NCR – Weisburg rd. to Frederick rd. – North

9/4/19 – 4.56 miles

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“Country roads take me gnome.”

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It is my birthtoday so I am treating myself with NCR. It’s always a good idea! Mostly empty – especially in the mornings and on the weekdays – and such an easy walk. No elevation changes and the trail is a crushed stone and dirt so it barely gets muddy. Except when there is torrential downpour and Gunpowder Falls floods the surrounding areas.

Continuing our quest to map the total length of NCR we are picking up where we left off about 10 days ago. We park “Piroska” at the White Hall parking – little – lot and start walking north.

I like to take pics of the historic looking road signs along the trail. Gives me a better feel for direction or whereabouts when I am writing the post.

There are still a lot of critters and flowers to discover in the fall so I always keep my eyes extra open!

Stink bug nymph, Spotted cucumber beetle, bumble bee, ladybug

Leaving the parking lot and walking about 500 feet we have to cross Wiseburg road….be very careful! I have noticed that cars go much faster than the speed limit and lot of times do not slow down at the crosswalk.

Pretty quickly we’ve reach the first mile marker from our starting point. Mile 11.

Here are some of the critters we laid eyes on. Identifying them is hard and I ended up giving up on it.

20 minutes later we are at Graystone rd. which is much easier to cross being more like a side road. The time we have spent walking up here is only realistic if you have a dog with you.

There is also a bridge at this crossing and Mag longingly looks at the water. I tell him a little bit farther up we’ll go in.

Few minutes later we cross yet another bridge where the old railroad tracks are nicely preserved and visible.

After passing the hairpin curve of Graystone road there is a cute surprise waiting for us. Gnomeland!

There are lots of funny remarks and signs here, take your time to read them all.

Most of today’s walk is thankfully lonely.

Its easier to deal with Mag since he especially loves other dogs but likes to say hi to people too. Even though I always have chicken with me to distract him, it doesn’t always work. It all depends on his attraction to the other object.

Like mine to wildflowers 🙂.

Jack in the pulpit, Sunflower bud, ?, White turtlehead

Along the path at one point there is some thick, motor oil looking mud and I make a mistake to photograph flowers instead of watching what is Mag doing….he ends up with mud boots. Looking deeply in remorse….but don’t let him fool you!

Accept the free mud boots the walk is pretty uneventful and we reach mile 12 in an hour.

Even though there are plenty of opportunities to be an arm length from the water there are not a lot of trails down to it. At this covered picnic table we can finally descend, very close to a natural small cascade.

“Little falls” – official name of river before it flows into Gunpowder Falls – is pretty deep and stony so I don’t let Mag off the leash here.

About 70 feet away from here there is an overlook to the “waterfall” along with this cautionary sign. 😵

Now we are being more careful where we go and I am keep looking everywhere for copperheads….jeeeez!

At least the trail is arrow straight for like a mile.

We find some less dangerous animals hanging out on pretty plants and one of the mile markers.

It took us about an hour forty minutes but we made it to Frederick road, the location of the next parking lot.

Since I cannot find an actual street sign I just took a pic of my mile counter.

We walk over the bridge, all the way to the parked cars then turn around and head back.

On the way back to White Hall we stop again at another section of the river to cool off and make Mag happy. This portion is more dog friendly and I let him off the leash to run free.

We spot this awesome house after passing the gnomes and I cannot control myself to not to take a pic.

Mag as always, makes friends with a little toad. I think it’s a Fowler’s toad.

Back at White Hall I want to point out the antique store and the conveniently located Post Office.

So yet again my ResQwalk shows 4.56 miles vs. AllTrails 5.2 miles. The only thing both agrees on is the time….two and a half hours.

This was a very fun walk with a few lovely extra curriculum activities. Loved it as usual! Hope you get out here too to enjoy what NCR has to offer!

See you next time!

Soldiers delight

9/7/19- Choate mine trail through Dolfield trail – 2.99 miles

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“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” – Albert Camus

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We have decided that this morning we’ll head back to Soldiers Delight since the weather is finally in our favor. Lovely temperatures and fluffy clouds frame the morning sky. I even double T-shirted to make sure I don’t get cold. My upper layer is long sleeved because this trail has a lot of spikey vines and it’s also a good idea for keeping bugs away. Not even talking about the creepy feeling of catching spiderwebs every 2 minutes.

We have parked “Piroska” on the side of Deer Park rd. instead of the parking area since there is more shade here. Still like our shade, even though it’s cooler.

We start out at the southern entrance where the metal barrier is.

Air traffic sounds super busy this morning, feels like there is a Southwest airplane overhead every few minutes, possibly approaching BWI. Every time I look up I see the red/orange/blue belly.

Being here reminds me to breath – often times I forget – so I am pumping my lungs full of this precious, cool September gas.

The trail is all ours, no one is around.

Here is the split where we take a turn to the right, following Dolfield trail.

This portion is exposed to the sun for the next 3/4 of a mile but in exchange there are a lot of wildflowers to admire.

Purple false foxglove, Hairy aster, Shaggy blazing star, Yellow wild indigo

After the split, the trail gets pretty stony and be prepared to climb over or limbo – dance – under fallen trees. You can also count on crossing tiny creeks – west branch of Red run – along the path.

I recommend to wear long pants and long sleeve shirts especially because these thorny vines! Pretty hateful and painful when they latch onto you.

Smilax genus aka greenbriers

After we splash over another bend of the tiny snaking west branch of Red run the terrain hikes upwards onto an open field. Must be a killer to walk here in the summertime, getting blasted by the rays.

However this time of year it’s full of buzzing dragonflies, small butterflies and flying grasshoppers. They are constantly moving so taking a picture is impossible. Standing here for a few minutes with a smile on my face, looking at their playful chase in the sun.

Getting back to our walk, takes us across the stream once again to one of Mags favorites….dashing through water.

Continuing on the trail we reach the most southern corner which is parallel to Dolfield road and bends back in a huge angle towards North. We can here passing traffic. Hiking slightly upwards I have the opportunity to take a nice pano on the top.

Heading even further along the way, the path finally takes us back into the forest, making temperatures drop about 10 degrees. Niiiiice.

Interestingly enough we have to cross a private driveway along the way which I found a bit bizarre. On the other side, the trail is well maintained but full of milkweed.

One of my fave subject and not just when its in full bloom. Autumn still keeps it interesting with the funky looking seedpods and the milkweed bugs and their juveniles.

Keep on walking, the path winds back in the woods and we follow it until the next intersection when the orange and the yellow trail collides. We hike downwards but straight next to the houses on the orange. We don’t turn left!

We come across some funky mushrooms and a beautiful fern forest taking over the carpet of fallen leaves.

Down, down we go, towards the unicorn meadow.

Red run is featuring spectacular autumn colored fallen leaves while water skeeter bugs dance on the sunlit surface.

This place is magical! No picture I can ever take can do justice for it.

While heading out from the meadow, Mag spots – yet again – a big toad. Very handsome fellow indeed.

Since he is right next to the trail I relocate him….

Back out on the plateau we catch some other beauties.

Partridge pea, Whorled dropseed, butterfly, pine cone

Mag gets lost in the high grass….

and we finally make it back to our car.

