Saturday, June 30, 2012

Lions and Tigers and Bears...Oh MY! WV

Having survived that freakish storm,  night was in full force.  Not seeing well at night, I thought it prudent that I stop for the night, especially since I was leaving the highway and getting on local roads; I did not want to navigate wet, winding West Virginia roads in the dark.  I pulled up to a Holiday Inn, only to find it full.  Many others were also taking refuge for the night.  That left the Super 8, where the only room left was a business

I won’t go into that story now, but that was the hotel from Hell!   Enough so, that I requested and got token refund on the room and also spent time writing a negative review on Trip Advisor….something that I don't normally spend time doing, but people needed to be warned….   After a multitude of other events, what finally broke this camel’s back was when I was awakened at 1 am by a woman pounding on my door and trying to get in. 

What do you want?”  I yelled.

“It’s the hotel staff, “ came the reply, “We just needed to find out if this room was occupied.”

"Go is occupied!",  I retorted.

Are you kidding me?  I approached the desk the following morning and told them what happened.  The woman said,

“Oh, that was me.  The boss told me to do that.” 

To which I replied, “You’re luck you didn’t get shot.  I sleep with a loaded gun on the nightstand!”

Don't mess with Texas
She visibly paled.  I think that might have had something to do with receiving the discount. 

Not sure where I was exactly, I left the hotel early, and with time to spare; I was to meet a group riding from the courthouse in downtown Morgantown.  After plugging the address into the Gramin, I was chagrined to discover that I was 5 short miles away from destination.  I could have spent a comfortable night with my WV host, Tracy.  

Like a good mother hen, Tracy called to check on me as I was driving around downtown Morgantown.  She must have good instincts because I had been driving around and around the same block trying to find that stupid courthouse!

“It’s right by Pathfinder, the bike shop where my boyfriend works.”,  she instructed

And I looked….I had been past Pathfinders several times….this time I saw the BIG red brick courthouse; it was in plain view.  How I never noticed it before, I have no idea…..things that make me go ‘hmmm’.  No matter; I was there with time to spare.

Ten o’clock came and went; no one showed.  Now what…..  

I am finding on this trip that one has to be flexible and change plans on a dime.  In an odd way, this has been quite liberating.  I had planned to ride the Decker Creek trail tomorrow, but I could do it today,  if it wasn’t trashed by the storm.  I could cross that bridge when I came to it, though. 

First, I was going to go to the bike shop and see if they carried cleats for my shoes; mine had worn out and were being held to the shoe by a hangnail of metal.  (That was a scary discovery; the result of that clip failing could have been disastrous.)   I had been unable to find anyone that carried that clip in my last two stops and riding with it in that condition worried me.

Not seeing any on display, I approached the young, long-haired, friendly bike mechanic.  I showed him my shoes and clips; he visibly shuddered, but pulled out exactly what I needed.  Bingo….I hit pay dirt.  He even had the tools to remove the old one, which required a Dremel tool as the screws were so worn that a screwdriver was rendered useless.  Yippee!   I could ride safely now!

This cleat should have looked the same on both ends.  As you can see , there is nothing left of the top.
As the drill sang "zing, zing, zing", cutting through the worn screws, I got a status report of the trail—one of the mechanics had just cycled in on it.  A few downed trees, but it was in good shape.  Double yippee!  An hour later, I was on my way.

The trail was beautiful.  Once out of the city, the pavement stops and the trail surface becomes packed dirt with gravel the size of kitty littler.  A bit nervous to be riding a full carbon bike with skinny tires (23s) on a trail,  I rode at a cautious pace, gingerly navigating the trail.  I truly had nothing about which to be nervous; the trail was wonderful and very stable.  

Alone on the vacant trail, all I heard was the crackling crunch of my tires as they rolled over the fine gravel, the rushing water of storm swollen Decker Creek and the birds singing throughout the forest canopy.  I cruised past a huge working quarry, that looked like something out of Starwars, abandoned mines and coke ovens, passing wonderful rustic churches, all the while being serenaded by the water of the creek and the birds.
Beautiful packed gravel path
The rushing Decker Creek
Old church, still in use
As I let my mind drift, I became aware of just how alone I was....all alone...all alone...all alone  Those words beat a cadence in my mind and my imagination jumped onboard,  expanding on all the possibilities those words held, batting them around like a cat plays with a mouse. The mind is a powerful thing, and as those words bounced around inside of my skull, I began to feel the tendrils of fear creep into my peaceful ride. All sorts of "what if's" began to pop up.

