Project 50 Paint a Picture

Project 50 Paint a Picture

I didn’t say it had to be a good painting.

Painting Almost Finished

I wanted to go to one of those “paint and drink wine” sessions, but since I live in the boonies, it would be an hour to two hour drive to attend a session.

Do it Just Paint!!

I knew what I wanted to paint-a picture of our lawn chairs where we sit and drink wine and gaze upon our “back forty”. I tried several times to get some pictures to use as models.

chairsThen I just painted. I sketched out a few rough lines of chairs and trees on my paint board (a recycled piece of white posterboard from work) and began.
Beginning of PaintinglIt was nice to just sit on the couch, painting on the coffee table, and just dab away. Occasionally there was a 110 pound puppy with a cone on  his head on my lap.

Painting Next Step Remember there are no rules. Paint away.Painting Almost Finished

I may hang this in my downstairs bathroom..that nobody uses but me. 🙂


Have you ever painted a picture?

Slim Pickins History

The History of Slim Pickins

The History of Slim Pickins

Once upon a time, not so long ago, there were not that many ultra running events.
One of the oldest running events is the JFK 50 Mile Race.
The JFK 50 Mile was first held in the spring of 1963. It was one of numerous 50 mile events held around the country as part of President John F. Kennedy’s push to bring the country back to physical fitness. The JFK 50 Mile in Washington County, MD is the only original JFK 50 Mile Challenge event. The race is held the weekend before Thanksgiving.

While many, many, many runners have run the JFK for years and years, others were not that enthralled at the course/race.  For years and years, if you didn’t run the JFK, there was no other choices.

Hence, “Slim Pickins” for the weekend before Thanksgiving.

That was before NEO TC. This weekend became Slim Pickins, where runners assembled over a loosely organized plan to run miles somewhere on the Laurel Highlands Hiking Trail.

The first year was 2006.
First year of SP was a target of a FA 100.

Following were present:

Bob Combs
Jim Harris
Mike Dobies (did not run as he was sick)
John Dewalt
Brad Compton from Indiana (who hit a deer on his way home and caused considerable damage to his vehicle)
We started at Seven Springs and went to mile marker 1, and then turned around to head back to Seven Springs for the first 50.

We all quit at that point except for John Dewalt, who was pissed that we all quit.
(Johnnie D quit too.)


Target was  was a backwards run on the Laurel Highlands Trail, starting at mile 71 and running to Ohiopyle.

It was one of the good “snow years” on the LH:

Four completed the entire LHHT: Roy Heger, Tanya Cady, Jim Harris, and Brian Musick.


2008 was another snow year:

2008 was the double marathon from Ohiopyle to Seven Springs and back, which no one completed. We all bailed at the  50K.


Global warming occurred in the late 00’s, leaving us with much less epic weather for the 2009 Slim Pickins.

2009 was the 100K from Route 31 down to Ohiopyle and back. Several made the round trip: Jim Harris, Bob Combs, Cam Baker, Mike Dobies, and Brian Musick. Cam, Mike, and Brian also added some extra miles, proving you can get lost on the LHHT.


The LHHT bridge was removed in 2009, prompting a change in our Slim Pickins plan for 2010. We elected to run on the north side of the LHHT for 2010.

We had the best staging area for the 2010 Slim Pickins. This year, cabins were rented in Linn Run State Park, just a few miles from Donegal, PA. This is on the north side of the PA Turnpike.

The Pennsylvania Game Commission neglected to consult with NEO TC before they changed their hunting dates for 2010.  We found ourselves in the woods on opening day of Bear Season in Pennsylvania in 2010:

All turned out well, no casualties were noted.


This year’s Slim Pickins was staged out of Ohiopyle.  This is the epic Ohiopyle 50K.  
The double out and back. 7400 feet of elevation gain.  Sounds easy on paper, less so on those hills at mile 5 and 3.

This was the least epic weather ever for SP and also the most attendees at the starting line.
18 runners lined up at the Brown Gate in around 30 degree weather, with no snow and temperatures promised to be in the 50’s.


The mile marker three ended up being some of the runner’s turning point, since once you passed MM# 3, and went downhill, you were more of less committed. In other words, once you go down Mile 3 Hill, you might as well trudge on out to MM8 and make the turn.



