Posts filed under ‘Rollerblading’
This past week has been especially busy with neighborhood kid activities. I thought I would share what we’ve been up to.
Saturday August 29th – Pancake Breakfast
For Christmas, my mother got me a skillet and a giant bag of pancake mix. The neighborhood children were her inspiration. “Those kids look like they want pancakes.” Now Ryan and I have made pancakes by ourselves, but we haven’t fed others yet. 18 year old Vick to called me out one Friday night.
“Your mama bought that big bag of mix and you still have not fed us pancakes.”
So we rectified that the very next morning. In addition to pancakes, we served fresh grapes, orange juice, bacon and eggs (with green pepper, garlic, onions and cheddar cheese). Counting me and Ryan, we fed twelve.
Whenever I’m doing these larger meals, I get significantly less sustainable.
Wednesday, September 2nd – Girls Night
I don’t do it on purpose, but I often end up spending more time with the boys. It just so happens it’s the boys that around and willing to go when an adventuring opportunity such hiking or jet skiing surfaces. Once again, 18 year old Vick called me out. So we decided to have a girl’s night!
The girls decided on a dinner at Dragon Buffet. I added my own contribution to the evening by suggesting an outing to Camden Causeway Park beforehand. And you can’t have a girl’s night without dessert! (Perhaps another reason women are more likely to consume more calories around other women). We stopped by Dairy Queen on the way back home.
Friday, September 4 – Rollerskating
Last week, our neighbor DJ turned sixteen. In celebration of his birthday, Ryan and I treated ten kids to rollerskating in Chesapeake, Virginia. The day before, I was weary about how much it was going to cost. $12 a person adds up. But after watching the girls skate and dance, seeing young Jacal and Tyrek get more and more steady with every lap, witnessing first time skater Terrance pick it up like it is nothing and seeing the older boys laugh and gawk at girls, I suspected it was worth every penny. The next day, 9 year old Tyrek confirmed my suspicion.
“I am not lying Vicky, that was my happy day ever. That was the funnest day of my life.”
All Week – Puppy Love!
My grown neighbor, Regina, has a new puppy named Asa. Asa made a few visits to the house and was the recipient of a lot of love.
If I’m with someone experiencing something for the first time, it is easy for me to adopt their excitement. Everything feels fresh and new to me as well. A good example is hiking with children. The views may be predictable to me– but watching my young companion(s) discover overlooks and waterfalls or even tiny rollypollies is just as invigorating as was my inaugural visit.
For more recent examples, we can look to August’s trip to Bethany Beach, Delaware. I’m not much a drinker, but I did find myself much more inclined to visit a bar this year, now that my cousin Sam is twenty-one.
“How come you’ll go drinking with Sam, but not with me?!?” my fifty-six uncle exclaimed one night. I suspect I routinely disappoint him with my lack of “debauchery”.
The answer lies in sharing a new experience. Sam was finally old enough to join the older relatives! It was a new experience for her and I certainly didn’t want to miss that! I was a tag-along, a libation lamprey.
Another vicariously new experience for me at Bethany Beach– Rollerblading!
In my quest to rollerblade in all the U.S. States, Delaware was achieved long ago. It was my second state behind Virginia. But this year, I got to skate Delaware as if it were my first time. I got the share it with multiple relatives!
My cousin Sam:
Now, I have actually skated with both Carolyn and Sam before. But check out our party’s fourth—
We didn’t go far. We didn’t go fast. But by doing it together, it was a memorable adventure!
Next time I am inclined to go to a bar, I just may have to do a toast.
“Hooray for Vicariously New Experiences!”
The fifth country I have rollerbladed in is…the Netherlands!
It didn’t look too promising at first that my skates would get a chance to leave my suitcase. It was rainy the first couple days in Amsterdam and the first two days in Bergen op Zoom, we stayed at the customer site past dark.
My very last night in the Netherlands, however, we got off work with enough daylight to pay a parking ticket AND for me to sneak in a skate in Bergen op Zoom.
The pavement wasn’t exactly optimal– it was a stone walkway that was still damp and had pockets of fallen leaves.The outing was pretty short as it was getting dark and I still had to drive back to Amsterdam. But, I did manage to get my heart rate up and I managed to stumble on a scenic water front. So all in all, my 5th country provided a pretty nice skate.
