• Tag Archives vacation
  • More Nashville

    We did a bit more sightseeing yesterday, and managed to go out to the Parthenon replica they have here. It was built for the Tennessee Centennial, and I’m guessing it was part of the same impulses that influenced the Greek Revival type buildings throughout the town. It was a pretty impressive building, and the inside (the basement, really) is now an art museum.

    Nashville Parthenon
    A full-scale model of the Parthenon in Nashville

    After that, the group split up, with some going to Reese Witherspoon’s store while the rest of us went on a brewery tour, in a section of town called “The Gulch.” The first place we went was Yazoo Brewing, and — we planned it this way — I met my old Manalapan friend Scott and his family. (They live nearby and were going to a College football game.) Really nice to catch up, and meet his wife and kids in person rather than just Facebook.

    After Yazoo Brewing, we went to the Jackalope brewery where the Reese Witherspoon crowd caught up with us. Again, awesome place and really good beer — it was kind of strange to see so many breweries with serious local cred that I’d never heard of, but it was also kind of fun… BBQ dinner after that, then we split again, the youth among us heading back to the honk-tonk part of town, while us olds checked out the free concert.

    The less said about that the better: we are probably a bit too old but it was loud, and crowded, and the act we saw — Matt and Kim — was just plain horrible. They seemed to be a cartoon parody of  a bad techno act.

    Today we’re going on a hike at a local park, and the wedding is tonight.


  • Greetings from Nashville!

    We interrupt this Michigan vacation report to say: we are now in Nashville, Tennessee for the wedding of Anne’s nephew. We left on Thursday about noon, stayed over in Christiansburg VA, and arrived here yesterday in time to go out on the town with a big portion of the wedding crew. The strip here is basically nuts — Nash Vegas, as one homeless guy said — but we got some really good BBQ, and did some serious honky-tonking, before bed.


  • Manistique: Big Spring and Indian Lake

    We were only able to reserve one night at Tahquamenon Falls, but I did get two more nights reserved at Indian Lake State Park, between Lake Michigan and the much smaller, but still huge, Indian Lake. We were almost glamping at this one: our site was near the bathroom, and we ate out for breakfast and dinner. We were right on the shore of Indian Lake, which was forbidding and choppy when we arrived. Llater that afternoon the wind picked up; it felt like, if we were back home, an incredible thunderstorm was about to begin, but all it did was blow — all afternoon and all night.

    The next day was much nicer weather, and we rode the seven miles to Big Spring, which was a huge, crystal clear pond, fed by springs coming up through fissures in the bottom. They said it produced 10,000 gallons a day, which then exited via its own stream and fed Indian Lake. Incredible color, with huge trout just swimming slowly around in the water.

    That night we ate at Big Spring Inn, and the next morning we took off for Marquette.


  • The Searchers All Say We Made Whitefish Bay

    We didn’t quite make it to Whitefish Point, but our first night on the Upper Peninsula was spent pretty close to the bay, at a campsite in Tahquamenon Falls State Park, right where the Tahquamenon River enters Lake Superior. It was pretty serendipitous, actually: the campground was supposed to be full, but I took a chance and called, and we got a reservation for one night — in the RV section. (We got a good look at RV camping here and at our next campsite, and it’s a really weird, alien world.)

    Anyway, we made it to our site in the middle of Thursday afternoon, set up camp and took a short walk down to the river mouth and lake shore, and saw a bunch of pileated woodpeckers, all hopping around on the ground eating bugs. The sunset was pretty; we watched from the riverbank as the sky grew dark, then crashed for the night in the hammock. We’d been warned about serious mosquito nastiness, but the bugs were not too bad, and it was also mush warmer than we were expecting, mid-eighties during the day and maybe 70 at night.

    Friday we packed up, then we did a road ride out to the Lower Falls on the river, about 30 miles round trip. This area is so flat that we were doing a good 17 mph  with almost no effort — it was a bit of a surprise  that there could even be waterfalls here, when we actually found ourselves at the falls they were really big (though not tall), and beautiful. It was another hot day and people were swimming;,and some teens were even playing behind the falling water.

    It was mid-afternoon when we got back to the campsite. We showered and changed, and then hit the road for Manistique.


  • Greetings From Ann Arbor!

    Well, we made it! The eight hour (and change) travel time turned out to actually be more like ten-plus, what with construction delays, rest breaks, and breakfast/lunch stops, but the trip was uneventful. We got to our bed-and-breakfast — the Baxter House, which by the way is really awesome: I’ll take photos — around 6:00.

    We didn’t do too much last night — Nicole Atkins was playing in town, but we blew it off and just grabbed dinner and drinks, outdoors at an Irish pub on Main Street; we wandered around afterward, did some people watching, and then we just walked back to our place. We tried to do a bit of reading but were both probably fully asleep by 10:00. It’s actually much warmer here than we expected, and a lot like home: highs in the upper eighties, lows around 70, though not nearly as much rain (or flooding). We brought tons of warm clothes, which will probably come into play once we’re sleeping outdoors in the Upper Peninsula.

    Today is our only full day in town. We’ll be meeting Ben’s old friend Jason, who’s getting his PhD here, so he can show us around a bit. There are many cool bookstores and coffee shops, and I have a list of great brew pubs to check out, but I have a feeling we’re only going to scratch the surface of what’s on offer here.