I have had a number of nay-sayers pepper me with their fears and concerns about my traveling and riding solo.  Until this moment, I had shrugged off their suggestions of danger lurking around every corner, but now those voiced opinions and concerns came tumbling off the shelf on which I had placed them, like plates in an earthquake.  Anxiety welled in my chest.  I felt like Dorothy walking through the Haunted Forest in the Wizard of Oz, waiting for the Flying Monkeys to appear.   

....All alone....all alone....lions and tigers and bears...oh my....

As in Macbeth, I mentally shouted "Out, damned spot!"  to those words and fears........(I'm not sure the context was right, but the intention was clear....) and they sulkily crept away.  I knew they would be back if I let them, so I turned my focus back on the ride and the tranquility of the woods.

Successfully keeping my fear subdued, I continued down the trail; unfortunately, I was unable to ride to the end. The storm had taken down trees, which blocked the northern portion.  I hiked around a few of them, but finally came upon a fall that was beyond navigation. Turning my bike, I headed back the way I came.  Having only ridden a few miles, I ran into a crew clearing the trail. I must say, I was quite impressed with how quickly the issue was addressed.  These trees hadn't even been down eight hours...that would not have happened in Dallas.....

Fallen trees from the derecho storm that hit the area
Crew clearing the way less than 8 hours after the storm.
My untimely return left me a few miles short of the self-imposed mileage I needed to accomplish my goal.  To up my mileage, I continued on the path as it wound through downtown Morgantown.

Now, let me tell you a little about Morgantown; the hills there are equal to those found on the streets of San Francisco.  As I approached the particularly steep and well renowned climb, Spruce St, I stopped and watched two lithe, well-muscled young men, in full matching kits, struggle up the steep grade.  When one went down due to his slow pace and inability to unclip fast enough to save himself, I did a U-turn.  Not that I couldn't do it, mind you....I just didn't want to embarrass the boys by passing them.  (if you believe that, let me tell you about some land I have in Florida....)

I was on my Pinarello, affectionately known as "Baby"..... (Most people think that is her name because as I climbed steep grades, they would often hear me shouting "Come on, Baby!", mistakenly thinking I was talking to the bike.......I am really referring to myself.  Sheepishly, I have let that misinterpretation stand).......and the gearing on that bike is meant for flat, performance riding. There was no way my engine (aka my legs) had the power to get up a 20% grade with that set up. I wasn't going to even try; I had nothing to prove and much to lose.

I turned and flew down the hill I had come up to reach Spruce St, through the WVU campus, and back on the FLAT trail that ran along the Monongahela River  (try saying that three times when you're drunk).  Mileage complete, I was tooling along, well aware that my saddle sores were not happy, wondering what I was going to do about it, when I came upon a bike shop tucked in under bridge.  Odd, but clever place for it....I assumed it catered to people wanting to rent bikes for the trail.  I buzzed by, but something beckoned me back....namely the pain of my sores.  Perhaps, just perhaps, they would have bike shorts with a chamois my current ones lacked and that would relieve the chaffing.

Well, today I hit the trifecta in good fortune; this was a full-fledged bike store, carrying higher end brands. (Wamsley Cycling) What an unexpected surprise! With the help of owner, a petite, cordial woman, I found some shorts that just might do the trick; they had a chamois extending well down the leg, with little padding and high tech fabric.  They also had a high price; Deborah graciously discounted the shorts to effectively give me a two for one price......and threw in a free water bottle on top!  I just love free stuff!  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  West Virginia certainly excels in friendliness!

So, what started out as ride that continuously threw curve balls in my planning, turned out to be a wonderful and enjoyable experience.
Deborah, my saddle sore savior, and head mechanic, Colin.
Chip, Deborah's husband
And, of course, I stopped to take a picture....
Abandoned railroad trellis
More scenic beauty of the trail
Tracy's dog wasn't sure about me
Tracy and BJ, hostess extraordinaire
What a nice welcome!
Trains are everywhere
Gravel quarry
Part of the quarry system.  It was huge.
Old coke ovens

Come, take a ride with me on the Decker trail

Friday, June 29, 2012

Take Me Home, Country Roads... WV

When I say, 'Take me home country roads', I truly mean it.  My parents were both raised in West Virginia, so going there has a special meaning for me. My mother grew up in the Morgantown area, which is where I was headed.  Getting there, however, proved to be as much of a challenge and adventure as riding Alp D'Huez!