We had 8 finishers of the OP50K, now known as the “Gate 2-8-X2”  Challenge.  All you have to do is follow the pretty simple rules: Start at the Brown Gate at the LH sign, go to mile 8, come back, and repeat. Do this in one 24 hour period. Time spent refueling in Ohiopyle counts, you can’t subtract that. Report results of time and date achieved.


As always, it is sad to see SP2012 come to an end. Slim Pickins 2012 was held at Linn Run.  The bridge is now open again.



Weather was  good, there was still plenty of snow in the Laurel Highlands from a late fall dusting.

Allison, Bob, Paul, and Jeff showed up in the early evening, as Slim was going to join us in the morning.  Surprisingly, it was an early to bed for us.
My plan for Saturday was to drop the 50K runners-Allison, Gombu, and Paul at mile marker 31, and then go back to OP and do another out and back.  But I decided to join the trio through Seven Springs Ski Resort, and double back-that would give me ten miles.
After I left the 3 amigos, I headed back north on the LH Trail.  As I crossed the road, I noticed a wide trail intersecting the path. I looked to my right, and saw a building.  A shelter? I did not recollect any shelter just one mile south of Seven Springs, so I walked over to it.
It was an old spring house.  Still producing, quite well!
I got back to OP about 11 am and wandered into the General Store, where the chili caught my eye.  As I wolfed it down, I thought perhaps chili wasn’t the best food as a refuel for an afternoon run, but it sure tasted good going down!


The training schedule was supposed to be longer on Friday, and then “ten” miles on Saturday, but I figured some extra mileage-especially at a hiking pace, with a full stomach-would be okay.

I took a leisurely walk up to the mile 2 overlook.  I sat on the rock overlook there, just basked in the sun.  I stretched.

After about a half hour, I could tell my legs were tightening up, so I resolved to go north on the trail until I ran into one of my NEO TC runners.  At this point, there was no way I was going up the Mile Six hill again!  I figured I could camp out at the Shelter Sign until someone came along.

Happily, Gombu came along as I was climbing up the mile 5 hill.  Oh yeah!  Now I can turn around!  Gombu and I ran back to OP.  So I got eight miles in for the afternoon run/hike, so I got 38 miles in on the LH Trail for the weekend.

After showering, we headed over to the Falls City Pub.  It is the best pleasure in the world, to have a pub at the trail head!

Allison had texted me when she got to the mile 8 marker, so we were guestimating when she would finish.  I gave her a 630 pm appearance at the pub, and she arrived at 6.27!!

Allison was the only one who went out of her comfort zone for Slim Pickins.  This was an unsupported effort, with one water/food cache at Slim’s vehicle at mile 11.  She was running in the dark in the last hour or so of her 50K-on a very technical trail.  She was alone for almost all of her run, and had a very successful time!  Very proud of her effort on going it alone out there.

I think she looks pretty good after finishing a 50K


Slim Pickins

This weekend was our 8th annual Slim Pickins weekend. This was the farthest NEO Trail had traveled for a weekend SP run which occurred since we had been thrown out¹ of Linn Run, our original destination. The Professor  said he would like to visit Great Seal State Park, which is the park where the “Not Yo Momma’s” 100 Mile Race takes place in Ohio.

Rich and Kimba got 7 miles on the trails at Great Seal Park on Friday, to do a bit of a recon before the others arrived the next day. It was a bit of a challenge to follow the stellar cartographers that ODNR employs to make maps for state parks in Ohio.

bloggers view of map

Blogger’s representation of sucky ODNR map

Really, the map was not much better than this.

We did have a nice cozy cabin, over at Scioto Trail State Park, about fifteen miles away:

Scioto StatePark cabin

For the last few years, NEO Trail has been trying to get a cabin or a hotel suite where all can gather after the run, break bread, chat, and other “fairly normal” activities that we are known for.

None of the NEO Trailers had ever been to Great Seal State Park, which made it a bit difficult to try and describe anything about it. In fact, where we parked and started was where we thought the 100 mile race started. We were in the wrong place! Tim Smith, from Middleton, parked in the correct spot but still managed to find us down trail.

