Donate Blood

I donated blood today. It was certainly a bigger adveture than I normal have when I donate blood. I was supposed to donate at 7:15 pm near my home. The first obstacle was a meeting at work that went way later than it should have, but I still had time to make it to the donation on time if I hurried home. The next problem I had was I got a piece of metal in my bike tire on the ride home. Luckily I carry a spare tube and pump, but this caused me to be about 15 minutes late to my donation, and when I did get there I was still all sweaty from my ride. My pulse was a little elevated, but other than that everything was good.

My message... Get out there and donate some blood! Not only does it help others, but in doing so you get to feel good about yourself. Oh, and don’t forget the free snacks. You can get more information or find a location near you to donate at the American Red Cross website, or you can call 1-800-GIVE-LIFE.


Emerald Pools - Swimming

Swimming Coordinates N 44 16.788 W 071 13.925

I didn't actually go swimming here since it was a cold and rainy day. It looked like a really nice spot though. The parking is right next to the swimming so getting to the swimming hole is no effort, but it is hidden by some trees which should help keep its popularity lower on nice days. There is a perfect 10 foot tall jumping rock and some clear deep water to swim jump into. I'm pretty sure if I had gone swimming here, it would have ranked pretty high on my rating system. Hopefully I'll get a change to go back to Emerald Pools on a nicer day.

Pickham Notch - Hiking

The next thing we did in the White Mountains was a little hiking at Pickham Notch. There are a lot of trails around this area, but since it was cold and raining I didn't get much time to explore many them. I definitely plan on going back someday to get a better look around. I did manage to get this nice picture of Crystal Cascades.

Driving up Mt. Washington

Mt. Washington Auto Rd N 44 17.319 W 071 13.567

While driving to the Dolly Copp campground, we passed Mt. Washington, which is the tallest mountain in New England. Sunday morning we thought about hiking up it, but decided to drive up it along the Mt. Washington Auto Road instead since we didn’t bring appropriate clothing. This turned out to be the correct decision since it quickly turned cloudy and started raining as we started driving up. It was an interesting drive and would have been awesome on a clear day, but even on a rainy day I still felt like I got my $25 worth. It’s an experience worth doing, but if you plan on doing any hiking around the top make sure you bring some warm clothes. When we were up there it was about 45 degrees Fahrenheit with 40mph winds. They give you an audio CD that you play while driving up the mountain, which includes some really interesting historical facts about the mountain. Then at the top there are a few pseudo museums to look around in. The picture is of Eric about half way up the mountain before the winds got too strong and the clouds got too thick.

Dolly Copp - Camping

Camping Coordinates N 44 20.183 W 071 12.987

Eric and I left Saturday afternoon to go camping and hiking up in the White Mountains. Since we left sort of late the first destination was a camp site. We chose the Dolly Copp campground. It's a nice campground. Nothing special about it, but nothing bad either. If you’re looking for a quick and easy place to camp out in the White Mountains, Dolly Copp will do you fine. We just showed up Saturday night and they had lots of sites still open so as long as you don’t show up on a holiday weekend I’m guessing they will have room for you. Personally I prefer back country camping since that gives you added privacy and softer tent platforms, but back country isn’t for everybody. Back country camping also usually takes more time and planning which are two things we didn’t have going for us on this trip. I'll bring you more about other things we did on this trip in future posts.


Indoor Rock Climbing 3

I went to the rock gym after work again. This time it was three of us so there was a person to take pictures. The picture is me feeling the burn as a traverse an overhang while going up the black tag route. I fell a few feet up from where this picture was taken, but then I tried the route again and made it.

I should also point out that styling harness and those sweet shoes I’m wearing. I got those over the weekend since I needed my own gear to do real climbing in the outdoors. Next week is when we plan to do the real thing. I’m excited!


Whitehall Reservoir - Swimming

Parking Coordinates N 42 12.796 W 071 34.793
Swimming Coordinates N 42 13.211 W 071 34.784

Aesthetic Appeal 4
Water Quality 6
Swimming Quality 8
Jumping Quality NA
Rope Swing Quality 9
Beach Quality 4
Overall Fun Factor 7

During my last kayaking trip to Whitehall I noticed some people swimming and using a rope swing. It looked pretty nice so I decided to come back another time for some swimming. The closest parking I could find, which is along the road, was a little over half a mile from the swimming hole, but there is a nice trail all the way around the reservoir so you can use that to walk to the swimming hole.

