Sunday, May 18, 2008

Oh The Things You'll Find

You never know what you might find when you go out hiking. Maybe an old rusted out car.

Or maybe a spooky, crumbling, old house.

Both of these were alongside trails in the Maryland state park system. The car's actually kind of hidden and you have to cross through a swamp of skunk cabbage to reach it, but the house is literally trailside. Adding to the spookiness factor was a big turkey vulture that flew out of it as we passed by.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

My Crazy Life

I've been remiss about posting here, but I have to say that life is rather crazy here at the moment. Here's a little peek at what we've been up to.

7 a.m. Get up, shower, dress, eat breakfast, make lunch (and dinner for Jeff)
8 a.m. Out the door to catch the Metro
8:30 a.m. Start my work day
6:00 p.m. Leave Work
6:45 p.m. Arrive home. Begin dinner. (It always takes longer to get home than to get to work. Why is that?)
7:30-8:00 p.m. (On a good day) Eat dinner. Clean up dinner. (On a bad day, dinner is maybe at 9:00)
8:00-10:30 p.m. Work on hiking book. Write entries, edit entries, code entries, plan upcoming hikes, make maps, decide on photos, write front of the book and back of the book materials. Consider writing queries for other articles. Reconsider, decide sanity is better than bylines.
10:30 p.m. Jeff calls. Go pick him up from work. (Yes, he's working 8 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. these days. It's the final's fun I tell you.)
11:00 p.m. (Three days a week) Remember that I haven't written a post for Lives of Wander. Get to work on that. Maybe watch the Daily Show and the Colbert Report while I write. Other days try to do some trip planning.
12:00 p.m. Go to bed.

7:00 a.m. Get up. (There is no longer any sleeping in around here). Fill water bottles, pack picnic lunch, confirm directions, double check contents of hiking bag.
8:00 a.m. Out the door. Spend the next 1-2 hours driving to trailhead.
9:00 a.m. to Sunset. Hike anywhere from 1-4 trails at 1-4 locations for up to 16 miles.
9:00 p.m. Try to find somewhere open for dinner.
10:00 p.m. Return home. Jeff goes to work. Shower all the dirt away. Prep for the next day's hikes. Write if there's time.
12:00 a.m. Pick Jeff up at work. Jeff showers. Bed.

I'm not looking for sympathy. We chose this life, and though it's crazy and we're both looking forward to our vacation in 1.5 weeks more than we can express, we're pretty happy people overall. But if I haven't returned your call or your email, commented on your blog, or posted anything new on my blog, please forgive me. It's not that I haven't thought about it. It's just that I really haven't had the time.

Okay, back to work. I have about 30 minutes to 1 hour to get some editing done before Jeff calls...

Sunday, May 04, 2008

What a Wonderful World: Fauna Edition

We've done the plants, now let's check out the animals.

A very gorgeous dragonfly. If you enlarge the picture by clicking on it, you can see some cool detail on his wings. (Credit: Jeff)

A teeny butterfly resting on the trail. I've gotten good at spotting small things...and then telling Jeff to take a picture of them. (Credit: Jeff)

A bright orange salamander that I was almost convinced was fake...but it wasn't. I poked it to be sure. (Credit: Theresa)

A very lovely butterfly. We've seen many different types but most aren't so kind as to hold still like this one did. (Credit: Jeff)

A heron hangs out on the edge of a marsh at Blackwater Nature Preserve. (Credit: Theresa)

This tiny bird's nest was simply amazing. Those birds sure know how to build things.
(Credit: Jeff)

A something-pede. I didn't get to count all of his legs, but there are a lot. (Credit: Jeff)

A wood frog. We've found a lot of these on our hikes, most fairly small. This guy is a bit bigger than most. (Credit: Jeff)

What a Wonderful World: Flora Edition

One of the coolest things about going out hiking every weekend is the way in which I am so much more in tune with nature. It's amazing the differences you notice each week and the things that I probably used to just walk by, but now see with fresh eyes as I've had to pay close attention, take notes on what's around me, and learn to identify various plants. So in a series of posts this week, I'm going to share with you some of the things I've seen. Maybe it will inspire you to get out and explore your part of the great outdoors. It's really a pretty fabulous place.

So today, the flora edition. Stay tuned for fauna, landscapes, and a fun category called surprises.

A jack-in-the-pulpit. Some of them have purple stripes, which are a bit cooler, but I guess I didn't photograph one of those. (Credit: Theresa)

Some type of aster--maybe fleabane?--that grows in pretty clusters. (Credit: Jeff)

A very interesting pine cone in a bright shade of red. Does anyone know if this is just an immature stage or if its just the style of the cones on this tree? (Credit: Jeff)

A fern waits to unfurl its leaves. (Credit: Theresa)

A morel mushroom...a small basket of these was going for $20 at my farmer's market.
(Credit: Theresa)

If you peek underneath the leaves of a mayapple, you may see one of its white flowers. Mayapples pop open like's pretty cool. (Credit: Theresa)

The spring beauty--a small, five-petaled wildflower with delicate pink stripes--is found on the edge of many trails. (Credit: Theresa)

The trillium is currently blooming in the woods around us. (Credit: Jeff)

The largest beech tree I think I've ever seen. (Credit: Jeff)

Silhouette of a flower on the paw paw tree. (Credit: Jeff)

Friday, May 02, 2008

Go Here Now

I have an article up on Brave New Traveler. It's a list of songs about travel. Go check it out and add a comment.

And I promise a new post on here soon. Life has been pretty nutty lately. Free time is simply a fantasy.