New England and Canada

Getting packed up!
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Things are moving fast now! The POD is packed and we have moved out of my place, and are now temporary living at my sister’s place. The countdown is on for a June 30 Departure. Stay tuned for more!

Almost out-a hear!
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All Cleaned up and Ready to go!

Not long now! Last week and getting the last few things done before we blast out. Oh yeah…..for those coming on Friday, looking forward to it, and we will be hitting the road this Sunday!! Woohooo!!

 

Hitting the road!
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Well, after getting the truck all packed up…..the day has come……we are finally out of here! First stop Windham, NY!

Windham, NY
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Our first week on the road is in the books, and it has been non stop since we got out of town. The drive up to Cathy’s parents place in Windham, NY was good, what a difference from the weather back in the Northern Virginia! What a difference being up in the mountains.

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Cathy and Jamie arrive in Windham!

We spent the first couple of days playing golf with Cathy’s parents on a couple of different courses in the area. Some of the views from the courses are just awesome! Cathy showing off her form below on the mountain course, Windham Ski Resort in the background.

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Cathy getting it done with Windham Ski resort in the background

 

On Tuesday after golf, Cathy, her dad, and myself hiked up to Kaaterskill Falls, the highest waterfalls in NY. Cool place and we got some good shots below.

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Kaaterskill Falls

 

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At the top of the falls

 

On Wednesday, Eddie, our first visitor, came into town! Cathy and I drove down to New Paltz to meet Ed. We had a late breakfast at the Main Street Bistro while waiting for Ed to roll in. Anybody climbing the Gunks needs to hit that place up…..good grub! Once Ed arrive we hit the Gunks and jumped on High E for Ed’s first climb in the Gunks, followed by a lap on Airy Aria. Good afternoon hanging out with good people, but the wether from Northern Virginia has caught up with New Paltz………it was sticky to say the least.

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Ed climbing High E.

 

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After his first pitch in the Gunks, Ed is all smiles!

 

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Ed leading the second pitch of High E.

 

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It was hot, but it’s always a good time

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Cathy and Jamie

On Thursday we headed back to the Gunks and Ed jumped on a climb called Horseman to start the day. Great climb, but in a very crowded area, so afterwards we ended up moving down the rock face to do a climb called Ken’s Crack. After a few laps on Ken’s Crack, the closest thing available for us to jump on was a climb called BABY. (Mental note…..Jamie should never climb anything with the name BABY in it, i.e. Baby Rage!) The climb is only rated 5.6, (for those non-climbers out there, it means for someone with plenty of experience on the rock…generally….it should be a fairly cruzy climb) and I thought it would be a great route for Cathy, and a cruzer climb for me. Long story short………I let my guard down in the short off-width section and took a 20 footer! As most trad climbers know, you just can’t let your guard down! I did and I got bitch slapped for it. After only a few scratches, it was a humbling experience and a good lesson learned. Doesn’t matter how much you train or how strong you get, you can always get spit off any climb, anywhere! Protect early and protect often ;-)

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Jamie leading Ken’s Crack

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Cathy on Ken’s Crack

 

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Ed on Baby

 

On Friday Cathy decided to take the day off (smart girl), so just Ed and I braved the heat at the Gunks. It got up to 95! We hiked into the Near Trapps to find it empty (shocker with the temps that day), so we jumped on the classic climb called Yellow Ridge. The heat seemed to suck the energy right out of us, and by the time we got to the top and with three days of climbing in the heat under our belts we were running on fumes. We had planned to jump on some harder climbs, but with us both sweating out our clothes we opted for a cruzer called Disney Land, and called it a day afterwards.

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Ed on the first pitch of Yellow Ridge

We headed back to Windham for Ed’s last night in town. After a energy draining day, Cathy’s parents, in a very generous gesture, treated us to dinner at a local italian restaurant called Vesuvio. Anybody who visits this area of NY needs to hit this place up, good service, great food, and it was lobster night!!! ;)

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Happy boys and their bibs!

That winds up our first week on the road. We are going to hang in Windham for a few more days, getting in some more climbing at the Gunks (temps are suppose to drop Monday and Tuesday). Cathy’s sister Tricia is coming into town on Tuesday with her kids, so it will great to visit with her before we take off for the Adirondacks and Lake Placid on Wednesday.

 

Adirondacks
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We left the lap of luxury in Windham NY where my parents took real good care of us.  We said goodbye to rounds of golf, home cooked meals and Lobster for what we’re calling the “real road” and we are on it now.  After only a few hours in the car heading north we arrived in the High Peaks of NY and Lake Placid area.  This past week has been filled with camping, hiking, climbing, exploring Lake Placid and the Olympic Centers.  It will be hard to believe that the landscape and views here could be rivaled anywhere else in the north east, but we will soon find out in the coming months.  It is breathtaking to say the least with so many mountain peaks and lakes.  We are camping at a site called Whispering Pines set between Lake Placid and Keene Valley.  We are surrounded by Adirondack Park and quality rock climbing in any direction.

We started out the week at Chapel Pond Pass climbing in an area called Upper Beer Wall, we knocked out a couple routes and will return to this area today. Below are a couple of pics from our first day.

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Jamie at the base of Labatt-Ami

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Cathy on Labatt-Ami

On Tuesday we set out to climb a classic called “Quadrophenia” at Hurricane Crag in Keene.  We got lost trying to find it but when you’re on the road like we are, you’re never really lost, you’re just exploring!  After killing a lot of time driving around we finally found it and it proved to be a classic.

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Cathy on Quadrophenia

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Top of Quadrophenia

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Top of Quadrophenia

Wednesday was a day off to be a tourist in Lake Placid, a very cool village set on a lake with great restaurants and shops.  The lake, we assumed to be Lake Placid, is actually Mirror Lake.  After realizing this we set out to find LP and found it to be inaccessible, meaning the huge beautiful lake is surrounded by either forest or private roads and residences.  Maybe we’re missing something??  We took in the air show at the Olympic Ski Jumping Center and this was a real cool show.  The American jumpers were aged 12 to 18, all of them so young and fearless sharing the same goal of competing in a future Olympics.  We also did laundry and saw Spiderman : )

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We found the Starbucks in town has the best wifi.

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First day in Lake Placid, though the lake in the background is called Mirror Lake.

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This guy was way up there……and they call rock climbers crazy!

On Thursday we decided to explore Saranac Lake and Jamie found a good hike on the Internet called Ampersand Mountain.  If you ever plan to spend time in the Adirondacks and enjoy hiking you must hike to the summit of Ampersand Mt.  The trailhead is on Rt 3 between Saranac and Tupper Lakes, it is a 2.7 mile hike with an aggressive final mile, a 1300ft vertical climb.  Once you reach the summit your reward awaits, a 360 view of the entire ADK region, high peaks, multiple lakes, a view worth sweating for.

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Jamie’s finds a boulder problem on Ampersand Mtn.

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Cathy on Ampersand Mtn Summit

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Ampersand Mtn, Summit view #1

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Ampersand Mtn, Summit view #2

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Ampersand Mtn, Summit view #3

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Ampersand Mtn, Summit view #4

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Cathy and Jamie on summit of Ampersand Mtn.

We spoke with a couple on the trail who told us about another hike on the other side of Rt 3 that we should check out when we finished.  We did just that and it turned out to be another gem.  Once we hiked down, we crossed Rt 3 and hiked a 1/2 mile into the woods and came out on a beach, it was Middle Saranac Lake, we went for a swim and the water was as warm as a bath tub.  What a way to finish a long hike!

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Jamie in Middle Saranac Lake

It’s only been 2 weeks since we left DC and things have been great, we are truly enjoying ourselves, this experience, the people along the way and the weather has been fantastic, true mountain weather.  We’ll spend the next few days covering a bit more of Lake Placid and also visit Lake Champlain before we move on to Newport, RI by the middle of next week to celebrate Cathy’s B-day!!  More to come……

 

Lake George
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Friday was our last day in the Adirondacks, and we spent most of it climbing some more routes on Upper and Lower Beer Walls near Chapel Pond. The heat finally caught up with us, so the higher we moved on the routes the less shade we had from the trees and thus  more sun exposure……and it was hot! We climbed some of the classics such as Rockaholic, Afternoon Delight, and I gave Frosted Mug a run (very cool climb!). Below are some pics from the day.

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Cathy at the top of Afternoon Delight

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Jamie starting up Frosted Mug

The best part of climbing this area is when your done, just stroll on over to Chapel Pond and you can take a swim or just sit back and soak your dogs in the water…..beautiful place.

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Cooling the dogs in Chapel Pond

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Cathy at Chapel Pond

While we were climbing on Lower Beer Walls we ran into a couple of other climbers. We got to talking and they put us on to a climb in Lake George, called Little Finger, that sounded pretty cool. The climb is a very moderate slab climb on Roger’s Rock right on the water, but you can only access the climb via boat. On a side note….this is one of the best parts of the trip so far……you think you are going in one direction, but all you have to do is turn the steering wheel to go in another…….so instead of heading to Lake Champlain like we thought we would, we headed off on a little adventure to Lake George on Saturday.

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Lake George

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Cathy at Lake George

We checked into Rogers Rock Campground in the early afternoon on Saturday. Easily the biggest campground we have ever stayed in…..huge! Largest in NY state. But it has really nice sites, amenities, and it is right on the lake. Sunday we set out in the morning to hike Tongue Mountain. We didn’t really know much about the trail, but found a good trail that gave us some decent views of the lake, and it was an awesome way to start out the day. We then went by a boat shop and we were able to rent a couple of kayaks for Monday’s adventure. (We had to take the rooftop carrier off to get them on top of the 4Runner) See below. A little balancing act, but some good knot tying and those suckers weren’t going anywhere!

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Lake George from Tongue Mountain

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Lake George Campsite

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Kayaks on the 4Runner

Being a slab climb and with Monday’s weather calling for mid 80′s temps, we decided to get up early to beat the heat. After stuffing all our gear into the kayaks we headed out to find the route. The paddle over to the rock was so peaceful. The water was flat and hardly anyone was on the lake…..just one of those moments….where you sit back and say this is what it is all about.

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Jamie about to head out to Roger’s Rock

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On our way to Roger’s Rock to climb Little Finger

It didn’t take long to find the slab and the route. Mooring up the kayaks was a little adventurous, but we eventually got them tied up (using a tri-cam in a crack ;-) It was funny…..Cathy and I were joking around and just imagining being a few hundred feet up on the route and seeing our two kayaks floating away…..which would have made getting back to camp a lot more difficult!