The Polish Surplus had just arrived in the midwest, or heartland, or whatever you want to call the Buckeye State. It was a warm 15 degree at the start of Slim Pickins.Slim Pickins 2014

We then ran over to conquer Sugarloaf Mountain.

Whew! That was a good climb up Sugarloaf!

Sugarloaf Mountain Ohio

Top of Sugarloaf


The guys ponder a cairn. We were doing our best to follow Rob Carroll, the RD of the “Yo Momma’s” Race along with the ODNR map. henceforth known as the “sucky map”. There was much stopping and starting, not listening to the Professor’s navigation tips, and playing on rocks. We did run into Rob Carroll, who helped show us where we were on the map.

When we got to our water cache, where Aid Station Two is for the YM race, it was much more runnable, and hence we did much more running.

DSCN3246 DSCN3248

It was soon figured out, with all our screwing around, and compensating for the slowest runner’s pace (Kimba’s) it wasn’t going to look like a second complete loop was going to happen. Kimba stopped after one loop and drove The King, The Prof, and Slim over to the farthest point south to run some more miles. Tim went on to climb Sugarloaf Mountain and head home. It was nice to share trail with a new runner-thanks Tim!

The Yo Momma’s course: this is a tough loop. We knew it would be hilly, but there are a bunch of ups and downs and several big tough climbs and descents. With the course being multiple loops, this is indeed a challenging race. We agreed this race was much harder than Mohican or Burning River.

There was also a run on Sunday morning. We woke up to first snow! We again tried to follow a ODNR map, which didn’t quite pan out, but we spotted the fire tower anyways.

Kimba and Slim at fire tower DSCN3261

We ended running almost five miles on Sunday back to the cabin, a good way to shake out the kinks and muscles for the long drives home.

The best part about Slim Pickins is saying “see you in a couple of weeks” as URINEO, our club Fat Ass at Mill Creek Park, is December 20. Another good time had by all!

¹ we weren’t actually kicked out of Linn Run. We had reservations, but the park decided to close the cabins down for cleaning and renovation.


The annual Slim Pickins Weekend was held in West Virginia, at Coopers Rock State Forest. Coopers Rock is 13 miles east of Morgantown.

Our base of operations was at the Chestnut Ridge Park Campground, on the north side of I-68.

pine cabin home

Athena and Greg St Clair joined us for our run around Coopers Rock. We started at the day use parking lot. Since we had a *really good* map for a change,it was not needed. There are great, sturdy signs posted at all the trail heads and along the trails. This is a great improvement!

We pass the Henry Clay Iron Furnace on our way to Cheat Lake via the Mont Chateau trail.


Henry Clay Furnace

Without the foliage, we see this great little waterfall with a skinny dipping pool. We run downhill to Cheat Lake.

cheat lake

Sunny Cheat Lake

The Professor mentions he wants to hike up the stream to the waterfall, so off piste we go.

Up Creek Bed


Despite some slick rocks, we make it to the waterfall.


After our trek down the Mont Chateau trail, we headed to the Overlook via Rock City. Rock City did not disappoint!

rock city

SP2015 St Clairs down low

SP2105 Greg and Athena

FINALLY we made it to the Overlook!

Rich overlook

Coopers Rock Overlook

SP2015 Athena




The gentle giant is gone, as it was an eco-statue. The turtle has taken his place.


After a stop for our stashed water, we headed down to Ravens Rock Trail and the next overlook. The St Clairs turned here, and we thank them for their companionship on trail this morning!

SP2015 east to Ravens Rock

Kimba Ravens Rock

Jim View Ravens Rock

Rich Jim Ravens Rock Overlook

Meanwhile, back at the Pine Cabin, the boyz were busy chopping wood for the wood stove to keep us warm and cozy.


The Professor learned a new word this weekend “lumbersexual” which he instantly took to heart.


The little lady was confined to cooking dinner for the he-men. She probably was barefoot too.

Little Lady Cooking


We decided to tour the trails on the north side of the interstate. We started down Ken’s Trail, to the Hemlock Trail, and then decided to jog up the road a bit to the Lick Run Trail.

bug hemlocktrail hemlocktrail1 DSCN4273

Partway up the road, we think we found the trail but then it ended. BUT we had the map! The Professor and Slim consulted it once or twice, and BAM! we ended right up on the trail we’d been looking for.

