Visiting Art’s Cabin in Big Bear

Viewing Big Bear Lake from a perch high up on his property.

Kelsey and I were scurrying from a week in Yosemite to meet Beth’s flight from D.C. when we chose to route through Big Bear Lake. Why? My uncle has a cabin in Big Bear, holds an annual JazzTrax festival there, and has had a relationship with the area for 40 years. My thought was I’d show Kelsey his place but little did I know it would be a soup-to-nuts tour!

Thinking he was at his Palm Springs home we called to ask a question about the lake. “Why is the tributary lake almost empty and is that a reason for concern?” Don’t remember the answer he gave but do remember the happy surprise to learn that he was in his cabin. We dropped by, toured his home and property, exchanged stories and had a great visit. Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

Yosemite’s Many Sites

Mary Lake

Some old roads can still be found especially if they serve a modern purpose. The ancient road to May Lake was built early last century. From its condition I’d guess that’s when it also saw its last repair.

Hetch Hetchy, Glacier Point, Tunnel View, Mirror Lake, and a myriad of ancient roads are side trips I took during this visit. Any one of the biggies I’ve written about already would be reason enough come to Yosemite but there’s so much more to see. Some of these are worth setting apart and mentioning.

The water supply for San Francisco comes largely from behind a dam built at one of Yosemite’s great canyons. After the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire, Hetch Hechy within Yosemite was the wildly controversial selection of location to create a huge reservoir. The city was growing rapidly; it needed a large and dependable supply of water. Not only was water important for daily life but also for fire control. Steps needed to be taken to preempt another out-of-control fire such as the one that destroyed the city.

Clouds Rest in Yosemite

Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

Family Comes Calling

Paul On Trampoline

A more beautiful boy is hard to find. Paul is my nephew and when he visits our trampoline gets more of a workout than during all the rest of the year ... combined. He’s physically expressive and he obviously enjoys jumping. We’re always thrilled to have him come for a visit.

When does family predictably unite? At births, at weddings and at funerals. This time the reason was a wedding and more family than usual was in the area. My father was here. My uncle and aunt came. We even had the pleasure of my brother and his family being in the area. Happily they all made themselves available for an afternoon with us at home.

Thanks to them!

These spies hiding behind shades are Charlene and Cliff (aunt & uncle).

Here Geoff poses with Paul just before heading out on a kayak ride.

Others were present but not feeling camera-friendly … which was fine.

linkedinmailby feather

One Great Adventure with Courtney

Court at the Grand Canyon

She’s almost 21 years old, almost finished with her undergraduate studies, and almost flown the coop but she’ll always be my first-born daughter, always a remarkable young lady, and someone I’ll love forever.

It was Beth’s idea that for Spring Break Courtney and I should do a road trip and after 26 years I’ve learned to listen to her. However, a college student is still of a mindset that spending time with Dad is far less enjoyable than romping on a beach with her buddies. Well, I can’t say she was wrong in her thinking but I told her I’d try really, really hard to not be boring. In the end and much to my excitement she accepted. The stage was set.  Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

Crater Lake NP

Touching Crater Lake

Everyone has those silly little things they want to accomplish. One of mine was to touch the water of Crater Lake. Now I've done it and here is the proof!

Great Hike: Sun Notch Trail

The hike I chose is more a sentimental favorite for me and perhaps not for everyone. Sun Notch Trail is short (0.5 miles), relatively level, and not exactly full of sites to see. However, parts of the trail along the cliffs provide excellent views of Phantom Rock, a deliriously appealing island within Crater Lake. I’ve visited the park three times in the past few years and was never able to get close to Phantom Rock due to weather. This time on this trail I was practically on top of it while the morning sun made it shine. Finally I was able to photograph her in detail.

Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

North Cascades NP

Grand Coolie Dam

You know you've arrived in the Pacific Northwest when you start seeing massive hydroelectric projects everywhere. Grand Coolie is the world's largest dam.