I would love to see once how long would it actually take me to hike 3 miles without a sniffing dog 😂. 2 hours seems like an overkill.

It was a nice change to our regular walks with a bit of terrain change and the slight elevation change.

Be good y’all!

VIR

Virginia International Raceway – Alton, VA.

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“If there’s a Heaven on Earth, it’s VIR” – Paul Newman

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My husband’s obsession with driving – fast – started when he was in his early teens but truly only materialized about 10 years ago. Him being a knowledgeable and well respected auto mechanic and having his own garage, helps and always helped to navigate in the world of racing. He has been coming down here a few times a year to feed his speed demon and once in a while we tag along.

Reason #1: VIR is situated on 1300 acres! I wish they would steal my excellent idea of making a walking path around the track and vicinity, which could give us at least a 5 mile long loop (I think it would be closer to 8). Most wives would use it, I have no doubt about that.

Inside VIR, looking at the guard house

There are several different configurations of walking paths we could take so I will actually combine 3 of them into one post, especially regarding the pictures.

The racetrack itself also has six possible configurations. This weekend with the Porsche club they are driving on the Full Course (3.27 mile long).

The horse statue before the North paddock in the morning sun

We climb up the little hill from the North paddock towards the west – this is the location of the covered false grid – and take an early morning shot at the hazy track with the emerging sun casting an orange glow on the horizon.

Hazy morning above the front straight of the track

Heading south following the fence towards the corner worker’s station to wait for the first cars on the track before the “Hog pan” (it’s turn #17). This section is called the “Roller coaster”. Sitting on the spectator’s wooden bleachers we wait for the cars to drive down. They seem slow but probably doing 70-100 mph in these turns. Total elevation change is 130 ft through the course and the “Roller Coaster” is downhill all the way.

Here is a pic of the course to help with visualization.

After taking a few pics and a video, we are heading east, following the tree line and the fence. There is no way cutting over the track at this point so we are going back towards the entry road after crossing the bridge overhead the track. Passing by one of the burgundy track buildings (The gallery) on the right and the Patriot course on the left.

The gallery

The grass is so dewy, our feet are soaking wet. I am glad I keep my boots in the car at all times.

Keeping on the right side of the paved road (North paddock lane), even though that’s against my common sense. The grassy side is much larger here and traffic is scarce being inside the track. Watching where I step since this area is home to lots of different mushrooms/fungi – mostly bed guys, concerning colors – giving me great photo opportunities.

These plant and flower pics below are from all over the area.

Acorn, ?, Virginia buttonweed, Stella de oro daylily, Blue mistflower, rose

After passing the entrance on our left with the guard house peeking at us on the top of the hill we continue on a slight uphill next to South paddock lane. Following the right turn we pass by the gates to the main event exit on the left. There is a huge wooden arch here which used to have a sign: “The taming of the shrew” but it was taking off for some unknown reason to me.

The ground is covered with pink petals and I found that the other side of the chainlink fence is overgrown with kudzu.

Kudzu flower

Few more steps and we have reached the famous Oak tree turn (#12). Unfortunately the iconic tree has fallen in 2013 caused by lightning. It was planted in 1957 and was integrated into the track’s design. Here is a short video from the corner worker’s entrance. The back straight shows well here.

We have a seat on one of the bleachers for a few minutes just before we would reach the South paddock.

Great view of #11 and #12 corners

There is no way out from here following the track through the paddock so we are turning back and walk until we get back to just before Plantation road (I would say 1/2 mile). We turn right following the tree line and walk up towards the tavern, within the “abandoned allee”.

The Oak Tree Tavern

We always like to follow the furthest point out, to cover more ground so we – again – keeping right and circle around the pool towards the back of the Tavern. Before making a full loop we keep right again into the woods but still on the offroad trail. This path will take us down towards The Lodge, snaking through the forest. Several abandoned buildings give me great opportunity to use my camera.

Walking past an old the hay barn, we turn towards the right once more, dodging some picnic tables before reaching the small meadow just below The Lodge.

Crossing Euro rally road we spot the sign towards the kart track.

We have a seat at the fence on a picnic table and wait for daddy to take the track in the Black Mamba. These turns coincidently called the snake. We don’t have to wait long. He is last in the row of cars in this video, putting through the turns in his ’95 M3 BMW.

Climbing back onto the road, we walk faster over the bridge to stay out of trouble. Since it’s already pretty warm we speed through- pun intended – the spectator viewing and parking area towards the Skid pad. Crossing the road to leave space to the tractor that is cutting grass, we head towards the lake under the well deserved shade of trees.

Do you see the giant turtle on the right?

We have made it back! Close to melting but happily back in the shade of our little group’s tents. Some water and a seat in our favorite ‘zero gravity’ chair and we’ll glue ourselves back together in no time.

Here are some extra pics.

Horse wind vane on top of the administration building.

On the way home….

Happy trailing!

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D.R.O.O.L. – August 2019

Daily Reminiscence Of Our Lives

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“Deep summer is when laziness finds respectability.” – Sam Keen

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8/31

Took another route around VIR this morning, walking 3.33 miles. Got lost at one point when the path vanished into the woods. Wondered on someone else’s property then jumped a fence to get back.

The Shooting Sports building’s weather vanes
Original structure at the bridge
Morning shadows

8/30

Going for a long walk around VIR (Virginia International Raceway). Accomplished 4.35 miles and hopefully lost a few pounds….it’s hot!

Morning dew on a Canadian Goose feather

Carolina desert hickory
Spider webs or dollar spot mycelium?

8/29

We planned to leave before 10 this morning to drive down to VIR but at around 6:15 we heard barking coming from the back yard. This less than a year old slanky dog was chasing the cats. After doing our best to find his owners in a short notice, made a decision to surrender him to BARCS.

8/28

Walking around Leaking park to save time this morning.

Pom Pom spread out

8/27

Rainbow of cats

8/26

Cicada skin

The hummers are still here. I spend a lot of time watching them. This one is a male Ruby-throated hummingbird.

8/25

We don’t have time today to do a long walk so we have to stick around our neighborhood.

Sweet autumn clematis

Mag found another object to play with….

8/24

We haven’t been up at the PA line on NCR for a while so we start our morning here today.

Leafhoppers
Waiting to be toweled off

Extra fun in Beetree run. Had to wash all the mud off. I didn’t pay attention and Mag charged through a mud pit.

There was a fundraiser today on the trail, originated from PA with a lot of dogs walking with their owners. Mag did super good not going bananas since the horses were soooo much more interesting. Ollie (miniature horse) didn’t come to us and I blame all the people. I think it was just to much happening at once.

8/23

Cylburn Arboretum small loop. Thanks to Mag, I’ve avoided to step on a box turtle. Cute little thing with beautiful yellow coloring.

Natural arch
Porcelainberries
Rose of Sharon

8/24

Around the house

Cicada closeup
Skipper

Puffy Rice (front) and Baghira hanging out

8/21

Still around the house….

Morning glory after the morning
Knock out rose
Blue mist flower

8/20

Toto sunbathing
Mag doing his scheduled roll on NCR

8/19

Tiny mushroom

8/18

It’s suppose to be in the 90s today so getting up early even though it would be a treat to sleep in – being Sunday. We’re heading over to Leakin Park before the sun melts us.

