I do not know how many times I have backpacked the Lakeshore Trail in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore over the past couple of decades. I have gone in both directions many times. This year, with 13 other people many with little to no backpacking experience, I would travel the trail once again from Sand Point to Sable Falls. This is something of an annual trip over Memorial Day Weekend though I do not always get to attend. 

The trip would turn out to be a very fine one even with some trials and tribulations thrown in. We lucked out with the weather and everyone had a good time. The audio you are listening too will give you a sense of what we experienced.  You can find more photos in these photo albums which have the same photos but display differently (Google, Apple).

There is also a video you can enjoy here on YouTube.

Direct download: Pictured_Rocks_National_Lakeshore_May_2018.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:48am EDT

Wheatland Music Festival Main StageI don't know how many Wheatland Music Festivals I have attended. I know many who have been going for decades. It is a a festival full of music, workshops, dance, and good times. You might not enjoy all the music that you can find but chances are good you will find something you will like. In this episode you will hear music from Bruce Moksly and the Mountain Drifters, Don Julen's Mr. Natural Project, Ruthie Foster, Session Americana, Lunasa, and Jayme Stone'sLomax Project. There was considerably more than just this.

Direct download: Wheatland-Music-Festival-2017.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:28pm EDT

The Waimangu Volcanic Valley features numerous geothermal features. Mount Terawera erupted June 1886 destroying everything in the area and totally reshapedpp q the land. Lake Rotomahana grew 20 times in size and became North Island's deepest lake. The famed pink and white terraces vanished beneath the water or were destroyed. The world's largest hot pool, Fryingpan Lake, was born. Today a fantastic mixture of re-emergent flora and fauna combine with the landscape to create a stunning special place.

More re photos and video coming  

 

Direct download: Waimangu-Volcanic-Valley.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:21pm EDT

The Coast to Coast Trail runs between Waitemata Harbor and Manukau Harbor in the city of Auckland, New Zealand. It is 10 miles long and does have some modest climbing , mostly up and then down Mt. Eden, the local high point. This is an urban walk but don't let that fool you. We saw a lot and were very pleased with this hike through neighborhoods and parks. Enjoy the audio diary.

You can learn more about the trail in many places. Here is just one that includes a map.

Coast to Coast Trail Infow.aucklandcouncil.govt.nz/en/parksfacilities/walkingtracks/pages/coasttocoast.aspx

 

Direct download: New-Zealand-Coast-to-Coast-Trail.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:32am EDT

We have now been in Auckland for two days.
Our first day we spent wandering around town: visiting the harbor, walking through some parks including part of what might be the largest park in Auckland - Auckland Domains -and getting a sense of the city. Once you get off of the main streets things get quieter and there certainly are neighborhoods to be found. One thing that struck us is that the vast majority of the people we are seeing seem to be fairly young. I'm not sure how many of them are locals and how many of them are tourists, students from abroad, or workers from abroad but the general trend seems to be towards younger people. We have also noticed a large number of people especially from Pacific Rim countries which I suppose make sense if those people are coming here to work, travel, or study. Our second day we explored a little bit more of the city and also took the harbor tour; featured in the bonus material you'll find at the end of the podcast. Both days the weather has been A bit cloudy and warm. When the sun does break through the clouds it feels quite a bit warmer. So far, we have thoroughly enjoyed our time here. We have even managed to find some rather nice places to eat which sometimes is a challenge for us.

 

Direct download: New-Zealand-days-1-2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:52am EDT

Amsterdam Day 1 - August 5, 2016
Our first day in Amsterdam has come to a close. We spent it exploring beyond the immediate neighborhood. Our apartment is located near museums including the Van Gogh Museum and the Rijksmuseum. Somewhat farther away we found , in due time, Central Station and even the location of the apartment Mom, Dad and I stayed in 16 years ago when last here. Yesterday we spent a couple of hours exploring the immediate surroundings; today we wandered farther afield. Amsterdam is certainly walkable but you had best pay attention to the countless cyclists and motor scooter riders. While the vast majority of them follow the same rules of the road that cars do their bike lane is right next to the sidewalk and easy to stray into. It is certainly an extra challenge for anyone with low vision , let alone blind people; walking here can be a real trial even though traffic lights have audible warnings for when you can cross or not.

We walked around for several hours with notable breaks to take in the Van Gogh Museum. He certainly led a troubled life and yet during his productive career, just ten years, he would have a large impact on the world of painting. It is a remarkable museum even if it is somewhat crowded.

Later in the day, a pleasantly warm partly cloudy afternoon, we took a canal boat tour. You get a bit of a sense of the city's age when doing that. You pick up a few tidbits of information along the way too. It is a nice change of pace.

We wrapped our day up with a jazz concert at the Concert-Gebouw. That was a very fine way to top off the first full day here in Amsterdam.

Direct download: Amsterdam_Day_1_July_2016.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:19am EDT

Andy and Ken at Sentinal Campground with our full packs on for the first time.SEKI Adventure Show Notes

Part 1

Andy and I start our adventure in Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks (SEKI). There are many reasons a trip can be an adventure and only some of them ares strictly physical. I certainly would experience several of them during the trip. In part 1 we get things going from our flights from Michigan to California, initial meanderings through the mountains in search of a campsite and stove fuel, and then the actual backpacking portion of the trip itself. 

Getting deeper into the mountains. With the rain coming down now and then sometimes things seem better in monochrome.

We saw this huge bear from easily a quarter mile away. This picture was taken a little closer than that but not a lot. He is a huge animal.You can see the complete trip journal in the A Wandering Knight blog (awanderingknight.blogspot.com). Photos are presented in several different albums and you can find those referenced from the trip journal. Video will be coming soon.

You can find complete photo albums that document the whole trip in Apple (doesn't show photo captions and EXIF data), Flicrk, and Google (same photos different presentations).

 

Direct download: SEKI_May_2016_part_1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:57pm EDT

Top of the Park Wraps Up - Ann Arbor Summer Festival 2016

Top of the Park has wrapped up for another year. You can get more of a sense of what this year was like from the previous podcast (there are also some others in the queue if you look back far enough). In this one I feature bits of music from Shari Kane and Dave Steele, Whit Hill and the Postcards, and George Beddard and the Kingpins.

Direct download: Ann_Arbor_Summer_Festival_2016_Wrapping_Up.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:17am EDT

Ann Arbor Summer Festival 2016

Ann Arbor Summer Festival runs for the last three weeks in June. It actually runs through the July 4 weekend. While the festival features numerous paid ticketed shows at the Power Center the real meat and potatoes of the event are, I feel, to be found at the Top of the Park. There you'll find free music of various types from singer songwriters, country, intriguing bands that defy easy categorization, and rock 'n roll. Events for kids as well as other special events happen there too. There is also a wide assortment of food available. Music heard here includes: Magdalen Fossum, Annie and Rod Capps, Annebelle Road, RFD Boys, and Hoodang.

Direct download: Ann_Arbor_Summer_Festival_2016_old.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:06am EDT

West Park hosts a variety of events in the summer. The Penny Seats Theater (penny's eats.org) are doing two shows this year. Now, and the weekend of June 30, 2016, they're doing a version of The Cantebury Tales.

Direct download: The_Cantebury_Tales_in_West_Park.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 1:00am EDT

Join me, Andy, Elwira, and Luna (the dog) on a camping weekend in mid-Spring on the North Country Trail. We do trail maintenance and a bunch of hiking along the NCT in the area of Baldwin, Michigan.

Learn more about the NCT at the northcountrytraitl.org website.

Direct download: North_Country_Trail_Spring_2016.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:50pm EDT

42nd Wheatland Music Festival Day 1
Direct download: 42nd_Wheatland_Music_Festival_Day_1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:25am EDT

It has been a very long time since I went to a major league baseball game. Since Andy had to work on Thursday, just before we would head up north for our backpacking weekend at Pictuted Rocks National Lakeshore, I was able to go to a Detroit Tigers baseball game at Comerica Park.

Direct download: Play_Ball_May_2015.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 8:20pm EDT

On the weekend of January 24 and 25th, 2015 I joined nine other adventurous kayakers to paddle a stretch of the Manistee River between Tippy DAm and Rainbow Bend. It would be a good adventure with plenty to learn and experience for all. The trip was organized by the Fortune Bay Expedition Team.

 

Additional photos can be found here

A more detailed written account is on my blog

Direct download: 40_Alley_of_the_Glaciers.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:57pm EDT

Birch Grove Schoolhouse
Photo by Paul Haan

For a few minutes the sun broke through the overcast. It didn't last long but was nice to see for the time it was visible.

This is the 16th annual November GreatLakesHikes Gathering. The weekend before firearms deer season opens here in Michigan members of the GreatLakesHikes Yahoo email group and others gather at a former one-room schoolhouse near White Cloud, Michigan for a weekend of hiking, eating, chatting, and general good fun. This would be one of the smaller gatherings we have had but it was no less fun because of that.

The Gathering is an annual event that is organzied by members of the Great Lakes Hikes Yahoo email group. While the group isn't nearly as active as it used to be we still do use it to talk about hiking and other activities mostly within Michigan. Many of the GLH members are also members of the North Country Trail Association. The trails we typically hike when at the Gathering are maintained by the Western Michigan Chapter of which I am a member. If you enjoy hiking the NCT please do consider joining a trail chapter.

Here are the photos for the GLH Gathering.