  • Goddard and Montpelier

    Here are some photos from Ben’s graduation, which was the last part of our vacation trip. I don’t have much to say except that we had a really nice time with Ben and his girlfriend, Goddard College (and nearby Montpelier) were awesome places, and the commencement ceremony itself was very moving. Anyway, here are the photos:


  • Odds & Ends

    Posted on by Don

    I have a bunch more photos to put up about the final leg of our vacation (Ben’s graduation), but before I get to that I have a few other items, and a few other vacation photos, I want to post that really don’t go anywhere else.

    Vacation Miscellany

    Just a few photos of things around the cabin. Our place apparently was a camp once, having multiple primitive cabins, etc, and had been refurbished — and had the main house added — after years of downward fashionableness and possible abandonment; three cabins were still standing, one converted into a sort of detached den or game room, and the other two converted into separate sleeping quarters. Behind the cabins, as things were now arranged, was a small pond with a dam at one end. I’m not sure how important the pond had been in the past — it had the look of a kiddie fishing area — but now it was brown and scummy, and working its way back to being a meadow. (The lake was a lot better, but the muck at the bottom made for unpleasant swimming. Only Alex and I tried, and we only tried once.)  There were other camp amenities, including a fire pit which we made use of on the chilly nights.

    Shapes and Clusters

    The clustering experiments were a success, but what I really want is to show the regions or neighborhoods where my cycling amenities are clustered. I’ve been trying several different ways to build a shape around a group of points:

    • Convex Hull: this one is pretty nice, it’s the shape you’d get if a rubber band were stretched around the points. It’s also built into both QGIS and PostGIS. Unfortunately, if the point cluster has concavities the convex hull won’t show them — an L-shaped cluster would get a triangular region.
    • Concave Hull: this one is also available in both QGIS and PostGIS, but I don’t trust it — I can’t find too much about how it really works, its very name doesn’t make all that much sense, and it requires parameters that are not as well documented as I’d like.
    • Alpha Shape: the most promising of the bunch, defined pretty rigorously in “the literature,” and I like the l looks of the shapes it makes. Unfortunately, it doesn’t exist in either QGIS or PostGIS; it is available as a package in R, so I’ve spent some time this week getting R to run correctly after much neglect, then installing the “alphahull” package and trying it out. I managed to import my data and  create alpha shapes; now I have to find how to convert and export the shapes back into my database.

    There is one other method I just thought of, and pretty simple compared to these approaches: I could just make a heat map from the clustered amenities, then use a “contour line” function on the heat map raster. If the others don’t give satisfaction I may try this.

    Around Here

    Today was a brief respite from days of heavy, almost continuous rain — more is coming, starting tomorrow. I took the opportunity to attack the jungle that once was our back yard, managed to use up all the weed-whacker twine, and ran over a yellow jacket’s nest (no stings, but a fairly hasty retreat into the house for a while), and the yard looks much better if not quite 100% yet.

    We’ve also had a Warm Showers guest: a young Brit named Arron who landed in New York and is cycling across the US. He’s early in his ride, not quite acclimated to cycling, and he’s getting a real baptism by fire, or at least by rain and hills and poor road choice, but he was a trooper. He stayed for two nights before heading for Coopersburg.


  • Adirondacks: Two Rides

    Posted on by Don

    We brought four bikes on vacation: my road bike, my mountain bike, Anne’s road bike, and Anne’s mountain bike in case Holly wanted to go for a ride. Anne and I did a road ride together, and I also got in a mountain bike ride.

    On the Road

    The Adirondacks have some pretty big hills, but there is also a lot of flat ground — there are a lot of lakes and swamps and slow meandering rivers — and the roads, the paved main roads at least, mostly traverse the flatter areas. We found a really nice loop that was paved the whole way, had very few cars, and (for the most part) had the most gentle of rolling grades. Some areas were pretty remote — on one road, for a few hot seconds, we even had a bear running along with us, just a few yards away in the woods — and all of it was really scenic, with rivers, and waterfalls, and vistas everywhere you looked.

     

    In the Woods

    This area is a bit of a singletrack desert, which may just mean that no one posts their rides online, but there are a lot of dirt roads and ATV trails, and I found what looked like a promising area a little south, near where we hiked. I drove down to a place called Mountain Pond Road, parked at an “equestrian/snowmobile staging area” (aka “dirt parking lot in the woods”), and rode towards something called Slush Pond Road, another dirt road across the main street from Mountain Pond Road, which seemed like my most likely chance to find a trail.

     

    So far so good, but about a mile into the woods I ran into a roadblock: two Park Rangers standing in front of their vehicle told me that there was a search  going on and I had to turn around. Search and Rescue? Manhunt? I didn’t ask, but we’d been seeing Park Ranger vehicles and rescue teams on the roads, and saw a few “missing person” flyers here and there… I looked it up when I got back to our cabin: a sad situation, and I was basically trying to ride into Ground Zero for the search.

    The Rangers told me the Mountain Pond side was OK, so I went back over there and eventually found some really pleasant, though not particularly challenging, singletrack leading to an equestrian campsite, and I took a bunch of photos of this side.

     


  • An Adirondack Hike

    Posted on by Don

    This was our first full day on vacation. Joe and Alex and I were on our own, so we decided to do a moderately difficult hike, maybe four miles or so up to the top of Saint Regis Mountain, just outside the nearby town of Paul Smiths. We took off in the morning and arrived at the trailhead not long after, and started on our way. This map shows the gist of our hike — my GPS didn’t start recording position until we were maybe a half mile in:

     

     

    The trail was easy to follow, fairly well maintained, and kept to an easy grade as it slowly ascended over rolling terrain, until we got to the halfway point and started the real climb. Even this was pretty doable, and the views at the top were well worth it. There was a fire tower at the summit, and we climbed that too. Some photos from the top: