Follow our adventure across Canada

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 9.50.23 AM
Stephane and I will be leaving on Wednesday on a trip that will take us on and off road all the way from Montreal, Quebec to Whistler, BC. I’ll be using the tracking feature of my Spot device to show where we are in real time (pretty cool). There are some limitations, but the gist is that you should be able to see where we are on this map. I have also added the link to my sidebar (if you can find it). I’m going to eventually figure out how to embed it, but this will do for now. The following link will take you to the map.
Follow our progress
Disclaimer: If I haven’t used it in awhile it will look broken, but hopefully isn’t. 🙂
UPDATE: Another one of my coworkers is also trekking up to Canada with a Spot device. You can follow Dean at spotdean.com.

Last Weekend: A fair adventure in Hudson, NY

When I left for Hudson, I didn’t really know what to expect. All the information I had on it was an address for my friends house. I didn’t know I was in for one heck of a great weekend.
Before I left Massachusetts, I headed into Boston to meet Mel and Kelly at the best lobster roll place in the city, Alive and Kicking. The lobster sandwich there is fantastic and I couldn’t bear to be that close to Boston and not stop there.

IMG_5431

They technically have the best “lobster sandwich,” but still, it was everything I want in a lobster roll.


After a casual lunch, I punched in the address in Hudson and let Google’s robotic voice guide me there. Once I left the city, the scenery just became more and more gorgeous. The road twisted through some mountains and led me past farms that are hundreds of years old and still standing strong. There were aging tractors of all types in the yards and barns that looked as if they should be on a post card. It was an amazing drive.
IMG_5435
Once I pulled into the neighborhood, I had a little trouble finding the house. Google’s directions led me to believe it was further down the street than it was. When I realized my mistake, I turned around and some Rick flagging me down in the middle of the field behind his house. After I pulled into the driveway, he explained that he had been combatting the huge amount of poison ivy that had overtaken the field over time. In other words, no shaking hands.
Sadly, I didn’t get any photos of their house, though I wish I had. In the short time they have been there, Ada and Rick have transformed the backyard by clearing out dead trees, mowing the grass, and gardening. They even had a hammock perfectly positioned under a big tree. The inside of the house was also being transformed, but even in its “construction” state, it still was good looking and remarkably cozy. Their plans to improve are pretty big and the next time I see it, I may not even recognize some of the rooms.
It turns out there was a fair happening not too far away, so we headed over for some evening shenanigans. We arrived to a sea of cars in the parking lot and, to my surprise, to a very large fair. There were all sorts of crazy rides, vendors, carnival food, award-wining animals, award-winning crops, and a pretty large crowd of people.
We got our tickets and headed in… to realize we needed to buy a different set of tickets. We wanted ride tickets! You can buy them in quantities of six or 22. Most of the rides are five tickets. It was at that point we realized that the entire thing was well designed to relieve us of our cash.
After getting 44 tickets, we got in line for the giant sky swing, Vertigo. Ada and Rick had no problem with it, but for some reason I felt it was swing maybe a bit too fast. That’s pretty unusual for me, but I think it had something to do with the vertical movement along with the spinning. Fifteen tickets down, 29 to go.
IMG_5440
We look at one called Chaos Klaus with was this huge swinging arm with a claw at the end where people ride it. The claw spins a bunch and the arm goes upside down to shake all the change loose from their pockets. Unfortunately (or fortunately depending on your perspective) it looked like it decided to break down in front of us when we were looking at riding it. Pass.
We then headed for what we thought would be the main event as far as rides go: the ferris wheel. Again, it was five tickets per person, but also had a line that took us about 45 minutes to get through. Once we finally got on, we had some decent views, but got off the ride looking just as bored as the people we saw riding it earlier. Okay. So we made a mistake there. Another 15 tickets down with just 14 left.
We stopped to go eat some really terrible (in the good way) sandwiches. On the way, we saw these glowing LED shoes that several of the carnival workers were wearing. I asked where I could find them and the guy point in a vague direction. We spent the next half hour or so on the quest to find me these shoes of the future, though I think Rick was looking for his tractor of the future. On the way, we stumbled through several massive vendor tents and even into a pig race. After the race was over, we spotted more people with glowing shoes! We must be close! I asked them for directions and found out we weren’t far from victory. Rounding on more corner, I saw the tent with all sorts of glowing footwear! YESSS! I was probably the easiest sale they had all night and was in and out in five minutes. Time to find the next ride!
IMG_5450

This is a pig race. And it was highly entertaining.

View this post on Instagram

New kicks.

A post shared by Michael Arestad (@michaelarestad) on

We had just 14 tickets left. Well, what can we all ride for 14 tickets when pretty much everything costs five tickets per person? After wandering around a bit, we jokingly headed toward the big pirate ship swing that no carnival is complete without. As luck would have it, it was only three tickets per person. Perfect! We immediately hopped on. I got on one end, and they got on the other so were facing each other. It ended up being absolutely a blast. When I was up in the air, they got to watch me gleefully laugh and yell and when they were in the air, I got to do the same. It was by far the best ride of the night. Definitely give the pirate ship a try the next time you have the chance.
Before we headed out, we wandered over to check out the winning crops and animals. The crops had all been sitting out for some time so it was somewhat surreal to see a rotten pumpkin with a blue ribbon or a dead sunflower with a blue ribbon. The award-winning hay still looked pretty good, though!


The animal pens were absolutely a blast to wander through. The cows were, well, cows and doing their cow thing of eating and pooping. I wasn’t too interested in them, but they were on the way to the best section: GOATS! There were all sorts of goats with wild haircuts, different types of ears, and various postures. Some were doing their best to sleep. Others were causing terror and trying to eat anything they could including hammocks and the wooden railing.
On Sunday, we headed into town for breakfast. We went to a little coffee shop and ordered breakfast along with some pretty dang delicious sweet rolls. Afterward they showed me around town.
On the way back, we headed to The Fields at Omi, which is a large outdoor sculpture park. It was a fun place to wander around with some incredible artwork.

After stopping at a local farm to get a fresh chicken for dinner, we headed back to enjoy the evening. We had beer can chicken and a gigantic cucumber. It was way better than it looked and it looked pretty good.
IMG_5480
On Monday, after coworking in the morning, Rick and I headed into town where I had a lunch and a milkshake before I headed off.
I had a pretty great impromptu weekend. Thanks for the hospitality, Rick and Ada! I definitely want to stop by again.

Backpacking on Mount Carrigain

On Wednesday morning, the Golenski’s and I headed up to New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. We gathered up everything we needed or wanted to backpack up to the top of Mount Carrigain. The hike up is a bit over five miles, but has an elevation gain of around 3,300 feet, most of which starts around 2.5 miles in and continues the rest of the climb.

IMG_5374

Andrew Golenski on the left and Jeff Golenski on the right.


We took my Jeep to the trailhead and, armed with plenty of dehydrated food, cliff bars, and water, started heading up the rocky staircase of a trail.
IMG_5397

Most of the trail looked like this.


We made it to the top in about four to five hours with plenty of stops. We lucked out with the weather on the way up in that it wasn’t too humid, but there was no breeze at all (ugh). One we got there, we made our way up to the 30 foot high tower and had amazing views in every direction as a reward.
IMG_5378 (1)
Yep.

Next, we made camp at the base of the tower in the surrounding trees. There was a bit too much wind to camp up on the tower or we would have. We rehydrated our meals and relaxed for a bit waiting until around 9:30 or 10:00 to head back up to the tower to take some photos of the stars.
DSC02378
Once it was dark, we took some sleeping pads up to the tower along with our cameras and snacks. It was unbelievable what we can see. I can’t remember actually being able to see the Milky Way with my bare eyes just by looking up. I can’t stress how cool it was to be up there viewing the sky. Andrew got some music going and then Jeff spent some time showing me how to do these long exposures. I never got anything nearly as cool or sharp as his photos, but I think I did okay for my first time messing with this stuff.

In the morning, I headed back up to grab some last photos of the hazy mountains before we packed up and got a little artsy with them.

We packed up and headed out after spending some time dismantling our campsite and making dang sure we had stirred our fire entirely out. It was a much easier hike down with plenty of breeze and light cloud cover. I had just barely enough water to make it down (though there were plenty of creeks around to filter and refill our water bottles if needed).

I want to thank both Andrew and Jeff for being my guides on this mountain. It was an excellent adventure with great people. I would definitely do it again.
Phew! Pretty dang fun week so far. 🙂

Fall River mountain biking

This morning I headed with Jeff Golenski to the second quarry I’ve visited in the last few weeks in two different states with two different modes of transportation. To put that in perspective, I can’t recall going to any quarries before these two. We ended riding 15.5 miles in about two hours. It wasn’t particularly hard, but had tons of fun puddles to jump around a few nice steep gravel climbs and descents.

IMG_5346

Copicut Reservior


Beaches, caterpillars, and sunburns in New Jersey

Two weeks ago, I made it to Linwood, New Jersey where I met up with my family there. I’m keeping this post brief, but the highlights were: stolen credit card info, beach, new phone, beach, jet skiing, beach, seafood, beach, sunburn.
I stayed at my grandma’s beautiful house in Linwood. Her house is a prime example of why it’s called the Garden State.
IMG_5239
This is just her front yard. Her backyard is even more fantastic. One of those trees is a tree she was told could not grow in New Jersey, but somehow she made it happen. In the spring, hundreds of large tulip-like flowers bloom on it.
IMG_5255
This lively caterpillar joined us on the beach to get a bit of a tan. I’m glad none of us touched it because it turns out, this particular caterpillar can cause hives. Nonetheless, it was quite adorable.
IMG_5267
We watched the weekly fireworks show over the Atlantic City boardwalk from a friend’s apartment.

Atlanta, Durham, Philly, and Little Compton

I’m a bit behind, but I wanted to get a quick post up on these places I visited two weeks ago while I was making my way up to Maine. It’s been a whirlwind. Here we go!

Atlanta, GA

I stayed with a good friend of mine in Atlanta and holy smokes was it a nice house. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of anything except for one meal. Sorry! Let’s just say I was preoccupied by the great food, atotes adorbs fish dog, a super goofy Seinfeld dog, tons of beautiful design objects, sweet swag, chicken and waffles with homemade bourbon pecan syrup, and coworking.
Matt took me to some great dining spots including a little restaurant called Bantam & Biddy. It had some pretty phenomenal chicken and waffles.
IMG_5141

Durham, NC

I met up with a friend of mine from Colorado, Dr. Montaño. He showed me all around Durham in the few days I was there. We had several great drinks, went for a hike to an old quarry that is now a great little lake. We met a very friendly guy from Serbia who swam over to us in his american flag speedo to chat a bit. It’s worth noting that everyone in town was going crazy with Pokemon Go. I finally tried it out a bit, but haven’t messed with it much since.


Bonus: we met Burt’s Bees.

Philly

I stopped in Philly for a night on the way up the coast. I stayed with Alx and his family. Alx is a friend and coworker of mine. Lula cooked us up an experimental tamale that was pretty dang good with green chile. We then hung out in their cool yard for a few hours before meeting up with another friend of ours, Tracy, at Tattooed Moms.
IMG_5168
Oh, and both Alx and Tracy trounced me at Pokemon Go when we were at Tattooed Moms.


 

Little Compton, RI

I was only here for one evening and morning, but that didn’t stop me from making some new friends and seeing some really amazing places during the visit. I went biking to the dock, had a wine tasting on the beach during the sunset, took maybe the best shower I’ve ever experienced (outdoors in perfect weather under the stars), had a lobster broil where I learned how to prepare a lobster, and witnessed a master amplifier maker in action using the remarkable amp he made. If you’re looking for a hand-made amp that is definitely one-of-a-kind with a super sweet sound, let me know. 😀

Upcoming: NYC and New Bedford

Let me know if you have any suggestions for places in either NYC or New Bedford that I absolutely need to go to. Thanks!

Seven cities in seven days

Last weekend feels like a month ago. I started in Twin Falls, Montana on Saturday and in seven days made it all the way to Memphis, Tennessee on Friday. while staying in a different city each night.

The cities

Saturday night: Twin Bridges, Montana

I had been staying in Twin Bridges when in Montana. I wrote a post all about it. It was about an eight hour drive to Rapid City so I ended up leaving super early on Sunday morning to arrive in Rapid City before it was dark.

I rode my bike around a few times. It's a large ranch.

I rode my bike around a few times. It’s a large ranch.

Sunday night: Rapid City, South Dakota

When I got there, I immediately headed to the nearby mountain to hit the trail before it got dark. It wasn’t the greatest, but had some nice flowing bits toward the end.

Monday night: Sioux Falls, South Dakota

Sioux Falls had a great coffee shop to work from called Black Sheep Coffee & Roasting. It was low key with high internet speed and really interesting customers. I would definitely head back there at some point. Before I left for Sioux City, I tried to get in a bike ride and found a spot nearby. I had all sorts of trouble there. I had to reinflate my tire after the core of the valve came out. Also, it was insanely hot at that time of day. Also, I was low on water. I ended up with a short, but beautiful ride. It was not super fun mostly because of the heat.

Tuesday night: Sioux City, Indiana

Later that day, I went on another bike ride when I got to my camping spot in Sioux City. It was much more pleasant out by then.
Also, if you happen to be in Sioux City, definitely check out La Juanita. It’s a fantastic little Mexican food place.


 

Wednesday night: Kansas City, Missouri

To continue the trend, it was also very hot in Kansas. I spent all day working from various coffee shops, but nothing I went to was particularly notable. I did find some entertaining restroom graffiti and had a construction crew working in front of me.


 

Thursday night: Springfield, Missouri

I camped out again here, but this time, it was not very pleasant because of the heat. I did get a surprise light show from some fireflies, though, making it worth it. After setting up camp, I went riding around. There was a nearby empty public golf course that made for a great little practice ground for me.
IMG_5114

Friday night Memphis, Tennessee

I arrived in Memphis around 9:30PM and immediately made it to the best ribs place I could find that was still open. I ended up at Charles Vergos’ Rendezvous which, while wasn’t the best ribs I had in Memphis, was definitely a fantastic start. It’s a charming place you find in an alley downtown. It was a perfect welcome to Memphis. I had a blast there.

Traveling and working

My employer, Automattic, is fantastic in that it allows and, to some extend, even encourages nomad living. We all work remotely so if I have a good internet connection, I’m good to work. I’ll elaborate on this in a future post, but wanted to mention that I’m still working full time while traveling around. It’s why I spend most of my day in a coffee shop or someplace with good wifi.

Last weekend feels like a month ago

I just wanted to reiterate that with this pace, it’s hard to have a good reference of time. With all the constant moving, finding places to work, finding places to sleep, finding places to bike, a single day can feel like several.

Jeep gear update: tailgate organizer and rear tire carrier

Tailgate organizer worries

After two months of using the Bestop RoughRider Black Diamond Tailgate Organizer that I wrote about in an earlier post, I have to say I’m a little worried. It’s starting to wear a bit faster than expected. It’s designed so the bags are removable by undoing a little loop and sliding them off a plastic rail. The loop that holds the bags on isn’t doing a great job. It’s sagging just a little. It also has bent up my rubber floor mat, though I’m not super worried about the mat being bent. I have even lightened them further. They have only very lightweight things in the bags like toilet paper, first aid kits, and other emergency items.

Rear tire carrier upgrade

In that earlier post, I mentioned I had installed a high lift jack mount and an antenna mount on the tailgate along with my bike rack. After reading some horror stories about bent hinges and popped welds, I learned that the tailgate of the Jeep is not supposed to hold more than 50 pounds. This includes the spare tire. The spare tire that comes with a Rubicon is a bit over that by itself. I think it’s probably fine on the road, but as much as I’m hitting the trails now, I wanted something a bit sturdier.
I didn’t want to replace my bumper as I quite like its aesthetic. After researching a variety of tailgate tire carriers, I settled on the Maximus 3 tire carrier for a few reasons. Before I get into that, I want to explain why I didn’t get one that attaches to my bumper’s swing point. There are only a few options that work with it and they are either incredibly expensive or they are poorly built and would be pretty unreliable. The Maximus 3 had great reviews and moves the weight from the tailgate to the frame while also opening with the tailgate rather than separate from it. The site says it will hold a 40″ tire and I found out, after chatting with them on the phone, it will handle 300 pounds. Frick yes. It also has two antenna mounts, has an option to carry a high lift jack, an option for a shovel mount (attaches to the high lift jack so not really a tire carrier specific thing, and an option to carry a small pax gas can (or water). I think there may even be more options, but those were the only ones I’m interested in.
I might cover the install in a future post so I won’t get into it. It went fairly smoothly even though the instructions were cryptic at times. Here it is installed and some photos of it in the wild!