Beaver Dam
We decided to do a shorter-than-usual hike compared to most of the long hikes of Gatherings of previous years. We hiked the North Country Trail from Condon Lake to Leaf Lake and at that point people made decisions about what to do. My group of 7 would continue along Leaf Lake before going off-trail to cross to the other side of the lake and return off-trail back towards Condon Lake and the NCT and either the cars parked there or further on to Highbanks Lake where the last of us (including me) would end our hike. The bushwhack would include a slog across an improvised jerry-built bridge of long branches and then a pause at this large beaver dam. Durning the afternoon wind whipped through the trees and it sprinkled on and off including a bit of sleet.
Ken on New Bridge
Photo By Paul Haan

At the end of September the Western Michigan chapter of the North Country Trail Association finished one of many trail projects. Here they built a bridge over this slow moving black as night water near the White River. It's a blustery afternoon sporting a temperature in the upper 30s. While the rain is north of us my rain jacket was nice to have to block the wind that got to us through the bare trees.
Direct download: GLH_Gathering_2014.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:37pm EDT

Photo 358

today July 11, 2014 was the 20th rolling sculpture car show here in Ann Arbor. I have not been to all of them by any means but I do try to go when I can. Even though I, naturally since I am legally blind, do not drive. There is something special about seeing a plethora of cars from a variety of decades. I think part of what makes car shows like this special is the chance to see how the styles of cars have changed over the years. It also gives us a chance to reflect back on how our society has changed over time after all the styles of the cars affect our society our society also fixed the styles of the car. 

 

Forgive any odd quirks in the text of this web post. I am using dictation to creatwe it as I broke two fingers of my left hand last weekend and typing therefore is impossible. Fortunately I didn't need to type to create this podcast audio.

Direct download: rolling_sculprure.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 11:25pm EDT

On the weekend of June 7-8, 2014 the College of Wooster hosted its annual alumni class reunion weekend. This would be the 25th year reunion for my class of 1989. It would also be the first time I have attended a class reunion. I've never been endowed with a large amount of what you might call school spirit. Nor did I actually have that many close connections with much of the class. In fact, the people I know best all live here in Michigan and not necessarily that far away (hich doesn't mean I see them that often). My expectations were not set to high as I am not a good conversationalist as far as general chit-chat goes. But I hoped to get something positive out of the weekend and I think I did. I hope you enjoy this little audio postcard. I apologize for some of the audio quality being a bit rough. The bulk of the audio was recorded using my iPhone and a new microphone, the Zoom IQ5, and I am definitely still learning its quirks. While the field recording quality isn't up to top tier standards I think you'll get a sense of what the weekend was like. And if the audio doesn't do it for you perhaps the photos will. My thanks to Paul Potts for letting me share his photos. 

 

Ken Knight at College of WoosterGood morning, Wooster. Ken Knight waiting for the parade of the classes. The parade will have classes dating back to 1949. lasses come every 5th year (1949, 1954, 1959, and so on through 1989 and ending with 2009).
Pipers Lead the ParadeThe parade for the classes is being lead by wooster bagpipers. At least I assume they're affiliated with the College of Wooster bagpipe band as they're wearing MacLeod tartan kilts. Wooster actually, as I understand it, doesn't really have Scottish roots but somehow that cultural identity got adopted by the college and it now certainly infuses sports as well as the band.

Pipers Lead the ParadeCollege of Wooster MascotsI can't recall the name of the mascot on the left but the fellow on the right is Wooster's Fight Scot.

 

The photos can also be seen in this Flickr album.

Direct download: 25th_Class_Reunion.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:07pm EDT

Over the last few years I've joined John Lawton and Andy Mytys and we've hiked portioned of the North Country Tail, the NCT, in Michigan. The NCT in Michigan runs for about 1,100 miles using paved roads, dirts roads, rails to trails, two-tracks, and actual hiking trails. For this hike, the first weekend of November, we didn't have anyone to help us so we had to use 2 cars. This meant setting up a car shuttle and hiking leapfrog style between the cars. Doing this we were able to hike the 28-29 miles from just south of Prairieville to Middleville. We weren't quite sure why type of weather we would get. It seemed that we might actually have to cancel the hike due to severe storms but the weather report moderated to showers with highs in the mid-upper 40s and a low around freezing. For a variety of reasons I did not do much recording during the hike though I do have several thoughts I want to share.

More photos can be found in the Flickr Photo Album here. or if you prefer the Google photo album here.Captions associated with the photos in this podcast

Ken near Prairieville Municipal Park
It is a crisp overcast autumn morning at the Prairieville Municipal Park. The temperature is probably in the low 40s with little wind to bother us. The threat of rain, we think, is past. It promises to be a fine day for hiking even with the first several miles being a road walk (two line paned and dirt roads).

Photo by Andy Mytys
Prairieville Township Parker Road Park
At the start of our overnight hiking trip along the North Country Trail. The road walk will cover probably close on 8 miles of paved and dirt roads. They're fairly quiet roads with farms and other homes on each side. But what I think we noticed most at first were the large numbers of sandhill cranes that flew on by during the morning.

Photo by Andy Mytys
Deep Lake
Deep Lake not long after sunrise. The campground is rather large with campsites that are big in their own right. The night until around 04:45 or so was actually quite warm. But then the temperature plunged to about 30°F. Before then it stayed fairly warm in the low 40s even when a bit of rain came through around 03:00.
Hall Lake
The clouds let the sunlight break through now and then providing us with brilliant splashes of fall color (OK, maybe I pumped it just a tad). Andy stands on the shore of Hall Lake not far from our car and the end of the first day of hiking. We set up camp at Deep Lake Campground.
Sugar_Maple
Fall in Michigan's Lower Peninsula can be very pleasant.

Photo by Andy Mytys
Forest and Fields
Now and then we would pass a grassy area like this. I'm not sure how many were working farm fields and how many just natural glades though I suspect more were the former than the latter. When in the State Game or Recreation Areas we were in rolling forests dotted with lakes.
Hot_Cocoa
The Prairieville Family Inn, I believe that's the right name, is a great place to have dinner. I expect breakfast and lunch are just as good. The food, especially the pie, is more than enough to make a tired hiker happy. Just look at the hot chocolate Andy is having. Another nice feature of stopping at a place like this is meeting those people who work there. They first thought we were hunters scouting for the upcoming rifle deer season but when they learned we were hikers they shared stories of meeting Strider (Luke Jordan) who had stopped here on in thru-hike of the NCT (now completed). They learned a lot from him including the fact that the NCT exists (never having known what those blue blazes were until Luke explained).

Photo by Andy Mytys
Thornapple_Flooding
The last 3 miles and change of the hike into Middleville are along a Rails to Trails paved path that arrows through this flooding. It is the Thornapple Trail and their are some "rules" associated with it that are obeyed only kind of sort of.

Photo by Andy Mytys
Direct download: Prairieville_to_Middleville_Hike.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 7:42pm EDT

On May 5 the third annual Water Hill Music Festival took place. I spent a very enjoyable afternoon strolling around the hilly neighborhood soaking up plenty of fine music. When you get 100 musical acts together throughout several blocks of area to perform throughout a warm lazy afternoon you can only catch a smattering of music. But even that little bit is enough when you hear the joy and lessure people bring to wht they are doing. Performers ran the spectrum from amateur to professional and all were having fun. Events like this bring out the best in most people as musicians play, families gatehr, people catch up with old friends, and a sense of community is enhanced. I hope you enjoy this audio postcard from the event and I apologize for the little hiccoughs that appear now and then.

This was a bit of an experiement as the podcast was pretty much completely assembled and edited on an iPhone.

Direct download: WHM_2013.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 6:14pm EDT

Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore sits on the southern shore of Lake Superior in Alger County, Michigan. For the last several years a trip loosely organized by the Western Michigan chapter of the North Country Trail Association has gone to hike the full length of the Lakeshore Trail over the Memorial Day Weekend. The Lakeshore Trail runs for 42 miles. It is an easy hiking trail as these things go with just a smattering of small ups and downs sprinkled about. The trail spends a great deal of time within easy sight of Lake Superior. This means walkers often have wonderful views of the lake in all its moods. When you don't have fine views of the lake you may have the pleasure of looking at huge stretches of wildflowers and richly endowed forests.

Direct download: Pictured_Rocks_National_Lakeshore_-_May_2011.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:57pm EDT

Hollerfest has been running now for 5 years. Put on the by the King family on their farm, Frog Holler Farm, the festival is an intimate gathering for performers and patrons alike. The music is varied and the atmosphere is congenial. I joined several friends this year, at long last, for the festival weekend and had a wonderful time.

I had not planned on doing a podcast for this festival so I apologize for any audio quirks as all I had with me was my iPhone. I think it turned out rather well. My heartfelt thanks to all those who gave me a bit of their time to take part in this podcast. I especially want to thank the bands I recorded under-the-radar as it were. In order that you heard them (I hope):

1 Appleseed Collective

2 Dorkestra

3 String Cheese

4 Frank Allison

5 Nutshell

6 Blue Party

7 Griff's Jams

8 Isosceles

9 Natalie Mae

10 Lac La Belle

11 Nervous But Excited

12 Bliss

13 Creole du Nord

Direct download: Hollerfest_2011.m4a
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:54am EDT

Direct download: 2009-06-30_Breakheart_Pond.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:00pm EDT

#13: We're Not 25th

The first geocaching rally was off to a rollicking start on an overcast, snow bound, January afternoon in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The energy and enthusiasm of the teams was undeniable. People wanted to win. Even our little team of myself, Laurence and Marla, and Paul wanted to at least not finish last. Lar, Marla, and I have been geocaching for several years but we are hardly power cachers,having logged fewer than 50 finds in that time. Compare that against some folks who likely find that many caches in a routine day of geocaching and you get a sense of how we go about things. Our goal: not to finish 25th out of 25th. Paul, a long time friend through hiking and camping, joined our merry band as we were in his neck of the woods.

I never did get an official arrival time but I believe it was just short of an hour. Probably closer to 55 minutes. We finished fifteenth. If I have any regrets it is only that we spent a lot of time in the car and very little searching out of the car. But then driving is not something I relish. Events like this are meant to be social and perhaps the actual searching should be secondary. From that perspective the Geo Rally was a huge success and we certainly had fun.

Photos

Additional photos can be found here.

Sites Of Interest

Direct download: 13_Michigan_Geocaching_Rally.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:46am EDT

#11: The Gathering, 2008, Part 2

The Gathering is held at the old Schoolhouse near White Cloud, Michigan. The Schoolhouse, run by the Western Michigan North Country Trail Chapter, has served us well over the years. Although we were expecting iffy weather we knew this would be another fine Gathering.