The Chapel

I love paying attention to my surroundings to be able to catch tiny glimpses of life all around.

Praying Mantises, blue birdhouse in the woods, Costmary w/tiny green insect, Spotted Orb-weaver
Bindweed, Giant reed, Magic porthole to fairyland, Bottlebrush buckeye nuts

Rose of Sharon bud, Lavender, Morning glory, Mint?

Rooftop

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8/17

We are heading to Oregon Ridge Park for a quick morning walk and will pretty much stick to the red trail today. After arriving, first we walk towards the alternate parking lot to still fit in a healthy loop. I am glad we haven’t tried to park here, lot is closed for “Hot August Music”. We can still walk through it and head up on either of the clearings. The noise/music is eardrum blasting loud.

The humidity and these little freakedelic bugs are killing me. Mag just rolls in the grass happily, no care in the world.

We have found some interesting creatures today….

Large Millipede+Mags nose, Valley and ridge salamander, snail home, Millipede again

….along with some cool looking mushrooms and fungi….

….and pretty forest floor finds.

Partridge Pea, seed pods, mummified Indian pipe, Goatsbeard

Since he took a bath yesterday it was common sense for him to roll in grass, ferns, leaves and jump into mud holes and running water as many chances he got.

We have accomplished 2.74 miles. Not too shabby.

When we got home Zebulon ran into the house and put himself in jail, hoping for a long stay. 10 minutes later he asked to be let outside….🤔

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8/16

Morning walk in Sudbrook park

Porcelainberries
Monarch, 2 Salt Marsh Moths, 2 Bumble bees and a Ailanthus Webworm Moth on milkweed, deer
maybe squash flower, tall ‘ shrooms, ridged ‘shrooms, Swamp Agrimony

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8/15

Hibiscus Syriacus – Rose of Sharon
Milkweed bug larvae
Sunflower shots

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8/14

Sudbrook quicky

Bumble bee on milkweed, Monarch, Thistle w/Mecidea, Cattail, another bumble, Orange Jewelweed

Polyphemus-Moth at the shop

The Mag
False dandelion

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8/13

When we only have time to squeeze in a short walk (always try to do at least a mile), I never no where we gonna end up. Since it’s already 8am we’ll head to Cylburn Arboretum.

Sulphur Cosmos, mystery plant, Chicory, Vinca

I took a lot of pictures in their beautiful flower gardens as well but a man came over and said that I cannot be there with Mag. Gave me a stupid explanation about dogs not allowed at all around the flowers only on a less than 6 feet leash (paradox). At that time Mag was laying next to me on about a 2 feet piece. We just walked away. Cannot reason with stupid….

In the tiny bamboo ‘forest’
Southern toad
Pompadour is always happy to see us

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8/12

Extremely hard day today. Ziggi is leaving to pass over the rainbow bridge. He is part of my original 3 musketeers – Rusty, Ziggi and Clorox – brothers. He has been declining, even though he still gets around. I feel like it’s time. I will always love you!

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8/11

Meadowood Park 1 miler this morning

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8/5

Wert

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8/4

Oregon Ridge big loop

Reflection
Amanita muscaria, mystery ?, mystery ?, Chicken of the woods
Toadzilla

Peaceful waters

Box turtle friend

Forest of hope

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8/3

Roland Park

Neighborhood walk in the evening

Onyx and Muffin

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8/2

Are you ready Mom?
Echinacea – purple coneflowers, Wingstem, Giant ironweed
Spingraph

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8/1

Starting August with NCR, walking about 1 mile total up to the first bridge and back. It’s early enough for being alone for most of it.

Bridge overlook
Swallowtail
Magnolias seeds

Evening critterfest on my butterfly bush and crepe myrtles.

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NCR – from Monkton rd. to Weisburg rd.

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“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” – Henry David Thoreau

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If you are coming from Baltimore, like I do – condolences – take this short cut from York rd. Turn right onto E. Piney Hill rd and follow it to the right before it becomes Hereford rd. At the end turn right again onto Monkton rd. Parking is just before The Monkton Hotel Cafe on the right. Space is limited so come early or you’ll end up on the street with your vehicle. 🙁

In the summer months – especially on weekends – this place is jam packed, thanks to tubing. 🍩

Since both mile trackers decided to quit on me – AllTrails totally cut off and ResQwalk partially did – I didn’t really know how far up the next mile marker will be so just turned back at one of the benches we’ve reached. It seemed far enough to me in this heatwave we’ve been having. (Turned out to be at 1.5 mile from starting point.)

So long story long….we have cheated a bit this time. Next day we drove up to Weisburg rd. and walked back to that same bench we have reached a day before as our turnaround point. I – however – will make this one continuous post. It is 3.6 miles between the two parking lots so if you’re not up for walking 7.2 miles at once going back to Monkton, follow suit making it a two day “hike”.

At Monkton rd.

Since it’s Monday and before 8 am the small parking lot is pretty much empty. We got to have the trail for ourselves a lot too. Even though it’s going to be another hot day, here in the woods only the humidity is a factor.

Teasing us with following the path is Little Gunpowder River but unfortunately access points are scarce. While we are looking for signs of a passage to take us down to the cooling waters we have come across some interesting insects.

Carpenter ants, small fly, skipper, Virginia Ctenucha

And also a ruin of a small footprint building which was possibly part of the rail system, built in 1832. Wow. I would love to see new construction last 200 years.

These rocks remind me of slate, just bigger chunks.

We have finally come across a steep entrance to the river….hallelujah.

The water is nice and chilly and shallow enough that we could cross to the other side.

Spending about 10 minutes cooling down, we climb back up on the trail and continue marching north.

We discover some other critters….

Slugs
Sp(e)-iders

….before reaching mile marker 8.

It looks like Mag fell asleep

It always amazes me how the terrain can change within just a few hundred feet. Nature sure gives us plenty to look at.

Like these simple but beautiful wildflowers.

Coneflowers, Yellow jewelweed, bindweed, Dillenius’ ticktrefoil

Just before reaching 1.5 mile there is this wooden fence on the left, where we can descend again – walking through hundreds of Orange Coneflowers with an army of buzzing insects – to take a dip.

The water is crystal clear and still just about 10 inches deep.

Mag is in heaven….

On the way out from the river he takes a roll in the high grass. It wouldn’t be a walk without rolling around all the chances he gets.

Bumble bee on coneflower with red aphids

So this is the picnic table we have turned around at the day before but now I will pretend we didn’t and carry on with the post.

I have just noticed that there is another path at this particular spot to the river. It’s a bit challenging with Mag but I managed to get down and then come back up while lifting/hoisting/pushing/shoving him over the roots and the slimy trench. DO NOT recommend!

Even though he enjoyed cooling down, the water was much deeper here and intimidated him just a bit. He kept jumping into the water from the driftwood but then freaked out and was trying to jump back on it. He got a great exercise out of it.

I have been soooo good….give me some chicken.

Wildlife pics ⬇️

Spotted cucumber beetle, view of the river, browneyed Susan?