Montana

Last week, I had the fortune of spending a week on a ranch near Twin Bridges, Montana. It is an incredible and beautiful ranch right on the Big Hole River. Oh, and I had absolutely no internet or cell reception on the ranch. 📵
We took two days to get there so we could drive up through the Grand Teton and Yellowstone National Parks on the second day. The drive though the parks was worth the extra day of travel.
We stayed at Dubois, Wyoming before we got to the parks. There, I went for a quick bike ride at a shorter trail near town and was pleasantly surprised at how fun it was with a range of jumps and some crazy steep ultra-sharp wall turn switchbacks. The switchbacks were almost a half pipe. Super fun. If you go there, definitely stop in at the Cowboy Cafe for some good food and fantastic pie.


When we headed through the parks the next day, the weather was perfect and the parks were mostly traffic-jam-free. The drive though the parks was definitely worth the extra day of travel. There were plenty of giant birds, some deer, and even a big ol’ bear. I did not attempt a hug.

After Yellowstone, we passed Earthquake Lake (or Quake Lake) near where we saw the first of several massive bald eagles. I found out later Earthquake Lake was formed in 1959 when an earthquake caused the side of a mountain to come down on and kill 28 people who were camping along the shore of the river. It essentially created a dam and formed the lake. Now I’m worried about bear attacks while biking and sides of mountains falling on me when I’m in Montana.
Once we finally made it to the ranch, I ended up fishing all day and listening to stories at night. It’s a pretty great way to spend a week off of work. I ended up catching quite a few fish, but nothing gargantuan. I think the largest trout I caught was 16 inches and the largest whitefish was 18.
There were moose hanging out right where we were fishing so we had to be pretty alert and keep an eye out for them. They are unpredictable, fast, and might charge anyone nearby. When I was fishing in a particularly good hangout for a moose, I had the good sense to make some noise every once in awhile and listen. Sure enough, a big ol’ dang bull moose poked his head out from behind some trees not fifty feet from me. I slowly backed away until I was safely across the fence and no longer keeping the attention of the moose. Fun times.

We did adventure off the ranch one day to fish at a secret spot up a canyon. It was pretty fantastic fishing and we got to hang out with a bald eagle and a wood duck up close and personal. On the way back we took a “shortcut” that put my Jeep to the test on roads that haven’t been maintained or used regularly in years. I discovered an old dilapidated cattle guard (big metal grate over a hole in the ground to keep cows from crossing) that, for some reason, had a six foot deep hole under it and was partially falling in. We went around.

Though, I didn’t take any great photos of wildlife, I did end up seeing three bald eagles, a moose each day, dozens of deer, a wood duck (super cool), several hawks, a field mouse, ten bazillion mosquitos, and a few fish here and there. I’ll try to be better at that in the future, but in the meantime, here’s a picture of neat bugs (mayflies, I think):
IMG_5034
All in all, the trip to Montana was a ton of fun. Now I’m headed southeast to find some good barbecue and will be in a different city every night this week. Heck yeah.
IMG_5037

Goodbye, Colorado

Well, it’s finally happening! Today the real nomading begins. I’m heading out today to Yellowstone and then on to Montana. After that, I head east! 😀
This is where things get interesting. I won’t have as many people around me to lean on for places to stay or to hang out with. I’m think I’m pretty well prepared for it with several backup plans for various scenarios.
I’m going to be staying with friends, trying Couchsurfing, and saving Airbnb/hotels for when there aren’t other available options. I can also camp or sleep in my Jeep fairly comfortably if I need to.
As far as food, I have a cooler to keep some food around so I don’t have to eat out all the time, though I will probably be doing a bit of that since some of the cities I’m visiting will have such great food.
For work, I’m planning on hitting coffee shops, coworking spaces, and having access to data via hot spot. I’m a little worried about this in a few places I’m visiting, but I think it will be okay. I don’t need the fastest internet for most of what I do.
I have a rough goal to bike every place I stay at and hike in the places with exceptional hiking spots.
Here’s a super rough list of places I’ll be.

  • Chicago
  • Memphis
  • Atlanta
  • Durham
  • Philly
  • Boston
  • Portland, ME
  • Margate City
  • NYC
  • New Bedford
  • Ithaca
  • Montreal
  • Whistler, BC

I’ll eventually make an itinerary page that I keep updated so it’s easier to see where I’m at and when I might be in your town. I’m also messing with a tracking device so you can stalk me in near realtime. I’ll probably leave that off unless I’m on interesting trails or am really bored.
To all of my friends in Colorado, I’ll miss the heck out of all of you so text me a bunch. All selfies are welcome. I’ll be back later this year. Probably close to or during fall.
Adios, Colorado!