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Kayaks moored up

I have to admit, the route was pretty cool. Not the best route I have ever done, but you couldn’t beat the location and scenery. I know, I know……it was slab (not my specialty!), but the route is only 5.5 and it does follow a crack for almost 500′ up this slab face. The only downside to the climb…..it got hot real quick. We started to feel like two eggs in a skillet! By the end of the second pitch we both could feel the black rubber of our shoes baking our feet. I motored up the last pitch as fast as I could, and once I got Cathy on belay I don’t think I have ever seen her climb so fast! We were rewarded with some spectacular scenery though……..and the best part, after only a couple of double rope rappels back down, all you need to do is drop your gear and dive straight into the clear, beautiful waters of the lake to feel rejuvenated again! Really cool experience. We spent the rest of the day putzing around the lake in our kayaks, and taking swims to cool off…….yep was a pretty rough day! ;-)

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Cathy on first pitch of LIttle Finger

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Looking down at the first belay, half way up second pitch

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Both of us on Little Finger. I am a little past half way up the second pitch.

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Top of the second pitch

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Top of little finger. Feet smoked!

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Leaving Roger’s Rock

Tuesday, we decided to take the day off from any serious hiking or climbing. Just down the road from the campground is a ferry that crosses Lake Champlain and puts you into Vermont. Niether of us had ever spent much time in VT so off we went to see what we could get into near Burlington. We drove through Middlebury and this proved to be exactly what you picture Vermont to be. It was some beautiful countryside over there, and after having some lunch in Burlington, someone put us onto visiting the Ben and Jerry’s ice cream factory. Supposedly you get free samples! We drove out there to check it out, but what a zoo! People everywhere, all trying to take a tour of the factory, eating ice cream, crammed in next to each other, tour busses everywhere……not my scene. Cathy inquired about the tour and they said the next available tour would be in 45 minutes, and when she said she wasn’t into it……..I was so relieved to get the hell out of there!!

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Leaving Ben and Jerry’s!

On Wednesday, we packed up and left the wilderness of Northern NY. We headed to Rhode Island to spend the next few days with family and friends in Newport, and also to  celebrate Cathy’s birthday, today!

Rhode Island
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You all remember the first post we put up about our first week with my parents and enjoying the high life of golfing, surf-n-turf, and home cooked meals? Well, we seem to be creating a pattern here that goes something like; luxury – wilderness – luxury – , you get the point. After 2 weeks in the wilds of norther NY we arrived in Rhode Island for a few days of the high life again. We started out visiting my oldest friend, Sheri, and her husband Matt in Bristol, RI where we were exposed to many new things such as eating Quahogs and feeding toads for pure enjoyment. Matt and his friend Beckett seemed to have mastered the art of toad feeding. For about 2 weeks a single toad has made his home on Sheri and Matt’s porch so each night they feed him bugs and since bugs are in abundance, the toad eats a lot. The toad was hand fed by Matt and the toad ate everything, 32 bugs in one sitting to be exact.

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Out to eat in Bristol with Sheri, Matt, and Beckett.

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After 32 bugs, this is one fat toad!

Once we figure out how to post video, we’ll share this excitement with you. Bristol, RI is home to America’s oldest 4th of July parade and is a beautiful little seaside town on the Narragansett Bay and they serve great Quahogs! We really enjoyed our time here.

From Bristol we moved south to Newport where my sister and brother-in-law were vacationing by boat from Long Island, NY. It’s not a far journey from LI to Newport by car or boat so everyone came out to play including my entire family as well as some of Sheri’s. Friday, July 20th was when we were all together, 15 of us, and despite the rain we had a blast. The weather is no matter when you are in good company.

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Cathy’s sister and brother-in-law’s boat that we stayed on, with Cathy holding baby Lillian

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All the ladies on Cathy’s birthday

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Celebrating Cathy’s birthday with Juliana and Alex

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Having fun on the boat

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All smiles during our first night in Newport

Jamie used my birthday as reason to celebrate and once again ordered the lobster special at the marina restaurant. Since we’re headed to Maine and then Canada I think this lobster appetite of his will continue to thrive.

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Lobster dinner in Newport……he was yummy;-)

The rest of the weekend was great and the weather improved too. We just chilled out on Tricia and Harold’s gorgeous boat, lounged at the pool, ate really well, and enjoyed time with family. While Jamie itches to get back into the woods and on the rock, I wallow in the enjoyment of a real toilet that flushes, a shower without moths and a break from bug bites ;-) Since we didn’t budget for an extended stay in Newport, we must move on and New Hampshire is next.

 

New Hampshire rocks! 07/22 – 08/01
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Our apologies for the very long post you are about to read, but we have been busy!  The other reason this one is so lengthy is we have been without internet and the wifi we have been in and out of has been very weak.

The drive to Rumney, NH was less than 4 hours from Newport and the landscape is beautiful along this route, entering the White Mountain region. We settled into Baker River campground between Plymouth and Rumney and this camp site is by far our favorite since we started. We have a huge site facing the Baker River and after 20 minutes of unpacking, it has become home for the week.

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Baker River Campground

They say the climbing in Rumney is the best sport climbing in the country, this will be a nice break from the trad climbing we’ve been doing since we left. At least for me, since I’m cleaning most of the gear after Jamie leads ;-) Our first day out was at the Parking Lot Wall and for a Monday it was pretty crowded and also a lot hotter than expected. The rock here is different, it is schist rock and for me very sharp so my finger tips are suffering the worst. I hope I get used to it!

