Archive for the ‘Adventure’ Category

Adventures in Portugal: Porto   1 comment

Fresh from our Sintra travels, Sabine and I set off for Porto, a city dating back to the Roman Empire and now famed for port wine and beautiful bridges.

Port Caves Excursion

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Posted 4 Jan 2015 by John McManigle in Adventure, Travel

Adventures in Portugal: Sintra   1 comment

After a December of intense (and often frantic) thesis-writing, Sabine and I snuck off to Portugal to welcome the New Year. We had a chance to explore Sintra, Porto, and Lisbon over our journey. Because of the outrageous number of pictures, each city will be covered in a separate blog post.

We set off on December 27, flying from Heathrow to Lisbon before grabbing the train to the historic town of Sintra. Sintra is full of history, from the medieval Moorish Castle to several nineteenth- and early twentieth-century palaces.


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Posted 31 Dec 2014 by John McManigle in Adventure, Travel

Weekend of Balls   Leave a comment

One of the more opulent Oxford traditions is that of the commemoration ball. Hosted by the larger colleges on a triennial basis, commemoration balls are generally white-tie affairs featuring performances, games, food, and drink all night long. This year, Sabine and I made it to St. John’s Ball to find a lavish array of activities. In addition to the performances and refreshments, there were a variety of carnival games (including mini-golf!) and the chance to spy some fireworks being set off at a nearby college.

As our warm-down on Saturday, we attended the St. Cross Summer Ball, a black-tie affair at Wolfson’s de facto sister college. It was also lots of fun, and predictably overrun by rowing club comrades.

St Johns Ball 2014   St Johns Ball 2014   St Cross Ball 2014

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Posted 28 Jun 2014 by John McManigle in Adventure

Weston-occasional-Mare   Leave a comment

In order to escape life for a while, Sabine and I ran off to Weston-super-Mare, a seaside town in Somerset. The town is across the Bristol Channel from Cardiff, and the tidal range in the channel is so wide that for most of the day, over a mile of mud flats are exposed. Twice a day at high tide, the sea appears.

We stayed at a beautiful bed-and-breakfast and spent our time in Weston relaxing and exploring the shore. We stumbled across a literary sand sculpture festival, the SeaQuarium (“oceans of fun for everyone!”), the Helicopter Museum, an air festival featuring the RAF Red Arrows, and plenty of strolls and relaxation on the seaside and in Weston Woods.

It was a fantastic trip, and we returned to Oxford refreshed.


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Posted 23 Jun 2014 by John McManigle in Adventure, Travel

London, Edinburgh, and Oxford   Leave a comment

When Lisa decided to take a quick holiday to the UK, we set about planning an itinerary to squeeze in as many of the sights as we could. After watching the Henley Boat Races, we set off to London. On Monday, we made it to a few of the tourist sites, including St. Paul’s Cathedral, Big Ben, the Tower of London and Tower Bridge, and the Embankment walk. Tuesday, we enjoyed a run through Hyde Park and the Buckingham Palace gardens before searching out a couple of museums. We visited the Hunterian Museum of the Royal College of Surgeons. This gem began as John Hunter‘s collection of anatomical and zoological specimens, and now showcases a wealth of information on the development of surgical technique from crude beginnings to its modern form. Our next stop was the Museum of London, which chronicles the city from before the Roman Londinium through its role as imperial capital and on to its global place today. After an evening show on the West End, we boarded the Caledonian Sleeper Train to Edinburgh.

This was my first trip to Scotland since I was a toddler. The visit, though short, was sweet. We toured the very imposing Edinburgh Castle and visited the National Museum of Scotland. On Thursday, we took a bus tour of the city and then wandered around the Scottish Parliament building and the Royal Mile. Finally, we got back on the train to Oxford (via London). Back in the City of Dreaming Spires, Lisa tried her (surprisingly adept) hand at punting before heading back to Philadelphia.

Edinburgh April 2014
London April 2014   Edinburgh April 2014   Oxford April 2014  

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Posted 5 Apr 2014 by John McManigle in Adventure, Travel

Flying the NYC Hudson River Corridor   Leave a comment

NYC TACThe Hudson River runs through the heart of New York City and between four large commercial airports. The river carves out a VFR corridor from the highly regulated airspace otherwise encompassing the city, allowing sightseeing flights by any prepared pilot.

I’ve been meaning to take this flight for a while, and Lisa and I got the chance on Sunday evening. We flew north from Baltimore, over Philadelphia’s airspace, and descended to 1,300 feet by the Verrazano Narrows Bridge. We called the approach controllers and were cleared through the controlled airspace to fly along the lights of the Manhattan skyline. Upon reaching the George Washington Bridge, we turned around, descended into the VFR corridor (below 1,300 feet) and flew southbound along the New Jersey side of the river. We circled the Statue of Liberty at 800 feet before exiting the corridor to the south. From there, we turned back toward Philadelphia to land and enjoy a restaurant week dinner at Garces Trading Company.

Seeing the NYC skyline from just a few hundred feet was breathtaking. Though it was a bit bumpy, Lisa managed to get a few great pictures. And the flight planning and flying itself, while it took a bit of attention, wasn’t too daunting. Altogether, a fantastic night!


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Posted 19 Jan 2014 by John McManigle in Adventure, Flying

Labor Day in Ocean City, NJ   1 comment

For a long time, I’ve wistfully looked at Ocean City, NJ Airpot on the sectional chart. It’s placed perfectly, just a few blocks from the beach. This Labor Day, I finally got there with a few friends from Philadelphia.

