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  Dr. Thomas Grizzard and grandson Kyle after his annual birthday ride on the Washington and Old Dominion Trail, Virginia © Lynn Grizzard
Dr. Thomas Grizzard and grandson Kyle after his annual birthday ride—61 miles this year on August 23. Read more about his trail tradition in the latest issue of Rails to Trails.

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Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
Magazine/Trail Tales
1100 17th Street, N.W., 10th Floor Washington, DC 20036


More Trail Tales

In the all 2007 issue of Rails to Trails, we asked our readers: Do you have any rail-trail traditions? Any rituals or celebrations that take place on the trail? We were exceptionally sorry we only had room for one letter in the magazine because it's clear you're using rail-trails for more that just getting around. From stories of solace to motivation, we're sure these additional letters will inspire.

Kathleen DePorter of York, Pa., writes:
I feel fortunate to live in York, Pa., because of the Heritage Rail-Trail, which is a place of peace and beauty for me whether I am traveling on foot, by bike, or cross-country skis. I was on foot in January of 2000 seeking some solace as I knew my mother was dying in Illinois. Walking through the light snow and chilling temperatures, I felt a need to see how Mom was doing. When my call got no answer, I was concerned since I knew my brother and sister were with her. Five minutes later when I called again, I learned she had died at the moment of the first call. Through my tears I felt that I had been touched by an angel on her way to heaven.

I decided that a meaningful memorial to Mom would be a bench on the rail-trail. I called to inquire and discovered that only one undedicated bench remained. It was located .10 of a mile south of the lovely Howard Tunnel and amazingly was the very bench I was sitting on to make the calls to Illinois on that sad day. The chills traveled through my body when I said, "Yes, I would like that bench." Now the tradition is to stop and visit mom on my many trips to the trail. She is actually quite famous with my friends, who often stop by to rest on her bench and say, "Hi Mom".

Carol DeWar of St. Joseph, Mo., writes:
My husband and I have made it our tradition to do a different rail-trail every year on our anniversary, which is August 17. The trail we chose this year was the Raccoon River Trail in Iowa. It was very hot that weekend and at one point when we were both tired and wondering if we were going to make the entire 57 miles, I yelled out to my husband, who was ahead of me a few feet, "Why didn't we get married in October of that year instead?!" At least we'd be doing our traditional long distance ride in cooler weather!

Over the past few years, we've also done the Katy Trail State Park in Missouri, Steamboat Trace Trail in Nebraska, Prairie Spirit Trail in Kansas and the Confluence Bikeway in Illinois. We just celebrated our 22nd anniversary and, God willing, we'll be able to enjoy many more anniversaries on one of the many trails out there.

Natalie Gehosky of New Cumberland, Pa., writes:
Lou and I began a tradition of riding one mile for each year we have been married. We have been doing our "anniversary ride" for 11 years. This year, we celebrated our 43rd wedding anniversary on the Great Allegheny Passage. Each year we select a new rail-trail and always "bank" extra miles for our "senior years" when we may not be able to do the miles for each year married.

We have been on many different rail-trails and have met many wonderful people. During our latest anniversary ride, we met Bud at the Rockwood working in the visitor's station, a charming centurion. What an enthusiastic wonderful Ambassador of hospitality he is.

This year's ride was a milestone for me because I have had total knee replacements on both knees in the past 10 months. As part of my rehabilitation I worked out on a stationary bike so I would be able to do our 43rd anniversary ride by August. Graduating from the stationary bike to the real thing, I was barely able to ride a mile or two. But through perseverance and Lou's encouragement, I was able to build up my stamina and strength. Even the surgeon was amazed at how I had progressed. He claimed that all the riding I had done before my surgery helped tremendously with my recovery.

We hope to continue our anniversary traditional ride for many years to come. And, when we are no longer able to ride, the memories and pictures gathered over the years and miles peddled will sustain us.

Every ride is a good ride.

Rails-to-Trails Conservancy
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