As always,  our Slim Pickins weekend was over too soon.


Build a New Trail with Buckeye Trail Association

Build a new trail Buckeye Trail AssociationEver build a trail from scratch? I did that on Saturday with the help of BTA-Buckeye Trail Association.

Trail Creator

“Who creates the trail?” I asked at lunch time to a veteran BTA member. What I meant, in that badly worded question, was, who was in charge of mapping out with flags the new section of trail that we were building.  “You are” he replied.  Why yes, I WAS a trail creator! How cool was that!

Trail BeginningsThe section of trail we were building was to take the Buckeye Trail off Route 22, a very busy road beside Piedmont Lake.  There was a whirlwind of activity when we arrived, chainsaws, rototiller, weed whackers firing up.  In no time people were in front of me, all seeming to know what they were doing.  I began with loppers, to cut down small trees, branches, vines. The pink flag is in the middle of the trail. We were to clear about three feet on either side. (I could be wrong on this statement.)  I was given a good tip of advice “throw your debris downhill, all downhill”.

The guys felled a big tree at the beginning. In a few minutes, I understood what they were doing with it.

The start of a new trail Buckeye Trail Association

There was a steep bank where the trail needed to go. I didn’t see the work go into it, as I was farther down the trail lopping, but voila! It looks like this log and trail were always there!

The start of a new trail Buckeye Trail Association

It was amazing to be in the front, where it was just a rough little trail where the first guys had gone through with a chain saw, and then look back. People with rakes, axes, shovels, pickax, were building a trail right behind me!

The start of a new trail Buckeye Trail Association

This is hard work! We took  breaks and lunch time.  More than once someone would remind us to work as much as you wanted, you’re a volunteer. Make sure you drink water.

It turned into a warm day in the Piedmont area, nice if you are sitting and eating lunch, a bit warmer if you are building a trail.
The start of a new trail Buckeye Trail AssociationI became familiar with using a mattock in the afternoon to cut into the hillside to build the trail. This was tough work! After our afternoon break, I went back to lopping multi flower rose bushes, that was a bit easier.

It is extremely satisfying to  walk back over a trail that simply didn’t exist six hours prior. What a difference team work can make! 


We signed in on a worksheet first thing in the morning.  The sheet wanted your round trip mileage, and I  was astounded to see 200, 300, 500 mile round trip that volunteers came out to work on this section of trail! That is dedication!  At 54 miles roundtrip, I was a close “local”.

The start of a new trail Buckeye Trail Association

The work was not ending on Saturday. This was a four day work party, so volunteers were getting back at it for three more days. I wished I could have committed more days, but was happy to get this one day of work in.

If you are interested in volunteering, it’s not all building trails. There are many opportunities available in the Buckeye Trail Association, from adopting trail, manning a booth at a fair, leading a hike, fundraising, public speaking, just visit the volunteer page on the Buckeye Trail Association.

Have you built a trail lately? Let me know!

Stocking Stuffer Gifts for Runners

Stocking Stuffer Gifts for Runners

Christmas is getting closer.  Do you need a few ideas for stocking stuffers?  Do you have a runner or hiker to buy for? You’re in luck! Here are a few ideas for that runner in your life!

(If you click on the picture, it contains an affiliate link which will take you to Amazon. Affiliate links allow me to earn a few pennies on your purchase if you go through my link. Thanks!)

SPI Belt

I have been using my SPI Belt more often for runs and bike rides as I fit my cell phone and Zune into it and extract the items easy than my Flip Belt.  What does SPI stand for? Small Personal Items.

The Flip Belt is nice if you just need to tuck your keys and phone in at the start of your run and leave them there.


Nuun is little disks of electrolytes fizzies. These are tasty disks to add to your water to jazz it up a bit.  I know I would like a few of these in my stocking.


All runners need socks. Yes, socks can cost around fifteen bucks a pair. Drymax socks are worth every penny. Your feet is the most  important part of your runner.


Clif Blocks are little food replacements that a runner can easily carry along on their race.


My favorite present ever! I get at least one or two a year (because I buy them myself and then give to my husband to surprise me on my birthday or Christmas where I’ve long since forgotten about) You can wear the Buff as a hat, headband, neck gaiter and about twelve other ways.  My most favorite piece of trail gear.

