June 23rd, 2015

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Over the hills and far away, Part I

These are the adventures of Crew 119, chartered to Ellettsville First United Methodist Church. Their ongoing mission is to travel everywhere, do everything, be awesome, and look cool doing it. Previously, we have done Philmont (2010), Isle Royale (2011), Philmont again (2012), The U.K. (2013), and Sea Base (2014). This year's high adventure Superactivity would take us across Michigan, Ontario, New York, Vermont, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, and Ohio.

Wednesday, June 10

Our happy Crew gathered early. We were mostly veteran Venturers. By 8:35 a.m. we were on the road, heading north on our way to adventure. We made our way north to Cloverdale to pick up I-70, in order to avoid the roadwork on Hwy 37. Having reached the interstate, we headed through Indianapolis toward Dayton. Traffic was heavy; I-70 is a game trail for migrating herds of semis.

We were seven in all. T.J. was our Crew leader. T.C. was his mentor. Jeffrey and Abby rounded out the youth. Abby’s parents, Matt and Julie, were driving their family’s van. I was driving my old Mazda truck. Every couple of hours, we would rotate one of the youth from the van to the truck in order to give people the chance to talk to somebody new (and to give me a new navigator).

Crew Portrait

Crew Portrait
Just add water. And dirt.

We turned north at Dayton and drove up I-75 toward Detroit. Other than a bunch of road construction, there was nothing eventful along the way. We arrived about 3:30 in the afternoon at Sterling State Park on the shores of Lake Erie just south of Detroit. It was hot and windy, with no shade. We made a tasty dinner of chicken stir fry – we always eat well – and then went to bed early.

Sterling SP

Sterling State Park
Calm before the storm
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Over the hills and far away, Part II

Friday, June 12
Niagara Falls: Liquid Thunder

We left Rock Point at 8:23. Niagara Falls wasn’t far, but there was some road work in the way, and we spent half an hour or so blundering about the far reaches of Welland trying to find our way around it. People complain about the American habit of too much road signage, but I’ll tell ya, after driving in both the UK and Canada, there are some places that could use a few more signs here and there for the benefit of the out-of-towners.Collapse )
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Over the hills and far away, Part III

Saturday, June 13

The little cabin was very comfy. We were well rested when we arose. Some of us rested a bit longer than others.

A man needs a goal

A man needs a goal
T.J.’s is to sleep in all 50 States

Life on the trail (road) requires adjusting to each other's quirks. Patience is not merely a virtue, but a necessity. Setting boundaries is important, too. Jeffrey’s snark at the breakfast table was getting to be a bit much, so I helpfully told him there was an operation that could help him. He looked surprised, but interested. I told him it was called an Optorectomy. That’s where they cut the connection between your optic nerve and your anus. It helps get rid of your crappy outlook on life. He toned it back a little after that.

We were on the road by 8:00 a.m. Not having to put away tents helped, of course, but still, we were beginning to really gel as a Crew. T.C., T.J., and Jeffrey were all veterans of several high adventure trips, of course, but really, we were all getting good at working together. Meals got cooked, dishes got washed, tents were put up and taken down without griping or excuses.Collapse )
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Over the hills and far away, Part IV

Sunday, June 14
Mt. Marcy: Some days you eat the bear, some days the bear eats you

Today was the day we were to challenge Mt. Marcy, at 5,343 feet the tallest mountain in New York State. I was up at 5:00 and made coffee (my usual routine on high adventure trips). We ate a quick breakfast of oatmeal and such. We made plans to eat no less than five meals today, plus snacks, in order to keep us on our feet. We were at the Trailhead by 7:00; by 7:15, we were on our way up the mountain.Collapse )
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Over the hills and far away, Part V

Monday, June 15

We had a good, soaking rain all night. I was glad I put the dining fly up before going to bed. I was up at 5:30 and made coffee. Julie got up shortly after, groaning. We let the kids sleep in. There were going to be some challenges this day. Dealing with rain for one thing, a morale problem as well as a technical problem. Plus, we were all very beat up.Collapse )
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Over the hills and far away, Part VI

Wednesday, June 17

We were packed up and down the road by 7:30 this morning, headed for New York City. We had beautiful blue skies on our way down from Lake George, through the Catskills, and on to the New Jersey border. People don’t realize how rural upstate New York is. We passed orchards and forests and mountains and barns. It resembled, for all the world, Kentucky.Collapse )
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Over the hills and far away, Part VII

Friday, June 19

I got up at birdsong to feed the mosquitoes. We had a long way to go today. We were all tired, but the Crew worked like a well-oiled machine. We were on our way by 7:45. I may look like I’m just being pedantic by noting all these times, but you’ve got to understand: I have never had a Crew on any high adventure trip that could get up, cook, clean up, and be ready to go so consistently early. Kudos to this bunch!Collapse )