As soon as we get back up on the trail, we come across a lady walking with her two smaller dogs and they both seem to be wet. Making small conversation, I ask her where did they go and if it was a good spot? She points towards up north just a few hundred feet from us on the left, telling us to take the path where there is a blue sign on one of the trees and orange warning posts of fiber optic cables. She says it’s an amazing beachy spot on the river.

Thanks to her, we have ended up on this awesome, pretty long, river beach.

Soon after, now reenergized and cool as cucumbers, we reach mile marker 9.

The first street we cross from Monkton is Bluemount road….

….then shortly after, Wilson rd.

One of the bridges provides us with a bit more interest than others with its structure as well as its surroundings. Mag likes to discover everything so he goes and investigates the “Stream gaging station”‘s tiny house.

I was lucky enough to spot these beauties on the way as well.

Hackberry Emperor, Underwing moth, Sycamore Tussock Moth Caterpillar, Anisota Senatoria, Acronicta americana

We have quickly reached mile marker 10. We are cooking with gas.

So many times these two days we felt like we had the whole trail for ourselves.

Spotted this silo close to Weisburg rd. on the right tucked into the woods beyond a field. Sort of reminds me of the space shuttle.

Getting really close to our destination. Passing Hunter Mill rd.

Yay! We have made it! For my biggest surprise there is a post office here so I could mail a letter I had with me for weeks. Sorry Krisztina if you get your bday card late. I’ll call you!

There is also an antique shop barn at this stop. We’ll maybe check it out next time.

Unfortunately as I said, both trackers quit on me but distance should be around 3.6 miles from Monkton to up here (White Hall). I was able to register the distance the day before though, when we turned back from a picknick table at mile 1.5.

Total length is around 7.6 miles including walking down to the water so many times.

Totally loved this walk from Monkton, we might do it again in one of these days. Ta-ta!

❤️🌸

D.R.O.O.L. – July 2019

Daily Reminiscence Of Our Lives

“When all else fails, take a vacation.” – Betty Williams

7/31

Shockingly enough I did not take any pics today….I checked twice….really. No photos.

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7/30

We had to drive down to Silver Spring this morning so I have looked for suitable parks to do our morning walk at. I was very happy to find Rock Creek trail just 5 minutes from our destination. I was super excited reading up about this 1754 acre park within D.C. giving us ample of miles to discover.

The parking lot we have used is from Freyman dr. right next to East-West Highway. However our joy didn’t last long since the trail is closed for rehabilitation towards the north.

Since I didn’t want to walk over a busy highway ⬆️, we ended up getting back in the ca, driving 1 mile down/south the road to another parking spot at Meadowbrook Local Park/Candy Cane Park.

Mag in Rock Creek

We ended up looping around shy of a mile. Unfortunately the trail here was almost all the way treeless so we had to skulk around as close to the tree line as possible not directly following it.

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7/29

Short morning walk on the trail at Lake Roland.

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7/28

We went doggie beach hunting today. We checked out two of them below Annapolis. Weren’t blown away with either.

Quiet Waters park is just below Annapolis on the South River. The park itself is awesome, we’ll be back to walk the loop. But the doggie beach is super small! There had to be at least 50 people with there 4 legged companions. It was crowded, even though Mag loved it. For some reason entry fee was waived for this day.

The other one was Bayfront Park below Chesapeake Beach city. Parking is ridiculous (26 cars) and the entrance fee is $18/car. The beach itself wouldn’t be too bad, about a quarter mile long – even though it’s narrow – but half of it is blocked off with drift wood. Both sides of the path leading to the beach is covered with poison ivy. Amenities include 1 porta potty. There is a nice boardwalk towards the north going toward Chesapeake Beach city but it was way too hot, sunny to be able to stay on it.

The East coast of the US has 95471 miles of coastline. The internet lists about 25 beaches total on the east coast that are dog friendly. WTF?

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7/27

Morning walk at Oregon Ridge Park

‘Shroom fest

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7/26

Blackeyed susan

Louie

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7/25

Morning at Leakin Park

Vinca

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7/24

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7/23

Dewy crepe myrtle
Halo

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7/22

Back home with his caterpillar

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7/21

Picking up Mag today….

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7/20

Vacation is over, it’s time to go home….

Last picture of the bay

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7/19

Monaco from the water
The Oceanographic Museum of Monaco
Fontvieille’s cliff
Full moon from Villefranche-sur-Mer

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7/18

Rovinj, Croatia

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7/177/167/15 – I am sick in the middle of our vacation. Staying in.

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7/14

Driving over to Rovinj, Croatia. This little car can haul! (111mph)

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7/13

Lighthouse, Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat

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7/12

Nice (french city) view from Mont Boron overlook
Fort de Mont Alban, Mont Boron

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7/11

The Casino de Monte-Carlo and the Hotel de Paris Monte-Carlo
View from Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat of Villefranche-sur-Mer

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7/10

Oleander, Bougainvillea, Lantana camara, Agapanthus aka Lily of the Nile

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7/9

Driving over to St. Tropez today for a day of fun. It’s about 2 hours, give and take depending on traffic. We got “unlucky” to hit stop and go traffic on the east side of the bay which is not uncommon. It’s summer time!

Port de Saint-Tropez
This pretty picture sums of the beauty of this small town
Mags French cousin
Streets of St. Tropez
Plage de la Fontanette
Empty street view

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7/8

This is the beach of Monte-Carlo. They have an elaborate plan to fill the outskirts of the beach with sand and build new buildings since they have ran out of space on land. They have started in December and I take pictures of it every time we visit to see the progress.

❤️

7/7

We have arrived in one piece (each).

Nice (French city) Airport
Port de Nice / Port Lympia
Directions
Streets are smaaaaalllllll
View of Villefranche-sur-Mer

❤️

7/6

Flying to Europe from JFK

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7/5

Morning walk through Leaking Park

Wooden instruments
This platform in the tree canopy is part of Outward Bound

Woolly Mullein
My little, surprise seedling tomato plant

❤️

7/4

Insects @ Meadowood

Red milkweed beetle
Cisseps fulvicollis / Yellow-collard scape moth

Bumble Bee
June beetle on milkweed

❤️

7/3

Lake Roland – blue trail – morning walk

Critters

Hickory Tiger moth, Black Leaf-footed bug

❤️

7/2

Soldiers delight

Fresh green
Serenity
Where is Waldo? I mean Mag
Morning rays
Dove

❤️

7/1

Quick morning walk around Leakin park. Tried to squeeze in 1 mile.

Boxelder bugs and their nymphs
Dramatic morning shadows
Black swallowtail

Lake Roland – Lakeside dr. off of Falls rd. – main entrance

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“Forgotten places, Do they wait for us to come and sit there?” – Architha Reddy

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In 2001 I came here with my then employer’s English Bulldogs to go for a walk. Back then, this place was a clustrofuck and anarchy of cars parked everywhere and I managed to bump the Jag on arrival and ended up leaving a ball of nerves, being intimidated by the whole situation. Fast forward to 9/5/19, giving this place another chance, being curious if anything has changed – I am here again.

It did wait for me….and what a change! I am not a firm believer of positive changes I guess.

