Thursday, November 28, 2013

Wildwood Visitors

It isn’t unusual to see folks enjoying a picnic or a snack at the Outdoor Classroom shelter in the middle of Wildwood. However, on September 8, I could see by the loaded bicycles leaning against the table that the couple eating at the table must be serious bikers who were probably just passing through. 

Camera in hand, I inquired about their destination. They replied, “Yorktown”. “From where have you come?” was my next question. The reply, “Oregon,” really got my attention! I, of course, asked to take their picture, and they pleasantly posed for me.

They introduced themselves as Laurie and Jack Schwarte. They were delighted with the lovely natural setting in Wildwood. I learned that after the luxury of a motel room in Christiansburg that night, they would continue on to Yorktown and then would head south to the Florida Keys. There they would eventually dismantle the bikes and fly back home to Oregon.


Checking their website,, I saw that they both had been RNs for a total of 36 years between them. They decided to retire and travel by bicycle “for the next few years or as long as we are still having fun”. New Zealand, Australia, and Bali are next in their immediate plans.

                          My camera and I meet the most interesting folks in Wildwood!

Nancy’s note: The TransAmerica Trail that stretches from Astoria, Oregon, to Yorktown, Virginia, passes through Radford and Wildwood Park. Please take a look below at the previous post (if you haven't already done so) to read about another biker traveling on this route.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Passing Through

On November 9, I drove into the lot at Park Road to begin a Wildwood walk with my camera. Just as I opened my door, I glimpsed an unusual bicycle exiting the park. "Hey!" I shouted. "Could I please take your picture?" The rider looked a bit surprised, but he stopped and said, "Sure." Getting my camera out of its case, I continued, "and I want you to go back down the path and ride back toward me." He looked a bit puzzled. "I want a picture of you in Wildwood Park for my blog and albums." "Oh, okay!"

He cheerfully did what I had asked and even gave me a big smile and wave as he got closer to the camera.

When he stopped behind my car, I took a closer look at all the "stuff" on his bike. "You aren't local, are you?" "No", he replied. "Where have you come from?" "San Diego." "California?"
                                                     Wow, that sure piqued my curiosity!
His bike was a recumbent but different from others that I had seen. Instead of a smaller wheel in front, both tires were the same size. "It requires fewer supplies for fixing flat tires and broken spokes when one size fits all," Mark explained.

Mark Doumas and his wife Sandy live in Tucson, AZ. He has a sister living in San Diego and one in  Newport News, VA. The couple decided to tour across the United States, starting at the Pacific Ocean and ending at the Atlantic. Their website title Sea2Sea,Sister2Sister pretty well summarizes what they had set out to do.
Mark also added another connection to his passage through our city. His sister Jennifer, the one in California, was born in Radford! Their dad was a student at V.P.I., and the family was living in Blacksburg.

Mark mentioned that he was very favorably impressed with Radford's network of bike trails so I told him about Pathways for Radford and their efforts and hard work in building and maintaining those bike-ways.

The couple had driven their car with bikes on racks from their home in Tucson to San Diego where they visited with family, dipped the back tires of their bikes in the Pacific and set out across the country. When they got to St. Louis, Sandy decided that she was tired of biking and that she would rather visit with her family there. Mark would continue on by himself, writing in an online journal that they had started at the beginning of their trip, and Sandy would be able to follow his progress.
Sandy later flew back to Tucson, drove back to the mid-west to pick up her bike that she had left with family, and continued on to meet up with Mark on the Blue Ridge Parkway. She biked with him and they enjoyed the fall scenery in that area. She then drove the car to Newport News and then finished biking to the Atlantic with Mark. One of  the last journal photos shows his front tire in the Atlantic Ocean on November 18 and smiles on all faces as they were joined by family on the beach.

Mark posted one of the photos of his Wildwood ride in his journal. You can see it by clicking this link and scrolling down to the 4th photo. Be sure to read his comment above the picture:

I had the excitement of sharing a bicycle tour across our great country as a result of a simple visit to Wildwood Park. What a great place!

Monday, November 18, 2013


On September 20, 2011, I decided to take a quick walk along the trail that leads to Radford High School and up to Main Street. I wanted to get more photos of mushrooms that I had seen there. As I searched among the the plants and brush, I spied a huge, neon green caterpillar crawling slowly over a log. I immediately began snapping!

I didn't know what kind of caterpillar I had found, but finding its identity was not difficult. After I put the images into my computer, I just searched for "big green caterpillar" online and saw that it was Luna (Actias luna).

Those images also let me see details of the critter's suction-cup feet :

                                                                 And also of its "face":

I knew that it would become a magnificently big Luna Moth - one of the largest moths that fly in North America. I had seen a couple of those, but never in Wildwood Park. I wished that I could find one. Summer turned to fall - I was disappointed that I did not find a Luna there. 2012 came and went - still no huge moth.

One Saturday morning this past August, I headed with my camera down the bike path to check the restroom
wall.There it was!

    I had waited for two long years. The delicately lovely creature took my breath away...

                                                        Even its antennae were huge!

Because these moths are nocturnal, they are not often seen during the day. As adults, they do not eat, in fact, they do not even have mouths. Therefore they live for only a week or so. They are members of the Saturniidae family. That name refers to the eyespots that resemble the planet Saturn and its rings. Those spots also look like the moon - Luna is the Latin word for "moon".

My friend Clyde Kessler came by while I was snapping photos. He decided that the moth needed to be moved from the wall to a more protected area. When he coaxed the creature onto a stick, it spread its wings and all four eyespots were visible. The long wait had ended with an awe-filled reward.

   I learn many lessons as I explore Wildwood. Perhaps one of the most valuable is patience.