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

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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

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Out and Back Across America

San Xavier Cathedral

How to chose a picture that captures the essence of this trip? Not possible so here is one of my favorite shots of Mission San Xavier del Bac. I visited this while doing extensive travel in Arizona.

Can you say “hodge podge”? That’s what this trip turned out to be but not in a bad way, simply in a multi-themed way. Wide variety pervaded this trip!

The initial reason for travel was my cousin’s wedding in Portland. Tagging on to the theme of family was working with my uncle on his business and spending time with my sister visiting from England. Then there was the incubator theme, visiting organizations that help start-up businesses succeed. Oh, and let’s not forget the goal of completing my circumnavigation of the continental United States or visiting all the Presidential Museums!

Get the picture? This trip was all over the place.  Continue reading

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12 Great Hikes

National Park Service

NPS is responsible for supervising and maintaining all designated national parks, battlefields, historic places, and monuments.

Mountain ranges are stark features of the western U.S. and in their heights are many outdoor wonders: Yosemite valley and Crater Lake, steamy geysers and ancient glaciers, volcanos and canyons. Many of these spectaculars are preserved by the National Park service for us to visit and enjoy. This trip I planned to do exactly that.

Since I was driving from D.C. to Catalina Island off the coast of Los Angeles for the JazzTrax festival I decided to leave early and visit some parks. I chose to focus on parks in the mountain ranges of the Rockies, the Cascades and the Sierra Nevadas. Furthermore, in the time available I’d try to find at least one hike in each which I’d consider “great”. My initial goal was ten parks.

Across four weeks I visited 13 national parks. Most I had visited previously, multiple times, but some were first-time visits. In every case I could easily have spent more time but managed to have enough time to do some hiking and exploring. Only Badlands didn’t fit my criteria of being located in a western mountain ranges so I didn’t blog about it. Neither did I write about the national monuments I visited. There is no shortage of beautiful places to visit in this country!

In chronological order, the national parks I visited were: 

Clicking on any of these will take you to my blog post for that park where you’ll learn about my “Great Hike”. You’ll also find links to primary NPS resources along with 10 of my favorite pictures for each park. If nothing else then I’d recommend you scroll to the pictures as I was blessed with amazing weather in some of the world’s most beautiful spots.

The mountains of the west are dramatic and recent and stand in contrast to much older and more worn mountains of the east. Each has its charm but the drama of nature is much more pronounced in the western ranges. I love the outdoor west; I love that the NPS preserves best bits of it for me to visit.

This won’t be the last time I go hiking in western national parks.

The next time can’t come too soon!

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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 left...it’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

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My Trip to Outdoors U.K.

National Trail

This acorn didn’t start out meaning very much to me but as I learned it stands for the National Trails of the U.K. I came to appreciate it. Have acorn, will travel. It’s a symbol of the potential for a lovely outdoor adventure.

This trip was planned for August for a reason. I expected it to rain less. All my previous trips had been off-season, any months but summer months. This usually affected outdoor activity moistly. While I did still have rain this trip I was largely able to plan around it. Bottom line: mission accomplished.

What inspired me to care to do things outdoors?

Three grand features of the U.K. –

  • Snowdon Mountain:
    site of a climbing steam train and highest peak in England/Wales.
  • Hadrians Wall:
    an Roman wall built across northern England to ward off Scots.
  • Ben Nevis:
    the tallest mountain in all the U.K. in the Scottish Highlands.

My goals were to hike down #1, walk the length of #2 and climb #3.

That’s what I set out to do and that’s what I did.
Again, mission accomplished!

It was a great trip.

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An 84-mile Walk Across England

Hadrian's Wall

What better name for a town a the end of Hadrian’s Wall than “Wallsend”? Here we are after a week of walking standing by “the south eastern extremity of the Roman wall”. Whew!

If you were wanting to walk across England then wouldn’t you choose the shortest path? If you were a Roman emperor wanting to build a wall to defend your English territory against the Scots then wouldn’t you choose the shortest cross-island route? Well, Emperor Hadrian built such a wall from Bowness-to-Newcastle in the far north of England and we walked along its length. We walked Hadrian’s Wall.

Please don’t think that my cousin Dallas and I walked 84 miles atop a wall. Continue reading

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Charlottesville Day Trips

Charlottesville Day Trips

At Michie Tavern they serve a “Hearty Midday Faire” from 11:30 to 3:00 each day and they’ve been doing this since 1784. On metal plates under candle light I ate myself into a satisfying midday stupor.

inia State marketing would have you believe that “Virginia is for Lovers” but only now do I know what they mean. If you love history, if you love the outdoors, if you love variety then Virginia is for you. This little four-day trip based out of Charlottesville drove this point home for me.  Continue reading

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My Civil War Arc is Complete

My Civil War Arc is Complete

A court house, a store, a few tradesmen and professional services are about all that made up this tiny community in 1865 but it was here where the War Between the States was finally ended.

My Civil War journey started when visiting friends in Charleston where I learning the war began with a battle at Fort Sumpter in the harbor. Since then I’ve been to dozens of battle fields, museums, and memorials because the story drew me in. All the while my admiration for President Lincoln grew and grew. Finally today I visited the site where Lee surrendered his Confederate Army to Grant thereby symbolizing the end of the war. What an odyssey. What a galvanizing event. What a tragic story!  Continue reading

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Summary: My 10,000 Mile Road Trip Ends

My 10,000 Mile Road Trip Ends

Someone asked me “How do you do a 10,000 mile road trip in the U.S.?” The answer is depicted at the left. Not quite a drive around the perimeter but pretty darned close to that!

It started with a whimsical suggestion to Kelsey, “How about we take another road trip during Spring Break?”  She was keen on the idea and Beth was supportive so I dug a deeper hole, “How about driving up the west coast of the U.S. from Tijuana, MX to Victoria, BC?” I made this trip a few years ago, loved it, and thought she would too. Also, if Kelsey could drive this dramatic coastline then she’d improve her driving skills while creating stunning memories for life.

The initial plan was simple: we’d fly to San Diego, rent a car and head south to Mexico, drive as close to the coast as possible on the way to Canada, and then return home from Portland after visiting my family. We’d do the whole thing in 10 days. Simple … or so I thought at the time!  Continue reading

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