The Gathering draws people for a quick visit or the whole weekend. It also sometimes happens to fall on a couple group members birthdays though this year would not be one of those times. This year marks the tenth gathering and although only a handful of people have managed to attend all the of them, including myself, it is no less special. In fact it is a remarkable testament that the event has endured this long given the size and spread out nature of the group that spawned the event. For various reasons this Gathering would be a bit smaller than some in the past, but quantity alone does not make an event special. Quality is key and the quality of the people at this year's Gathering was high.

We spent Friday evening catching up with each other sometimes inside the Schoolhouse and sometimes outside around the fire John and Paul had built. The next several hours, before the weather really began to close in on us, were spent in enjoyable conversation. Saturday would bring a different world.

The long hike group which would include me did a hike of about 11 miles. We started at the NCT trail crossing of 11 Mile Road (Newago County) and hiked the trail to it's intersection with the Birch Grove Trail. From there we took the Birch Grove Trail to where it crossed 5 Mile Road. We then followed the road the remaining distance to the Schoolhouse.

After a potluck dinner of usual massive proportions featuring everything from homemade pickles to great locally made apple pies we settled down to conversations and play. Play this year included another Texas Hold 'Em tournament and this time a Haan family member did not win. Andy would take home the lion's share of the pot this year with Matt breaking even. The remaining 5, including me, lost our $5 buy in but we all had fun so that hardly mattered. People drifted in and out but eventually the long day would catch up to us all and those of us sleeping in shelters outside would slip on our wet shoes and slip out into the frigid, though warmer than it had been in some years, night air to find our tents and a good night's sleep.

We'd spend around three hours on the NCT and within the Coolbaugh Natural Area. This hike is a varied one featuring forest of oak and pine, prairie like areas, areas with ponds and even a couple creeks. When walking the trails in Coolbaugh we followed the red sole blazes that marked the trail. These are soles from countless shoes.

Sites Of Interest

Additional Photos and Hiking Map
North Country Trail Assoication
Great Lakes Hikes Group
The Schoolhouse
Coolbaugh Natural Area

Direct download: 10th_glh_gathering_part_2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 12:42am EDT

#10: The Gathering, 2008, Part 1

It was a glorious day to maintain our section of trail. This is the Highbanks section of trail that runs between 13 Mile and 16 Mile roads in Newago County about 6.3 miles of North Country Trail. The section rolls through a passing of Manistee National Forest passing by several lakes over its length, along ridge lines, and a few slightly wetter areas. It is one of the prettier section of trail and over the past few years we have whipped into shape. We all maintain the new Highbanks Campground connector trail which we had a hand in scouting and building earlier this year. To do proper trail maintenance you really need to come out three times a year, more if the trail warrants it. Autumn is an ideal time for us because we can roll our trail maintenance into the long weekend before firearms deer hunting season opens when the Great Lakes Hikes hiking group plus a few friends from outside of the group, who are always welcome to come, hold our annual Schoolhouse Gathering. This year would be our tenth such gathering at the Western Michigan Chapter Schoolhouse.

Over the next few hours we would scurry down the rest of our segment of trail, 6.8 miles of trail in all, touching up a blaze or two, removing a couple downed trees, and doing some minimal pruning. It was the fastest trail work day I think we have ever had We were walking back along the forest road that parallels the trail just to the west by mid-afternoon. The sun was still a bit above the horizon when we returned to John's car and drove to the Schoolhouse to join our fellow GLHer for the tenth annual Gathering.

The Gathering is held at the old Schoolhouse near White Cloud, Michigan. The Schoolhouse, run by the Western Michigan North Country Trail Chapter, has served us well over the years and even though we were expecting iffy weather we knew this would be another fine Gathering. In part two join me and my friends as we celebrate fall in Michigan inside and out.

Sites Of Interest

North Country Trail Assoication - www.northcountrytrail.org

Special Note: An enhanced version, that is a version with embedded photos, of this episode is here.

Direct download: 10_glh_gathering_2008_part_1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:49pm EDT

#9: Wheatland Music Festival, 2008

On the second weekend of September for the past 35 years their has been a music festival held near the town of Remus, Michigan. The Wheatland Music Festival is an exciting varied event that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. I've been a couple of times, still a newbie compared to some people I know who have been dozens of times. I've plenty to still see and learn but that will have to wait for the 36th festival next September.

One thing that makes Wheatland Music Festival special is that they feature a broad array of musical styles. They also tap into things associated with music, most notably, as with the group you hear in the background—Sole Impact—dance.

Their is a lot that goes on at Wheatland. You have the Main Stage, Centennial Stage, and the Dance Stage which represent the big three. Then you have the massive Kids Hill area plus a stage for kids shows, workshop stages, an Open Stage pavilion, and this only covers the "official" music scene. People run drum circles and jam sessions all over the place. You have the artisans marketplace featuring arts and crafts of all sorts to explore as well.

Throughout the podcast you've heard music from some of the performers. Music heard includes the Pine Leaf Boys, Sole Impact, Crooked Still, The Refugees, Bichini Bia Congo Dance Theater Company, David Honeyboy Edwards, Tom Graves and Cherokee, and the Cherryhomes Family. A complete list of the performers on the Main Stage, which doesn't represent everyone who performed at Wheatland, can be found in the show notes. You can learn more about the festival itself as well as the many other activities the Wheatland Music Organization does at the Wheatland Music Organization website.