Do you have any items I should add to my wish list for Santa? Drop a line below!



Ten Books for the Outside Adventurer for Christmas

books for your outside adventurer at ChristmasDo you  have an outside adventurer in your life, whether she/he is a runner, climber, biker, surfer?  Looking for something interesting for them to read in their off season?  Here are ten books in different categories for a Christmas present for your outside adventurer.

(If you click on a picture, it is an affiliate link, which will take you to Amazon via my affiliate link where I may get a few cents if you buy a book! Thanks!)

The Tower

Famous climber Cesare Maestri with his partner claimed first ascent on Cerro Torre, a beautiful ice capped peak in Patagonia in 1959.  His partner died on the descent.  Many world class climbers attempted to climb this route in the years following but never were able to duplicate the summit, with the rumor that Maestri did not. Maestri always insisted that he had done it. But  had he?  Kelly Cordes explores this fascinating mystery. Even if you are not a climber, it’s a well written interesting read.  Did he make the first ascent?

Lost in the Wild

This book is two stories: two separate people who became lost in the woods. Spoiler alert, they do both live. It’s a very interesting story to see what little, small mistakes can turn into HUGE problems when you are in the woods alone.  Even though I knew the men were rescued, I was literally on the edge of my seat when the rescuers almost missed him.

Tales from Out There: The Barkley Marathons

If you are an ultra runner or KNOW an ultra runner, you may have seem the documentary “The Barkley: The Race that Eats it Young”.  This book is the history of The Barkley written by Frozen Ed Furtaw. If you are thinking of running The Barkley, you need this book. If you are just interested in Barkley lore, you need to read this book.

Deep Survival

Yes another survival book. They do interest me!  This is a compilation of stories. It goes into the psychological side of survival, meaning why do certain personality traits help you to stand fast and get out of your situation, when other people may simply cave and die?

Personal Record: A Love Affair with Running

Is there a runner in your life?  Runners like to read about running.  This is a collection of stories written by the talented Rachel Toor. I enjoyed them all, especially the one personal story written just after 911.

Micro Adventures

You do not have to travel to Nepal or South Africa to have an adventure! Alistair Humphreys shows you how in this simple book to have an adventure in your backyard or the next town over.   Keep your adventurer close to home!

Everest: Expedition to the Ultimate

Maybe your adventurer is fascinated by Mount Everest. There’s many books on Everest.  I have a few others than could be considered favorites, but Reinhold Messner was the first person to ascend Everest without supplemental oxygen.

Funny Shit in the Woods: The Best of Semi-Rad

Brendan Leonard is my favorite outdoor writer.  His blog posts are the ones that my close friends send to one another, usually with the comment “Brendan hit another one out of the park:.  Brendan has two other books out, but this would be a good compilation to give your wanna be climber/hiker/van lover.

Be Brave Be Strong: A Journey Across the Great Divide

Jill Homer is a writer and adventurer. This is her adventure as a bike rider in the Tour Devide, which is riding your bike-across mountains-from Banff, Alberta to the Mexican Border of the Untied States.  By herself.  (She rode with other bikers at time.) Jill rocks!  I’ve read this book several times over.

Feet in the Clouds: A Story of Fell Running and Obsession

This is about fell running, which is running over mountains, sometimes multiples, on whatever line you want to take down or up the mountain, which may or not follow a trail. Usually the weather is awful. This is a classic running book by Richard Askwith. If you are interested in the running scene outside the United States, this is a good book to own.

Do you have any books to recommend for Santa to bring to me on Christmas Day? Please leave a comment!

Barkcamp Trail 1/2 Marathon Report



This was the Barkcamp  Twelth Year of Races but it was the first time I ventured over for the Barkcamp Trail Marathon.  I wasn’t sure increasing my mileage by 50% was the best idea. (The general consensus is you increase your mileage by 10% a week.)

Barkcamp State Park is a little state park right of I-70 in Belmont County, outside the town of Bethesda.  It is very easy to find, I parked my vehicle about ten minutes of exiting the highway.

The weather had been great this week until the last three days before the race, where it rained daily. I’ve always heard Barkcamp Race was a mudfest, so I was resigned to muddy trails.  I’ve ran one time previous at Barkcamp and was looking forward to learning new trails.  I was  worried about 26 miles on my knee.

