Friday, December 31, 2010


Miles: 12.50
Elevation Gain:  1200 Feet
Time: 4 Hours
Difficulty (1-10): 6
Reward (1-10): 4
Description: Biking along a lake on a closed road
Where?: Piru, CA
Directions: From Ventura & Santa Barbara, take the 126 to Piru.  From LA, take the 5 to the 126 West and turn into town.  Follow the signs to Piru Lake. 
**MY 47 DAY SUMMARY:  168.75 Miles  +24,225 Feet**

I'm not going to get carried away uploading a boatload of photos to this blog.  I'm loving Facebook and will continue to post photos there daily.  I'll also continue to make videos and attach links to YouTube.  However, this blog will remain my main source to convey information about each and every hike!

Today, I swindled the family into a 20 mile adventure.  Of course, we only did about 12 miles, but today's journey led me down a path that I haven't been to before.  In the summer time, Piru Lake is overpopulated and in my opinion, disgusting.  It was refreshing to come out here on a day where the temperature was no higher than 50 degrees and no other people were around.  ***You will be expected to pay $9.00 per car to enter the park for the day.  Many years ago, the National Forest closed the road that leads out to Blue Point, a campground beyond Piru Lake.  Apparently, there is an endangered toad lurking about, but I didn't see any.  However, we did see plenty of deer, crows, hawks, vultures, an owl, a coyote and a condor!
In the summer time, I believe the road is opened further to a large parking lot with a boat ramp, but we were forced to bike the first mile and then another 4+ miles after that.  My map of the Sespe Wilderness is old and from what I thought I saw was, a flat road following the lake.  Just like everything else I plan, that proved not to be true.  We spent much of the time walking our bikes up the hills.  I guess I can blame it on the seven and nine year old, but no doubt, it was tuff.  When we finally got to Blue Point, we couldn't go much further. 

My plan was to pedal five miles and then hike about five miles to the Devils Gateway.  I've seen pictures of this spot and let me say, the reward would be a 10 if we made it there.  The problem was, the water level of the creek was too high!  I could have jumped it at one spot but I would have likely been drenched.  Rhyme of reason, the wife, said NO!

The remnants of Blue Point

You are not allowed to camp overnight here!

My understanding is, you may not use this area at all.  So, we walked thru it.  The main road veered to the right, but we could not cross it because the stream level was too high.  That was ok because a dirt road proceeded forward.  According to the map, the trail leading to the Gateway stays to the left of the river, but just ahead this dirt road crossed the water flow.  So, we stopped, ate peanut butter and jelly and skipped some rocks.  I believe this is the trail that I was looking for.  I will return during the dry season.  Only problem is, the temperature will probably be 100+!  I've been wanting to do an overnight back here, but rounding up the troops, who don't have bikes and carrying the heavy bag will be a challenge.

There is another way!  About 1 mile before Blue Point, we passed this trailhead:

Potholes Trailhead

It was a hard convince, but when I dropped my bike and started hiking, the family followed.  You see the grass, well that's the trail.  It is obvious, for a minute, literally.  After that, it's a guess.  Working our way up the grassy foothill, we did notice two plastic Trail signs.  My 7-year-old Ayden was acting more like a 3-year-old, brat, so I had to carry him on my shoulders.  I was also carrying a camel pack with 10 additional water bottles in it.  The footing was tuff and very quickly, it felt like 100 degrees hiking up this wearing my sweatshirt.  I cannot imagine hiking this in the summer with the heavy pack.  I honestly don't know where the trail went but I can tell you where it wouldn't go and with process of elimination, I figure you would just keep going up.  Good Luck if you try this.  Since this trail does loop, my suggestion is to go in from Blue Point and then camp at a spot called Log Cabin.  The next day, hike back the Pothole Trail and hopefully you will wind up here.

It's almost New Years, so I hope you had a happy one.  I will update Facebook, next year :)

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Anyone who knows me, knows I am all about competition.  That being said, when I lose in a game of chess, I shake my opponents hand.  When I am outdone in anything, I do smile.  Granted, it doesn't happen much...  I'm arrogant and cocky but underneath it all, I am humble, really!

I write this because of the link I am attaching to my blog.  My first instinct is, Competition!  I have to outhike this guy!  However, I want to thank him for sharing his blog with the world.  In fact, I am attempting to do the same with my journeys but I am not as well organized as he, nor do I convey my blog in an informative way like he does.  So, I give you props Mr. David W. Lockeretz.  Good blog, good job!  In return, I want everyone who visits my blog to check yours out:

***Oh, one last thing.  You do hike nearly everyday, but I do have you.  I hike everyday, no matter what.  Bring it on!  I'm climbing to the top of Everest and then the International Space Station.  Watch my elevation climb and mileage increase :)  Keep it going Dave.  I've never met you but I'm sure at some point, we will cross paths!


Miles: 1.25
Elevation Gain:  25 Feet
Time: 1 Hour
Difficulty (1-10):  1
Reward (1-10): 1
Description: Walking along a cement walkway with Domi and Alyssa
Where?: Ventura, CA
Directions: From the 126 Freeway in Ventura exit at Kimball Rd and the park is right there.

**MY 46 DAY SUMMARY:  156.25 Miles  +23,025 Feet**

First of all, tomorrow is going to be excellent!  I am off work and plan to hike 15 miles+!  Of course tomorrow is New Years Eve and the wife is off work so it may end up like any other day, a scramble to find a new trail.