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Cathy’s first day at Rumney

Since the weather was not that ideal the next day, and the rock was wet from the nights storm we decided to do some hiking on Tuesday. We settled on starting with the Flume Gorge up in Franconia Notch. The Notch is known as one of New Hampshires most visited areas. The only bummer about the hike is the entrance fee of $15, each!  We figured it would be worth it from the flyer pictures alone and decided to splurge. The hike is about 2 miles long, and the flume gorge is really cool. Another one of our country’s natural wonders. Below are some pics from the hike.

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Starting the Flume Gorge

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First part of the Flume

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Half way up the Flume

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Flume Gorge

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The Presidential Range in the background at the end of the Flume Gorge hike

Wednesday we headed back to Rumney for some more sport climbing. We ended up starting the day at the Armed and Dangerous Wall and then moved over to the Main Cliff, and ticked off some of the moderate classics. We also ran into another couple from Quebec, Canada. They were also staying at the Baker River campground, and we got to hanging out and climbing together. They are really nice people and share some of our same passions. Their names are Manuel and Veronique, and they both are in the Canadian military, she is an engineer and he is a search and rescue diver. We ended the day together and ended up hanging out back at the campground.

Thursday, we woke to some really iffy weather. We were hoping to climb, but again it had rained through the night and they were calling for 60% chance of rain all day…..real bummer. We decided to try and make a wet ascent of Mt. Moosilauke. We had gotten turned on to the hike the previous Monday by a local. After climbing, at the local swimming hole next to the crag we had run into a guy named Josh. Really nice guy, he was down there with his two kids swimming around. Turns out he owns the local Calm Post cafe, which is right next to the crag. We got to talking and he had recommended this hike among many other things to do and see. The hike was really good, wet…….really wet, but good. We chose the Gorge Brooke trail up the ravine. The higher we got the more the weather kicked in, and by the time we got to the summit it felt like we were in a Lord of the Rings movie. It was raining, the wind was blowing, and the fog had moved in. Not much for sight seeing, but a cool experience none the less.

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Starting up Mt. Moosilauke

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Part of the Mt. Moosilauke hike

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Summit of Mt. Moosilauke……..we imagine the view to be awesome!

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On the decent we got a small break in weather and got this shot.

Thursday night the weather just didn’t seem to be on our side. We spent the evening under the easy-up playing cards and sippin’ cocktails.

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Making the best of things in the rain!

We woke to the same weather Friday. We decided to take off and check out the Kancamagus Highway, another recommendation from Josh. It is a 34 mile stretch of New Hampshire highway between Lincoln and Conway. There is opportunity to pull off at least a dozen times at scenic overlooks, trail heads and attractions. There are so many great views and a lot of cool hikes to make this drive a day trip. Here are a few pics from the “Kanc” highway.

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Sabbaday Falls on the Kanc highway

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Cathy higher up at Sabbaday Falls

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Jamie at Lower Falls

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Cathy at Lower Falls

The next day the weather cleared for us and we were able to head back to Rumney to climb some more. Unfortunately, it was Saturday, and therefore very crowded, so we decided to head to the section of the cliffs called the Hinterlands, and hope no one else would head that far up the mountain. We were right about that, because it was a bit of butt kicking approach to get up there. Once we got there though we were rewarded with some really cool climbs, such as Jolt, Dolt, and I even got on Giant Man to see what the moves were like. The best part of the day though, and I’m very proud to announce this……Cathy got her first 5.10!  I climbed the classic called Jolt, 5.10a, and Cathy gave it a run on top rope after me……..she got it, clean, outside! She really grinded it out, dealing with the moves and the exposure up high on the climb, it was really cool to see.

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All smiles after climbing Jolt

On Sunday we moved to North Conway, NH. It pretty much rained all day, so we took our time driving over there and went through Franconia Notch passing Cannon Cliff. It is a neat drive and tons of places to pull off and check things out. We stopped at a few of the cascades along the way.

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One of the many cascade falls

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Silver Cascade

We finally arrived at our campground in North Conway, The Saco River Campground. A lot of the places were booked, so this was one of the only places we could get into. We pulled in to find it to be a family style campground, similar to a KOA with kids everywhere. Holy crap there were a lot of kids! Luckily they had an opening on a site with an alpine hut, otherwise known as a lean-to, which worked out really well because it was kind of removed from the crowds and we had a nice shelter from the rain to cook under and hang out. The other bonus was there were two of these Alpine Huts right next to each other and the family using the other one left early, so our friends Manuel and Veronique were able to move in next door to us.  Otherwise, the campground was sold out.  It was great having them there and hanging out with them again. They are really good people and we had a blast spending the next few days hiking and climbing together.

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Our campsite at Saco River

The following Monday the four of us tackled Mt. Washington, where the summit is home to the worst weather in the world. There are numerous trail options to chose from for your ascent to the summit. We decided on the Caps Ridge Trail, which allowed us to summit Mt Jefferson, Mt Clay, and finally Mt Washington. Cathy and I agreed this was one of our best hikes yet. The weather was not ideal at the start, but luck was on our side and it cleared enough for us to get some fantastic pictures. The hike is really rocky and there is a lot of boulder scrambling, which makes for a great adventure and you definitely don’t feel like your in New Hampshire. Makes you feel like you are hiking in Europe.

