Information about the world of cycling, including bicycle touring

      

BND BND BND
Click on the pages above to see examples
of pages I have designed for the
Belleville News-Democrat.

Pickle Springs
Here are some photographs from I took in 2002
at two of my favorite Midwestern hiking spots,
Hawn State Park and Pickle Springs Nature
Preserve near Ste. Genevieve, Mo.

Pickle Springs

Views of Pickle Spring as it passes
through Hawn State Park.

Pickle Springs ice

Icicles form along the trail at Pickle
Springs Nature Preserve.

Pickle Springs snow
A rocky blufftop at Pickle Springs
Nature Preserve.

About me

Professional | Photography | Hiking

Professional

Before we get to what else I do for fun besides bicycling, I should tell you about what I do for a living.

I am the design editor at the Belleville News-Democrat, a medium-sized daily in Belleville, Ill., about 20 miles from downtown St. Louis. As design editor, I regularly design the front page of the newspaper, although I sometimes do other section fronts that might need a little bit extra effort. Click on the thumbnail newspaper front pages at your left to see examples of my work.

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Photography

In case you haven't figured it out by now, I love to take pictures.

My late brother, Wesley, and my older sister, Teresa, could do things with paint, clay, pencils and printing media that I could never do. However, my artistic bent leaned toward photography and the graphic arts.

I started picking up the camera in high school, and ended up being photo editor of our yearbook and a reporter/photographer for a weekly newspaper in Brighton, Ill. I went to college at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, and it was there where Professor William G. Ward helped fine-tune my photographic skills. Fortunately for me, Professor Ward also made sure his students were well-grounded in writing and photography, and that helped me throughout my career.

Today, the bulk of my photography is nature photography, landscapes in particular. For me, it is a spiritual exercise to go someplace like the Outer Banks and Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina, the Great River Road in Illinois or Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado and get the best photograph possible. It truly takes a lot of hard work — and good timing — to get a photograph that best expresses what a landmark means to me.

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Hiking

I also love to hike, mainly because it gets me out to places that are worth photographing.

My greatest hiking accomplishment is a backpacking trip in the Grand Canyon in 1997, the year after I did the Grand Canyon to Mexico bicycle trip. I urge all of you to do so because you don't really grasp the magnitude of the Grand Canyon until you're in the midst of it. The Life Adventures program of the YMCA of Southwest Illinois led this trip, and the leaders and fellow hikers on this trip really made it special. Spending a few moments under the cold Ribbon Falls along the North Kaibab Trail baptized me as a Grand Canyon fan.

The bulk of my hiking, not surprisingly, takes place in Illinois and Missouri. On the Illinois side of the Mississippi River, I enjoy hiking the trails at Pere Marquette State Park. In particular, my favorite trail in the park is the Goat Cliff Trail, which makes its way from the main parking area to the top of the bluffs. You're treated to some nice bluffs and unusual fallen rocks on the way up and great views of the Illinois River valley once you reach the top.

Just south of Waterloo is the Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve. You get a long, hard climb immediately upon leaving the parking lot, but the views of the Mississippi River valley are well worth the effort. The entire bottom area below the bluffs was covered by the Mississippi during the Great Flood of 1993. It is truly humbling when you realize how powerful the Mississippi River really is.

The best hiking in Southern Illinois is in Shawnee National Forest. The two favorite destinations in the region are the Garden of the Gods and Giant City State Park. Camel Rock is the most photographed rock formation in the park, but there are other formations that make the short scenic hike and the longer wilderness hike worth your while. Giant City also has a lot of unusual rock formations, and it is often busy because it is near the region's largest city, Carbondale. Other sites in the Shawnee National Forest region that are worth your while include the Little Grand Canyon, Ferne Clyffe State Park, Bell Smith Springs Recreation Area and Lusk Creek Wilderness Area.

There is some good hiking on the fringes of the St. Louis metropolitan area. Good hiking can be found at Rockwoods Reservation and Weldon Spring Conservation Area. Sites that will provide you will a good challenge both on foot and on the mountain bike include Castlewood State Park and the Chubb Trail at West Tyson County Park.

Further south of St. Louis, near Ste. Genevieve, are Hawn State Park and Pickle Springs Nature Preserve. Both trails are well worth the effort to drive to them. Both have interesting bluffs, springs and rock formations and will give you a good workout for the day.

I had the honor of living in North Carolina for two years, and my regret is not appreciating all the natural beauty in that state. But what I did get to enjoy exceeded my expectations. By far, my favorite hiking spot in North Carolina is Grandfather Mountain, the only private park in the world designated by the UNESCO as an International Biosphere Reserve. The park has many challenging trails with great views of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Grandfather Mountain also is home to the often-photographed Linn Cove Viaduct of the Blue Ridge Parkway. Further south is the Linville Gorge Wilderness Area and Linville Falls. The wilderness area is still virgin timber because the gorge is extremely steep, while the falls are popular because of easy access from the parkway.

Closer to Burlington, my home for those two years, are several fine North Carolina state parks. My favorites are Hanging Rock State Park near Danbury, Pilot Mountain State Park near Mount Airy, Stone Mountain State Park near Roaring Gap and Eno River State Park near Durham. The first three have great mountain scenery and views of the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains. The later is a great example of how nature can be preserved so close to a growing metropolitan area, the Triangle region of North Carolina.

On the eastern end of the state are the Outer Banks. There are a few trails in the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, but there's nothing wrong with a good stroll along the beach.

Other places where I have enjoyed hikes include Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado, Pictured Rocks National Seashore and Ludington State Park in Michigan, and Point Lobos and Yosemite National Park in California.

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