When I came home, Alyssa was excited to go on a hike.  So, without a destination in mind, we packed Domino in the car and took off before dark.  I purposely left Sami behind because she will endure the long climb tomorrow.  Ayden is sick and my wife stayed at home with him and the daycare kids she was watching.

My first stop was off Foothill Road in Ventura.  I turned up the street Highpoint and turned left at the end on a street that begins with a "W".  We took that to the very top and at the cul-de-sac was a gate.  There was about 30 minutes of sunlight and the hillside beyond looked like it would go on forever.  Cool, I found a random place to go hiking, or did I?  After a 25 foot hike, the road behind the gate ended.  The cliff beyond the barbed wire fence was impossible to negotiate.  It dropped straight off several hundred feet.  We did try to make our way behind the houses but trampling through small cactus plants leading nowhere, lead us nowhere.  My dog couldn't avoid the cacti and my better sense told me to turn back.

We drove around that neighborhood for awhile but could not find any reasonable way to enter the open space.  Prolly the best way is from my housing track or Arroyo Verde Park.  Along Foothill Rd, the area is fenced off.  Mostly private homes, farms and fields layer the lowest levels.  There are hundreds of acres of untouched that I will explore one day.

Well, it's now dark.  So, I went to Kimball Park because I knew it was lit up.  This park was one of my favorite places to run when I was training for my marathon earlier this year.  Rather than run the 1.25 mile oval, I walked Domi and Alyssa up the path and then ducked under the Kimball Road Tunnel.  On the other side, it was dark.  The walkway forks and if you take the left fork, it will lead out to Henderson Road.  Across the street from Henderson is a housing track with a park.  So, for those with families looking for a nice bike path in the day time, this option is viable.  Today, we veered to the right, which led us back to the light at Kimball and Thille.  We crossed the street, walked back to the car and called it a day.

Not much excitement, but I did arouse my curiosity behind Foothill.  The landscape was green and forever.  I will post a few pics on Facebook, later.  My wife has the camera and is out looking for a new business to buy.  Aight, goodnight.  Tomorrow should be worth the visit back to the blog :)

***One last thing; please advise who is voting Lebron to the AllStar Game.  I'd rather you not care than vote for him!

Wednesday, December 29, 2010


Miles: 1.25
Elevation Gain:  25 Feet
Time: 1 Hour
Difficulty (1-10):  1
Reward (1-10): 3
Description: Walking the promenade and the pier, at night
Where?: Ventura, CA
Directions: From the 101 Freeway in Ventura exit at California Street and turn left.  Turn right on Harbor and turn left on ?something de playa? (a parking lot) after the Holiday Inn.

**MY 45 DAY SUMMARY:  155 Miles  +23,000 Feet**

It's month end so my main focus is on work and working later than usual.  Due to the vacation, I took 7 business days off work this month, which is more than one-third of production time.  So, daylight hiking is not a real option.  In months past, I would work till 7 pm or later but this month I was content working till 4:30 - 5:00...  I guess this California lifestyle is really starting to get to me...

Tonight, I took Alyssa and the two dogs to the pier.  The driving directions above lead you to a free parking lot.  This is usually the best spot to park for free during the day if you want to walk the promenade in VTA.  Good luck finding a parking spot though.  However, at 8:00 at night right after a California winter storm, parking was not an issue.

We walked along the promenade to the pier.  From there, we hiked to the end of the pier and back.  The temperature was a brisk 55 with high winds.  The rain had stopped and the tides were low.  There was no moonlight so the experience was mostly a dud.  Although, the water was forceful and scared Alyssa off the pier.  I could not capture the moment that well on camera, but I will post pictures on Facebook and use some video footage for my end of month, end of year video.  Well, that's it for now, but I will be back to the promenade some other time.  Last year I used this cement pathway for my LA Marathon training.  I still haven't decided if I'm going to run it again this year, but I am thinking about it...

Tuesday, December 28, 2010


Miles: 3.5
Elevation Gain:  550 Feet
Time: 1 Hour
Difficulty (1-10):  3
Reward (1-10): 5
Description: Up and down and crossing the creek
Where?: Thousand Oaks, CA
Directions: From the 101 Freeway in Thousand Oaks, exit Lynn and head north for 2 miles.  Turn left on Avenida de las Flores and turn right on Shenandoah.  The trailhead is on the left, park on the street.

**MY 44 DAY SUMMARY:  153.75 Miles  +22,975 Feet**

There are so many individual trailheads for Wildwood, so it is easy to get them all mixed up.  What I usually do is glance over the map before I go, and then go.  For the first time since the 1000 Hikes began, I set out for my daily routine during my lunch break.  The forecast today suggested sun and low 60's.  It was right on.  My fear was for the evening call for high winds, falling temperatures, heavy rain and snow levels at 2500 feet.  That remains to be seen, but today it felt like 70+ as I ran for an hour meandering along the trail.  The stream was active but crossing it was still simple enough.  My energy level was good, so I was able to lift my knees in stride even on the uphill.  My only pause came when it was time to take an awe inspired photo.  I set out for a 2 mile trek but somehow I managed to go 3.5.  I highlighted my course on the trail map and will post it with the pictures on facebook.  Finally, back on track and on an actual trail.  Today felt good but the cast of no ring looms in my mind!  If your not already friends on my page, please don't hesitate to ask.  Hey, don't forget to click a sponsor before you leave...