The water was the perfect temperature, and the rope swing was exceptionally fun. The highest platform to swing from is probably 20 feet up and you can get some crazy good swings in from up there. The best thing is this place is much closer to my home than the other swimming holes I’ve written about so far. There's a good chance that it's also closer to you since there are more people around here than up north in New Hampshire. While I was there I got word of two more nice swimming holes in the area from some of the locals. I should be bring those to you in the coming weeks. Until then enjoy the picture of my flying from the rope swing. Weeee!

Whitehall Reservoir - Kayaking

Parking Coordinates N 42 14.481 W 071 34.359

I went kayaking to this reservoir again. It is a nice place to go kayaking since it has lot of interesting areas to explore. The picture is of a seagull just as it started to fly away.


Hadwen Beavers - Geocaching

I did a few geocaches around my area today. My favorite of the day was the Hadwen Beavers cache. It involved a short hike through the woods to a pond along which the cache was located. The picture is of my friend Eric grabbing this cache.


Bike Lane Proposal

I wasn’t sure if this would fit well in my blog, but I decided that since some of my audience must be cyclists this would be a good example of political action you can take at the town level to improve your sport. I ride my bike to work most days and I received a notice of a public hearing for a proposal to improve one of the roads I ride on all the time. This notice included information on where you can send proposals that they will then consider. Truthfully I don’t think the odds of them adding a bike lane are very high, but I though it’s worth the half an hour I spent searching the internet and then writing this proposal. I was a little disappointed that I couldn’t find any good pre-written proposals on the internet that I could use as a template. In the end I just ended up writing what you see below from scratch. It’s certainly not best proposal I could write, but I decided taking the time to write a really good one just wasn’t worth it. They will be responding to this proposal eventually and I’ll post that in my blog when I get it.

Feel free to copy and/or modify the letter below if you ever have a need.

August 19, 2005

John Blundo, P.E.
Massachusetts Highway Department
**Address Omitted in Blog**
Boston, MA 02116

Subject: Bike Lane Proposal for Proposed Route 140 Improvement Project in Shrewsbury, MA.

Dear P.E. Blundo:

I request that bike lanes be added to the currently proposed Shrewsbury Route 140 improvement project. Bike lanes have been shown to improve land values and dramatically increase cyclist safety. While I have no firm evidence that this stretch of road is the most dangerous to cyclists in the Shrewsbury area, as an avid cyclist my opinion is that it is. This is a popular trucking route and is fairly narrow making for stressful passing situations both for cyclists and the auto drivers doing the passing. Bike lanes would alleviate this stress for both parties, increase property value, and improve safety. I believe these benefits outweigh the added monetary expense of adding the bike lanes.

I ask that this proposal be made part of the public record, and be reviewed and considered for inclusion to the current proposal. I regret not being able to make the public hearing on August 24th due to prior engagements I have. Feel free to contact me with any questions or amendments you would like to see to this proposal.

Maurice Ribble
**Address Omitted in Blog**
Shrewsbury, MA 01545

ATI’s 20th Anniversary Celebration

My company had its 20th Anniversary celebration. Instead of doing my job in the afternoon, I went to the company picnic. It was good food and good times. After eating a little too much BBQ I played volleyball and basketball all afternoon. I forgot how much fun you can have with a simple pickup basketball game.

The moral of this post is get out there with a few friends and try out one of those games you haven’t played in a few years. You’ll probably be surprised how much fun you can have.


Hang Gliding - Lesson 3

I took off work yesterday and went on my third hang gliding lesson. The winds were supposed to be perfect according to the weathermen, but the stupid weathermen were wrong. The winds were light and variable, and following Murphy’s Law variable usually mean the wrong direction. I spend most of the day practicing cross wind take offs and landings in light wind. To me it felt like I might have progressed backwards a little since the end of my second lesson, but my instructor pointed out it was likely because I was trying too hard on my takeoffs due to a lack of wind. This time really made me appreciate the near perfect conditions I had during my second lesson.