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Starting up Mt. Jefferson

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Water break on Mt. Jefferson with Manuel and Veronique

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Still heading up Mt. Jefferson

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Heading down Mt. Jefferson towards Mt. Clay in the background, and Mt. Washington in the clouds.

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Summit of Mt. Clay and on to Mt. Washington

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The Cog Railway heading up Mt. Washington

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Summit of Mt. Washington

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Summit with Lake of the Clouds in the background

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Album cover shot we learned from our friends Manuel and Veronique;-)

Tuesday we headed over to Cathedral Ledge to check out the climbing there. We ended up jumping on the classic climb, Thin Air. Really fun climb with a neat traverse for the second pitch. The only thing we had to watch out for was a few wet spots which made the cruisy climbing a little more exciting. All in all a cool climb. At the top of the climb there is another buttress and we jumped on that climb as well called Pine Tree Eliminate, which was a neat 5.8 crack climb.

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End of the 3rd pitch on Thin Air

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Manuel and Veronique at the 2nd Pitch anchor on Thin Air

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Top of Pine Tree Eliminate

The best part was at the end of this climb, Manuel and I found an unclimbed crack and we decided to give it a run and try and send it. As you can see from the pictures it was a little run out in the beginning, but he was able to get a few pieces in later before he popped off……it was crazy!!

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Manuel going for the first ascent

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Manuel ripping!

Basically…..this is what two climbers like Manuel and I do for a laugh! ;-)  After we got back down to the parking lot we headed off to go swim in the Saco River. This has been one of the best parts of exploring New England, you can climb some great crags, and within minutes there is always a lake, pond, or river to go swimming in afterwards to cool off…..a great way to top off a day of hard climbing or hiking.

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Jamie about to go for a ride on the rope swing under the bridge

Wednesday we headed back to Cathedral Ledge to climb some more. Cathy and I jumped on the climb called Still in Saigon. It was a really techy 5.8 climb, which was a really good mental climb for me, especially after the fall I took last month. Everything went really well and we both enjoyed the route. We rapped to the bottom, packed up our gear, and sadly said bye to our new friends Manuel and Veronique. However, we should be seeing them again soon as we make our way through their neck of the woods, Quebec, Canada. We hopped in the truck and headed off to Farmington, Maine to visit our good friends Rick and Nancy. We arrived last night, August 1st and Nancy cooked us a great meal, and we both enjoyed a hot shower and sleeping in a real bed!  We’ll be spending the next few days exploring Maine.

 

Maine – Rick and Nacy’s
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We arrived at Rick and Nancy’s house in Farmington, Maine on a Wednesday evening and stayed through the weekend departing Monday. After this short period of time we both can say it was very hard to leave them and the comforts of their home. Jamie has known them his whole life and for me it was a pleasure to meet them for the first time. We instantly felt at home. We had a blast together. Their beautiful home is set on a hill top overlooking the gorgeous Maine mountain side with Mt. Blue most prominent. Rick raises bees and has a sugar shack (for maple syrup). We enjoyed Nancy’s cooking, which was awesome, honey butter on morning toast, maple syrup over vanilla ice cream, venison stir fry, lobster, and one night we had bear!

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View from Rick and Nancy’s House

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The View at Sunset

Farmington is located in western Maine and offers an abundance of outdoor activity. We all hiked Tumbledown Mountain together. This hike was unique for Jamie and I because of the Tumbledown Pond that is set at the summit of the mountain, a great place to chill after the moderate mile and a half ascent.

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Summit of Tumbledown Mountain with Rick and Nancy

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Summit of Tumbledown with the Tumbledown Pond in Background

We dined in every night and it was awesome to have the home cooking which was delicious. As I predicted back in Newport, lobster would be on the agenda in Maine and when you’re in Maine what else could be better to eat than lobster? and fresh caught! Well, clam chowder, steamers and mussels are all good too, and we did dabble in some of those dishes but it was the lobster that makes Jamie most happy inside.

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Jamie Loves Lobster!

After a round of doubles tennis, relaxation, sleeping in most mornings, a bunch of loads of laundry, and catching up on anything requiring internet it was time to set off again. Prior to our departure I was trying to build my case on why a stop back in Farmington between Nova Scotia and Quebec would be worthwhile. Not only to see Rick and Nancy again and wallow in their gracious hospitality, but we could also catch the blue grass festival with them at Sugarloaf this weekend! But it is mainly to see them again. Well, it would be a bit off course and requires in and out of country custom visits so we will remain on the Canadian route through Canada.  A couple more pictures from our visit to Farmington…

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At Rick and Nancy’s

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Visiting Rick and Nancy’s Friends House on Clearwater Pond

Monday evening we settled into coastal Maine in Acadia National Park and Bar Harbor this week. Hands down, Acadia is my favorite national park. No, I have not yet been to Yosemite or Yellowstone and my vote may change then but for now Acadia is by far the most beautiful and scenic of parks. Jamie reminded me that Red Rocks is also a national park so the ultimate decision is to be determined ;-) We still have a lot of land to cover as we wander this planet.