Miles: 2.0
Elevation Gain:  350 Feet
Time: 1.5 Hour
Difficulty (1-10):  10
Reward (1-10): 0
Description: Feeling Lost
Where?: Ventura, CA
Directions: Undisclosed

**MY 43 DAY SUMMARY:  150.25 Miles  +22,425 Feet**

Yesterday morning before jumping on the 101 to go to work, I went back to the spot.  I retraced my footsteps again in search for the ring, but there was no glory.  After work, I came home, searched around a few awkward places and then went back to the spot again.  Same result; no shinning ending.

Let’s make this clear now, so there is no speculation to the contrary.  I did not intentionally lose my ring.  I think those who may speculate to this effect have been wormed with asinine thoughts from a previous cataclysm.  I wore my ring everywhere I went, with pride and heart.  Every moment I was constantly being reminded of who I am and what I stood for.  Typing this letter, my ring would be hitting the letter “q” right now and the extra weight was felt and adjusted for.. see, that “Q” was meant to be a “W”…

I tap my hand on my desk, and it would clank, not slap.  At night against the bed frame while I was grabbing my pillow, a thud would echo.  Driving my car and holding my hand out the window, my ring finger was always bent, just in case.  Washing my hands and especially drying them, I always tried to squeeze my ring tighter so it wouldn’t fall off.  I should have been proactive, I should have gotten it resized, but I didn’t…

To Jess: All I ever wanted was a wife, kids, dog and home.  Of course I dreamt of more; riches, low key fame, purpose and so on, but I am not ashamed with what I have and would never think about changing the past.  I am here now because of what has happened.  I am here now because I allow it, you allow it and this is where I am supposed to be.  I’ve been on that lonely hike before and it always results in despair.  Walking wounded, wandering around the wilderness aimlessly becomes catatonic.  It only works with support.  Your harmony injects my stride with a smile.  

Losing this ring has seriously awakened me.  It was about 7 years ago when Ayden was a little lad that I tried to hike 30 miles, +5000 feet over a three day period.  Well, I made it, but I was senseless.  It was not enjoyable.  I was not with Jess then and I realized that I could never do this walk alone.  She doesn’t have to physically be with me while I’m on these excursions.  All I need is her support, and I will conquer every trail, every account at work and every obstacle in life to the best of my ability with no regret, remorse or excuse.  The last couple of days, I was dragging my feet.  To conclude yesterday’s hiking adventure I walked the dogs around my block.  Ok, so this isn’t really a hike, or is it?  I ended up climbing at least 350 feet so you have to give me that one.  I did this late to keep qualified for my 1000 days.  Although I did technically hike “the spot” earlier, if I had not done more, I would have been repetitive.  I took some pictures and I will post them on Facebook, when I get around to it. 

I feel quite a bit better now and I am sorry for my careless act.  It sucks not wearing a ring.  UGH! 

Monday, December 27, 2010


Miles: 4.5
Elevation Gain:  50 Feet
Time: 3 Hour
Difficulty (1-10):  10
Reward (1-10): 0
Description: The Day I lost my ring!
Where?: Ventura, CA
Directions: From the 101 Freeway in Ventura, exit at Telephone and head to Portola.  Turn left and drive to the end and turn left on Thille.  Drive to just before the end of Thille and turn right on Tarlow.  Make your 2nd left on Ellington and turn right on Parish.  Park on the cul-de-sac

***MY 42 DAY SUMMARY:  148.25 Miles  +22,075 Feet***

Well, if you follow the aforementioned driving instructions, you will find paved walkway that is less than a quarter mile in length.  I'll get back to this later...

Earlier in the day on Sunday, Ayden, Jess and I drove out to Camarillo to pick up a desk.  It was located in the residential area at Cal State University, Channel Islands Campus.  The rock formation back there is spectacular and I WILL find a trail back here for a hike down the road.  On the way out, we noticed a gravel road with a sign that looked like a typical trail sign.  This road is just off University Drive, which is just of Lewis Road in Camarillo.  We drove down the road and nearly saw an airplane crash, into another airplane.  It was a model airplane field.  Cool, my son loves flying objects, unless I;m throwing them at him.

We hiked around the area for a bit and watched some airplanes fly around.  In the far off distance, there was a clear shot of the beautiful Los Padres, specifically the snow capped Topa Topa Peak.

Back at home, it was getting late.  I was diligently watching the Charger game and my fantasy QB Philip Rivers put up a dud for my Fantasy Super Bowl.  I am currently down by 25 and watching the Monday Night Game right now.  It's not over yet because for the first time since 194something, there will be a Tuesday Night NFL Game.  Yeah, it doesn't look good for me...

So yesterday, I went out at night to the above referenced location.  I took the two dogs and Ayden and his famous bike.  I could have just accepted the mile travel from the model airplane field as my hike, but I didn't want to rip myself off.  So, after running a few errands with Ayden first, I hiked up and back.  Real quick, snapped a few photos of pretty Christmas lights and allowed the dogs to spread their legs.  After the less than half mile adventure, I drove to Lowes in search for a couple of bolts.  I won a new TV while I was on vacation and I need a 6 mm width bolt to attach it to the wall mount.  When speaking to a worker, I noticed my ring was gone.  My stomach dropped to the ground and I could not finish talking to the guy.  Meanwhile, Ayden said, "I found it!"  My emotions changed with poignancy as I realized he was holding a metal washer.  Ugh, my ring will be lost forever...

