2020 -> 2021

life updatesnew yearscovid-19

Dog statue after snowfall.
Dog statue after snowfall.

2020 was an unforgettable year, full of altered plans and misfortune.

I used New Year's Eve as an excuse to message quite a lot of friends of mine, ask how they were doing, and share good wishes. Wishes that they and their families remained safe and healthy, and that the pandemic gripping the globe would finally get under control.

Appalachian Trail: Caledonia Park to Old Forge Road

hikesappalachian trailSeries: Attractions of Pennsylvania

In early December 2020, my phone buzzed with a message. Someone replied to my suggestion of "maybe going on a scocially-distanced hike" (sic) from months earlier. That weekend, the weather seemed nice, and the arbitrarily chosen meeting point was (for once) closer to me than to my friends.

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Trail Information
Name Appalachian Trail: Caledonia Park to Old Forge Road
Type section hike
Location Michaux State Forest
State PA
Country USA
Miles 11.6
Difficulty easy
Check out the trails index for information on more trails!

This would be first day hike on the Appalachian trail, one of the most important hiking routes in the United States. My company would be the inimitable Nik and Andrew, former colleagues. Both of them are connoisseurs of fruit-essenced sparkling water, experts at making strange faces, and brilliant at pointing at things. Andrew's special skill is consuming vittles.

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The sights?

Ohiopyle State Park

fayette county paSeries: Attractions of Pennsylvania

I'm really behind the eight ball in getting my "Attractions of Pennsylvania" written up about, but hopefully you enjoy this one from November of last year!

Ohiopyle

A few years ago, a close friend invited me to dinner at his parents' house, in suburbs east of Pittsburgh. We floated a few ideas for different activities near the area, including a visit to Ohiopyle, but due to time constraints and other reasons, just ended up hanging out at the Greensburg Mall.

Sans automobile, I didn't have an easy way to go to Ohiopyle myself, and so I never went.

A few years later, in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, I made arrangements to meet another friend in Ohiopyle, back in November. I drove five minutes away from Fallingwater, pulled into the visitor's center parking lot, and was immediately blown away.

Ohiopyle Falls
Ohiopyle Falls

And, also, I was quite miffed that it had taken me so many years to visit this amazing place.

Believe me, the mall cannot compare.

Mirth in Maastricht (2018)

travelnetherlandsMaastrichtrealizationsSeries: Western Europe 2018

In this post, I finally explain why I decided to write about some random, fairly spontaneous travel to Western Europe in 2018. Bear with me.

Maastricht, the Dutch city that is the subject of this post.
Maastricht, the Dutch city that is the subject of this post.

Here's a quick recap. In 2018 I went on an impromptu work trip to Berlin, which was extended at the last minute to Aachen, Germany. This was stressful, but fun.

(If you want, you can read the previous posts in this series for more context. Otherwise, the next paragraph serves as a condensed recap.)

My boss gave me a few extra days off before I returned to the United States, so obviously I wanted to take advantage. My goal was to hit up some cool places and stuff.

I got some travel recommendations from colleagues, and picked a few of them to visit.

The first was Maastricht, Netherlands.