I left Winchester,VA  late because I tried, unsuccessfully, to get some mechanical issues fixed. Letting my host for the weekend know, she returned my text, warning me of powerful storms moving into the area and to be careful.  Not having access to the weather report, I remained blithely ignorant of the developing situation, driving west with nary a care, sucking down a 32 ounces of water as I went.  --Gotta stay hydrated, you know!!

With just ten miles left to travel, and the sun gently sinking behind the mountains, a big splattering raindrop hit the windshield....then another....and another. Plop...plop...plop...plop plop plop plop. The sky lost all light, as if someone had flipped the switch, and the heavens opened up, dumping water like a broken fire hydrant. It happened very quickly; I couldn't see anything beyond the windsheild.. The wipers were useless; they simply could not keep up.  I was very aware of the danger I was in due to the lack of visibilty and the speed at which I was travelling.  Flipping on my hazard lights, I took my foot off the gas to de-accelerate. praying those behind me would see me and do the same. I didn't want to use my brakes for fear of hydroplaning.  Unable see anything but a sheet of silver gray water washing down my windshield, I felt my way to the shoulder by riding the rumble strip. Never did I think I would be grateful for that bone-jarring ride!  As trucks and cars continued to splash by, and I just prayed they would see me.  Finally with wind howling and torrents of rain coming down and being blown like a hurricane, all traffic stopped; everyone was pulled over, waiting for the monsoon to stop.

Sure I was in the epicenter of the storm, I covered my ears as the thunder rolled over the car, shaking it.  The lightening strikes were close enough to raise the hair on my arms, cracking like whip as it ripped through the air.  The wind was blew furiously, shaking the car sideways,and as the water rushed down the mountain, it pushed the car forward. I felt like I was on a carnival ride.  I was scared, but I knew I was going to be okay.  I just had to sit it out.

The storm raged on and on and as it did, that 32 ounces of water I drank....well, you can imagine.  Couple that with listening to water all around me, and I was in a world of hurt.  How much longer was this storm going to last?  I didn't dare get out of the car nor would it have been wise to drive it to find a gas station.  Oh's times like these I wish I was a man!

The storm finally passed, and people began to drive again.  I made a beeline to the first exit I saw and headed straight to the ladies' room.  The closer I got, the more the pressure built. 

 "oh please, oh please, let me make it!!"

I barged through the door, and.....THERE WAS A LINE!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Standing like a picnic table, I weighed my options, then headed to the Men's room.  Knocking, no one answered, so in I went. Pushing the seat down with my foot, I sought relief, and was about to emerge from the stall, when  a man entered the bathroom.


Oh no, now what am I going to do?  Should I put my feet up so he doesn't know I'm there? I just sat there, as quiet as a mouse.

The door opened again, and another man entered.  The two grunted at each other, then, 'zzzzippp'....there he went, too, neither of them speaking.  I've always wondered about etiquette in the Men's room, and now I know....they ignore each other...they also don't wash their hands!  

Finally,business concluded, they left.  I bolted out of there before someone else entered, dashing right into the t-shirt clad gut of some big guy coming in.

Ah....the embarrassment.  What does one say in this situation....."don't forget to wash your hands?".....

EGADS! Say it isn't true! ....Virginia

Leaving North Carolina, I was in bad shape.  I cannot begin to describe the discomfort and pain that these rascally saddle sores were causing.  Additionally, my knee had shooting pain through it.....  But the worse was the mental flogging I was giving myself for quitting the ride before completing the full fifty.

"Come on!" "The Critic" in my head chided....  "It's only 50 miles!  You wimp.  Couldn't you suck it up for another 12 mile?!"  This ugly dialogue continued as I drove mile after mile into Virginia, so much so that to make myself feel better, I stopped and got a bag of potato chips; I ate the whole thing.  I tried to convince myself that I needed the extra salt, but The Critic wasn't buying it and the criticism began again.

"Stop the presses........."  I thought...  "This self flagellation has to stop...NOW!", and I began to have a stern mental conversation with myself.