We went back to the spot and searched the grounds that we just covered.  Being that it was dark, it was near impossible to see and NO, I did not find my ring.  I dropped Ayden and the dogs off at the house and hoped by chance my ring fell off there.  Nope, not there!  Jess was mad...  To keep it simple, we've been married for less than three years and about six months after we were married, I gave her my ring while we were at the gym.  I was playing basketball and didn't want to play with the ring.  Well, she lost it and I never heard the end of it!  The ring I lost yesterday was my 2nd ring and I really won't hear the end of it now.  Let's not forget, I am quite depressed from this and in despair, really!  

I knew the ring was loose, especially lately.  I've lost about five pounds since beginning this hiking adventure and that may have been the difference that it took for the ring to just fall off without me noticing.  I was probably handling both dogs and their leashes, but who knows.

So last night, I bought a flashlight, drove to Target and Walmart twice.  I dug through the trash, I took nearly 2 hours retracing my footsteps on the trail and still couldn't find it.  I came back home and went through all the trash at my house too.  It's trash day and it wasn't but a couple months ago that I threw my wallet out in the outdoor trash can.  But I can explain, every time I exit the car, Jess starts handing me things to throw away.  She did it once time when I was already holding stuff.  It was trash night and when I was getting ready for work the next morning, I noticed my wallet was gone.  Good thing I found it before the garbage men came.  Anyhow, there is more I must say, but I will save it for my Day 43 entry.

Sorry to vent for so long, but I kinda need to, ya know...  I'm still hiking and I do have photos.  I will update Facebook, when I get around to it!

Saturday, December 25, 2010


I put together a video summarizing the hiking aspect of my recent trip.  Check it out:


Miles:  1.5
Elevation Gain:  400 Feet
Time: 1 Hour
Difficulty (1-10):  2
Reward (1-10): 4
Description: Hike to a gazebo on top of a hil.
Where?: Carpinteria, CA
Directions: From the 101 Freeway in Ventura, drive North to Carpenteria and exit at Santa Claus Lane.  Turn right at the exit and then an immediate left on Via Real.  Turn right on Nidever Rd.  This turns into Foothill, the 192.  Stay straight and follow the windy, scenic road.  Turn right on Toro Canyon Rd.  About a mile later, turn right on Toro Canyon Park Road.  Follow that to the end.

***MY 41 DAY SUMMARY:  143.75 Miles  +22,025 Feet***

Merry X-Mas!  So, it didn't even fathom upon me that I picked a trail today on Christmas with the exit being Santa Clause Lane.  This was a mere coincidence.  Jess told me that when she was a kid, she heard stories of Santa Clause Lane in Carpinteria, but we didn't see any lights today; of course it was during the early daylight hour.

Less than thirty minutes from my house, I found another gem for the family.  After passing the polo grounds and nice houses, we ended up in a dump.  Actually, it wasn't so bad but with all the rain, the trail was quite a bit muddy.  The wife and child decided to stay back and play on the swings and slide while I ran up the trail.

We drove all the way back to "Area 4".  I walked up to the interesting rock formation first before ascending up the trail.  I jogged the easy 300 foot climb.  There was a gazebo overlooking the area at the top and after a few photos with my dogs, I ran the loop back down.  There was plenty of overgrown open space beyond the trail but I do not plan on exploring that in the future.  Instead, I saw another trailhead along the road heading up to the park.  That's where I will go when the time is right.

At the bottom of this very short trail, which I did in about 10 minutes, I met back up with Jess and Ayden and then hiked with them beyond area 4.  There were some abandoned structures, a creek and eatable mushrooms growing rapidly.  After about an hour of total time frame, we exhausted the park area.

Once again I lucked out.  As it pours now, the rain held off for the hike.  We celebrated Christmas today with Alyssa and Jess's dad and called it a holiday.  Good Times.  Check out the photos on Facebook if you're interested and before you go, please don't forget to check out one of my sponsors!

Friday, December 24, 2010


Miles:  3.5
Elevation Gain:  50 Feet
Time: 1.75 Hours
Difficulty (1-10):  1
Reward (1-10): 6
Description: Harbor Seals reside along the beach between December and May
Where?: Carpinteria, CA
Directions: From the 101 Freeway in Ventura, drive North to Carpenteria and exit at Ballard.  Turn left and the street dead ends at the parking lot.

***MY 40 DAY SUMMARY:  142.25 Miles  +21,625 Feet***

I wanted something close.  I wanted something easy to do with my son.  It was an astonishing surprise when we discovered the Harbor Seal Sanctuary!

The city of Carpinteria has protected this land to ensure that the bad man does not develop it.  Good thing!  There were many possible trails to hike but we took the most obvious one toward the ocean bluff and to the right.  After a dangerous train track crossing we reached the seal view point.  Now, I've been up by Hurst Castle before and there is a spot where the larger Elephant Seals gather.  There are many more of them there compared to this spot, but the discovery today was most gratifying and I will bring back Alyssa before their season is over.

Alyssa loves animals but she is not too fond of hiking through nature to reach them.  This hike is actually quite simple.  Ayden, Sammi and I tackled the entire northern route up to the State Park.  There was more coast line to explore after that.  It was probably high tide when we went because there was not much beach to trek, but others were doing it.  The beach where the seals congregate is prohibited and yes, I kept Sammi on a leash!