The morning weather in Philly wasn’t cooperative, and delayed our adventure to mid-afternoon. I landed at Philadelphia International and went into town to pick up Lisa, Eva, and Jerome. After Lisa ensured that her parents were thinking up a good eulogy and Jerome picked out his favorite Star Wars quotes for the occasion, we launched into a rapidly clearing sky and headed for the coast.

The arrival was quick and easy, and we set off for a wander on the beach and boardwalk before dinner at Hula Grill. We strolled back to the airport (via ice cream, of course) and enjoyed short night flight up and down the Atlantic City skyline before heading back to Philadelphia.

Photo Sep 02, 19 21 01



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Posted 2 Sep 2013 by John McManigle in Adventure, Flying

Sailing from Selby-on-the-Bay   Leave a comment

Despite growing up in Maryland, and having a few uncles with Hobie Cat obsessions, I had never been sailing. That all changed Sunday, when Geoff and Andrew, members of the NIH Sailing Association (yes of course there’s an NIH Sailing Association), organized an outing for some of the NIH OxCam class and other assorted NIHers.

We sailed from Selby-on-the-Bay out to the Mayo Beach Park at the mouth of the South River. There, we played some frisbee, had a few snacks, enjoyed the warm water, and met a rambunctious dog before heading back to the marina. Definitely a fun trip!


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Posted 1 Sep 2013 by John McManigle in Adventure

Le Bleu Ridge Adventure   2 comments

On Saturday, I flew with Léa (from a recent adventure) and two new friends, Meg and Mara, to Waynesboro, Virginia. We landed at Eagle’s Nest Airport, nestled just beside the Blue Ridge Mountains. There, we met Léa’s parents and energetic dog, Muffin, and set off to visit Afton Mountain Vineyards. We enjoyed a wine tasting (though in the spirit of 14 CFR 91.17.a.1, I had to pretend to be a wine snob and refrain from swallowing) and certainly found their motto “grapes don’t grow in ugly places” to be no shallow boast.

From there, we set off to hike to Humpback Rock. Along the way, Muffin really came into her own, deciding that she wanted to find out whether she was part bird. Her shenanigans turned an otherwise uneventful hike into a feat of balance and prediction. The view from the top was spectacular, marred only by “Bear”, a local ne’er-do-well with a penchant for off-color humor. But we persevered, and descended victorious.

Then, it was off to Le Bleu Ridge, a beautiful bed and breakfast that Léa’s parents own and operate on a stunning piece of land in Afton. Although we narrowly missed the last tasting at the Flying Fox Vineyard, we chatted the night away over an amazing dinner of yogurt-marinated chicken, grilled steak, succulent scallops and shrimp, rice, and crunchy veg. And topped off with ice cream, strawberries, chocolate, and maple syrup over the first Le Bleu Bonfire of the season!

Of course, the night was over far too soon, and we had to head back to Martin State Airport in Baltimore. The flight to Virginia was quite turbulent under fair weather cumulous clouds and a strong headwind, to the dismay of the two first-time small-plane passengers. The return flight was just the opposite: the windy afternoon gave way to a clear, still evening. Combined with the extremely generous routing from Potomac Approach, which put us practically on top of Dulles and BWI airports (pictures below), it was an extremely pleasant flight back, and a wonderful adventure overall. I certainly hope to see Le Bleu Ridge again!

Photo Apr 13, 16 59 03


Le Bleu Ridge


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Posted 13 Apr 2013 by John McManigle in Adventure, Flying

The Mystique of Tangier Island   2 comments

In January, I moved to Baltimore to complete the NIH portion of my DPhil work. Working with the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering and collaborators at Johns Hopkins Electrophysiology, I am investigating the use of MRI during interventional cardiology procedures. The research is fantastic, and as difficult as it is personally to leave Oxford, I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with friends and family back home, and getting back into flying after a nearly two-year hiatus.

My most recent airborne adventure was a trip to Tangier Island with Léa, an old friend from my amazing high school. Tangier Island is a unique place — fairly isolated from the rest of the Eastern Shore, let alone the rest of the world, it is served only by occasional boats and a small landing strip. The isolated locals have survived as a crabbing and oystering town, where they get around on golf carts and speak a dialect held over from Restoration era English. Wandering the town felt like walking through a hybrid folksy historical drama turned pre-surprise horror movie. The town’s first high-speed internet connection in 2010 spurred this ESPN commercial, and for the past couple of decades most of their health care was provided by one doctor who flew there to volunteer on his weekly day off. The whole Wikipedia article is worth a read if you get the chance.

On the aviation side, Tangier’s airfield is in the realm of Naval Air Station Patuxent, home of the US Navy’s Test Pilot School and various weapons ranges. The AFD entry for Tangier helpfully points out “Be alert Restricted Area 1 mile west of arpt, hi-speed acft drop bombs and fire live ammunition in area.” With this bit of advice, Léa and I (alertly) flew to Tangier in a Diamond DA20, hoping to taste local crabs. Unfortunately, it turns out crabbing is a seasonal industry in Tangier. Even if crabs were available, the town was closed on account of the local school basketball tournament — every family seemed to have a child playing. One of the locals gave us a golf cart ride over to the tournament, and we set off for the dusk flight back to Baltimore. But hear this, Tangier: we will return, and we will eat crab.

Photo Mar 09, 17 45 54

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Posted 10 Mar 2013 by John McManigle in Adventure, Flying