Great Hike: Thunder Knob

First, I have to admit that until two or three years ago I had never even heard of North Cascades National Park. Second, I went expecting to appreciate one thing and came away also appreciating something very different. Third, I can’t believe how lucky I was to have had perfect weather. This visit for me was to virgin territory and once again I recognized that the National Park Service manages some wonderful parks.

My orientation pass through North Cascades gave me confidence that its nature was going to impress. Glaciers here had molded impressive mountain shapes, had carved valleys down which wide rivers now flow and which contain great lakes of clear blue waters. But what I also realized is that man had come in and harnessed all this for power, for recreation and for preservation. While I did choose a Great Hike, it’s not all that impressed me.

Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

Glacier NP

Japanese Garden in Manito Park

On previous visits Spokane had impressed me so before I left the following morning I visited a few favorites. Here is the entrance to the tranquil Japanese Garden in Manito Park.

Great Hike: Logan Pass

You can’t hike all day in Yellowstone, shower, then head out to Glacier and expect to arrive at anything resembling a reasonable hour. Regardless, that’s what I did and by 1:30 AM I was at my campsite at the East Entrance to Glacier. When in awoke the next morning I was greeted by some of the most beautiful weather I’ve ever experienced and there I was in one of the most dramatic landscapes in the U.S. The stage was set for an excellent day of hiking adventures.

Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

Wales Across England to Scotland

Wales England Scotland

Three ambitions, three countries, and six weeks to do it all. Another great U.K. trip. (But see that green island to the’s next on my list!)

This trip started with three ambitions: ride the Snowdon Mountain Railway, walk the length of Hadrian’s Wall across England and again climb Ben Nevis. These ambitions happen to be achievable in three different parts of the U.K.: Wales, England and Scotland respectively. These geographies became the rough outline of my trip which was conducted in phases as outlined below.

The list below is in chronological order. If you’re curious to learn about any segment of my trip then just click on any title below. If you want to see the trip in its entirety then click the first title and subsequently click “Next” at the bottom of each page to progress to the next page. If you’re interested in the three ambitions listed above then click here. If you’re not interested in any of this then be off with you(!) and thanks for your time. Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

Ben Nevis Pulled Me In

Hogwarts Express

“Serendipity” is a word I think of often. Many of my happiest moments in travel happen by chance because I notice things. Here in Fort William I came across a train of interest ... turns out it was the Hogwarts Express. For real! This is the train they use to portray it in the movies.

First, at 4,409 feet Ben Nevis is the U.K.’s highest mountain. Second, I’ve climbed it before. So as I hauled myself out of bed  to catch the train to the north of Scotland I found myself asking, “Why was I doing this hike again?” Fair question! I didn’t know the answer myself until today.

While planning this trip to the U.K. I know the hike was a high priority for me. When deciding the day to hike I know the weather was a crucial factor. Only after discussing the hike with staff at the Visitors Center did I figure it out. I had hiked Ben Nevis before but on a day when the top third of the mountain was enshrouded in clouds. I hiked to the top but was never rewarded with the breathtaking views. I wanted that closure so the hike was a priority. Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather

A Stunningly Beautiful Ride up Snowdon


Note the cog wheel in the cog rail within the symbol on the sign. This mechanism is how it can climb the steep grades to the top. Seeing footage of the steam trains, the ascent, the views are what prompted my visit.

I would highly recommend that everyone visit Mount Snowdon and ride the Snowdon Mountain Railway … by any means other than mass transit. It took four hours to go up and down the mountain but an additional 11 hours to get from and to Liverpool. Granted, I didn’t have to choose an English city from which to visit western Wales but the long haul isn’t what took all the time. It’s the inefficient local bus system that added unnecessary hours of waiting and wandering. Go in a car, but go.

Two days ago I came to the mountain to scope out the situation. Continue reading

linkedinmailby feather