Yes, it is true; I did not ride the entire 50 miles.  But that does not mean that the ride was a failure and nor was I.  It simply means I had the sense to know when my body was telling me to slow down.

The last time I did not pay attention to what my body was trying to tell me, I was taken off a ski slope on a rescue sled.  That was in February. I had never been skiing before; on the second day out,  I just didn't feel right.  I felt hung over, but I thought it was my mind playing games with me because I was scared... scared of hanging in the air on the ski lift, scared of falling, scared of going too fast and crashing, scared of getting hurt.  So I ignored all the physical symptoms that were appearing, thinking I was just manufacturing them so I would have an excuse to quit.  I even vomitted, but kept going.  After an hour or two of playing this mental game, my body shut down, and the ski instructor had to call the rescue squad to come get me.  It is very frightening experience to hear the EMS personnel speaking over her walkie talkie saying she had a middle aged woman with a possible stroke. At that point, I couldn't breath and my hands were paralyzed into crab-like appendages.  I couldn't move them at all! Hauled off the mountatin, I ended up in the little hospital hooked up to IV's, oxygen and a heart monitor.  (my Road ID came in handy to get in touch with my travelling companions, and access my medical insurance and medical history)   In turns out, I had severe altitude sickness, which can be fatal.  But I ignored what my body was saying to me, allowing "The Critic" to push me beyond my physical limits.

And here I am doing it again.  My body is clearly telling me to slow down....  it is tired and taking a beating in the heat and in the saddle.  Regardless of the aches and pains, I was up bright and early the next morning to ride my 50 in Virginia.  I did, however, take my condition into consideration and chose to ride the Washington-Old Dominion bike path instead of the steep and challenging Blue Ridge Parkway.

Off I went, pedaling at a high RPM down the pathway.  Since I didn't seem to be getting the mes-sage my body was sending, serendipity stepped in to say her two cents worth--my bike computer would not work. Without it,  I had no way to figure speed, distance or a multitude of other data that I like to monitor as I ride.  Today, I would be riding Virginia naked (OK--all you perverts get your mind out of the gutter)....meaning riding without any instrumentation to record my performance.

EGADS!    Say it isn't true!

Frustrated, I had no alternative but to let go and just ride, unencumbered by having to perform to some standard that I made up.  So I puttered along, spinning at a leisurely pace and explored the neat little colonial towns through which the trail meandered.  I even stopped, had a coffee and people watched in one of the towns.  Eventually, I headed back, saddle sores still complaining, but it was the most enjoyable rides I have had in a long time.

Today, I realized that this trip is not about the miles or riding in all 50 states by a certain deadline.  It is about experiencing the experience...embracing the journey.  The saddle sores, the aching knee, the broken Garmin were a means to this discovery.  With my tunnel vision on completing the task, I was missing the most important part of doing this tour.....just being in the moment and appreciating the journey.  So, while I may still be in pain, I will ride the remainder of this tour for the experience, not something to check off a list.

All sorts of riders on the trail
Built ca 1780, Leesburg, VA
Overpass on the trail
Taken from Blue Ridge Pkwy vista point. Smoke from forest fires is evident.
Old church and cemetery....somewhere in VA
Washington-Old Dominion Trail.  Paved, runs from Purcellville to Washington DC
Original cabin from early settlers
Wayside Inn, Middletown, VA., the oldest continuously run inn in the USA

Carolina on my Mind...North Carolina

I have always said I was going to move to North Carolina.  Somehow, I just never got there, so I was eager to ride in that state.  My hosts here were Wendy and Gary. Friends from Dallas, they moved to Raleigh about 4 years ago.  Both are avid cyclists; in fact, Gary owns and operates a bike shop, TLC for Bikes.

When I arrived at Gary's shop around 6:30, he promptly pulled my bike from the car and began giving it TLC. He tweaked this, and adjusted that, while I had waddled around the corner with his friend, Tom, for a quick bite and a glass of wine.  I say 'waddle' because that is the only way I could walk after sitting on those saddle sores all afternoon.  I need that wine for anesthesia! By the time we returned, Wendy had arrived and whisked me away for a whirlwind tour of the area.