There is no parking on either side of Lakeside dr. anymore thanks to these wooden posts. Speed bumps have also been installed through this quarter mile stretch, leading to the parking area. I am usually in favor of these yellow suspension killers but these are in need of a little shaving….poor Yoda was screeching over them, even after stopping to tackle their height.

Rules of the park heading towards the lake from the compact parking lot. We have ignored the “pier” and followed the road back to the flood gate to the left.

Lake Roland is a 500 acre park with several easy trails as we demonstrated in previous posts. I found parking on Falls rd. still more convenient but until this day we haven’t seen the serenity of the lake.

The bridge ahead, looking beyond the serene lake

Crossing the bridge over Jones falls leads us to the Nature Center and the beginning of the park. There is a small path behind the building that leads to the light rail and two option to head towards the park. We are heading up onto the right, following the railing dividing the path from the water.

On top of the hill the space opens up to a beautifully maintained park, circled by the paved trail.

We were pleasantly surprised to find Paw point dog park as we were proceeding on our walk but unfortunately needed a permit to enter. Mag got very excited seeing the other doggies playing around but we had to keep walking with disappointment.

Following the trail upward will take us to a right branch leading us to generous steps down into the woods.

Within a minute or two we are crossing the light rail. Being careful we look both ways, snap a pic then disappear on the other side.

The other side of Lake Roland. Looks like a beach but it’s just yuck.

Mag takes a selfie sitting on a stone wall.

We could go all the way to the Falls rd. entrance but turn around at the green trail marking and head back.

Tricks for chicken
The old railroad tracks are still present at certain points

Climbing back up the steps gives us some much needed extra legwork, so I welcome the pain. Mag doesn’t seem that enthusiastic about it.

Keeping right at the top of the steps will take us back towards the playground and the pavilion.

This photo was taken on the foot bridge over Jones falls.

We have made it back after a leisurely 2+ mile walk which we could have stretched to 4 or 5 if we wanted to. Come early enough and you pretty much not going to see any people.

We’ll stick to Falls rd and will walk back here doing a big loop next time.

Have a great week y’all!

❤️

Falls road – Wrights lane (Lake Roland) – Orange trail

We start out as usual parking on the side of Falls rd. following the red trail paint.

This morning one of the houses above the trail draining their pool because it smells like pool water and the whole path is flooded. I have to tippy toe around not to get wet. The morning rays are pretty though.

We are following the orange trail on the right, after we crossed the bridge. We are taking the second “entrance” up the little hill. It will be a quiet walk since most people stick with the main path usually.

Every so often there are reminders of the color of the trail on the trees if we would forget…. Here it’s a slight uphill, both sides covered with running weeds and grasses.

Some flowers are small and some are hiding in all the green vegetation.

Common rose pink, Nettle?

This trail has several elevation and surface changes even though I still cannot say it’s even medium hard. We have to be careful when you get to the basalt stone covered path, can be tricky.

I love the difference surfaces, here there are still small stones covering the path but fallen leaves are starting to hide them.

Fall in August

And here hundreds of roots crossing our path over a small hill to give a little challenge.

And sometimes it’s a man made change over mud.

I forgot to take pictures when we turned right towards back to main trail (red) to get a bigger loop out of today’s walk. But on this pic we are already back on the red where we can again enjoy the trail art.

Spike balls made of sticks
To me this photo looks like the aliens in The Fifth Element
Metal bird sculpture

When the red trail splits we follow the right side to get ahead of some other walkers on the trail. I thought….not with Mag in tow….smelling everything….

Before we would get to the bridge, we take the small path down the water so Mag can take a dip. There are some friends here already!

Spending an extra 15 minutes playing with the other doggies was a blast! Now he is tired, wet and dirty! Let’s go home!

True mileage is 3.3 miles by ResQwalk. This App seems to be more accurate than AllTrails.

Have a great day!

Lake Roland – Blue trail – 3 miles

Entering as always from the Falls rd entrance….at Wrights lane.

Following the trail up to just before the bridge then we turn left and head slightly downhill to the water. Great opportunity for dogs to take a dip under the bridge at the sandy beach.

We will follow the blue trail today which will add up to about 3 miles total. This path is less traveled or popular for some reason. I love that about it because nature is more alive here.

My first find is an ugly little cardinal chick screaming its head off for some food. Still super cute though. I am glad I am tall, otherwise couldn’t have taken this pic.

Heading further down the path, we come across these sculptures. There are 3 of them. You have to go and see the other 2 for yourself.

Mag is so handsome in my humbled opinion that I always catch myself taking portfolio pictures of him….

Just like pretty much every other trail, this gets muddy after rain as well so there are a few places where tiny “bridges” are used to help us cross these areas.

The following about fifty feet gives me a great opportunity to look for all sorts of critters….

Praying mantis, Harvestman, Red eyed moth, tiny fly, bug with eggs, Venusta Orchard spider

The vegetation here is perfect for their needs.

A beautiful specimen of American Sycamore tree.

I think 4 or 5 spots on this trail we get a choice between two possible trails to go around either mud or collapsing cliffs. Here we have dead tree trunks helping us around the mud pit.

We usually turn around when we reach this cute house but the trail continues for a little bit longer. Not much. Maybe few hundred feet.

On the way back we are able to take some pretty pics of native plants and a cute toad hopping away from Mag’s invasive nose. Ending up wedged between small trees.

Beautiful mossy tree

We also squeeze in a quick swim then getting back on the main trail walk to our car. Happy day!

Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat – Côte d’Azur – French Riviera

For obvious reasons Mag is only with us in spirit on this walk. We miss him like crazy.

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“No matter what happens, travel gives you a story to tell.” –Jewish Proverb

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Saint-Jean Cap-Ferrat is a 613 acre peninsula. To better appreciate the beauty of Cap-Ferrat and its surroundings we’ll take the approximately 14 km/8.7mile coastal path around it.

We are driving from Villefranche-sur-Mer (M6098) but which ever way we would come from (M6098, M125 or D125) we’ll end up taking M25/Av. Denis Séméria to park somewhere on the Peninsula.

We are parking our car in the open parking area at the Port de Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat on the corner of Le Port de Plaisance. Make sure you get a parking ticket before you leave (weirdly enough we have to estimate the time we will spend here) and display it in the front windshield. We guesstimated 5 hours.

View from the port

We start our walk to the left, towards the water’s edge, passing restaurants and small shops on the way. At the end we keep left and in about 50 feet we cut through another parking area to the right, through a small playground next to a dolphin statue. We could take a dip here at the Plage Cros du Pin (beach) but instead we will climb up the stairs on the left crossing through the little town: Passable. We follow Av. (Avenue) Denis Séméria after crossing the road uphill a bit, through the little path between the houses staying straight. After passing by a nursery on the right, we’ll have to cross the road towards the portable restroom. Another path downward (Chemin de Passable) takes us to the Plage de Passable. (The Villa Ephrussi de Rothschild is really close to here. Just another amazing thing to see later.)

The tolerable beach

From here we can either follow the water to the left or walk through the restaurant’s boardwalk to get to a big apartment building on Chemin de Lido. Walk by the monstrosity (compared to other buildings around here) then take the steps downward to the right. Chemin des Douaniers is the coastal path around the Peninsula.

