My spouse and I began this blog in 2013 because we love spending time in nature and wanted to contribute something of our own to the many camping, kayaking and cycling blogs out there. By profession, I’m an archivist. I organize recorded information based on how that information was originally used, and document my observations in “finding aids.” My goal is to make the information discoverable and usable. I apply the same principles to this blog: I try to provide enough information to make our routes re-discoverable and to help you decide whether to use them. I describe route maps, geography, terrain, flora and fauna, cultural and historical context, nearby attractions, and physical challenges. If there’s anything else you’d like to know about, please, don’t be shy, and tell us in the comments. My spouse plans all our trips and selects all our kit. Below, he’s outlined our strategy and provided some tips for a successful trip. We hope it will help you find adventures near you!
Bringing a dog
Oliver, our 12 lb (5kg) yorkie mix is incredibly well-behaved, athletic too. He goes everywhere we go (everywhere). One reason we’re able to do this is because he responds to the command, “be careful,” which tells him that he has to keep as close to us as possible and stop whenever we do. Over the years, the “be careful” command has protected him from snakes, alligators, gangs of birds, and mamma animals. Another thing to consider is weight. Even Oliver adds considerable weight to our kit when we combine his weight with the weight of his dog bag and food. He also limits the places we can visit to dog-friendly places only.
Our strategy for selecting routes
- Start with Google maps (i.e., Google your vicinity and then click on the maps tab)
- Look for wilderness or where suburbia meets agriculture (tip: pay attention to topography; look for unusual features, such as a rocky coast in Florida)
- Try to stick to areas that are within 45-60 minutes of your home via car or train
- Look for loops (they make for more interesting trips)
- Avoid main roads
- Stick to public roads and parks (i.e., do not trespass)
- Keep an eye out for interesting and current online maps.
- In England, bridleways and footpaths are clearly mapped and easy to find; the only challenge is connecting them all together.
- It’s more difficult to find routes in France because knowledge of medieval trails is largely limited to local, oral culture.
- Often, unexciting places have hidden or forgotten paths and launch sites, even in suburbia
- Finding an access point is generally the biggest challenge. Sites aren’t exactly restricted, but they aren’t always readily accessible.
- Paths and ramps are sometimes makeshift, which means getting to them can take some effort (i.e., portaging over rocks or sand bars).
- Finding interesting routes can take hours, which is why we like sharing them.
- Routes get a little complicated when they combine more than one type of transit (i.e., multimodal routes).
- We prefer minor roads to main roads. They’re quiet and more peaceful. However, routes that use mostly minor roads take a lot of time, both in planning and transit.
- Be mindful of the strengths and limitations of your partner.
- Check out GoogleEarth, AllTrails (USA), CycleStreets (UK).
Our strategy for keeping trips within our physical limits
We focus on itinerary rather than speed, and tend to be relatively slow compared to others. We’re not competitive and we’re not interested in bragging rights. The one goal we focus on is enjoying nature. Most of what we do doesn’t require more strength, endurance or skill than can be acquired through healthy living and a little practice. That being said, taking the road less traveled often means taking longer, more challenging routes. We’re generally a little sore by the end of the day, but boy do we sleep well, a deep, restorative sleep. And despite modest physical goals and a conservative attitude towards risk, the physical elements never completely comply with our wishes, so there is always risk. Planning helps mitigate risk, but it’s important to review risk when you arrive at your destination, but before you set out, and be open to aborting trips when the risk is too great (i.e., high winds, extreme heat).
Our Strategy for selecting kit
“There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad kit” (overheard on a train)
- We collect kit for on- and off-road touring (i.e., on the Ridgeway Trail we used hotels and restaurants, but on Peace River we camped on the river bank), and day trips as well as overnight trips.
- We avoid extreme conditions (i.e., no camping in Michigan in the winter). Our temperature tolerance range is about 45-90 F (10-30 C). By avoiding extreme cold, we only need kit for three seasons.
- Light weight kit is very important for walking and biking any distance (i.e., it makes it enjoyable; joy is important).
- Leave no trace (i.e., we use a Trangia burner that uses grain alcohol)
- Use middle-of-the-line stuff
- In general, what we do is affordable because there are very few expenses other than equipment maintenance. Expenses include parking/launch ramp fees, camp site fees/lodging, gas/train tickets, food. We budget $50/month for equipment maintenance, and most of that goes towards bicycle maintenance.
- We keep it local; we don’t do “dream vacations”; we only go out of state/country when it aligns with trips to visit family.
ABOUT THE NAME, “IN THE GOOEY”
I was learning MySQL when the teacher referred to the GUI, or “gooey” as it’s pronounced. Not knowing what the term meant, I ruminated on the possibilities. Images of a soft, gelatinous brain; a boggy wilderness; thick, aromatic cookie dough; a tea-time conversation between my favorite heroes and heroines; or perhaps a melted motherboard or the goo that sticks to your shoe; these images and more floated through my head. The actual meaning of GUI is more prosaic, but equally evocative. It means “Graphical User Interface,” the type of computer interface we use today. Introduced in 1973, GUIs employed “graphical icons” and “visual indicators” rather than text for entering commands (for more information, see Digital Technology and Preservation Timeline by Cornell/ICPSR). To give you access to our GUI, we try to add as many photographs to our posts as possible.