The 1/2 and full marathon start together. It’s a 13.1 mile loop; the marathoners merely repeat the loop again.  It’s a small race, and the runners spread out quickly.

Barkcamp Trail Race

It’s so nice to be on new trails. I was concerned about cut offs for the marathon.  I was treating this like an ultra, and knew I would be running/jogging/hiking at my ultra pace.

Barkcamp Trail Race

The knee wasn’t feeling the love from the start. I resolved to walk. Quickly. In my last few double digit run/walks, the knee started to feel less bad after five or six miles.

Barkcamp Trail RaceThe knee wasn’t feeling much better. When I would hit the very few sections of asphalt and I would jog, I could tell I was limping.

Barkcamp Trail Race

The Marathon becomes the 1/2 Marathon
Barkcamp Trail RaceAbout mile six I decided I was going to drop at the 1/2 marathon distance. Although my knee didn’t feel *that bad* I knew it didn’t need to go through another 13 miles.

Barkcamp Trail Race

This really didn’t bother me. I am getting a little sick of everything revolving around “MY KNEE” but it is what it is. I consoled myself by digging out my Zune and listening to the Hamilton soundtrack.

Barkcamp Trail RaceAround mile eleven I reflected on “This was a HARD half-marathon” ! It runs like an ultra or a 25K.  LOTS of lots of little ups and downs.  A few very GOOD big climbs. The trails were lovely. Lots of runnable sections, nice singletrack, and no road.

Barkcamp Trail RaceThe Mizfits over at Barkcamp did a superb job. They’ve been steadily growing their races over the years and are extremely helpful/inviting to back of the pack runners.  There was a great spread of food at the finish line-chicken, potatoes, a stellar salad, bread, cookies!

Co Directors Barkcamp Races

The course was marked *over-marked*. Rod even had tape across other trails so you really had no excuse for going off course. In addition, in several spots, there were course marshalls to make sure you made the correct turn.  THANK YOU to the many volunteers that came out so we could play in the woods!

No Cost or Low Cost Christmas Presents for Runners


no cost christmas presents for runners

Runners love to receive running oriented gifts and we are easy to please. It could become a bit pricey to buy, so here are my top no cost or  low cost presents for runners.

You can give a runner a gift that will not send you to the mall or decimate your credit card.  Here are a few no money or low money  gifts for the runners in your life:

Bib– Frame a bib for your runner. Yes, go plunder their stuff. Runners keep bibs. I just found the bib from my first 50K!   Put it in a frame you have laying around, and voila! I guarantee your runner will be pleased.

Quilt-this would also involve plundering their stuff, and you might need their permission ahead of time. One thing runners do have are race T-shirts.  This would involve a bit of time, but you could come up with a great present with just your time (and maybe a bit of fabric) involved!

Running quilt low cost Christmas Present for a runner

Picture: this would involve you going to a race and getting out along the course and snapping some pictures. Take a bunch of pictures, find the best one, enlarge and print it, and give it to your runner.  Maybe frame it with the bib?

Pace-offer to pace a runner.  Think creatively. I am not talking about just pacing in a race.  Is your runner training for a marathon or an ultra? Sometimes they have long runs to get in. Offer to join them for a long run. Not a long distance runner? That’s fine. Offer to join them for their last five miles of their 20 mile run. Or three miles in the middle.  Often this is very helpful for the runner and makes their miles go by faster.  Is your runner friend working up to a new distance?  Offer to run their race with them, whether it’s a 5K or a 1/2 marathon.

Crew-not a runner? That’s okay too.  You could give the gift of transporting a runner to a race. Wouldn’t it be nice to not have to drive yourself home after a marathon?  Just relax and let someone else do the driving?

There is also crewing in the ultra context.   CREW can mean:  “Cranky runner endless waiting”.  Crewing could also involve crewing in the ultra respect, aka meeting your runner around the course and providing aid to them, in the form of special food and their gear. Does your runner have a 50K/50 mile/100 mile run in the future? Are you available to crew for the runner? Maybe you could make that your non-money gift to the runner in your life for Christmas.

Even if you don’t have a bunch of cash, these are a few ways to make your runner smile on Christmas morning!

Are you thinking about Christmas presents yet?