 

Acadia National Park, Maine – 08/06 – 08/09
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Acadia does not disappoint! We spent the past few days climbing, hiking, and checking out Bar Harbor. Our first full day in the area, Tuesday, we woke up and headed into the park and did some climbing over at the Precipice Wall. It was pretty crowded for a Tuesday, but we were able to get on some of the area classics, such as Old Town, Gunklandia, and Story of O. All good climbs and all with great views of the Atlantic Ocean in the background.

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Top of Gunklandia

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VIew from the top of the cliff

After climbing we spent the remaining of the afternoon driving the loop road of the park, and checking out the sights. Acadia is definitely crowded this time of year, but the views make up for all the traffic and people, they are spectacular.

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Coastline of Acadia

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Cathy in deep thought at Otter Cliffs

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Beach on the way to Acadia

Wednesday we decided to go hiking and Cathy chose a great hike called Jordan Cliffs up Mt. Penebscot. We hadn’t bought a trail map at that point…..because, who needs one of those……..so…..after a few wrong turns ;-) we were able to find the start of the trail. The hike has some pretty exposed trail, and part of it is like a via ferrata, with ladder rungs to get over some of the 5th class rock scrambling. Check out the views of Jordan Pond with the ocean in the background, it is impressive.

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Jordan Pond

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Hiking Jordan Cliffs

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Summit of Mt. Penebscot

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Enjoying the summit

After we looped back to the car we drove to the top of the Cadillac Mountain. It was pretty crowded, but we were able to find a small spot throw down a towel and eat some left overs from the last nights dinner. (Pasta, chicken from a can, mushrooms, corn, and some sauce……yummmmmy!)

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Lunch at the summit of Cadillac Mtn.

Cadillac mountain is famous for being the first place the sun hits in the U.S. when it rises. We found out that this is only true Oct-March, but it is a right of passage if you are visiting to get up early and see the sunrise from Cadillac. So, Thursday morning we rose at the wee hour of 4:30am, and headed to the summit to catch the sunrise. There must have been over a hundred people up there doing the same thing, but everyone was pretty blurry eyed and quiet and enjoyed the sun coming up. I have to admit it was really beautiful.

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The day has started!

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Sunrise at Cadillac Mtn.

We then broke out the Jet-Boil and had some oatmeal right there on the summit. Pretty cool place to eat breakfast before we headed back down into the park to get a couple of more climbs in. Being that early in the morning we had the whole climbing wall to ourselves, so we were able to jump on Chitlin Corner and The Philadelphia Story. Afterwards we headed back to camp to break everything down, and started pushing further north. I am proud to say, as of 3pm Thursday we officially crossed into Canada! It took us about a half hour to get through customs though….sorry mom, Cathy had to declare her mace at the border. It is “prohibited” in Canada! Also, on a side note, since we are on a limited budget, and to use our phones up here would cost us small fortune (except for emergencies of course), for the next couple of weeks, we will probably only be texting and e-mailing everyone.

Canada
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After crossing into Canada, we made our first stop in the city of Saint John. We are making an effort now to hit up the information/visitor centers at each destination for the free topos and road maps. The Saint John visitor center directed us to a campsite at Rockwood Park in town. We’re not going to blog much about Saint John except to say, thank God it was only one night! Saint John is not an impressive city. This was our first stop in a major city in about 6 weeks so it was not what we were expecting, very industrial, loads of construction and the campsite overlooked it all. However, Saint John is a tourist destination as it is home to the famous Reversing Falls which are a series of rapids on the Saint John River. The river runs through a narrow gorge before emptying into the Bay of Fundy. The tides of the bay force the flow of water to reverse against the current at this particular location when the tide is high. Unfortunately, we did not time this one right so we didn’t witness the reversing falls as the tides were low.

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Reversing Falls at Low Tide, Saint John, Canada

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Rockwood Park Campsite, Saint John

We made our way to the Bay of Fundy the next morning. I may mention it a lot so I’ll call the Bay of Fundy the “BoF”. It is known for its world famous tides which change at a speed of 1 kilometer every 6 hours. My brother-in-law Harold and sister Tricia put us on to this destination. He’s a boater and has always wanted to visit the BoF to experience the tides and see this place that should be on the list of America’s natural wonders, maybe it already is.  We checked the tide schedule, another benefit of the visitor center, and observed the famous change of tides.

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Bay of Fundy at Low Tide, 1:00pm

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Bay of Fundy, High Tide, 6:00pm

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Low Tide on the Bay of Fundy

We made the BoF National Park our temporary home and quickly learned that the Canadian Park Service takes good care of her visitors. Great camp sites overlooking the bay, nice amenities, and a decent price. The park offered a lot to see and plenty of hiking trails so we hiked Mathews Head Trail which was described as a coastal trail but we only caught a glimpse of the Bay on a few occasions during this 4 mile route. None the less, it was scenic and enjoyable.  Here are some shots from the hike:

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Mathews Head Trail, Bay of Fundy

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View of the Bay from Mathews Head Trail

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Our original plan was to head out to Nova Scotia and go to the northern tip to see Cape Breton Park. We were put on to this place by a photographer my parents know. He goes out to shoot and says it is well worth the visit. After mapping the drive we figured it would be too many hours of driving and chose Plan B which was to skip Nova Scotia and head over to Prince Edward Island for some PEI Mussels and a lot less driving.