Merry X-Mas all!  I still don't have photo capability with this blog but you can check out my Facebook page for pics of this awsome hike!  Also,  I hope to have a video complete before this long weekend is over.


Miles:  1.5
Elevation Gain:  25 Feet
Time: 1.25 Hours
Difficulty (1-10):  1
Reward (1-10): 8
Description: Christmas Lights!
Where?: Oxnard, CA
Directions: Begin at the corner of 5th and F Streets in Oxnard, California.

***MY 39 DAY SUMMARY:  138.75 Miles  +21,575 Feet***

It's hard to call this a hike, but I could have been like many of the other cars and just drove up and down the streets!  After a long day back at work, I was hardly ready to conquer a mountain.  I figured ahead of time that I was going to do some sort of night walk because I did not contain the energy to compete with the sun today.  My wife suggested, Christmas Tree Lane, and why not!  It's the eve before Christmas Eve and we had not been here yet this year.  We tried just after Thanksgiving but I guess the local residents don't go all out until December.

Due to the nasty rains we had and only 1 day left before Christmas, this place was packed today!  We brought both dogs and if I could have a nickle for every time I head the word "dalmatian", I would be rich.  You get a lot of "awes" with Sammi, the Golden, but Domino stands out, "...yeah, from the movie".  You can't help but walk by and here EVERYONE comment about her.  "Can I pet your dalmatian?"  --Sure, if you want your face bit off :).  Actually, Domino was very good and handled the pressure quite well.  As long as there are no other dogs or especially food around, she was kinda just oblivious to all the people and didn't realize that she was even being petted.  Meanwhile, Sammi on the other hand was jumping and latching on to people's legs.  That was cute and all, until she rolled over in dog stuff, thinking it was cow dung and coated her back with the nasty substance.  A kind home owner handed out some paper towels but the damage was done.  The feces is embedded deep into her long golden hair.

This year was quite typical of every other year we go.  The main attraction is always the guy with the train set in his front yard.  It always draws a crowd and you can't keep Ayden away from this.  I didn't see the family selling hot coco, but a cup of the warm stuff with a bacon ayden hot dog would have hit the spot.

In every town, there is usually a spot to view a series of Christmas Lights.  In Cleveland, it's Neila Park (not sure if I spelled that right).  I went back to that spot last year and found it very unimpressive after viewing Oxnard year after year.  Columbus Ohio lights up their zoo.  I also saw that last year and it was spectacular!  DC lights up their zoo, but it was only open on the weekends and we were there during the week, so we missed it.

I am curious though.  Are there other local neighborhoods in this country that do it up the way Oxnard does?  Please comment and check out my facebook page for photos!


Miles:  2.5
Elevation Gain:  500 Feet
Time: 1.25 Hours
Difficulty (1-10):  4
Reward (1-10): 4
Description: Overlook Downtown Ventura from a very popular location "The Cross"
Where?: Ventura, CA
Directions: From downtown Ventura, drive up Kalorama past Poli and turn left on Sunset.  Take Sunset all the way up and around to the end.

***MY 38 DAY SUMMARY:  137.25 Miles  +21,550 Feet***

Less than 24 hours from vomiting in Cleveland, I was contemplating going to work on this Wednesday.  Instead, I stayed home and updated this blog.  I was feeling quite a bit better as the afternoon was aging, but I still felt very weak.  Nevertheless, I mustered up enough strength to make this journey before sundown.

Most people (high school kids) probably go up to the cross and make out with their mates.  Let's call this spot, Inspiration point.  The circular parking area is raised in front of a large cross, which sets steeply above downtown Ventura.  This is a great place to come and watch the sunset, fireworks from the fairgrounds or just awe at the ocean and pier.

I found out that while I was gone, it virtually rained for 7 days and 7 nights.  This morning was no exception, but the afternoon opened up brilliantly.  At about 3:30, I left with Domino to take on the adventure.  After strolling around the immediate area, I hiked up the sloppy muddy hill behind me.  There was an obvious route to follow.  This led to a closed paved road and then up a very steep hill.  The traction due to the recent rains made it quite difficult.  At the top, I wandered into an old gun range.  Maybe they still use it, I don't know?  I didn't discover what this spot was until I hiked back out the other side and read the signs, oops...

Domino saw a deer and began chase.  I think about midway up the next brush filled hill. she realized that she was nearly 12 years old and had no chance to catch the doe.  I continued to walk down a closed pave road and then veered off to the right.  I rounded the edgeline of this ridge and then worked my way back to the car before sundown.

There is more to explore in this region, albeit not much more that isn't on private property.  There appears to be way to trek towards Two Trees if we had followed the deer, but maybe I'll try that long adventure on another day.  So, I did it.  Hiked in the rain, snow, hot, cold and while I've been injured and sick.  I'm going to keep going, no matter what, no matter where.  I could have just as easily today stayed in the house, but why do that when I am perfectly capable of getting out?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010


***I'm back :)

I never stopped but I could not update my blog because I was on vacation.  I did not forewarn my followers that I would be away because I went to Cleveland to surprise my mom for her 40th wedding anniversary.  My dad was in on it; thanks dad :)

4.5 Miles  +250 Feet
On Tuesday 12/14/2010 at 2:15 am, the alarm went off.  At 6:45am, our flight left from LAX to Dulles International in Washington DC.  After a combined 1/2 mile of pulling luggage through both airports, we made our way to the Washington Flyer Bus.  Kids 7 and under are free, so Alyssa was 7 for this trip.  $20.00 and thirty minutes later, we were dropped off at West Falls Church.  From there we pulled our cases through our first encounter with the bitter cold down to the Metro Rail.  The cold brisk air was quite a shock to the wife and kids.  Meanwhile, I was smiling :).  I grew up in Cleveland so, 25 degrees and wind, no big deal.  Ok, so I had an extra layer on, covered my face and ears and wore gloves.  I felt toasty warm...