Raleigh is beautiful!  With a multitude of outdoor sports at its doorsteps: cycling, mountain biking, kayaking, canoeing, fly fishing, sailing, camping, hiking, only has to travel an hour and half either west or east to be in the mountains or at the ocean, respectively.  The climate is typically temperate and plants grow with ease, as if in the tropics.  Well planned and meticulously  maintained and respected, the area is a mecca for outdoor enthusiasts. No fake tans here....everything is natural.

Concerned about my saddlesores, Wendy gave me some bike shorts to wear the next day.  They were men's shorts, and had a much bigger chamois, that was as soft as kid leather.  She started wearing men's shorts when she had a similar problem, finding the women's chamois fit the saddle, but didn't protect the soft inner thigh like the men's short do.  At this point, though, so much damage had occurred, that nothing short of an epidural would snuff out the pain.  It might, however, prevent further damage and solve my perpetual sore issue.

The ride the next morning was, again, a magnificent ride on magnificent roads with magnificent scenery.  Gary apologized for the headwind, laughing when he said it.  It was blowing all of 5 mph, now and then; anyone riding in Dallas knows we celebrate when it is only blowing that hard.  For Dallasites, chipseal and wind are our mountains!  So, despite the prevailing 'headwind', we rode; up and down the rollers we went, with Gary giving me instructional hints on how to ride them.  As a flatlander, I appreciated the coaching.  Riding hills and riding flats definitely require different techniques.

My 'injuries', however, grew more and more persistent in calling attention to themselves, and I finally had to quit ignoring them.  Not half way through the ride, I cried 'uncle'.  To continue would have been stupid.  We turned around, and though we didn't ride 50 miles, we did do 38; given the conditions, that is good enough for me.

Gary and Wendy--thanks so much for the wonderful TLC you gave me and my bike!  I will be back to North Carolina and Raleigh.  Don't be surprised if you see me move there.....

Gary feeding Shadow, one of their two Great Danes

Gary leads the way

Speedy queen, Wendy.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

It is the Journey....South Carolina

I left Dallas to escape the heat, knowing full well that the southeastern states would also be warm, but not the scorching heat of Dallas.  Unfortunately, the high temperatures have followed me, making these states unseasonably hot, and also very humid.  I find myself riding in temperatures higher than those I left.  As such, I adjust my riding schedule accordingly.......I ride as the sun is coming over the horizon. It does help, but I am always surprised at how quickly the mercury rises once the sun has risen.

South Carolina was a pretty ride, well marked by the local bike club.  To my misfortune, I did not have a key to symbols left on the pavement, so I found myself going in circles on many occasions. Around and around she goes, 10 miles here, 20 miles there, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200. It doesn't matter; the roads were smooth, the dogs were few and I was enjoying myself....mostly.

With this awful heat and humidity comes problems besides staying hydrated (and on route).  For me, it has been the re-occurrence of those awful saddle sores discussed and experienced in 2010..........   UGH.  All I can say is that I know how a baby with severe diaper rash must feel. Is it all right for me to cry like a baby?  UGH. It is painful to walk; maybe that is why babies crawl.  It even hurts to sleep. UGH.  I'll just have to deal with it, one way or another.  

Rushing back to the hotel before the check out witching hour, I showered, medicated my 'mess', then hit the road, leaving Greenville, SC before noon.  I hadn't even hit the city limit sign when my good friend, Mike Keel, called.  Telling him where I was, He suggested I stop by Hincapie Sportswear.  My first inclination was to say 'no', that I needed to get to my next ride destination; then it occurred to me that I was doing what I always do.....I get tunnel vision.

Part of this experience is for me to slow down and enjoy the journey instead of focusing only on the goal.  So noticing that I was falling into an old habit....a comfortable habit.... I pushed down my anxiety of not getting to my next venue and detoured to the Hincapie Headquarters. I got to meet some interesting folks, look at all of the yellow jerseys (how appropriate with the Tour just beginning) and leave with a Hincapie water bottle.  Upon leaving, noting that the excursion took all of 45 minutes, I noticed that the sky hadn't fallen, the earth was still in orbit and I had had an enriching experience.  

Yes, life is indeed the journey, not the destination.  That gets to be my mantra for this trip.

Just me and my shadow....

Check out this beautiful pavement and scenery!

I thought this tree was striking in it's solitude.

How weird is this fence these people are building?