PEI is a large island so we chose to visit Cavendish, in the central region and home to the Prince Edward Island National Park, where we also camped. We were only spending a day here so we made the most of it. We chose the most popular trail to explore, the Homestead Trail, and went for a run. Afterward, it was our mission to set out and find really good seafood, which shouldn’t be too challenging in this part of the country. We were referred to a couple of places in town, one being the Fisherman’s Wharf, a very popular restaurant and the other being a place where locals go. We chose to follow the locals. On our way we drove by the the Fisherman’s Wharf which is famous for its 60 foot salad bar which explains all the tour busses out front. No thank you!! Unfortunately, the local joint was closed for some odd reason, on a Saturday night ?? We drove around and fell upon the Blue Mussels Cafe which was as local as we could get and it did not disappoint. Great mussels, seafood chowder, digby scallops and shrimp.  Some shots from PEI…

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Driving over the 8 mile Confederation Bridge from New Brunswick to PEI

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A Walk on the Beach at our Campground at the PEI National Park on the Gulf of Saint Lawrence

We seem to be zipping through Canada because we were off again the next day with our eyes set on Kamouraska. Manuel and Veronique, whom we met back in Rumney recommended we stop off here on our way to visit them. We are so grateful to them for putting us onto this area.

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The View from our campsite at Kamouraska!

Kamouraska is considered the best sport climbing in Quebec province. The ecological society of Kamouraska operates this particular area and they offer a campground, access to the climbing area, kayaking, biking and hiking trails. Kamouraska is set on the Saint Lawrence River so the views from the top of the climbs are breathtaking. The rock is mixed granite and quartzite, the routes are really fun and the people have been super friendly.

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Climbing Kamouraska

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Views from Kamouraska Climbing Area

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Kamouraska and the Saint Lawrence River

We spent the past 2 days here climbing and checked out the local brewery which Manuel and Veronique also recommended. The brewery is locally owned and is set on a farm with sheep, chicken and ducks roaming the land as you sit about. You can sit on the porch of the main house or out back in adirondack chairs watching the animals.

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Chilling with the Animals at the Brewery

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The Curious Chicken

The menu consists of about 10 different beers brewed on site and smoked salmon to snack on. Most of us know Jamie does not drink beer so he smuggled in his rum and coke and I sampled the beer platter : )  With all the chickens around it only made sense that they also sold eggs so we bought ½ dozen for breakfast the next day.

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A Sampling at the Breughl Brewery

We are now headed north to visit our new friends Manuel and Veronique at their home in the Saguenay region, about 2 hours north of Quebec.

 

Northern Canada
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We left Kamouraska and headed Northeast, but to do that we needed to head up to Riviere-du-Loup to catch a ferry to cross the the St. Lawrence River. They really pack them on this ferry, as you can see.

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4Runner on the ferry

The ride on the ferry took about an hour to Saint-Simeon, and then we were off to the Saguenay region of Canada. The drive took us about 2 hours to Manuel and Veronique’s house and was just a beautiful drive through the region.

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Coming into the the Saguenay Region

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Cathy in front of the Fjord

Manuel and Veronique live just North of a town called Chicoutimi in the Saguenay region. They were such gracious hosts, and put us up for a couple of nights. Cathy and I can honestly say it has been a pleasure to meet them, and getting to know them has defintley been one of the highlights of our trip. Our first day there Manuel was nice enough to take us climbing at one of the local crags. We spent the morning teaching Cathy to lead climb, and also how to clean a route after I put it up. In the past I have always lead the route, then Cathy climbed it after me, then I would have to do it again to get my gear back, but after our morning session with Manuel all is good, and I am happy to announce Cathy is well prepared ot clean routes now. Afterwards Manuel showed me this great 5.9 trad route we all took a lap on.

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Jamie leading a 5.9 crack climb with Manuel belaying

After climbing, for lunch, Manuel took us to a local food chain restaurant that serves a French Canadian traditional dish. It is called Poutine, and it is made of french fries, gravy, and curd cheese. Not the healthiest meal by any stretch of the imagination, but sure did taste good! ;-) We forgot to take picture of it, so this is one off of Google images, hmmm yummy!

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Poutine…….yummy!

We then ended up taking the afternoon off, and chilling and maybe taking a nap or two ;-)Before dinner, Manuel and Veronique took us for a short hike to work off the lunch poutine. We ended up hiking to the summit of a local mountain that looks over the Fjord. It was really cool.

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Summit picture

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Manuel and Veronique

Later that evening, Manuel and Veronique cooked us a great meal composed of moose burgers, caribou, baby moose cutlets, and goose sausage……..I was in heaven!

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Yummy!

The next morning we woke early to head off with Manuel to a canopy course. He was already scheduled to do the course with his military squadron that Friday, and was able to get us in to join them. Cathy and I had never done an adventure canopy course before, and it was a blast! We did zip lines, high wire traverses, walked on planks, and more things than I can describe, and all of it was awesome. Cathy and I can only say thanks to Manuel for allowing us to join him and his colleagues on the course…….it was a great morning, with great people, and something we will never forget.

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Cathy walking the wire.

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Cathy about to ski the wires

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Walking the planks

After the canopy course we got cleaned up, and had to sadly say goodbye to Manuel and Veronique, and their hospitality. Thanks to both of them for a great couple of days, and we hope they will come visit us on the road. We then headed off to Quebec City, and that post will be coming soon.