We took the metro to Foggy Bottom.  My kids loved the ride but the dreaded .56 mile hike was now in front of us.  Through the streets of DC, we pulled our suit cases down New Hampshire towards Dupont Circle.  A cab along the way asked to give us a lift; the kids were eager to jump in, but I said no, I got it covered.  I haven't been to DC since high school and honestly did not remember a thing regarding directions, etc.  No problem though, I studied the maps and navigated the family to the Madera Inn.

At 5:00, the sun had set and I was on the push to explore.  Our hotel offered free hors d'oeuvres, wine and spiked cider between 5-6, so before wandering out, I warmed myself up.  The kids and wife drank the virgin cider.  Then, we attacked the streets.  After a quarter mile stroll toward Dupont Circle, we headed down Massachusetts to view Embassy Row.  This walk could have taken us for miles but after a few embassies, the kids got board and the wife was antsy.  We shook hands with a statue of Gandhi and then began to make our way over to U Street.  This walking route is not your typical tourist attraction, but it worked out well. 

After passing some apartments, we found a pizza joint called Jumbo Slice.  For $3.25, one slice gives you the equivalent of half a pizza.  I'm not sure if the food was good or if we just needed some warmth and nourishment, but it did hit the spot!  We continued another mile or so down U Street and found Ben's Chile Bowl.  The design and atmosphere of this place is a must visit but be forewarned, they do not accept credit card.  We didn't bring any cash with us on this walk so this was a disappointment, until we walked across the street and found an ATM.  I can't say that their food was all that good, but once again it warmed us up and hit the spot.  Obama has eaten here before so it couldn't have been all that bad.  I would say, unique and worth the visit.

At this point, it was about 10 pm and the metro rail station was right across the street.  We jumped on and after switching to the red line at China Station, we railed our way back to the hotel just in time for milk and cookies.  The Madera Inn was a good pick for us.  The hotel is situated nicely by the rail and not far from any of the action.  For the kids, looking forward to the Milk and Cookies at 10:30 pm was a big hit.  Finally, after nearly 5 miles of trekking around in the cold, we all called it a night.

DAY 31:  DC's National Mall
8.5 Miles  +750 Feet

Wednesday the 15th was one long day.  After taking the Metro Rail, we began our walking adventure by Fords Theater, where Abraham Lincoln was shot.  From there, we walked past the FBI & IRS building and entered the Smithsonian area aka The National Mall.  All these museums were free so we started with The Natural History and then went to the American History.  After a few hours of museums, we skedaddled up toward the White House.  For some reason, Pennsylvania Ave. was blocked off so we had to walk all the way up and then all the way down the other side.  After a brief pause at Mac Donalds, we made our way to the pond across from the Washington Monument.  It was mostly frozen over except for the part where the ducks were chilling out.  The kids wanted to walk on the ice, but not a good idea.  From there, we saw the Lincoln Memorial and then began walking at dusk toward the Korean War Memorial.  Continuing back, we walked along the reflection pool and then finally physically touched the Washington Monument.  It was now dark so we hiked back toward the White House and viewed the National Christmas Tree.  The kids had seen better so, no big deal.  The walkways near the White House were now open so we circled that and took our pictures.  We passed a homeless man and Alyssa gave him a candy bar and a bag of chips.  It was now 9pm, so we walked all the way back to the hotel.  Why take the metro?  We walked this far...

On schedule, milk and cookies for the wife and kids, ok me too.  We missed the wine ceremony but after an all day walking marathon, lights out, good night...

DAY 32:  Mt. Vernon
4.0 Miles  +400 Feet

Thursday the 16th, I was first as usual to awake.  I walked about a half mile to Enterprise Rental Car, and rented a car.  My plan was to drive out to Mt. Vernon and give the family a break from nonstop motion.  I planned this entire trip with my 1000 hikes in mind.  It was really important to me that I continued my adventure without anything stopping me.

It began to snow :)  This was an unexpected DC phenomenon.  The streets were coated with the white stuff and there were no salt trucks in sight.  The drivers were extra cautious, but I had no problem.  I grew up in Cleveland so this was fun for me.  By the time we got to MT. Vernon, the entire ground was covered with 2-4 inches.  George Washington's house and property looked magnificent with the white blanket.  It was postcard material!

The kids bonded with a very friendly camel.  Meanwhile, I went inside a tent and learned how Washington traded for coco.  Back then, hot coco had a stronger acquired taste for adults and the kids were put to sleep with a watered down version of beer.  Because of the snow, we were not allowed to walk down by the slave quarters but we did get to visit the third floor of Washington's house.  I guess the third floor is only open a few weeks out of the year when it's slow, and today was the day.