I bet his neighbors are upset.  There were 6 of these strange posts.
Hincapie Sportswear

Look at all of those jerseys

Got me some swag!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Mine Eyes Have Seen the Glory......Georgia

Again, I can't reiterate enough the importance of planning and being prepared.  As I drove through Chattanooga to Georgia,  I used the my 'earlier than expected' arrival to preview the morning's route.  After driving only fifteen of the fifty miles, the numerous blind curves, blind hills and fast traffic convinced me I needed to find a different route; I decided to seek local help.  I pulled into a gas station at a four way stop and made my way to the entrance, atlas under my arm.

 As seems to be a common occurrence in these more country environs, a small group of men were sitting around door, Styrofoam cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other, whiling the day away with friendly ribbing and laughter.  Now, I suppose one could look at this as running a gauntlet of sorts, but I figured if anyone knew the lay of the land around here, it would be found here.  Before I could even say 'hello',  one gentleman, upon seeing the map tucked under my arm, said,

  "Doesn't matter which way you go, you'll still be lost".

... my reputation must proceed me!   And so I meet my road hero, Charlie; he was a god-send.

I explained that I had planned to ride the road in front of the store, but felt it was too dangerous.  He said,

"There's always lots of them bicyclers out there riding.  There's a lot of traffic, but none of them have ever been kilt, that I ever heard of."

Then he looked at me and gave me the once over.  While taking a draw on his cigarette, he came to some conclusion because he looked up at me, slightly squinting one eye, and said,

"Now, if you want a really safe and beautiful bike ride, you need to go to the Chickamouga National Military Park.  It is closed to commercial traffic and there are miles and miles of roads to ride there going in and out of the woods and battlefields."

Giving me directions in a language that I understand, (drive until you get to the Walmart, then turn left.....), he sent me on my way, and I found it with ease, arriving about 6:15.  Spying some men geared up to ride, I approached them and asked them if they could suggest a route.  Instead, Larry said, "Come ride with us!"  My initial reaction was to say 'no'...I had saddle sores, was tired and needed to write my blog. But then I thought, "What the heck--that's what this trip is about!" and accepted his offer.

While I scurried and changed, I have a suspicion that they were wondering just what they had gotten themselves into.....could this woman even ride a bike?  I say this because when I opened the back of the KIA, they looked in, saw my bike and gears, started laughing and said

"As soon as I saw all that stuff,  I knew you knew what you were doing".  There was obvious relief in that laughter.

We set off on a brisk pace, sailing down wonderfully smooth roads, past monuments on manicured fields and through thick stands of hardwood trees, where the second largest battle of the Civil War had been fought.  Leaving the park, we began to climb, entering the surrounding farm land.  It was beautiful, but we were going at a pace the afforded little time to admire the surroundings.  Twenty miles into the ride, I began to feel the effects of riding fifty miles earlier in the day and not having eaten anything in the past 6 hours; I started to bonk.  The gents did slow the pace for me, which caused us to re-entered the park after sunset; it was dark, but enough daylight remained that we could make our way.

As we rode down through the park, lightening bugs played hide and seek, signaling to one another amongst the trees and on the battlefield.  Deer bounded across our paths in the dimming light, while the crickets and frogs sang a serenade.  As the mist rose from the ground, I could not help but to feel the presence of of those men who had lost their lives on the very ground through which I was riding. A heavy blanket of sadness hung in the air, cloaking the surroundings like the rising mist as the last of the daylight slipped away.  14,000 casualties........all here, on this land, under this moon.  There is no glory in that.

We pulled into the parking lot just as the final bit of daylight faded, and a ranger promptly appeared, asking us to leave.  I thanked Larry and Gary for sharing their ride with me.  Both in their 60's, they are relatively new to cycling, but very strong riders.  Gary told me his best time on the circuit we took tonight was a 19mph pace; we rode at 15.5....   They slowed their pace quite a bit for me, and I was grateful.

Tired and hungry, I found a hotel, ate and went to sleep after soaking and treating my saddle sores.  It was a good, but long day.

Monuments on one of the battle fields

One of many roads through the Chickamauga Chattanooga National Military Park

More battlefield

This looks very similar to the wooded conditions in which the men fought.

Flag at half mast

Larry and Gary lead the way


Check out that wonderful pavement.  (Gary)


Losing the sun as we re-enter the park