Category Archives: Destinations

THE BEST PICTURE I NEVER TOOK: Lake Crescent at Dusk, Washington State, USA

There is one photo I never took, one of a scene far more beautiful than any I’ve ever seen to date . . .

The breathtaking view was on a long drive on the northwest route toward Port Angeles in the state of Washington, U.S.A., as Day 5 of our 3-week Teardrop Trailer trip was nearing an end.

We had been traveling North on coastal Route 101 since we left Oregon, but once we were about halfway up into the state of Washington, much to our dismay, Route 101 began wandering inland. When we hit the town of Artic, we had a decision to make. On this far northwest part of Washington State referred to as the Olympic Peninsula, Route 101 became a circular loop that traveled loosely along the west, north, and east edges of this tall rectangle land mass. Along the south edge were several highways and roads that collectively connected the west leg of 101 to the east leg of 101. Olympic National Park sat smack in the middle of the peninsula, surrounded by Olympic National Forest and tons of State Parks.

Since our destination for the night was a campground just inside the north entrance of Olympic National Park, due north from Artic as the crow flies, we had to decide whether to head east out of Artic on Route 107 and make out way on various other highways and roads until we reached the east leg of Route 101 heading northward along the eastern side of Olympic National Park or to continue on Route 101 out of Artic and head northwest along the western side of Olympic National Park.

Our GPS told us the preferred route would be the eastern one, promising to be picturesque due to an expansive lake region along the way. But because we ached to see Washington’s coastline, we ignored the GPS and headed for the western route, hoping to score views of the Pacific on the part of the road that ran north out of the town of Queets and continued for 12 miles directly on the coast before hitting Oil City.

When we reached that stretch of road, water views were hard to come by. Trees separated us from the open views we were used to along California’s coastline, so we took a turn off the road and visited Kalaloch Beach 4. There, we parked the car and, with dog in tow, headed down a pine tree-lined trail to a driftwood walking bridge where a rocky beach opened up before us.

Down the full length of the beach as far as the eye could see was a perfect line of pine tree soldiers, standing shoulder to shoulder, keeping watch over their fallen brethren that lay strewn along the coastline with their weathered, fair-skinned trunks and branches exposed to the elements.

The marine layer fog that blocked our view of the Pacific on much of the coastal ride in Oregon and into Washington, too, finally dissipated at Kalaloch Beach. We were grateful for the lighter misty spray that met us there and enjoyed a long walk on the beach, taking in the sounds and smells of the Pacific Ocean.

Afterwards, we made our way back onto Route 101 and continued on what was supposed to be a scenic part of the ride. We were in an area known as Olympic National Forest, and though the heavily forested area had its own beauty, we were still smarting from not having seen as much of the Oregon and Washington coastline as we hoped to. And we were tired—dead tired. The tall, uniform, untouchable forest trees that lined the highway quickly felt monotonous and had the effect of a slow hypnosis, making us sleepy . . . very sleepy.

That is, until the road turned eastward to continue along what we thought was the northern coastline of Washington, along what we thought was the Strait of Juan de Fuca that separates the U.S. from Canada. After a while, the road narrowed considerably and took on a wiggly serpentine shape. Guardrails and steep hillsides bridled close by. The cloudy sky above deepened into a mystical blue-gray. We seemed alone on the road—alone except for the dreamy dusk that surrounded us.

A snake-like lane of dark water appeared unannounced alongside our highway road, rising to a level equal with the road, taking on the road’s form as if it were part of it. I felt claustrophobic in its presence. I couldn’t tell where the black water ended and the black road began. Around every turn, I half-expected the road would be flooded.

Beyond the water was an even deeper blackness, unidentifiable at first. Only when the water mirrored a pattern of clouds that appeared in the twilight blue-gray sky above did we begin to see what lay on the other side . . . black Fiji-like mountains lining the other edge of the water, on what we thought must be the Canadian side of the waterway. To this scene, my mind attached tranquil and mysterious scenes of places I’d only read about in books, places where mystics lived and weary seekers traveled en route to their hearts’ desires. It was intoxicating.

My partner and I wanted nothing more than to stop along the road, absorb the moment, and stay awhile. But the distracting road, the dwindling daylight, and the ticking clock all made it impossible. I ached to catch the scene on my camera, but the serpentine road offered no safe way to do so, none at least that we could take advantage of in the moment. And honestly, even if she wanted to, this amateur photographer would not have been able to capture near darkness and sheer wonderment on her cheap point-and-shoot camera, no matter how hard she tried.