Since we had the car, I wanted to see as much as possible.  I google mapped instructions on how to visit a few places but when driving it in real time, the task was not that simple.  Nevertheless, we drove around the Pentigon, Arlington National Cemetery and then it was time for dinner.  The wife wanted a breakfast dinner and we remembered seeing the Lincoln Waffle House across from the Fords Theater.  We made our way back there and ate, but yuck!  This place was dirty and nasty.  We were the only ones eating.  This was more of a convenient store with the average customer coming in to play their lottery picks.

5:00, so back to the hotel for wine and stuffed mushrooms.  I missed many of the memorials that I had intended to hit so on a relentless pursuit, we saw the Thomas Jefferson and FDR Memorial.  My wife stayed in the car for each as we parked illegally.  I took the kids thru each and these places were definitely worth visiting.  I had one more place that I wanted to visit, but it was nearly impossible to get there!  Theodore Roosevelt Island!  The only way to get here is to start in DC and take the 66/50 freeway across the bridge into Virginia and then immediately exit to the right.  The exit comes up so fast so the first time I tried it, I missed it.  I viewed the map and tried alternate ways to get to it, but impossible.  We stopped at Starbucks, then crossed another bridge into DC and eventually crossed the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge again.  This time, I drove slow and stayed in the right lane.  I turned off down the snowy divided highway and nearly missed the parking lot for the Island.  The exit was completely snow covered and the signage was horrible.

Finally, made it!  We parked the car and walked across the footbridge.  An island full of trails and a memorial of Theo Roosevelt.  If I lived in DC, this is where I would  go to satisfy my trail running.  Being that it was pitch black, we only made our way to the memorial and back, but it was well worth the visit.

Hungry again, we drove back to Jumbo Slice and relished on two more pieces of pizza.  I dropped off the wife and kids, then the car and walked back to the hotel for some milk and cookies.

3.0 Miles  +300 Feet

Just one metro stop up from Dupont you can visit the national zoo for free.  It's a healthy 3/8's of a mile up from the metro stop, but once inside; nothing.  It's winter and most of the animals are have flown south for the winter.  However, we did get to see the elephants eating outside and the Pandas.  We went there especially for the Pandas and we were not disappointed.

A swift trek back to Mac Donalds, which seems to be the only fast food joint in town on every other corner.  Checked out of the Madera and then on to Union Station.  We checked in our luggage and had 3 hours to spare, so we walked around outside the capital building and then finally made it to the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum.  This was the one museum that I wanted to see and the kids loved it as well.

Back to Union Station, "All aboard!"  At 4:30, our Amtrak Train left for Cleveland...

3.5 Miles  +200 Feet

The train arrived in Cleveland around 3:00am.  Wally picked us up and we slept what was left of the night away.  He went to work early that morning and then my Dad picked us up at his house once my mom was safely at work and had no clue that we were in town.  After unloading the luggage and kids at my parents house, the return to my stomping ground began.

Back in the day, my friends and I would play capture the flag in the Shaker median between Sulgrave and Green.  The median stretches about an eight of a mile and the section we played in was about a quarter of a mile wide.  However playing in the dark, in the woods, in the cold and thru the snow, this area felt much larger.  I remember assembling teams, hiding the flag, creating plans consisting of flanking two warriors up the side, running one decoy in the middle and hiding several back to defend the flag.  I remember playing defense and patiently burying myself in the snow for sometimes up to an hour with no movement in anticipation to capture the opposition.  Usually I would be the striker in search for the flag.   Although action packed, if you were caught, it was common to sit in jail for an hour while the rest of the game continued on without you.

Today, Saturday the 18th, I revisited the region for the first time in 18 years.  I was told that on the Beachwood side, a park was created.  I drove up across from the Beachwood Library and parked my car.  Indeed, a trail.  It was below 20 degrees today and there was much more snow than what we saw in DC the day before.  Nevertheless, I began running the trial.  Once hitting Sulgrave, the trail crossed the marsh in the median and then headed back on the other side toward Richmond.  But not for me, I continued through the middle trouncing thru snow drifts that were waste high.  Crunching down buried cattails and cracking the ice beneath my boots, I forced my way thru to the end.  The median meets up with the end of the Cleveland Rapid Transit.  Many years ago they were talking about extending the tracks; good thing they didn't because I would not have been able to do this!

On the way back, I found another new trail and followed that all the way back.  Before reaching the end, I saw some kids sledding down a steep icy hill.  There was a torn up blue circular sled that some child must have abandoned; I couldn't resist.  I went down the hill three times and video taped the slide.  

I was nearly back to the car so I raced back, drove to my parents and urged my kids to try it.  My mom's surprise dinner was only 2 hours away but I promised to be back in time.  My sister and her family had just arrived and I was able to convince my nephew Nathan to join us.  Good Times...

DAY 35:  Damon's Woods
3.0 Miles  +100 Feet

The surprise dinner for my parents 40th was great.  My mom was in tears when she saw my family.  She knew my sister Hilary and her family were going to be in town.  She sees them every couple months because they just live down in Columbus.  I see my parents usually no more than once a year and my sister Julie who lives in Long Beach was also at the reception.  All my aunts and uncles were there as well and at the end of the dinner, my parents renewed their vows.

