never did rain much.  I was feeling good about making progress on the medical side of things and wondering about the big picture.

Sky Meadows State Park / Life Hike/Great American Backyard Campout

Blogs or Posts, D's Slide shows, East Coast Travels

It’s back home again after an two day camping event at Sky Meadows State Park with a group of Central Virginia Trailblazers. This event coincided with the Great American Backyard Campout held at parks all over the country. And I’ve just finished editing some photos taken with a Canon SX260 point and shoot. This little camera does pretty well and it has an amazing number of dents and scratches on it from camping trips in the past six months. But it keeps on clicking! I really ought to invest in a small tripod instead of looking around in the dark for a solid surface.

We had some great weather on Saturday as the park put on some educational programs for the kids and their parents. We also had a nice spaghetti dinner. And some of our group discussions were downright entertaining as well! The upcoming Super Moon was mostly on display and there was no difficulty finding ones way around in the “dark”.

Some strong winds came around later in the evening and tested the tents. And we had some rain early Sunday morning. But it was a relaxing and enjoyable time spent away from the city and everyone seemed to enjoy it. Here are some photos.

Patriotic Festival Virginia Beach Airshow 2013

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Here are some photos from the recent Patriotic Festival at Virginia Beach. The Blue Angels were not there this year, of course, because they are not anywhere. The government is trying to save money while it goes bankrupt. It’s sort of like giving a drowned man swimming lessons only more catastrophic for the whole world.

I went down to the pier to take most of these and decided to get a tan while I was there. As I result I nearly burned off the top of my head. But that’s just the way it goes when you are getting older and forget the warnings on the suntan lotion bottles. Except for the small hole which I suppose will never go away everything looks as good as new up there now.

It has rained a lot the past few days. A tropical storm passed through here and flash flood warnings were announced. But tonight things are looking better and by the time everyone goes back to work on Monday the sun should be shining with a cool breeze and low humidity.

Anyway, here are the photos. These guys and girls really know how to fly. I wish I could fly. I’ve tried to learn several times but my arms always get too tired before I ever get off the ground.

Drum roll please.

Dominion Riverrock 2013 The Filthy 5K Race

D's Slide shows, D's Writing, Richmond

It looks like the weather is going south this morning so I’m going to have to use my weather-related psychic powers to make it better. Dominion Riverrock is too important here in Richmond to have it messed up by rain. Last night the weather was cool, though! It was very nice. The Trailblazers had a booth set up in the Interactive Village and a few of them ran in the Filthy 5K race. I got caught up in taking photos. The infinite number of shapes, sizes, expressions and creative clothing of my fellow humans can be fascinating when we are not just walking down the street. God Bless us. I hope there will be a lot more excitement this weekend but we will have to see. Mother Nature rules and heavy rains are in the forecast.


False Cape State Park With The Central Virginia Trailblazers

D's Slide shows, D's Writing, Favorites, Virginia Beach

This past weekend our Central Virginia Trailblazers group went to False Cape State Park on the coast of Virginia to explore one of the very few nature refuges on the east coast.  There were about 25 of us and I would say, just looking around, that everyone had a fun time.  One of the things I appreciate about this group is that it is friendly  but not clique-ish.   I don’t feel comfortable hiking alone but it’s fun having a certain amount of solitude while you are exploring nature.   If you have a question or need help there are folks around but you don’t have to worry about the mind games.

So I appreciate this group and am actually learning a few things about the natural world and my place in it.   The rangers in this park were very nice, as well, and we learned some survival techniques during a Sunday morning class from one of them.  Nettles are one of my new, favorite plants!

The weather held up pretty well and we had some good meals in the lodge thanks to some of our talented trailblazer cooks.   Here are some photos. I am also learning to appreciate Flickr as they do a much better job displaying photos than FB or some of the others. All in all, it was one of my favorite camping adventures to date.


Columbarium Dedication At Arlington National Cemetery

Blogs or Posts, D's Slide shows, East Coast Travels

Today I went up to DC to visit Zachary and participate in the dedication of a new columbarium at Arlington National Cemetery.   A columbarium is a structure that contains niches for the storage of funeral urns.    It was an interesting ceremony although the jets from Reagan National drowned out some of the words.   Is there any way we can shut down that airport?  It creates noise pollution and the airplanes messed up some of my shots. Here’s a photo of the new area being dedicated and a jet in the background looking like it’s heading towards the moon.


This evening I drove back to Richmond on I95.  They are repaving parts of it so the traffic was squeezed into one lane a couple of times.  I have a suggestion.  Instead of fixing the road five miles here and five miles there they should just fix it in one ten mile stretch.  Then we would only have to go through the dance to get things down to one lane ONE TIME.

But I digress.  It was warmer today.  Spring has finally found us and not a moment too soon.



Hiking To McAfee’s Knob In Virginia / Senior Backpacking

Blogs or Posts, D's Slide shows, D's Writing, Walking And Losing Weight

Oh man, I’m trying to get it together to write a post today about our backpacking trip this past weekend. And I’m wondering, “Why do I do these things?” and “Should I ever do them again?”. I’m learning about the body as it ages and discovering there are many things I do not know about it.

We hiked up a mountain and along a ridge to our campsite. We camped for a night and then went up some more to McAfee’s Knob where we could view our trail from the prior day. You learn things about yourself when you do things like this with 25+ pounds on your back. For instance, when I arrived at the campsite and set up my tent the only thing on my mind was getting inside and curling up in the sleeping back. Temperatures were falling into the low 40’s, high 30’s. But I was cold and started shivering (one of my least favorite things to do). So I cooked up some Ramen Noodles and later returned to bed happily discovering that it was 20 degrees warmer in my cozy tent although the temperature had dropped some more.

Some of our group went up to McAfee’s Knob to view the sunset and get some great photos of the golden light hovering on and around the rocks, the trees and their happy faces. But I could not do it and had to wait until the following day when the entire group passed through there on our way back to civilization.

Hopefully, I will figure out how to get beyond this impasse but at present it seems as if this 60+ year old blogger has missed the cut and needs to dial back some of his adventures. I see older folks on the trail and they seem to be doing quite well. So I’m not sure what to do. Falling behind is not really a problem. The woods are made for solitary walks. But I did not reach the end of the hike until the others had been there for an hour and my legs felt, perhaps, like those of someone who cannot walk at all and is confined to a wheelchair.



I have walked and run in the past 18 months enough to cross the US and returned a good ways. But there were too many fires in my legs the past two days. The pain(lactic acid?) was going up my thighs and into my hips over and over again. It was more difficult than running the half-marathon. Perhaps running and hiking require too different training regimens and do not reenforce each other. Maybe I need to eat more protein when I’m out there. I don’t know. But I did have a great time being with the other hikers and viewing the vast expanses beyond the rocks. There were lots of photo ops on Sunday morning. And we had a great meal at a restaurant in Staunton after the event. Central Va Trailblazers, you rock!

Here are some photos.

Maymont Park Richmond Va / Spring 2013

Blogs or Posts, D's Slide shows, Walking And Losing Weight

This past weekend we enjoyed some spring weather here in Virginia for the first time this year. And the family took this opportunity to visit Maymont Park. There were lots of folks out there, of course, and our animal friends seemed to be enjoying the sunshine and warm breezes as well.