No, instead we gazed to the left as much as possible while darting hyper-vigilant glances at a commanding road. I willed my body to relax so I could capture the view as much as possible with my mind.  I knew I would not soon forget it and would someday attempt to write about it and share it.

At times, that’s all we can do. Be absolutely present in the moment. Tune ourselves into the layers upon layers of mind-boggling detail nature has to offer. Absorb, remember, and share our stories of the incredible beauty that surrounds us every day.

It was not until the next day that we figured out what this enchanting waterway was . . . it was NOT the Strait of Juan de Fuca and our view was not Canada. Instead, we were riding along lovely and enchanting Lake Crescent.

I searched and searched through images on the internet, but could not find any that captured what we saw that evening. Here, instead, is a picture I’ve doctored up from the internet that is far less striking and, frankly, pales in comparison in every way imaginable. Trust me, the one in my mind is a zillion times more amazing.


Who: Outdoors and traveling enthusiasts, National Park enthusiasts

What: Breathtaking drive along Lake Crescent in Washington State, U.S.A.

Where: On Route 101 in Washington State, approaching the North entrance to Olympic National Park from the west

When: We did the drive as part of our 3-Week Teardrop Trailer Trip in late August and early September 2014.

Why: You must experience this gorgeous drive at dusk and then spend a day exploring a hiking trail that promises to be quite stunning on the other (non-highway) side of the lake. We didn’t get to hike when we went, but will be back again to Lake Crescent to do so in the future.

How: Motor vehicle only. The road is too narrow and too curvy to hike, bicycle, or horse ride. It would be far too dangerous for anything other than motor vehicles.


To see our original 3-week Teardrop Trailer trip route map, click on the first post of this mini-series:

Teardrop Trailer Summer Road Trip: 9 NW States, 8 Nat’l Parks


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DAY_7_01

Public Comments Being Accepted for Department of Interior’s “Review” of National Monuments Since 1996

YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!

Hey, you!–you huge fan of all our National Parks–MAKE YOURSELF BE HEARD!

You lover of nature, you camping, hiking, backpacking enthusiast, you birdwatcher, you insect-a-holic, you flower fanatic, you lover of all critters in air, on land, and under water, you wanderer, and even (especially!) you, dizzy daydreamer with daffodils in your hair, PLEASE SPEAK OUT ON BEHALF OF A LIST OF NATIONAL MONUMENTS (shown below) CURRENTLY AT RISK OF LOSING THEIR DESIGNATION AS SUCH, leaving them to be stripped, mined, drilled and permanently destroyed, all for temporary monetary gain.

Do you see this stunning photo of Vermilion Cliffs National Monument?  It’s located right here in my home state of Arizona and it is at risk for losing its designation as a National Monument.

Coyote Butte North at Vermilion Cliffs National Monument in Arizona

The National Monuments being initially reviewed are listed in the following tables.

National Monuments Being Initially Reviewed Pursuant to Criteria in Executive Order 13792
Monument Location Year(s) Acreage
Basin and Range Nevada 2015 703,585
Bears Ears Utah 2016 1,353,000
Berryessa Snow Mountain California 2015 330,780
Canyons of the Ancients Colorado 2000 175,160
Carrizo Plain California 2001 204,107
Cascade Siskiyou Oregon 2000/2017 100,000
Craters of the Moon Idaho 1924/2000 737,525
Giant Sequoia California 2000 327,760
Gold Butte Nevada 2016 296,937
Grand Canyon-Parashant Arizona 2000 1,014,000
Grand Staircase-Escalante Utah 1996 1,700,000
Hanford Reach Washington 2000 194,450.93
Ironwood Forest Arizona 2000 128,917
Mojave Trails California 2016 1,600,000
Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks New Mexico 2014 496,330
Rio Grande del Norte New Mexico 2013 242,555
Sand to Snow California 2016 154,000
San Gabriel Mountains California 2014 346,177
Sonoran Desert Arizona 2001 486,149
Upper Missouri River Breaks Montana 2001 377,346
Vermilion Cliffs Arizona 2000 279,568
National Monuments Being Reviewed To Determine Whether the Designation or Expansion Was Made Without Adequate Public Outreach and Coordination With Relevant Stakeholders
Katahadin Woods and Waters Maine 2016 87,563

IF YOU WANT TO HELP & BE HEARD . . .

The following link will take you to the Department of the Interior page where the so-called “review” (which so far, all seems for show only) of DOI-1027-0002 is open for public comment.