The Celebrity Edge docked in the Mediterranean Sea

Stopping for a sec to take a few pics. From here we can see Mont Boron across and Villefranche-sur-Mer to the right, tucked away in the bay. Cruise ships come and go pretty much every day, docking in the morning and leaving in the evening. Hundreds of smaller ships also anchored in the bay, some bigger yachts even have removable slides to enjoy their own “piece” of sea water 😳.

Villefranche-sur-Mer

The waters are mesmerizing azures and aquamarines.

Pirates (friendly ones nowadays) have been also spotted in these waters even today and used this site as their base until the 11th century (Wiki).

We’re not going to find any sandy beaches around here but the rocks give us the perfect platform to jump into the cooling Mediterranean. The blues of the water the whites of the rocks and the greenery also provides an amazing capture….some would say dramatic.

We can spot Nice from here….looking beyond the cruise ship and Mont Boron….just above the small sail ship to the left ⬇️.

Here is a better pic of Nice from December 2018

I took this Pano at Latitude 43.6841 and Longitude 7.3233 after taking the stone steps down to the tiny cove, keeping to the right and climbing out on the rocks (Don’t do it!).

Here you can see the steps leading down to the cove….

Pic was taken December 2018

The houses on the cliffs above are understated and scream: “Don’t look at me! I am so plain!”….NOT. They all have their own pools and some of them even have heliports. Cap-Ferrat has one of the most expensive real estate in the world.

I find it interesting that even though it’s the middle of summer there are not as many flowering trees and bushes as I was expecting. We have been here in the winter and it had been more colorful then. Also the air is visibly clearer in the winter months (see some of the pics). Could be that temperatures from September through May are more favorable along with rainfall. The cacti love the summer month though. They get pretty big and their flowers are a bright yellow.

Fruit of the Passion Flower, Bougainvillea, Cactus, Acacia

Here you can see the path. I do not recommend to wear flip-flops. There is no fence etc. towards the water, just about a 10 inch wide cement border, if even that. At certain spots the drop can be more than 50 feet through bushes and cacti onto the rocky cliffs.

Several hidden serpentine paths lead down to elevated jumping spots or hideaway pebble beaches. Some are stone but some are just narrow paths through the terrain with roots, stones and dirt.

Small pebble beach location Lat.43.6816-Long.7.3251
Cliff beach with the Corsica ferry in the distance

From the path you can see the steps in the rocks “paving” the way to the elevated jumping spots but it’s not always easy to find where they began. We might have to look for them. This one below is an easy one but will need some biceps to pull ourselves out from the water. See the floating dude?

The lighthouse is located on the east coast of the peninsula and was built in 1862 by the decision of Napoleon III. We yet to climb up to it and explore – maybe next time around.

There is a cooling water fountain at the “base” of the lighthouse still on the trail. Lifesaving…. Lili looks like a homeless doggie, in need of a little break. Don’t feel bad for her though! She had a jumping fest on the beach. We also take turns carrying her when the terrain gets rough.

We are about halfway around.

After our little break we are heading downhill a bit, on a much needed stone trail.

Seems like this plant is taller than the lighthouse

We have reached the southern tip with a full view of the Mediterranean Sea. No beaches here just wave crushed rock surfaces. Most jumping spots are through steps down to cemented small areas. Not all of them have steps to come out of the water though, most of them are private with removable ladders.

There aren’t any vegetation here so brace yourselves walking on the sun for about 15 minutes. Amazing, unobstructed view of the Mediterranean though. With laser sharp eyes we could see Corsica from this spot.

Somewhere around here the trail’s name changes to Chemin de la Carrière for some reason.

I didn’t take a picture of it but at the tip of the Peninsula is one of the most famous hotels in the world, the Grand-Hotel du Cap-Ferrat. The pool is visible from the trail with its umbrellas, cabanas and an elevator for convenience.

Docking station or jumping spot?

We are in the last stretch and as you can see the rest of our little troops are way ahead of us ⬆️. They either cannot wait to have some beer or ice cream….or wanna catch those clouds swallowing the mountain tops.

This is one of my favorite panorama pics from this trip with the giant stone graffiti fish in the middle. In the background from the left are the cliffs of Cap-Ferrat, in the middle is Plage des Fosses in the Bay of Lilong and then Cap-Ferrat stretching into the sea again.

Fish close up

Just took this pic from google maps to show you Lilong bay from above.

Before turning right onto Av. Claude Vignon, I have the opportunity to feast my eyes on some beautiful flowers climbing on fences.

Yucca?, Oleander, Purple and Pink Allanda?

While turning left to Passage des Fossès (cut through), the bay is visible and gives a great opportunity to snap a photo.

Well deserved break on a whale’s tail on Av. Jean Mermoz.

Keeping to the left and following the water, we’ll round back to our car.

As you see we didn’t reach our goal of 8.7 miles because we ended up cutting our walk short not going around the protruding east side.

I guess we’ll do that as well as the light house and some other interesting, beautiful, must see spots around here.

We will be back….

D.R.O.O.L. – June 2019

Daily Reminiscence Of Our Lives

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“June is the gateway to summer.” – Jean Morgan

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6/30

NCR – PA line

It’s before 8am and close to the 80s. Mag takes a dip.

As soon as Ollie sees Mag, he approaches us. He has no interest joining just me.

Ollie’s beautiful eyes.

❤️

6/29

Morning walk Lake Roland – Falls rd entrance

Summer heat is killing me…. On the positive side, we are done shopping before 7 and on the trail 20 minutes later.

Morning rays

This cheeky little dove landed right next to me to get some water.

Bridge over Moores Branch

Pooped out

❤️

6/28

Morning walk in Leakin park

Purple coneflower

Red gladiolus buds

Pink gladiolus

Thistle flower with Carpenter bee
Bindweed with itty-bitty worm

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Evening walk

Daylilies in our garden
Plantain lilies at a neighbor’s house

One of Mag’s fave rolling spots

Hibiscus syriacus
Persian silk tree
A tiny hover fly on my buddleja

❤️

6/27

Short morning walk in Sudbrook park

The Mag

Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus)
Wild garlic
Swamp Milkweed buds
Birdsfoot trefoil

❤️

Carpenter bee on a branch at home.

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6/25

Evening walk

Large Milkweed Bug (Oncopeltus fasciatus)
Carpenter bee on milkweed
Great grey slug (Limax Maximus)
Unknown desert plant

My knock-out rose

Wolf spider
Groundhog with apple

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6/24

Neighborhood walk

Our pleasant neighbors

❤️

6/23

Soldiers delight morning moon

Ruby-throated hummingbird (male) drinking

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6/22

Morning walk on NCR – PA line.

Early enough to be by ourselves.

Daylily, Moth mullein, ?, moss, ferns, berries, ?, ?

Mag and Ollie

Bridge over Prettyboy reservoir

❤️

6/21

Morning exercise at Falls rd.

Got the trail for ourselves

I was able to approach the mystery snake I was talking about a few days earlier. He/she was in the mood to pose for me today before sneaking off into the greens.

Watersnake?

River view

❤️

6/20

Evening walk….

Milkweed pollinator
Before the storm

❤️

6/19

Cylburn Arboretum

Beautiful flowers great us at the parking area.