Me getting ready to rollerblade! (Photo by Ryan Somma)
Me (far right) rollerblading in the Netherlands (Photo by Ryan Somma)
P.S. For the other rollerbladers out there– The next day on the way to Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, I did spy a very nice, smooth, bike path nearby. I also read that Vondelpark would be a good place to go.
As I mentioned before, Tony Airaghi and I have a long standing tradition of rollerblading the Huckleberry Trail. We decided to mix it up a bit. We went rollerblading last Thursday, but instead of the usual Huckleberry Trail, we drove down to Radford and tried out the Radford Riverway Trail. What’s our verdict?
The Radford Riverway Trails are AWESOME for rollerblading!
Here are some features the Radford Riverway has over the Huckleberry Trail:
1) The Radford Riverway… has a river. It’s absolutely beautiful to skate next to.
2) The Radford Riverway has water fountains!
3) The Radford Riverway has bathrooms!
4) The Radford Riverway pavement is new and smooth, providing a very easy skate.
Now the Huckleberry does have more mileage (11.0 round trip as opposed to 6.4 round trip) and the Huckleberry hills are significantly steeper, so it is definitely the superior workout.
But as far as enjoying a summer evening, Tony and I found the Radford Riverway to be a pleasant vehicle. We parked at Bisset Park, bladed up to Sundell Drive and back and then we went along the river to the Dedmon Center and back. One of the nice surprises was getting to eat ripe mulberries. Very delicious.
I didn’t have my camera with me, but I did have my trusty LG enV:
Map of Radford Riverway
A few years ago, I dropped my car off for some maintenance in Blacksburg and I couldn’t find anyone to pick me up. I happened to have my rollerblades in my car, so I strapped them on, skated three miles to the other side of town and met up with a co-worker who was stuck waiting for the cable guy. Once the cable guy had come and gone, I had my ride to work!
I wouldn’t be able to that nowadays.
Blacksburg prohibits and, thanks to the March 11, 2008 Town Council Meeting (which I missed– whoops), now issues a fine for skating in the downtown areas. With the center of town off-limits, I have no viable path to get from one side of town to the other.
I don’t think the Town Council members are bad people. I’m sure their intent is related to safety. And I know Blacksburg is not alone. In my travels, I’ve run across other places with similiar restrictions:
With the exception of a park in Kansas, I have complied to restricted areas. BUT, I certainly don’t agree with these types of rules. I think in this day in age with obesity and lethargy as prevalent as they are, we should not be taking steps to discourage people from being active. And with rising concerns about carbon footprints and gas prices, why discourage people from other means of travel?
Well now that my two cents are out there, there is a bit of a good news. I may not be able to rollerblade across my own town, but I can still commute between towns.
On Tuesday nights, I typically take advantage of the Regal Cinema’s Free Popcorn Night. Yesterday the weather was nice and I had just enough lead time, so I rollerbladed from Blacksburg to the theatre in Christiansburg, via the Huckleberry Trail.
The Huckleberry Trail is always beautiful, especially in the spring with all the Bradford Pear trees. But with a little less room in this world to skate, yesterday this paved path seemed more stunning than usual.
Last week I got to rollerblade in the state Abraham Lincoln grew up in– Indiana. Surprised by that tidbit? I was! I just assumed Lincoln was born and raised in Illinois, when in fact he did not move there until 1830 when he was about 21 years of age. My rollerblading venture taught me that– I passed a sign. I also got to read about Captain Mary Becker Greene, who got her Riverboat pilot’s license in 1896, making her the only licensed female steamboat captain on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Who knew rollerblading could be so educational?
I have the Pigeon Creek Greenway Project to thank for the history lessons. I skated between Sunset Park, along the banks of the Ohio River and a little pass the Casino Aztar. Along the route, they had a lot of signs detailing Evansville history and explaining the sites along the way. One of the signs at Sunset Park was particularly fitting:
Architect Bill Gaisser, in an interview, said that “after World War II, people had a change of attitude… They were less likely to stroll in the park. We became a modern society with automobiles, suburbs and air-conditioned houses”
I saw a total of two individuals my whole time on the river front. The weather was not optimal, but it was still pretty nice for December. I was very surprised I did not encounter more people outside.