Main Stage Performers

Friday
Pine Leaf Boys, Tim Graves and Cherokee, David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, Sole Impact, The Freight Hoppers, Slide (Ireland)

Saturday
Tim Graves and Cherokee, Tarbox Ramblers, Pine Leaf Boys, The Chicken Chokers, David 'Honeyboy' Edwards, Slide, Dale Watson, Cheryl Wheeler, Bichini Bia Congo Dance Theater Company, The Refugees, Crooked Still

Sunday
Gospel Sing, The Refugees, Dale Watson, Cheryl Wheeler, The Chicken Chokers, Crooked Still, Sole Impact, The Cherryholmes Family

Sites of Interest

www.wheatlandmusic.org (Whatland Music Organization)

Direct download: 9_Wheatland_Music_Festival_2008.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:05pm EDT

#8: An Autumn Clasic-Corn Maze Visit

Our group is out this blustery late October day celebrating a birthday of a friend. He's passing a prime number, the last one before he turns 40 a few years from now. He came up with the idea to visit the corn maze at Talladay Farms and a handful of his friends including myself were able to come out and join the fun.

One of the joys of the fall season, even on a windy and hence somewhat nippy, about 50 degrees before the wind chill, day is being able to sit down with friends over freshly made doughnuts with cups of fresh hot spiced cider. Wasem Fruit Farm is just a hot, skip, and a jump from the corn maze at Talladay Farms and we thoroughly enjoyed our afternoon repast.

Sites of Interest

Talladay Farms
Wasem Fruit Farm

Direct download: 8_Walking_A_Corn_Maze.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 2:37pm EDT

#7: North Manitou Island, August 2008, Part 2

North Manitou island is approximate 7-3/4 miles long and 4-1/4 miles wide. The highest point on the island is 1,001 feet above sea level and therefore 428 feet above Lake Michigan. That high point is somewhere on the northwest corner of the island and we would not visit it this trip we probably were not that far from the high point on the first day on our walk along the trail to the Pot Holes. The group would divide a couple times the first day with some heading straight to the campsite we had agreed upon near Swenson's Barn, the rest hiking along the Pot Holes trail to the overlook on the norhtern shore where we gazed down upon Lake Michigan and then divided once more with some retracing their steps and a group consisting of myself, Doug, and Andy scurrying down to the warm sandy beach and walking the 3-1/2 to 4 miles of beach to reach the campsite. We would have several hours to laze around camp, swim in the cool but not frigid, waters of Lake Michigan, relax, and just have fun. With the setting of the sun the bugs grew a bit more annoying but unbearable. We would spend some time watching the stars peak out as we sat on the cool sand listening to the waves of Lake Michigan lap against the beach. The last of us, Andy and I, would settle down for bed a little after 11:00PM—pretty late for a backpacking trip especially when you consider we hadn't slept much the night before.

Our full day would include exploration of Sweonson's Barn, a long lazy lunch near Fredickson's Place, and then exploration of lesser visited parts of the island by some of us. That would include some wonderful bushwhacking up steep sandy hills to gain great views by Old Mount Baldy. We wold also walk along beaches of rich sand and deep Zebra Muscle beds and through dense woods down by Dimmick Point. The day would end with the group re-united near the old cemetery near the old estate of the Bournique's.

The final day would go prety smoothly except for an accident Jim would have on the ferry before we even left the dock. While that would take some time to sort out and cause concern for us all everything would work out well in the end.

Sites of Interest

The National Park Service site for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is at www.nps.gov/slbe. Information for North Manitou can be found here. I have also written about previous trips I have taken to both the mainland portion of Sleeping Bear Dunes and North Manitou Island and you can find those journals on my main website.

Photos

Additional photos can be found at A Wandering Knight. (direct link)

Direct download: 7__North_Manitou_Island_August_2008_Part_2.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 3:34am EDT

#6: North Manitou Island, August 2008, Part 1

North Manitou Island, the larger of the two islands, is a designated wilderness area. The only real way to reach it if you are not a serious paddler yourself, and the paddle from the mainland to the island should not be under-estimated as Lake Michigan is a serious body of water worthy of considerable respect, is via the Manitou Island Transit Ferry. Today the very full ferry made the hour long crossing on fairly smooth seas, but for some the ride was not quite smooth enough and I am sure they felt an even greater sense of joy upon reaching the dock at the old village remains, the one small bit on non-wilderness designated area, on North Manitou Island. The real trip would begin at this point, just around noon, on a glorious summer day.

We planned to stay somewhere near Swenson's Barn which is located on the northwestern shore of the island. A direct hike, across the island center and then north, to the region we wanted to visit is just a few miles. With that in mind our group would split up with the bulk of it trekking down the unmaintained trail that winds through the "potholes" to an overlook above Lake Michigan. At that point we would divide once more with one group retracing their steps and hiking to the camping area we had settled upon while the others, including myself, would take the more round-about trek walking along the beach to the same location. Even the longest trek, the around the beach version, was probably only about 8 or so miles of easy hiking. Easy and lovely.