Moth mullein, wild basil, Linnaea grandiflora, Aphrodite, Japanese meadowsweet
Crepe myrtle, ?, Red hot pokers, Aphrodite sweet shrub, chicory

We are backtracking today, starting out behind the Vollmer building into the woods through Ravine trail.

Few feet after the deer gate, my chase buttons are pushed, looking at a tree with clearly the Pileated woodpecker’s signature on it.

He is actually sitting up above us, chuckling. They should’ve been called road runners.

Ravine trail overlook
Up-up we go
American beech, wild berries, Chicory, Bottlebrush buckeye

❤️

6/18

Lake Roland – Falls rd. entrance

As a misanthrope I can say that today was a crowded day at the path. Counted 3 people on our 2.8 mile walk. Also made a snake jump off a cliff into the water with a big splash. First day – after 2 years 1 month- that I let Mag walk off the leash and he followed me like a champ. Love this little dude!

Suspicious stone (sorry it’s sideways)

❤️

6/17

Leakin park

Just wondering around for a short walk this morning. Humid and hot already @ 8 am….yuck. Mag has found a turtle. (Jeez I sound silly.)

Bottlebrush Buckeye bush

❤️

6/16

Making my breakfast for the next 2 weeks. If I haven’t mentioned it, I am a vegetarian, part time fruitarian.

Who wouldn’t love this guy?

❤️

6/15

Puffy Rice hijacked Mag’s cot

And the others took ownership of the car. Good luck cleaning the hair off of that top, Hubby! Front and center: Pompadour aka Puss in boots. On top right to left: Bagheera, Jaffa and Puffy Rice.

❤️

Soldiers delight – Choate Mine trail

June 26th

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” Summer heat is proof that Mother Nature is menopausal.” Maxine

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It’s 7:30am and already in the upper 70s. We have parked on the side of Deer Park rd across from the overflow parking area since the Nature Center’s lot only opens at 9. Here the car is in the shade until we get back. Choate has two entrances, we’ll be using the further set to get through both grasslands before we bake out there on the sun.

Until we get to the plains the trail here is a bit wild. Since it’s early, I catch all the spiderwebs flexed between the bushes. Lovely.

Here is one I have missed.

Getting over the first grassland takes about 5 minutes. I would melt by that time in the afternoon so I am glad we came early. Depending on the season this area can be full of birds, butterflies and other cute little critters. I can hear a beautiful melody sung by – maybe – an Oriole.

White Ermine moth, Ridged yellow flax, wild berries, Crofton weed

As soon as we arrive at the tree-line, temperatures drop at least 5 degrees. Just before though, we take a small bypass to the left onto a small path taking us down to the creek to cool off.

Walking back to the bushy zone and up the little hill, we get to an “intersection of paths”. Taking the left side again still “climbing” up, will lead us to the small plain.

Crossing this grassland is pretty quick and we will have a nice surprise at the end. Nature presents us with a lush meadow, in the middle is the previously small creek swollen into Red run. It’s still modest in size but looks amazingly inviting.

We spend about 15 minutes here, Mag is fooling around in the water and me just taking pictures. Lovely to be in the shade in this pretty valley, surrounded by ferns, singing birds and all sorts of dragonflies zooming everywhere. Keep looking around for magical deer or at least a unicorn to appear….

Catching back up on the path we have a bit of an uphill, following the red markings on the trees.

Good that I have my eyes open for hidden little treasures along the way, peeking from underneath the fallen leaves. I always hope for seeing wild orchids but any pretty or interesting find will do.

Amanita caesarea
Indian pipes

The only distraction is the far away traffic noise filtered through the woods (795?).

When reaching the top of the hill – parallel some row homes (?) – we’ll follow Choate trail (red) to the right. This section is mostly swampy after rain but now when it’s dry the forest looks younger and lets more sunshine in. I haven’t heard the birds since the creek but here, they are back again.

Bigger branches help to get through the muddier areas

Before we get to the crossroads – keeping right again – I hear deer huffing in the bushes but they stay “invisible “.

This part gets super muddy after a storm. Boots are a good idea.

On our left, there are some fenced in small parcels with audio options to learn about the miners life – back in the days when the area was used for this purpose -, but it’s not in working order. Keeping to the right the gate to the parking area is just a minute away.

Checking Mag for ticks revels 7 bloodsuckers! Ouch!

We have done 2.1 miles in sloth pace. Might be a new record! And it’s still before 9 am. Awesome! Another 12 hours to find something to do…..

Ta-ta!

Oregon ridge park – red-yellow trails

June 24th

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“The soul that sees beauty often times walks alone.”

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To tell you guys the truth, for some reason I always forget about this park. Even though I spend a lot of time around Hunt Valley. It is so convenient and amazingly spacious – over 1000 acres – within 15 minutes of Baltimore. It has lots of little trails and at least 2 big interchangeable trails. Two separate parking areas – both entrances are from Beaver Dam rd but one is about 20 feet from Shawan rd. It has a lake aka Oregon pool, 2 playgrounds, several open- and a covered picnic area, a Lodge and an outdoor concert pavilion. It also gives home to the Oregon Ridge Nature Center.

The park was originally created on the site of an abandoned iron ore and marble quarry back in the 1830s.

I pulled Yoda in under the trees so while it’s still be hot by the time we get back, it’ll help a little. Starting towards the Nature Center, greeting the chickens, a turkey and a gander after passing the Nature Classroom and a tenant house on the right. Heading into the woods left to the interactive playground we says hello to a beautiful owl in an inclosure.

Educational boards

I love the sight of these colorful trees along the path. They each tell a story of some sort.

When the path splits after the artwork tress on the top of the hill, we are heading right.

Striped prince’s pine

There is something magical about the forest in the morning sunshine. I feel centered and joyous.

Following the red trail.

Thankfully we are never too far from a creek, giving us an opportunity to cool down and take pretty pictures.

The slight uphill will take us to another split where we’ll turn right again.

Educational board about chestnut trees before turning right.

Getting to the clearance in the woods we turn right on the sunny path and then left back into the forest.

At our favorite bench – it’s really a masterpiece – we take a few minute break to admire the beauty of its construction.

While taking this pic I notice a green caterpillar with a face, on one of the cardinals! Too cute!

Eastern tiger swallowtail’s caterpillar

Follow the yellow cut through to the right.

Shortcut through a fern “forest”.

Reached the yellow trail (S. James Campbell trail).

Even though none of you will notice our distress but from this point on for a mile we got chased by a gadfly. First it was just bothersome but it didn’t wanna quit. Racing downhill to reach the ‘run’ through stones and wood barriers was not something I would do normally. Finally I might have whacked him in the head ’cause it disappeared.

We are safe at last at Baisman Run.

The crossing is a bit adventures for people but easy for dogs. Happy pup.

About another minute away we can cross on a wooden bridge. I prefer the other.

Crossings vary every time we get to another portion of the run.

My wish was granted.

I am soooo glad I have Mag with me! He has found a viscous water root….I don’t know what would’ve happened without him spotting it.

Another beautiful landing in the water. So serene. Could take a nap here.

Back to reality. The trail awaits. Uphill for a while.