That said I still performed adequately to get my Hang 1 certification. Woot! I’m now a certified hang glider pilot. Admittedly I can’t do much with a Hang 1 certification, but at least it puts that Hang 2 with in view.

Onward and upward I go!


Indoor Rock Climbing

Yesterday I went to a rock gym after work with a guy from work. I've been there before and both times it was a great workout. By the end of the night my fingers and arms felt like jello. I sure felt the burn of that last climb. Some of the people there are in crazy good shape. They put me to shame something fierce, but I still had a lot of fun climbing.

Anyways I just thought I'd mention this since you can probably find an indoor climbing gym in your area and it's certainly worth trying if you've never done it before.

Have fun climbing.


Rained Out at Walden Pond

Parking Coordinates N 42 26.442 W 071 20.080

This is the famous Walden Pond that Henry David Thoreau stayed at for two years. Now days it has a nice family swimming beach with a life guard. Parking is $5. I went there with my friend Eric and we were just going to do some relaxing swimming and hang out on the beach. Alas the weather didn’t cooperate. Just as we were parking we started hearing thunder. Then a ranger came along and made everyone get out of the water just as we got to the beach.

There is a trail around the pond so I took a quick hike around the pond while listening to the thunder in the background. About half way around a nice refreshing rain started coming down. After my hike, Eric and I watched a little of the lightning show and then went home early.

I have been to Walden’s Pond before on better days and it is a nice warm swimming spot as long as you don’t mind a crowd. If you want a little more privacy you can walk the path around the pond and pick a spot without any other people, but this still isn’t going to be very private. While you’re not going to find privacy there are a few things you will find. You will find a life guard if that’s important to you. Or perhaps it’s more important for you to find a lot of cute girls or handsome hunks at the beach and Walden Pond won’t disappoint here either.

Hopkinton Reservoir - Kayaking

Parking Coordinates N 42 14.829 W 071 31.655

This was a nice spot for kayaking, but a little small if you’re looking to row around all day. It’s not small, but you can easily row around it in an hour or so. There is also a place that rents kayaks on this reservoir so the water might get kind of busy in the afternoon, but I had the water to myself early Sunday morning.

While I was rowing around I took a break on one of the small islands and sat down in about a foot of water near a school of 50 or so 3 to 6 inch fish. I started skimming my finger across the top of the water and they would follow it. It was pretty darn cool. Eventually they got totally comfortable with me and the whole school of fish circled me waiting for me to do the finger trick so they had something to chase. In fact they started to get a little too comfortable when they started nibbling on me. It didn’t hurt or anything, just sort of tickled. It was good times.

Halifax Gorge - Swimming

Parking Coordinates N 42 44.856 W 072 44.985
Trail Head Coordinates N 42 44.661 W 072 44.243
Swimming Coordinates N 42 44.572 W 072 44.111

Aesthetic Appeal 9
Water Quality 8
Swimming Quality 9
Jumping Quality 8
Beach Quality 7
Overall Fun Factor 8

The parking for Halifax is along Highway 112, but there is no parking on this section of 112 near Halifax. So you will need to park a little ways away and walk to the trail head. The walk along the road is only a quarter of a mile or so. The parking I listed is where I parked and is north of the gorge, but I think parking to the south might be a slightly shorter walk. I only found the actual trail to the water on the way out. When I went in I just scrambled down a steep embankment and followed the river untill I found the swimming hole. Hopefully this will make it a little easier for you folks.

This place has some fairly high cliffs to jump off. I would estimate some of them are around 45 feet. There is also a rope swing, but the swing wasn’t in a very good spot. You couldn’t get much of a swing and the water was sort of shallow where you land. This swimming hole was at least three hundred feet long so there was plenty of swimming area.

Overall this was a great place and I highly recommend it. Have fun swimming.


Hang Gliding (Lesson 2)

I went to my second hang gliding lesson today. It was more awesome than the first, and the first was pretty darn awesome. I’m totally hooked already. I’ve done a lot of different things, but never anything that gives anything close to the sensation of floating in the air that hang gliding does. I still get a rush every time I take off for one of my little flights. I’m sure some of that rush will dissipate a little as I get more experienced, but I can’t imagine the sensation of freedom that flying in the glider gives me lessening. I think as I get more experienced and I become one with the glider this sensation of freedom may even grow.

