Testing, testing, testing.

It was 24 degrees when I left the house early Saturday morning and it was 21 degrees when I arrived at Sgt. Mark A. Rademacher Memorial Park aka Hunter’s Creek Park. Hunter’s Creek Park was a favorite place of Mark Rademacher. Sgt. Rademacher, a Wales, NY resident, died in the Grenada Invasion in 1983 at the age of 20.  I didn’t know the man, but I’m glad he was recognized in this way.  There is a trail blazed with a Chevron that is named after him, too.

I had hiked this park five months ago with my nephew, Matthew.  It was summer then.  A sunny, warm day.  Today was sunny, but the temperature was anything but warm.  I hadn’t worn my boots in the snow for an extended period of time and I hadn’t had a chance yet to try out my new spikes.  I bought a new puffy coat, too.  I wasn’t convinced this lightweight, thin puffy would keep me warm on such a cold day.  Today was the day of testing! Testing my boots, testing my spikes, testing my new puffy and testing my stamina on a long hike in the cold.

My best friend, Linda hiked with me again today.  She’s been a big supporter of my crazy idea to hike the Appalachian Trail and always encourages me to get outside and practice.

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Linda, putting her head in places only a Geocacher would.

Of course, since I was hiking with Linda, there was some geocaching to be done!  We found a total of four caches in the park that was filled with approximately 50!  We had to give up on a few we were looking for due to the snow covering EVERYTHING! The few that we found were fun.

She left a “Travel Bug” in this one.


Hunter’s Creek land formerly belonged to the Kellogg family.  There are ruins of their cabin that I had not seen on earlier hikes.  I was excited to finally see what was left.  A stone chimney and the foundation.  Not much!

Kellogg Cabin site.

On the previous hike through here with Matthew there was neat little bridge we bounced across.  This bridge was now covered in ice and snow.  Linda walked across it very slowly and I waited until she was completely off the bridge before starting over. The little bridge creaked and it lacked the fun bounce it had in the summer.  My boots hit the bridge and my micro spikes gave me great traction.  I never worried once about slipping.  The difference in wearing the spikes was incredible.  I won’t be caught on a winter hike without them from now on!

Winter bridge.
Summer bridge, opposite direction.


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Trusty micro spikes fit my boots perfectly like REI said they would!  What a great invention!

Hunter’s Creek offers a number of trails to hike.  They often intersect and sometimes, merge for a distance.  If you don’t know what you are doing, you could get very confused and become turned around.  This would never happen to us.  HA!  I said that as long as we see a blaze, we know we are in the park and we are not lost.  HA!  HA! HA! We followed a red trail, a pink trail, a double pink trail, a blue trail, a chevron trail, a green trail with one dot, and a green trail with three dots. There may have been others.  Apparently the number of dots and whether the color is a circle or a rectangle mean different things.  APPARENTLY, I need to brush up on my map reading skills!

Yes!  There is a yellow blaze!
Uh, where’s the blaze??

We came to an intersection of trails and decided to follow the pink trail heading towards where we came in the park off the parking lot.  I almost had to (gulp) get out my compass.  Alas, Linda used her phone and pulled up the geocache we had found earlier that was just off the parking lot and we followed the directions back to it.  See, geocaching while hiking is helpful!

So, my day of testing went well!  I tested my boots – Keen Durand Mid WP.  My feet were warm, dry and felt great all day.  We probably hiked well over 5 miles.  Next time I will remember to set my phone app to measure my distance.   My micro spikes worked amazingly well.  Easy to slip on over snow covered boots, stayed in place while hiking, and easy to peel off at the end of the day.  My new puffy coat passed the test.  I bought the puffy for $49.00 at Macy’s, that’s right, $49.00! It has a down fill of 650, kept me toasty warm and I loved that I wasn’t wearing a bulky coat.  I was able to maneuver and my pack fit great over it.  The workmanship quality of this coat lacks a little.  The pockets don’t zipper and the hood had no string or cord to keep it in place.  I might want a higher down fill and better quality for the AT.  But, what a bargain!  As for my stamina on the hike; we hiked for about 4 hours.  I felt great the next day with no soreness; only a thirst for more!

And, I didn’t know it, but I was testing my sense of direction.  It sucks, I failed.  I will have to practice that and try to find a class on map and compass reading.



REI and D.C. Parks

Can you believe I live in a place that doesn’t have a nearby REI?  I have never been to an REI store, but while visiting my sister-in-law’s house near Washington, D.C. there was a store about 20 minutes away!  It didn’t take much convincing to have them take me for a visit!

My heart skipped a beat and my breathing quickened when we pulled into the parking lot.  I skipped to the store to be the first inside.  Upon entering the store I stopped dead.  My eyes taking in all the wonderful sights of outdoor EVERYTHING!  Snapping back to the task at hand was difficult!  My husband had been wanting some hiking boots for when he goes out with me and of course I couldn’t wait to look around and see what I could find!

