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NYC to Colorado

Posted on Wednesday Nov 14, 2012

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We're getting caught up on our photos. Here's what happened in NY, WV, KY, MO, and CO!

We had a fabulous time visiting Eric's sister Kate and her husband Michael and exploring NYC and it's multitude of museums, often times by bicycle. But alas, after a month, it was time for us to start our Southwest-ward trek back to the boat.

After 2 months of urban exploring (Maryland to NY), we were ready to lose ourselves once again in trees and mountains, so we hightailed it to the Appalachians of West Virginia. Enroute, we crossed paths with a large thunderstorm making it's way to the east coast – the horizontal rain brought visibility down to about 2 feet so we had to pull to the side, along with thousands of other motorists. Since we were heading the opposite direction from the storm, the worst of it was relatively short lived, and we were back on the road after about 1/2 hour. Unfortunately though, this was just the start of about a week of stormy weather plaguing the entire eastern section of the country. And boy did it rain in the mountains of West Virginia making our hikes quite soggy (trails turning into raging creeks), and difficult to take many photos. Which was really too bad, as the Cranberry Wilderness area is quite beautiful. But, we made the most of the sunny breaks and managed to take some photos of our camping area and it's adjacent river.

On our way to the Wilderness, we passed by the National Radio Astronomy Observatory, home to the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope, with a 2.3 acre (7854 sq. meters) dish area, making it the largest fully steerable dish in the world (see photo). We just had to stop and check out the museum, and take the tour thru the lush property which holds over 30 different radio telescopes. It was an unexpected and fascinating diversion, literally out in the middle of nowhere (hence the reason it's located there, with little noise interference).

Leaving the Appalachians of WV, we decided to drive through the New River Gorge National River on our way into Kentucky. This was an area heavily mined for coal at the turn of the century, and preserved for it's natural beauty once the mines were abandoned. Once thru this park, we ended up on a winding narrow road that led past small coal mining towns butted up against steep lush hills with a beautiful rushing river on the other side. We really had no idea how picturesque this coal mining area would be – alas, it was pouring rain, so there's no photos.

We started feeling the heat more and more as we descended out of the mountains. By the time we made it into Kentucky, our top priorities for camping sites became shade, and a cool place to swim. We found them in the Daniel Boone National Forest, where we biked a great single track trail thru the forest for a refreshing dip in Laurel River Lake, and the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area on the Tennessee border. Due to the hot weather and lack of interesting and maintained trails, we didn't linger long in Kentucky and decided to try our luck in the Missouri Ozarks. We were also disappointed in the selection of trails available in the Mark Twain National Forest, and with temps over 100F, decided to explore the Ozark Nat'l Scenic Riverway instead. It turned out to be a good choice with beautiful river scenery, and most importantly easy access to cool slow moving water.

After several days of river soaking, we'd had enough of the extreme heat and decided to make a beeline for the Rockies. Our first stop in Colorado was Ft. Collins to visit our old cruising friend, Ryan, who used to sail on “Godspeed” and later “Sonrisa”. Upon sailing his boat back to Seattle, he enrolled in a culinary school, and to make a long story short, sold his boat and moved back to CO where he converted an old Avion trailer into an Asian Mobile Eatery called “Umami”. Ryan serves up some very tasty Asian fusion treats, and is doing well in a city that has just started to embrace the food truck culture (especially at the craft breweries in the area). We hiked our first Rockies' trail with Ryan in the Horsetooth Mountain State Park right behind his house.

From Ft. Collins, we drove thru the Roosevelt National Forest, which was heavily hit by fires this summer, along the Poudre Canyon Road. A forest ranger recommended the Rawah Wilderness area for good hiking and dispersed camping which we thoroughly enjoyed with spectacular mountain views and even a couple river crossings. We also discovered why this area is famous for moose with several moose sightings including the rambunctious calf Eric was able to capture on video and photo.

Next up, our month long travels on the West side of the Rockies, starting in Steamboat Springs.