WPC 31 – Eindhoven, NL

Standard disclaimer applies – even though the trip is for work, no work will be discussed.  Reasons:  you don’t care, it’s not interesting and this way I don’t have to be careful that I only say things that are publicly available information.  As it turns out, I have nothing to say about this trip, just some pictures.

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West Trip, Day 1 – Rocky Mountain National Park

We left Chicago at around 6:30AM flying into Denver on Southwest.  This was my first time flying Southwest after a lot of flying, mostly on Delta.  A few things were different – the main one being no predetermined seats.  Southwest has everyone line up by check in number and then you board taking any seat you want.  This is apparently for efficiency since people who want to hurry to find their seat will board faster and people boarding later will just sit in a seat since they don’t have to make their way to any specific seat.  Janet and I were able to get seats together about 2/3 of the way back on the plane both in and out of Denver.

By the nature of leaving at 6:30 AM, we got to Denver quite early.  After claiming luggage, we went to Avis.  (Side note:  Avis somehow charged two different rates depending on whether I was logged in or not.  I’m not sure what settings I had going on, but when I was logged in, using my standard work account, the car cost about $150 more than when I was logged out.)  While walking down the row to our car, we passed a  green Mazda 2 which yielded some entertainment.  Upon reaching the end of the row, we realized we had passed our car and turned back to arrive right at that very same Mazda 2 – which was actually fine, it served the purpose nicely.

Our first stop in Denver was the REI, with the only real reason being the need to acquire a single isobutane canister for the Narrows hike later in the trip.  On the way out of Denver, heading toward Rocky Mountain National Park we stopped at a Sam’s Club and a Walmart (Colorado doesn’t have Meijer) for supplies.  We ended up getting into Estes Park around 3:00 in the afternoon, just in time to come to a complete halt on behalf of some elk in the road.

After marveling at our first wildlife spotting, we noticed there were more elk wandering through town.  We drove up into town a bit to see about 12 elk walking around what was a Senior Center.  Pretty soon, they headed back over to the lake, and like the gawking tourists we were, followed them there in the Frog.  This was a sizable herd and we were not by any means the only ones who wanted to watch them.  We parked and spent a good bit of time wandering in the park with the elk and taking pictures and videos.  I did get one good video of two bulls doing battle, but at the moment, I’m not sure how to cleanly embed video in this page.  Maybe later.

After our elk curiosities were satisfied, we continued up into Rocky Mountain National Park for a drive through tour.  We stopped briefly at the ranger station, discovering that it was apparently the last day they were going to be open for the season.  This didn’t really affect our plans at all, but it did mean we were there on the border of what’s considered to be the normal season.  As we drove up into the park, we came upon a second herd of elk just at the park’s official entrance.  We stopped along the road there to again watch the elk, listen to the bulls bugle and got to see the kids play fighting.

Up up up and then down down down again into the town of Grand Lake just a bit after sunset.  There we found the Bighorn Lodge, which seemed a suitable place to stay for the night.  It had a hot tub, which was a major advantage for Janet given that she had just run her marathon the day before.  You might wonder who runs a marathon and then goes on a hiking vacation and think that such a person might be rather insane.  I couldn’t really argue with you on that one either, but that’s a different story, and not really my story.

North Manitou Kayaking

Last weekend I had a chance to add a new island to the kayaking repertoire. Doug, Callum and I had been to South Manitou a few years back. This time, Todd and Linda were making a quick trip to the North island.

The trip was fist planned a week earlier, but weather wasn’t cooperating. On the second attempt, the weather appeared to be holding, so we headed up to the area on Friday night. Crashed at the farm in Empire, mainly to avoid having to pack up, paddle in the dark then pitch a camp somewhere along the point.

Saturday morning we got up kind of early to head out to the island. Stopped at DH Day, filed a float plan, got car passes and a back country permit. Stopped in Glen Arbor for breakfast and were unpacking at the beach when I had the brilliant idea to lock my keys in the car. Since there were no objections, I went ahead with the plan. That ended up causing about an hour delay in getting on the water.

Conveniently, I’m still within the three year / 36k mile window on the Subaru, so with that I get free roadside assistance. I called Subaru, Subaru found a tow service who they then contracted to come let me back into my car.

Launching

Morning drama aside, we got on the water in what was a beautifully clear day with maybe 10kt winds from the West / Northwest. We cruised three miles out to the point before turning to cross the channel. Finding the point is kind of battle between logic and instinct. Instinctively, every outcropping of land we went around seemed like it might be the proper departure from the mainland. Logically, you just have to keep paddling until the lighthouse and the island are squarely to your side. At that point, unless there is obvious land jutting out in front of you, you’re probably starting to turn and move away from the target.

Also, since I failed to mention, there is a lighthouse in the channel. Island & lighthouse – this was a two-for-one trip.

Mainland Shoreline

This is what much of the mainland shoreline looked like, with Linda for scale.

The crossing itself is about seven miles with the lighthouse roughly in the middle. For the most part, the waves stayed under 1ft. and the wind wasn’t anything to horrible.

Manitou Passage Lighthouse Manitou Passage Lighthouse

Perspective is a neat thing, but don’t let it fool you – those dunes are huge.

Manitou Passage Lighthouse

This is the closest clear shot I have of the lighthouse. It’s not really in the best condition, especially noting the poop covered solar panels on the second level.

Landing on North Manitou

After the initial landing on the island, we paddled up the West coast a ways. There was a very nice campsite up there (as Todd and Linda has speculated) but because of the winds and waves, the water near it was quite churned up. Too bad, because watching the sunset from a tent on a bluff would have been kinda cool. It would have also added three miles to Sunday’s return trip, so given the options, we headed back to the South end of the island.

Paddling Snake

It rained overnight and this guy took shelter under my kayak. And then I chased it down for a picture.

We didn’t waste much time in the morning, because the best weather was slated to be early on in the day. It was overcast and raining in places – we got to see South Manitou consumed by rainclouds while on our return trip. The weather held well enough, and we only got sprinkled on briefly.

Return Trip Clouds

These clouds looked more concerning than they really were – there was no lightning. I found it neat how you could see how they were sitting on a pocket of lower air.

Dune Trail

Back on the mainland – I think this was the tallest and it was definitely the steepest bluff we saw. Obviously some daring people have climbed it.

Sugarloaf Mountain

As we were getting back to the launch site I grabbed this picture of Sugarloaf. Too bad they’re no longer open for skiing.