Our campsite was, and I've stayed at several on North Manitou, superb. We had easy access to the lovely fresh waters of Lake Michigan and there was so much room that had their been others around we could have easily been spaced far enough apart so as not to notice them. If only the bugs hadn't pestered us the night would have been perfect.

Sites of Interest

The National Park Service site for Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore is at www.nps.gov/slbe. Information for North Manitou can be found here. I have also written about previous trips I have taken to both the mainland portion of Sleeping Bear Dunes and North Manitou Island and you can find those journals on my main website.

Photos

Additional photos can be found at A Wandering Knight. (direct link)

Music

Music came from The Podsafe Music Network by Artist Hello Dave with Michigan and from the group Falling You with their song Tribe which can be found at Magnatune.

Direct download: 6_North_Manitou_Island_August_2008_Part_1.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 9:55pm EDT

#5: TGO Challenge 2008 Part 5: Tarfside to Dunnottar Castle

Part 5 of my journey across Scotland. From Tarfside to the coast and then Dunnottar Casle required me to walk about 53 kilometers. While the journey can certainly be done in two days I stretched it out to 2 and a half days. In some ways this bit of hiking was the most challenging and most frustrating of any I would do. My meandering travels especially in the vicinity ending not far west of Burn of Badymicks (starting west of grid refernce NO557 812) slowed me down to a crawl. The three deer fences did me no favors either costing me considerable time finding secure spots to climb over them. What should have been an easy 16 or so kilometers ended up comsuming the better part of the day. The kilometers I would cover after my afternoon tea at Charr Bothy themselves were no bull of cherries seeing me go the wrong way more than once especially when I went the wrong way around a fence into a farm field trying to figure out how to cross the Water of Dye.

My annoyances would continue as I went through Heatheryhaughs. What was most irritating about that little area was not so much my losing of the trail and having to bash through high heathery and then up Heathery Hill was the considerable time I wasted trying to figure out the right path through the fields and barbed wire fences. Had I gone the right waya round the old buildings (along the right side, not the left) things would have been so much better and I would have saved a substantial amount of time. Ironically it was the works of man that caused me the most headaches not the natural terrain itself which was merely physically demanding but at least I was always going the right way. I certainly could have pushed on into Stonehaven after passing Mergie. But I settled in at Mergie for a rather early night and short walk along the roads the following morning into Stonehaven and from there Dunnottar Castle.

That final walk through gorse lined fields that contained cows and bulls was OK until I reached the seemingly deadly A90. If a speeding car had stopped to ask if I needed a lift I would have said, "Yes, please just enough to ferry me across the awful road." I was very happy to meet up with fellow Challengers, after considerable dithering on my part at the A90, and cross that road with them.

Though climax of the day remains the dipping of my feet in the ocean surf off the beach at Stonehaven. While the stroll with John and Steph to Dunnottar Castle was nice and the castle itself looks incredible it was a bit anti-cimatic for me.

Places I stayed at:

I had not booked lodging in Montrose. I really should have done so while I was in Braemar. Had I not lucked out and learned that Mark Alverez was willing to share his room at Murray Lodge with me I may well have ended up setting up camp at some campsite. Murray Lodge was nicee nough and just a few minutes walk from Challenge Control at the Park Hotel.

Sites of interest:

You can find some of my trip journals for this trip at A Wandering Knight Blog. Other journals and much more at my main personal site.

The official site of the TGO Challenge.

Direct download: 5_part_5_Tarfside_to_Dunnottar_Castle.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:17pm EDT

#4: TGO Challenge 2008 Part 4: Braemar to Tarfside

Part 4 of my journey across Scotland. This section would prove, in some ways, my most difficult. The walk out of Braemar was the long way around on the highway to Invercould Bridge but at least I got to share much of it with another Challenger which livened things up. Even my navigation error wasn't a really awful thing in retrospect as it just sent me along a more northern route than I'd planned. But my troubles along the narrow, barely a hunter trail, path just after Gelder Shiel really bummed me out. Falling into the stream wasn't even the worst of that. It was upsetting but I felt more irked by my meandering around the holiday homes a couple miles west of Spital of Glenmuick.

Being able to share the hike across the mountains around Shielin of Mark made that crossing much easier. I'm confident that I would have made it now, especially the cross-country section that leads from the bothy to the summit of Muckle Cairn which seemed easier than the stretch between the end of the path along Allt Darrarie and the cross-country stretch to Shielin of Mark bothy. The whole stretch though seems full of places you could easily fall into holes if not paying attention so I am certain I'd have made the crossing much more slowly. The walk from Muckle Cairn to Tarfside through the soaring peaks and along Loch Lee was enjoyable.

Places I stayed at:

During this stretch I did not expect that I would be staying under a roof. But as luck would have it I was given the chance to snag sleeping space on the floor of the conference room at the hostel in Tarfside. I'd have been happy camping out, like most everyone else, but I am not complaining either. You can get a room at the hostel for a modest fee if you book in advance with the folks at St. Drostan’s Lodge.

Sites of interest:

You can find some of my trip journals for this trip at A Wandering Knight Blog. Other journals and much more at my main personal site.