First things, first.  I scoped out the different brands of boots for Dave and chose the Merrell Moab Waterproof Mid height boot.  He wasn’t sure he liked how they laced up, but he liked how comfortable they felt.  He tried on a few others, but those were ones that we took home.  He’s excited to wear them tailgating at Bills games next year.  What can I say….he has other priorities than I do.

Finishing with his purchase I moved on to my own!  I plan to do more winter hiking and need some micro spikes.  A helpful REI representative helped me find what I needed in no time and made sure they fit my boots – Keen Durango.  That was easy!  I continued to browse the store and tried on some Kuhl coats. They were a little out of my price range for now. I needed a new water resistant pair of gloves and they had a large selection that made me very happy! I picked out my favorite and browsed my way to the register. My brother-in-law is a member so we were able to get the member price or he got the points or however that works.  I was shocked that I didn’t buy more things, but then again my hubby was with me to control my spending!

My brother-in-law, Wayne, knows a lot of neat parks and places to visit around D.C. so we spent some time exploring!  We visited the Patuxent Wildlife Research Center.  It was close to dusk when we arrived so I only had a short walk about.  There was a neat trail called the Jay Norwood “Ding” Darling Conservation Heritage Trail.  It was a short loop and every few yards there was a board with names and short biographies of famous conservationists. I learned a lot and said a silent thank you to each one.

Me and the lake. It was misty over the water and so beautiful. My camera phone didn’t quite capture the true beauty.

Another park we visited was the Lake Artemesia in Prince George’s County.  It is a man-made lake that was created when they were building the metro rail.  The park was named after Artemesia N. Drefs, who donated the land back in 1972.  We had fun walking around the lake and Wayne taught me to identify two seed pods from two trees – the cottonwood tree and the black gum tree.

The cottonwood pod are the nice round ones and the black gum is the spiky one.

We saw a beautiful white swan flying overhead and many other water birds.  The park seemed to be well used by dog walkers, bikers, fishermen, and hikers.

The last place we visited before heading home was the National Arboretum.  I didn’t even know this existed!  They have a field of state trees, the biggest herb garden that is meticulously labeled, a bonsai museum and the old columns from the Capital.  When the Capital
was remodeled they removed the old columns in the front and placed them on a hill in the Arboretum.  It is quite the sight to see!

It looks spooky and curious!

Walking through the herb garden was very interesting.

Obviously, I lifted this picture from their website.  The gardens are not this lush this time of year! http://www.usna.usda.gov/Gardens/collections/herb.html# 
I was imagining being a little tiny person walking on the gravel path and then sitting under these trees!

All in all a GREAT visit to D.C.!  Thanks for traveling with me!

I went to Botswana!

This weekend, dear husband and I traveled to Washington, D.C. His sister lives near there and we visited with family and celebrated a birthday.  The weather was beautiful and so much nicer than it was at home in Buffalo.   I had hoped that a lot of my weekend would be spent outdoors and I wasn’t disappointed.

On Friday, we set out in the morning to take a walking tour of the Embassies on Massachusetts Avenue.  There were about 15 people on the tour and it was informative and relaxing.  I was a little antsy when our guide would stop on the sidewalk and start showing us pictures from his binder.  Some of the stories were interesting, but I was hoping for more information about the Embassies themselves.  It’s was our lucky day when we were able to meet the Ambassador from Botswana.   We were walking by and the driver of the Ambassador had to ask us to move out of the driveway as he was preparing to leave with him in a few minutes.  We decided to wait and take paparazzi photos!  David Nelson was very gracious when he made his way to the car.

Me with the Ambassador of Botswana, David Nelson.  He’s the white guy.


The entrance to the Embassy of Botswana.






He shook some hands and welcomed us to take a tour of the inside of the Embassy. What a treat!  I learned that when you enter an Embassy you are technically in that actual country, with their laws and rules.  I never thought I would go to Botswana, and now I did.


After our tour we had a quick lunch and made our way to the Renwick Art Gallery across from the White House.

Obligatory White House Selfie.

The Renwick Art Gallery is fabulous.  I am not the artsy, fartsy type, but this place was very interesting.  It had such unique art in every room.  It is rather small compared to some art galleries, so it was quick and easy to go through in about two hours.  It might have been less.  You artsy folks may take much longer.

These are photos of some of the more interesting art we saw.

Yes, those are real dead bugs. Jennifer Angus
Mountains of millions of index cards. Tara Donovan
Millions of thin strands of colored thread.  Gabriel Dawe
Maybe he will make me one for my backyard?  Patrick Dougherty

We really had a great time discovering the art and talking about it.   Every art installation was huge!  Really impressive!  If you’re in Washington, D.C.. I highly recommend visiting there.

Thanks for reading.  If you have any questions, let me know, I’d be happy to chat with you!



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