That said, it was the isolation of the trail, that I think I appreciated the most. I parked at the Evansville Convention and Visitors Center. From there, I had to walk up a small grassy slope to get to the paved path. When I got to the top of the slope, I was right upon Ohio River. The sky was grey. The river was grey. To my right, the path was deserted. To my left, the path was deserted. And it was quiet.
The silence I will remember– I had just finished up delivering three days of training with evenings focused on demos and conference calls. That was three days straight of almost non-stop talking. And suddenly, all was quiet. Skating along the Ohio River, the only things I could hear were the whir of my wheels and the sounds of my own breath.
It was a peace I didn’t expect. It was a peace I needed.
The pavement was great. The crisp air was invigorating and I got to see lots of items along the way. They had a nice Korea War Memorial, they had a restored Riverboat, and finally, the Four Freedoms Monument gave me a chance to pay homage to my very favorite of all the U.S. states.
Rock on Virginia, I love you!
P.S. See the Virginia Creeper in the State Seal?
I had such a fulfilling journey. Even though this time around, I reveled in the unexpected alone time, I do hope more people start to take advantage of that trail.
And it is Illinois that has become the 20th State I’ve rollerbladed in! It took a while to find a suitable path, but the River Walk in Ottawa turned out to be perfect. It runs along the scenic Fox River and the pavement is quite smooth.
Thanks to a well placed picnic table and my camera’s self-timer, I was able to get a picture to document my 20th state:
Circa 1999, I called out a particular inept Microsoft Support Technician and criticized his approach to troubleshooting a customer’s server. Basically, he sent the customer a new DLL to install and once that update paralized their machine THEN he decided to ask what OS version they were using. After our altercation, someone from Microsoft left me a stern voicemail and told me that they were “appalled” at my tone and that they would be contacting my manager. That call never came and as far as I know Microsoft and I are back on professional terms. If there is still bad blood between me and the corporate giant, at least they did not block me from rollerblading in their hometown!
Rollerblading State #19 was secured on the beautiful Sammamish River Trail in Redmond, Washington. The weekend rain stopped just in time for a morning skate before my travels took me to Canada.
It was one of the few skates where I had company (Delaware and Colorado are the other two)! A high-school classmate of mine, Alex, rode his trike and my brand new co-worker, Katie, walked on foot.
As if the surrounding scenery was not enough to look at, local artwork accompanies the trail. Most of it is very interesting. But, it’s safe to say Alex is not a fan of the “Bluebird” piece.
“It is the single stupidest thing I have ever seen.”
To put his statement in perspective– I went to high school with Alex. I can attest he’s seen some pretty stupid things in his day (some performed by ME). And yet, this item stands out.
What lucky state will get the honor to be my 20th? Signs point to either Mississippi or Indiana. Both loom as possible trips for November!
I’m continually amazed by perseverance of trees. I’ve seen plenty that manage to thrive despite less than optimal conditions. Tony and I ran across another resilient example today on the Huckleberry Trail. This particular tree is growing on the rocky hillside near Mile Marker 5. Check out the root. It snakes around rocks and down, down, down until it finally reaches nutrients.
In posts on Bottom Creek Gorge and John’s Creek Mountain Trail, I highlighted some trees that were not intimidated by obstacles. They simply grew into and absorbed the obstruction. On Sunday, the dogs and I hiked the Royale Trail at Poverty Creek and we ran across a tree that took a less invasive approach:
For six years now, Tony Airaghi and I make it a point to rollerblade the Huckleberry Trail at least once each year. It was a gorgeous spring day out today, so it was a great day for us to continue our tradition into 2007.
The Huckleberry Trail was a Rails to Trails conversion. What was originally a railway built in 1902 to transport coal evolved into a passenger line between Blacksburg and Christiansburg. That line stopped seeing use in 1958 and over three decades later the area evolved again. It became a fully paved pathway, slightly over 5 1/2 miles, from the Blacksburg Library to the New River Valley Mall.
It is perfect for rollerblading (though the area near Margaret Beeks Elementary School could use some smoother pavement) and brings with it a variety of sites and scenery. You go over a quaint bridge over Southgate, by the Corporate Research Center / Virginia Tech Airport, next to cow fields, through a tunnel under 460, past the Coal Miner Heritage Park, along a bridge over active train tracks, through rocky outcroppings and finally the mall.
Today Tony Airaghi and I did a 9 mile round trip. Here are some shots from our outing:
The Huckleberry Trail (near Mile Marker 2)