The official site of the TGO Challenge.

Direct download: part_4_Braemar_to_Tarfside_with_intro.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 4:22pm EDT

#3: TGO Challenge 2008 Part 3: Kingussie to Braemar

Part 3 of my journey across Scotland. After a lively night in Kingussie where I would eat way too much and not drink enough I would drag myself back to hiking around 10:00AM. I should have splurged and bought some eggs and made an omelet for myself in the hostel's kitchen. Live and learn. Over the next 3 days I would hike about 52 kilometers to reach the town of Braemar. The Bulk of that hiking would be on the second day and if it hadn't been for that day the hike itself would have been rather dull. Should I hike between these two town again I hope I can find a nicer route to the western edge of River Feshie.

But the hike had many high points including my time spent at Ruigh-aiteachain Bothy with numerous other Challengers. My brief visit to Ruthven Barracks was also enjoyable though I should have spent more time there. Mar Lodge was also a very pleasant surprise and I am glad I learned of it from Russ.

From a hiking standpoint the high point has to be the walk across the Feshie watershed through the southern marches of Cairngorn National Park. Being able to do that with other made the trek much easier but I'm sure I would have made my goals had I gone across alone.

Places I stayed at:

I was able to snag a room at Mar Lodge. The room cost about £15 and was quite posh with the notable exception of the gross teapot. The building has extensive kitchen facilities as does the bunkhouse where many other Challengers were staying. If you know you are going to stay here you could, as some like Laura and Mary Ann, mail food to the lodge and prepare yourself a fine meal or two. It's a fascinating place, not to be missed.

I managed to locate a room at the Callater Lodge. It was what was available and I think the rate was around £35 for the night. While I've no doubt I could have saved plenty of money staying at the hostel I was happy where I was. But if I pass through again and make reservations ahead of time perhaps I'll try the hostel and save £20.

Sites of interest:

You can find some of my trip journals for this trip at A Wandering Knight Blog. Other journals and much more at my main personal site.

The official site of the TGO Challenge.

Direct download: 3_part_3_Kingussie_to_Braemar.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:16pm EDT

#2: TGO Challenge Part 2: Fort Augustus to Kingussie

Part 2 of my journey across Scotland. From Fort Augustus my original plan was to do an overnight hike across Corryairack Pass and then along the paved roads to Kingussie. That's a trek of about 58 kilometers with the major ascent and descent coming the first day with the climb and descent of the pass. Instead I decided to take a more relaxed approach and do the segment over two nights. This would make for hiking days about approximately 21, 12, and 18 kilometers respectively. This would yield wonderful benefits in the amount of time I was able to spend immersing myself in some of the more social aspects of the Challenge.

Places I stayed at:

I did not get a room at Monadhliath Hotel (near Laggan) but slept next door inside the ruins of the old church. I probably could have stayed at the bunkhouse down the road but by the time I learned about that and went down there I decided it wasn't worth shifting camp. Relaxing in the dining room of the Monadhliath Hotel chatting with the other Challengers over dinner and drinks was a real treat. This is a place I would definitely visit again.

In Kingussie I stayed at the Tipsy Laird Hostel. The access to the pub was fantastic and the food there was plentiful and tasty. And while my shared room was certainly adequate and I can't complain about the price I was less than thrilled with the lack of a towel (maybe I could have gotten one somewhere) and the so-so shower stall. Kingussie has many places you can stay so I expect that if I return Ill stay someplace else but still eat at Tipsy Laird.

Sites of interest:

You can find some of my trip journals for this trip at A Wandering Knight Blog. Other journals and much more at my main personal site.

The official site of the TGO Challenge.

Direct download: 2_part_2_Fort_Augustus_to_Kingussie.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 10:50pm EDT

#1: TGO Challenge Part 1: Dornie to Fort Augustus

Part 1 of my journey across Scotland. From Dornie I will travel 3 days across about 76 kilometers to reach Fort Augustus. My introduction to the Scottish Highlands would not start out as smoothly as one would hope for but as time went on things would fall into place and the adventure would really begin.

Places I stayed at:

Loch Duich Hotel, Dornie, Scotland is where I would start my TGO Challenge from. This is one of several lodgings in and around Dornie. I picked it mostly because I knew it was the sign-out point for the Challenge and that seemed as good a reason as any. While a handful of Challengers stayed here many stayed at other locations around town and were just as happy.

Cougie: This was a remarkable place to stay. I had only thought I'd be stopping for tea and a scone but managed to snag a bed in the 4-bed cabin. Great food, conversation, and good times were had by all. I'd definitely go again.

Caldonian Hotel, Fort Augustus: This was the first place I learned of that had room for me when I arrived in Fort Augustus on that rainy late afternoon. Very posh for my about £40. Had a luscious dinner there too. The hotel staff are exceptional.

Sites of interest:

You can find some of my trip journals for this trip at A Wandering Knight Blog. Other journals and much more at my main personal site.

The official site of the TGO Challenge.

Direct download: part_1_Dornie_to_Fort_Augustus.mp3
Category:podcasts -- posted at: 5:04pm EDT


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