Well, it's Sunday the 19th.  What to do?  The first time that I every really went camping was with my buddy Damon in his backyard, which was a forest.  At the edge of his woods was a field and then beyond that, another larger forest.  Growing up, we always heard that a private company was going to destroy this land and develop it.  18 years later, I was aware that the old abandoned hospital that we used to explore had been torn down.  Office building have been built to replace our historical upbringing.  The hospital was huge, five+ building that all connected thru the basements.  Although we explored most of the hospital, there were some doors that were locked and did not want opening.  There were some stories circulating that old warheads and bombs were stored down there. hence the reason for the police station on the edge of the property.  We never discovered anything like that, but there was old hospital equipment left behind, a file room full of old patients records in tact, until the Mayfield kids burnt it down.  There were 100's of florescent light bulbs in boxes that we threw and exploded on the third floor.  They sounded like a bomb going off in an echo chamber.  The autopsy room with a dead manikin was always a fun place to visit.  There was a church in tact and a chalkboard in the basement that we signed and dated.  So many memories, all vanished with the wrecking crane.  

The hospital was closed down in the 70's.  It should have been torn down decades earlier but it was filled with asbestos and could not be safely torn down at a cheap price.  We probably shouldn't have gone in there so many times, but none of us got sick so, the experience was well worth it.

Anyhow, to my surprise, the woods were mostly still standing.  The field has been taken over and Caterpillars and other heavy equipment suggest that the property line will keep expanding into the woods.  But for now, the old camp site is still standing.  I went the long about way in effort to find it.  It wasn't easy!  A rusty old wagon from when this area was a farm in the 1800's marked the location.  Surrounded by vines in an open part of the woods, I barely saw the wagon.  The tree over hanging the wagon once had wooden planks to climb.  A half mile across the woods was another such tree house and at night, we would shine our lanterns across.  It was pretty cool.  There was a lot of neat stuff out there; a bath tub, old foundations to what may have been a house and don't forget the quick mud that if you stepped in, you would be up to your neck in mud.

I was satisfied with my findings today, plus I had to get back to watch the Browns game.  What I did not find was the old shed that Damon and his friends built before I moved to Beachwood and the lean-to that marked the middle of the original Capture the Flag Grounds.  I did see about 10 deer and ribbon on trees suggesting that more of their woods will be overtaken some day.  If I ever make a lot of money and if it's not to late, I will buy this land and create a park with hiking trails.  Preservation of the wilderness should be a top priority!  There is so much city space that has just gone to junk that what cities must insist is that those districts need to be renovated before touching the sacred land that we have spared.  I goes it's cheaper to bulldoze a tree versus fixing up the ghetto, but it's atrocious that modern man can allow for this!  The Conejo Valley is a great example of how space ought to be utilized, hence my fond admiration for where I live today; not to mention the weather :)

DAY 36:  North Chagrin Reservation
2.5 Miles  +150 Feet

Browns lost yesterday, now that I got that off my chest, on to day 35; Monday the 20th.  Of course along my vacation, we have done more than just hike!  There was seeing my buddies Brant, Wally and Dima.  My family, drinking, etc...  After shopping at Beachwood Place in the morning, I rounded up the troops to hike the Cleveland Metroparks.  Cleveland does have a very nice park system and the North Chagrin Reservation may be the top choice of them all.  There were so many trails to chose from but because I took the family up to Squires Castle a year prior, this year we were in search for 300+ year old trees.  I guess those trees were part of the pine forest near Strawberry Lane.  Instead, we hiked from the Forest Trail Head and followed the Mapple Leaf trail.  We encountered two samoyeds along the way.  Their white fluffy coat blended in perfectly with the white fluffy snow that was falling.  When I was just a little tike growing up, my parents had a samoyed named Subocaj (Jacobus backwards).  When I first learned to speak, my first words were Bobo and later we all called him Subo.

After looping the Maple trail, we followed the oak trail to the end.  There was another family standing on an open covered structure overlooking the valley.  We tiptoed in and noticed dozens of small Tit Birds flying in.  The family had bird seed and Alyssa filled up her hand with some to allow the birds to land on her and eat.  It was quite cool and another random reason why I live getting outdoors to encounter the unknown.  Every day is a new adventure.  Sometimes I get lost and sometimes I find a sled.  The key is, I bring my camera and slow down to really look around.  I'm going to keep hiking, no matter what...

1.0 Miles  +25 Feet

It's Tuesday the 21st.  We fly back to LAX today.  Last night was horrible!  When my sister came up from Columbus, her whole family was sick.  Guess what, the bug finally got to me.  I felt it late during the Monday Night Football Game.  Big Game, I beat Carlos by less than 2 points in Fantasy Football.  Next week I face Sara in the Fanatasy Football Super Bowl.  Wish me luck...

Shortly after the game was over, I laid down in the bed on the third floor, my old bedroom.  Rather than go in detail about it, just know that I found myself in the bathroom before the kids fell asleep.  My dad got sick at the same time and then Ayden puked just once, lucky him.  I had the cold chills, etc...  As I type now, I am still recovering from it, hence the reason I am not at work today.

Despite being sick, with my son, I was dropped off at my old house in University Heights and walked with him to my old elementary school a half mile a way.  Cutting thru the school, we continued to the middle school, where I also walked to.  A mile long walk, every day through the rain, snow, wind, cold and humid heat in the summer.  Forget about it California child, your drizzle winter storm and school bus is no comparison to what I had to endure.  Life is easy for you son, enjoy it...

37 DAY SUMMARY: 134.75 Miles  +21,050 Feet

I will link pictures to Facebook and eventually make another video...




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