If you care about these National Monuments at all, please take the time to leave a public comment on the following web page:


Department of the Interior public comments page for DOI-2017-0002:

https://www.regulations.gov/document?D=DOI-2017-0002-0001


Comments will be accepted until July 10, 2017.

(Note:  Public comments in support of Bears Ears have already reached the cut-off date of May 26, 2017.)


If any of the National Monuments listed above mean anything to you, or if you wish to make a general statement about the whole list of National Monuments under review, please do so at the link I provided above. When I submitted my comment today, I noticed public comments numbered over ONE MILLION! Please make yourself heard!

Thank you so much!

Love,

Fantastic AND FREE National Park Map Resource!

national park map, map resource

One guy. One website. TONS of FREE maps of every sort, related to our National Parks.

Click here for the website –>   NATIONAL PARK MAPS

This extremely thorough website and project is clearly a labor of love. If you camp, backpack, hike, or just plain old visit the incredible National Park system we as citizens of the United States so far been blessed to have in the first place. (Thank you, Teddy Roosevelt! Thank you, every environmentalist! Thank you every selfless, kind-hearted politician that protects our parks–ok, I know you are few, but thanks to those of you who do! Thank you every activist who fights the good fight to keep these amazing National Parks clean, secure and abundant in healthy flora and fauna!)

I don’t know about you folks who read my blog, but I view the National Parks as an emblem of what is meant by “America, the beautiful.” Without them, American wouldn’t be so beautiful. So, please do what you can to preserve what we have right now, to keep anyone from destroying it, degrading it, AND ESPECIALLY FROM CAPITALIZING on it for monetary gain.

I love you guys and gals who respect our parks enough to always leave ’em looking better than they did when you first got there. So many folks continue polluting and defacing our National Parks. Common sense and respect are fading fast in our society. It’s hard to keep up with it’s negative impact. So, everything you do to mitigate that reality, to balance out the bozo heads around you, really makes a tremendous difference. Never forget that!

Thanks and ENJOY!

Lemmon Eye Candy: Sunset Photo Gallery, Mt. Lemmon, Tucson, AZ

Valentine’s Day 2016. Desert cactus. Snow skiing. Stunning sunset after hiking. Prepare yourself for eye candy a.k.a. a photo gallery of our day trip to Mt. Lemmon in Tucson, AZ.

We started with desert cactus at the base . . .

and wound up in snow at the peak . . .

followed by hiking and spectacular Lemmon candy at sunset . . .

and perhaps my favorite photo of the day . . .

LemmonMtn_DSC02028_UR‘Nuf said!



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Happy trails, y’all!

Hope your Valentine’s Day was just as special.

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Get Yer Kicks in Williams, AZ: Gateway to Grand Canyon’s South Rim

Need a ROUTE 66 fix? Need a GRAND CANYON fix? Need a CAMPING fix? Need a FOOD fix or a MUSIC fix? Get Yer Kicks in Williams, AZ, just one hour from the GRAND CANYON.

Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66Twice in the past year, we made a stop in Williams, AZ, with our teardrop trailer. We had a great time both times, enough to say that from now on, Williams will remain on our must-do list when heading up from our current home in Phoenix, AZ, to Grand Canyon National Park.

The town of Williams, AZ is a really great place to visit on your way to or from the south entrance of the Grand Canyon. We enjoyed it’s cozy, eclectic, old-town feel . . .

it’s restaurants (Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe) . . .

Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66
Excellent ribs at Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe in Williams, AZ

it’s music  (Vincent Z performing at Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe) . . .

Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66
Musician Vincent Z (www.vincentzmusic.com) providing excellent entertainment while we dined at Cruiser’s Route 66 Cafe in Williams, AZ

it’s plentiful gift shops . . .

Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66

and even the shoot-em-up cowboy showdown that erupted in the streets (promptly at scheduled show times throughout the day) . . .

Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66 Williams, AZ, Arizona tourism, Route 66

We were even entertained by our friend, Dave, while we waited for our food to arrive at Cruiser’s Restaurant . . .

One more great thing in Williams, AZ, is you can wander over to the Grand Canyon Railway railroad station and treat yourself to a comfortable, scenic ride to the Grand Canyon by train. They have all kinds of events going on, including the popular Christmastime “Polar Express” ride (something I think I’ll make a point of doing sometime!). Check out the Grand Canyon Railway event page for more info.