For those who don’t know the way hang gliding is taught seems very effective and very safe to me. You start out on flat ground just running with the glider. On flat ground it’s impossible to take off so you don’t have to worry at all and you get used to the feel of the glider and can learn how to turn it and that sort of thing. Then you start going up a hill. At first you’re not up high enough to truely fly, but you start to “moon wall”. This is where your steps start to get farther apart and you feel light footed. Then before you know it those large steps turn into flying. After my second lesson I’m to the point where I start about 60 feet up the hill and my flights are a few hundred feet horizontally. These flights are long enough that I realize I’m flying and have to make a few small correcting turns before landing. My next lesson will involve flights long enough that I will need to make real turns before landing. I can’t wait!

I’m learning to hang glide at Morning Side Flight Park , and I highly recommend it. If you live somewhere else in the country, but are interesting in flying try looking on the internet for a hang gliding club in your area. Then ask them where they recommend learning to hang glide. This is what I did and it couldn’t have turned out any better.

Happy flying!



I just got my new Dagger Catalyst a few days ago so I’m about as new to this sport as they come. I rented a kayak a few times before on the ocean, but that’s it. I’m happy with how it handles. I tested it out at Whitehall Reservoir (parking coordinates N 42 14.481 W 071 34.359). While I don’t have enough experience kayaking to give a rating on this site, but I did like it and will be going back. It’s a fairly large lake with a lot wildlife and islands to explore. It took me about 2 hours to paddle around going at about my fastest comfortable speed, but I don’t think I’m a very fast paddler yet. It was a good upper body workout. Lots of things I do work my legs, but not much besides going to the gym works my upper body so that was nice.

I think taking this kayak on some overnight camping trips is going to be sweet. It will be like hiking, but the overnight pack comes along for free. It seems that only good can come from this.

Peace all.

Indian Love Call - Swimming

Parking Coordinates N 42 56.832 W 072 38.341
Swimming Coordinates N 42 56.807 W 072 38.823

Aesthetic Appeal 8
Water Quality 9
Swimming Quality 8
Jumping Quality 9
Beach Quality 9
Overall Fun Factor 9

This is among the best swimming holes I’ve ever been to. I know I didn’t give it a 10, but I’m saving that either for one that’s a little better than this (may only exist in swimming hole heaven). There is a wonderful sand beach. The cliff you see in the picture is about 15 feet high and makes for some wonderful jumping. It’s also easy to get to various other heights jumping on the cliff. There is even a rope swing!

If you go past this swimming hole there are some more, but none seemed as nice as this one. Also worth noting is that after the first swimming hole clothing became optional.



In a nutshell Geocaching is a scavenger hunt using a GPS and coordinates from the internet. If you want to learn more about this sport you should visit www.geocaching.com.The picture to the left is my friend Michell finding her first cache.

I've played a little bit of those online video games like World of Warcraft and Everquest and I understand why people can get addicted to them. They are designed to get a player hooked into a never ending cycle of making their characters more powerful so they can just make their characters more powerful in a way that simulates progress faster than you can progress in the real world. If that doesn't make any sense the normal sequence in this game is kill some monsters so you can buy better equipment so you can kill stronger monsters which drop more money so you can buy even better equipment so you can kill stronger monsters... It sounds dumb here, but that's the way it is and millions of people play these games. In my mind geocaching is vaguely similar. You go to this website get a coordinate and then perform the quest of finding this cache. Then you enter the find into the website and basically just keep doing this to make you number of finds higher for the sake of having a higher number of finds. The reason it's better than these online games is because you get exercise and learn about cool places while doing geo caching. A warning though is that just like some people get addicted and play too much of these online video games some people (ok, ok I was one of these people) get a little addicted to geocaching and spend every spare moment doing caches when they start. This obsession usually goes away pretty quick though (at least it did for me) and then it’s just a fun reasonable time sink.