Quebec City and Continuing West
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After leaving the Saguenay region we trekked south to Quebec City and QC was a favorite stop. The Old City is historic with a European feel to it. The French culture is overwhelming and we loved it.

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Quebec, The Old City

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Quebec City, Le Château Frontenac in Background

We spent the day walking around the city and then took in our first Cirque Du Soleil show, Amaluna, that evening and it was so impressive to witness such talent.

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A Couple Cocktails Prior to the Cirque Du Soleil Show

We also took in two other nearby attractions not far from Quebec City.  Montmonercy Falls, at 272 feet it is higher than the Niagara Falls (167ft) but much more narrow.

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Montmorency Falls, Quebec

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Hiking Around the Falls

We also visited the Island of Orleans and drove the 27 mile perimeter stopping along the way at a cheese shop, bakery and scenic parks.

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One of our stops on the Island of Orleans, St Lawrence River

Moving west through Canada brought us to Montreal next with plans to just cruise on through. We cashed in on one of our free hotel stays and thoroughly enjoyed a night at the Marriott! It actually turned out to be 2 nights back to back in hotels, both brand new Marriott’s in Montreal and again in Ottawa.  Back in Kamarouska we met a couple from Montreal, Phillip and Lacey, and we all spent some time climbing together one afternoon. Turns out they own a bouldering gym in downtown Montreal called Shakti Gym, http://www.shaktirockgym.com/ so we swung through for a vist. It turned out to be a worthwhile stop because Phillip turned us onto a climbing area north of Montreal called Lac Boisseau. We found this crag to be very impressive, not only were we the only people there climbing but the hike in, the routes, the lake, and the views were all awesome.

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Hiking into the crag at Lac Boisseau

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Climbing at Lac Boisseau

We stopped off in Kingston, Ontario for a couple hours to break up the drive. It was a weekday but the place was hoppin’ with a music festival in front of City Hall and tourists abound. We did a short, self-guided walking tour of downtown, stopped off at Fort Henry and then got back on the road.

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Kingston, with City Hall in Background

Since the day we left Virginia for this trip and until now I can honestly say we only made one bad decision the whole time and that was the timing of our drive from Montreal westbound. We hit the Toronto area at about 4:00pm on a Wednesday and the rush hour was far worse than I-66 and the D.C. Area!  This was the one and only time all summer that we sat in traffic.  So, considering all our friends back home and their daily commutes we shouldn’t complain!

Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada
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We finally arrived in Niagara Falls, our last stop in Canada.  We drove in from the north west so there were no quick peaks at the falls on the drive.  It would take driving into town and walking toward the river before we saw them.  Once we did it was truly amazing, absolutely a must see for everyone.

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Looking toward Niagara Falls, NY

We were always told the Canada side was the best and now being here it made sense as the U.S. side is behind the falls and not facing them.

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The American Falls on the left and the Canadian “Horseshoe Falls” on the right

We spent an entire day walking around town and catching the falls from a dozen different angles.  We did not ride the Maid of the Mist which is probably the #1 tourist attraction there but we still got pretty wet just walking along the promenade.  The falls are so intense that the spray rises up toward the clouds and the spray just falls down on everyone.

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The Canadian Horseshoe Falls soaking everyone touring the Maid of the Mist

We visited the Skylon Tower and rode the elevator to the top, 775 feet above the falls. The first photo below is a google image, just to give you an idea of the set up : )

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Niagara Falls Attraction, Skylon Tower

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View from Skylon Tower

The Daredevils Exhibit was also interesting, it portrayed all the people that have attempted to plunge over the Horseshoe Falls over the years.  Dating back to 1901 when Annie Taylor, the first woman to plunge, went over in a barrel and survived.  The list went on with survivors and many who did not survive.

The next morning we woke up early to hit the road and cross back into the big old U.S. of A. The cross over the boarder was pretty uneventful, and we made our way towards the Finger Lakes region of NY, and then back to Windham.

 

Chapter One, Done….
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Sorry for the long pause….we are back in Northern Virginia to prep for the next chapter of this journey.
After Niagara Falls we stopped off in the Finger Lakes region of NY.  This region is really cool and worth the visit but its clear to see how autumn would be the most ideal time to explore the lakes with all the wineries and beautiful hikes.  We still had a good time.  We spent most of it around Cayuga Lake, one of the longest and deepest (below sea level) of all the finger lakes.  We stopped off in Ithaca, home to Cornell and Ithaca College, and then worked our way east.  My lacrosse colleagues and friends, Maggie and Peter, were awesome hosts to us on such short notice.  They have a beautiful home with awesome views and we enjoyed our stay there.  After leaving Maggie and Peter we made our way to Cooperstown, NY home of the Baseball Hall of Fame.  We took 3 hours to get through this museum, it was interesting and Jamie really enjoyed it.

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Babe Ruth and the Hall of Fame

We were back in Windham where it all began, enjoying a couple more rounds of golf, home cooked meals and a great hike up North Mountain with my parents and sister Jen.

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Half Way Up North Mountain

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Summit Pose!

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Summit of North Mt

We stayed almost a week before making our way back south.  We made a couple stops along the way, to visit my nieces and nephew on Long Island and Jamie’s step brother and his family in PA.

This past week was filled with unpacking and repacking, refueling our gear, supplies, tanks, etc.

We are off again tomorrow for Chapter Two.

More to come once we get to our destination….

 

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