In the middle of the struggle, we meet a guy (3rd person today) with a beautiful German Shepard. It’s not enough to huff and puff going up, now I have to drag an 80 lb dog with me as well who doesn’t wanna not great another pup. Great.

On the top I have a minute to relax spotting this toad jumping on the path. He was a poser.

Getting hotter already since the creek is way behind us in the valley.

Ladybug on a bench, funny tree, Indian pipes, butterly wing

Follow straight onto loggers trail (we are back on the red trail) ….

….passing by the old ski hill lookout with a bench to take a sec from hiking.

Continuing on the steep red trail we must pay attention to where we step. There are man made steps periodically but still have to be careful.

Indian pipe

At the clearing we keep straight/left until seeing the steps through the overgrown vegetation. This will lead us to the playground.

Walking pass the picnic tables….

….Oregon pool is on our left, with the covered picnic area next to it. Over the water there are dozens of dragonflies chasing each other.

Up the small hill, through the parking area, keeping left, down the brand new stairs to our car.

4.1 miles of bliss. Clean Mag off. No ticks found. Wave good bye ’till next time.

NCR – Sparks rd to Corbett rd

(June 20 2019)

“Go where you most feel alive.”

Today’s “adventure” is starting from the Sparks road parking lot. We are here early, thanks to the heat and humidity index for later. Both of us rather take the 60s. Nice shady spot in front, since only 4 cars are present. Good to be an early bird.

Crossing Sparks rd
Heading to Corbett rd

Some sniffs at the post and then we are off for our walk. The other day we have missed the mile 4 marker because we have turned back at the barrier at Sparks. Well, here it is.

Leaving marker 4, the path starts to turn left and right through the woods. The ground cover here is mostly ferns but at this particular area it’s full of Japanese Meadowsweet.

While we enjoy the lush vegetation and the scattered farms peeking through the leaves, we quickly arrive at Glencoe road. Even though there is a small parking area here for about 5-10 cars the distance is definitely too short to turn around and call it a day.

Glencoe road crossing

We’ll be on our way to the next crossing.

Beautiful old Mansion

The next mile is uneventful and quiet. Not a lot of people around today either. Must be the weather. 96% humidity only stirs the crazy up. We reach the 5 mile post so quick I have to do a double take.

Hot, hot, hot at 10am

Mostly on the right side – I guess thanks to the river running on the left (heading north) – there are a lot of pretty rock formations. They definitely give more interest to our surroundings.

Gunpowder Falls is finally running close enough to the trail that we can see it through the flora.

Calm waters

Another 0.2 up the trail and we can actually head down to it to take a break and a splash.

Clearing to the river through Milkweed forest

Mag is in the water in about 1 sec flat. He is part fish, I swear.

After replenishing ourselves we head back towards north. Mag nicely cooled but I am still sweating up a storm. By the time we get up to the next bridge over the falls, we are hot again.

Through wire fence

Few people are fly fishing in the river, standing on a sand island, one of my favorite farm as a backdrop.

The next mile marker – 6 – is just a spit away from here.

Walking another half a mile from the marker – just after the left bend – is our target, Corbett rd.

We’ve made it

There is no parking here and even though Monkton is just a half a mile up the trail we are turning back because of the heat. On a cooler day I would have just keep walking….but not today. We take a last look at the great old houses here and then head back.

On the backtrack Mag takes a break yet again, ready for a picnic.

He hits the falls one more time.

We come across a lucky charm.

Horseshoe print

Say hello to the three sisters.

Enjoy some alone time, even though there were about 50 bikers passing us just five minutes ago.

We also spot a cool lantern on a tree close to a house next to the trail.

We learn cool info about a Circa 1930s train signal and….

discover yet another cool house.

Almost get hit by a buzzard just before getting back to Yoda, flying above the trail from a swampy area, which deposits a raw smell of death. I have noticed the smell when heading north but didn’t see anything dead around. This bird is proof that some sort of body is laying within the high grass.

He just flew up there.

We are back at the car. After turning on the engine to cool the cockpit, I clean off Mag and check him for ticks. Standard procedure.

We have done about 5.3 miles – AllTrails not trustworthy – and almost passed out caused by humidity and heat. Next week will be more brutal, temperatures will be in the mid 90s. Yikes.

We’ll be back for more!

NCR – Phoenix rd to Sparks rd

“I could never resist the call of the trail.” Buffalo Bill

Starting at this point on NCR requires us to come early. This small lot fills up fast. It’s 7:30 which I consider late….even though it takes us a 30 minute drive to get here.

Only a few cars present and no one on the trail as far as we can see.

Frogs are our only companions. Ribbit ribbit.

We quickly reach the Phoenix rd. W. bridge. Ok not that quick since Mag smells everything.

Sorry for the graffiti language, some people have too much time on their hands but not enough brainpower.

On the right after the bridge there is a little creek and about 40 feet in my fave tree which I take a picture of in every season. Not today though ’cause of poison ivy. This pic is from 1 year ago.

Ribbit ribbit.

There are also a few crows being chased by smaller birds. Probably nest thieves.

Vegetation is pretty thick in June so I can only get a glimpse of Gunpowder Falls.

I also notice, there aren’t a lot of wildflowers to photograph. That’s a bummer.

Even though I love milkweeds, there are so many pics I can share of them with you before you get bored with it. I wish I could attach the fragrance of the same plant. It’s beautiful.

We are walking through one of the small bridges over a sub creek….

and also reaching the mile 3 post.

After this point there are some small kinks in the path.

Cooling the temperature down on our right are stone formations with filtered water seeping through, wetting the trail with its veins.

On the left, Gunpowder lazily flows beyond the trees and shrubs.

When paying attention we can see an about 80 feet drop ravine on the right behind the trees over the embankment. No need to panic! It’s dropping towards us so it’s actually 80 feet tall.

Years ago in the spring I have seen a brown owl here flying through the woods.

The temps are so much cooler here that the milkweeds are still just before flowering.

If I could get to the seeping water at the stone wall I would drink from it. But swampy soil and plants are in my way.

Heading straight ahead, only stopping for a second to take a pic of my favorite stone which I used in the past to turn around when I was training for a half marathon.

At the 3/4 of this longer stretch of the trail there is a house with this cute gate.

Mag sniffed here for so long I ended up pulling him away.

Sparks rd is not far from here after the bend. If we would wanna go to the 4mile marker, gotta keep walking. It’s another 0.2 miles away, after crossing the rd.

NCR is pretty clear cut so our walk back is uneventful. Except Mag getting in the water at several stops….

Rolling in high grass and meeting a friend (cannot prove the later) ….

Sitting (standing I mean) on a bench….

Checking the creek from up above….

Finding an occupied birds nest….

Ribbit ribbit

And finally taking a picture again of the river, while leaving Mag on top of the stairs.

After photographing the road sign….

we cleaned off and headed back to the city.

As I said in my last post AllTrails is not reliable to measure the distance, actually we only did 3.7 miles.

I would recommend NCR to anyone who likes a nice stroll in nature or want to bike for miles without getting worried about traffic or training for an event or really, anyone. Love this easy, long trail close to the city but far as well thanks for its length.

P.S.: by the way….the parking lot is full inside and outside the fenced area.