Hiking and Camping

These kind of go together for me. While I sometimes go hiking without camping, I almost always do some hiking if I'm going camping. I enjoy both of these quite a bit. It's one of the least invasive ways I know of to get out and enjoy nature. I'm a huge believer in minimal impact hiking and camping (i.e. leave no trace). I enjoy both back country camping or camping at a site. Usually the person I go with decides which they'd rather do.

I did a lot of hiking/camping out in Glacier National Park last summer. This year I’ve done a fair amount in various places in Massachusetts and New Hampshire. I’ll talk more about the specifics of the places I go next time I go.

Bridge and Cliff Jumping

Did you ever see a video or some pictures of those crazy people who jump off of 60 foot cliffs and wanted to do it? I did and eventually I found out I can. Well my cliffs aren’t quite as tall and I don’t do all the flipping those people do. That said it's not for most people. Most things here are safe enough for just about anyone, but this requires a level of confidence and courage that is a little higher than the other things I'm going to put in this blog. My recommendation is if you don't feel comfortable with jumping off of high objects into water then don't and even if you do feel comfortable be freaking careful. Actually so nobody tries to sue me lets say my official recommendation is that nobody tries it. That said, currently I'm completely comfortable jumping off anything 20 feet. It's fun and all, but there isn't any thrill to it anymore. At the 30+ feet it becomes thrilling. I estimate my highest jump at around 45 feet and I didn't land it quite right and took home some serious bruises. At every new place I jump I always take the time to make sure the water is deep enough. I also take some time to look carefully at my surroundings to determine what could go wrong and what to do if it does. I also never do this by myself.

The first place I jumped that was over 20 feet was on Flathead River near the west gate to Glacier National Park in Montana. I found it when my white water rafting guide pointed out the 30 foot tall bridge. You could do the same, or if you don't want to go rafting just ask someone in the rafting company. They are super helpful and will give you better directions then I could remember. The picture to the left is me jumping off this bridge. A good cliff to jump off that's a little higher than that bridge is located along Going to the Sun Road in Saint Mary’s Lake. If you look west along Saint Mary's Lake at the Rising Sun campground the cliffs to jump off are pretty obvious. While these locations are far from my current home in Massachusetts I did spend a summer out in Glacier Park so I know quite a bit about it. It’s my favorite place in the whole world and I totally recommend taking a vacation there if you like hiking.

The closest place to me in Massachusetts, which I know of to go bridge jumping, is easily viewed from the Mass Pike just west of where it crosses Route 9 in Framingham. The GPS coordinates for this bridge are: N 42 17.974 W 071 28.208. I usually park on the North side of Route 9 and on the west side of the Mass Pike in one of the business parking lots. Then walk the abandoned train tracks to the bridge. There is a fair amount of broken glass and the water has a little alga in it, but quite a few people jump from this. There are various heights to jump from (5-20 feet).



I've been snowboarding for about 5 years and I love it. I'm not a great snowboarder, but I'm pretty good at getting down the mountain. I'm not so good at the ramps and such in the terrain parks, but maybe this next year will be the year I finally tame them. In addition to boarding locally, I usually take one trip out west each year with some friends. I've been to places like Jackson Hole, Lake Tahoe, and Salt Lake City. So far I've been great at picking places with the worst snow possible. On the trips to Lake Tahoe and Salt Lake City we had record high temperatures while I was there. In Jackson Hole it was freaking cold, but it a low snow year. Anyways I will probably be going Whistler this next winter and the now WILL be awesome.

Here are a few pictures from my last trip to Salt Lake City. I'm the guy in the blue and grey jacket.

Are you asking why I didn't use sunscreen? So did I. God knows I wish I had.


Let's get things rolling with what will be in this blog. I'm a fairly active person and I plan on letting people know what I'm doing on my weekends. Hopefully someone will find something here interesting and try it out to find it's a bucket load of fun. That's the real goal here; convincing people to try something new and having fun doing it. I might also throw in some editorials here and there depending on how conversional I'm feeling.

I freely admit that if I keep this blog going it's likely to change, but hopefully all these changes in direction will make this blog more entertaining (being an engineer I'd realistically settle for most of the changes being better so the overall is net positive effect). If you're reading this and have an idea on something I might like to try, send me an email or post a comment to this blog. If you happen to live nearby and are looking for someone to enjoy the outdoors with contact me about it.