Cape Charles – Eastern Shore, Virginia

The Eastern Shore of Virginia is separated from the mainland of Virginia by the Chesapeake Bay. This 70-mile long stretch of sandy and deep soil terrain is a peninsula with over 78,000 acres of protected parks, refuges and preserves and a national seashore. The region’s tourism affirms “You’ll Love Our Nature”.

Many travel by golf carts in Cape Charles. Several of the houses even have parking spots
for them.
Admiring the local art
This town loves Yellow Roses, for good reason too

Cape Charles is a small town, at the southern tip of the eastern shore, with a population of 1009 (2010 census) yet it boasts a vibrant, historic downtown, beaches, restaurants and a quaint and charming scene. I love communities by the ocean. There is something carefree about being able to here’s something about being able to smell the ocean while walking through neighborhoods that puts you in a carefree mood. The slow pace of the town, follows the cadence of the gentle waves that roll in from the bay – the beaches are very kid-friendly for this reason. The beach faces west toward the Chesapeake Bay and hence has very flat water, it is protected from the Atlantic Ocean.

Between the reflection of the water, the clouds and the parallels…..sometimes it’s hard to figure out where you are!
Virginia is for lovers.
Lots to discover at the beach

With a newborn in tow, we couldn’t ride the golf carts. But bicycling was even better for the kids. The quiet town had plenty of sidewalks for the kids to zip through safely. There were lots to see, ice cream shops, gift stores, restaurants and history. Central Park in the heart of the historic district was a place that we frequented for its large field and playground area.

Our last full day was spent exploring Kiptopeke State Park, located at the southern tip of The Eastern Shore. It was an easy 15 minute drive to the park entrance. This state park is known for it’s migratory bird watching, beaches and The Concrete Fleet, several concrete ships that were partially sunk to create the Kiptopeke Breakwater. During World War II, 24 concrete ships were contracted by the U.S. Maritime Commission, in 1948, 9 of these ships were brought to Kiptopeke to protect the ferry terminal during severe thunderstorms. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel was open in 1964 and the terminal was no longer needed. The concrete ships are still in place to serve as a break water for the beaches.

Balancing on shone driftwood in kiptopeke state park. In the distance the concrete fleet stands guard.
The shaded boardwalk leading to the beach is a pleasant hike.
Board walk to the beach.

A 0.3 mile board walk through the shaded beach forest takes you to the beach. We arrived in the early morning, and had the beach to ourselves. We spotted a nice shaded area along the tree line some ways away. It was a bit of a hike to get to, but was pleasant and the kids collected shells along the way. The water was clear and the views were great.

Heading to the shade
Testing the buoyancy of some driftwood
A shell paradise

Before we knew it, our 5 days were up. There was much to still see of the eastern shore. Alas, Tangier and Chincoteague Islands will have to wait for another trip. We explored only the southern tip of the eastern shore, and it was pretty awesome.

Killarney 2015 Preparation

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Firing up the trangia. Testing with 91% isopropyl alcohol.

The smell of expedition is in the air. Preparing for a canoe trip in the backcountry of Ontario is no easy feat. We decided to plan a trip to Killarney Provincial Park with our 7 day vacation period. What draws us there is the amazing geography, with white quartzite hills, sapphire blue waters and solitude. The La Cloche mountains run through Killarney and are thought to be some of the oldest mountains on earth. At one point in time, they were taller than the Rocky Mountains. The park owes it’s existence to one of Canada’s Group of 7 Artists, A.Y, Jackson. When he heard that the area was to be logged, he petitioned and lobbied and eventually won his way. The birthplace of the park is Trout Lake later to be named OSA Lake after the Ontario Society of Artists. The region was inspiration for countless paintings by Canadian artists.

To start planning for such a trip, one would need to map out the canoe routes and portages. Thankfully, a ridiculously dedicated outdoorsman by the name of Jeff (not sure what his last name is) has created a series of incredibly detailed maps of Temagami, Algonquin and Killarney Provincial Park called JeffsMaps. They include portage elevations, fishing areas, secret trails, historic sites, old trapper cabins etc. I can’t imagine how much time he has spent in each of these parks to create such elaborate maps. The guy actually even posts ALL of the maps online for free (http://jeffsmaps.com).

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Dehydrating beef for sphaghetti. Dehydrator borrowed from my brother Brian, the dehydrated meals connoisseur.

Either way, I wanted to plan a relaxing route that was not too strenous. This is the first extended canoe trip I would go on with Sarah. No heroics this time. I planned a Hudson Bay start, basically no portages the first night, we will paddle out and sleep on George Lake on night one. The next two nights will be spent on Muriel Lake. OSA lake and Killarney lake were as expected, completely booked. Still much to prepare to get ready, but this time of year is like Christmas: Duluth canoe packs in the living room, maps sprawled out and camping gear to tune up. Killarney here we come.

DAY 1: Paddle out to George Lake. NIGHT 1: Camp on George Lake. DAY 2 (Biggest Day): Start the day with an 80m portage, paddle through Freeland L. Portage 455m. Paddle through Killarney Lake. Portage 130m. Paddle through OSA lake. Portage 595m. Paddle through Muriel Lake. NIGHT 2: Camp on Muriel Lake. DAY 3: Hanging out! NIGHT 3: Camp on Muriel Lake. DAY 4: Go back through 595m portage, paddle OSA lake, and make a 1000m portage to George Lake back home.
DAY 1: Paddle out to George Lake. NIGHT 1: Camp on George Lake. DAY 2 (Biggest Day): Start the day with an 80m portage, paddle through Freeland L. Portage 455m. Paddle through Killarney Lake. Portage 130m. Paddle through OSA lake. Portage 595m. Paddle through Muriel Lake. NIGHT 2: Camp on Muriel Lake. DAY 3: Hanging out! NIGHT 3: Camp on Muriel Lake. DAY 4: Go back through 595m portage, paddle OSA lake, and make a 1285m portage to George Lake, back home.

Angel’s Landing – Zion National Park, Utah

On January 13, 2012, we stopped by Zion National Park on a road trip through the American Southwest at the recommendation of one of my friends. I am definitely glad we listened, because the ascent up to Angel’s Landing is one I’ll never forget. The beginning of the 5 mile trail, follows the Virgin River along a dirt path. As we climbed higher, the trail transforms into a paved stone pathway up the mountain. There are a series of 21 steep switchbacks before reaching Scout Lookout (the last point of return). From here on, the ascent to the top of Angel’s Landing would be a treacherous path consisting of steep drop offs on both sides while navigating tiny stone walkways. Most areas had chain-link hand rails to cling on to while scaling the side of the mountain. The national park recognizes five fatalities along Angel’s Landing, but more have been reported. With cold winds and ice in January, it was a test of nerve for sure, but ultimately a rewarding view. Incredible place.