We were in Williams, AZ, on the polar opposite of Christmastime . . . on July 4th, 2015, when we met up with other teardrop trailer and vintage trailer owners at a camping meetup at Kaibab Lake Campground. Kaibab Lake Campground is part of the Kaibab National Forest, which has a rather large footprint at the foothills of the Grand Canyon and beyond.

This campground is quite large and can accommodate anything from tents to large RVs. If you check out my previous blog post about the 4th of July trip, the photos of cool vintage and teardrop trailers give you a feel for the site layouts and terrain at the campground.

You can fish and kayak on Lake Kaibab, but in July, the lake was significantly lower than usual due to a dry summer. There is a boat ramp and a fishing pier, although the fishing pier at Kaibab Lake Campground led you out to a grassy area instead of to actual water. Remember to bring your bicycles, so if the fishing scene is a bust, you can at least enjoy tooling around plenty of roadway within the campground itself.

Downtown Williams held a great, old-fashioned 4th of July parade when we were there (plenty of pictures on my last blog post), exactly the kind of thing we were into with our vintage-inspired trailer.

In October 2015, we were back in Williams again when our friends from England came for a visit. This time, we camped an hour away in Grand Canyon National Park for a night, at Mather Campground at the South Rim of Grand Canyon National Park. Honestly, we didn’t care for the campsite itself (#147) at Mather Campground.  We were stuck in a parking pad that was really just a slight bulge in the roadway, a pullover really, with a few large rocks around it. Muddy. Muddy. Muddy.

We did, however, score a great view of a family of elk passing through the site across the way from us, and also scored some close-up pictures while hiding behind trees and bushes.

And we even saw this . . .

Grand Canyon Nationa Park, South Rim, Mather Campground

Again in October, we took in the splendor of Grand Canyon National Park, snapping photos, and looking down upon hiking trails in her belly that we planned to tackle some day.

Grand Canyon National Park South Rim Grand Canyon National Park South Rim

Overall, Williams, AZ, is a great place to situate yourself for a week while you check out some of what you’ve seen here and plenty more–like Flagstaff, AZ, (40 minutes away by car) or Sedona, AZ, (1 hour, 20 minutes away by car) both easy day trips from Williams.

All you have to do now is get out and enjoy it all!


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Happy trails, y’all!

 

WILLIAMS_07042015_140Sue J signature

Cabin Fever Cure: January 18, Free Entrance Day in National Parks

Got cabin fever? Beat the winter doldrums with the perfect cure: FREE entrance days in the National Parks!

It begins this year with January 18, 2016, Martin Luther King Jr. Day. And we’re ready to take advantage of it. Watch out, Joshua Tree National Park. We’re coming to see you again! (Check out our last trip to Joshua Tree here.)

Joshua Tree National Park Split Rock Loop Trail
Sue hiking on Split Rock Trail

The National Park Service has rolled out the list of fee-free dates for 2016:

  • January 18:  Martin Luther King Jr. Day
  • April 16 through 24:  National Park Week
  • August 25 through 28:  National Park Service Birthday
  • September 24:  National Public Lands Day
  • November 11:  Veterans Day

With 409 National parks to choose from, 127 of them normally charging an entrance fee, this is a great opportunity to cure yourself of the winter blues and simultaneously show all the folks who help preserve these incredible national treasures that you really do care about their efforts. What better way to prove it than to show up on one of the fee-free days and enjoy our National Parks! You’ll be so glad you did!


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Happy trails! Happy New Year!

Be safe,

Sue J signature

There’s No Such Thing as Too Many Teardrops

There can never be too many teardrops in a person’s life.

Whaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaat?

Say WhatTeardrop trailers, that is.

And there can never be too many teardrop trailer gatherings.

This past July 4th–our first ever spent in our new home state of Arizona–we joined up with a teardrop trailer group known as Arizona Roundup for a holiday weekend camping event. The gathering required participants own either teardrop trailers or vintage trailers dated pre-1980.  Let me tell ya’, the cozy, classic, and funky factors of the trailers were way off the charts (and we’ve seen some pretty interesting trailers in the past!).

The event took place at the Kaibab Lake Campground near a town called Williams in northern Arizona.  The campground is part of Kaibab National Forest and is only about 60 miles away from the southern entrance of Grand Canyon National Park.

Unfortunately, the weekend started with a communication snafu, resulting in the campground setting aside only half of the campsites we needed for the event. But ya’ know what . . . teardrop and vintage trailer folks are a friendly lot, so attendees salvaged the situation by agreeing to the only option available: doubling up at each campsite.

We were one of the last trailers to arrive at the event, so had few choices on where to crash. Bent on staying near the center of the action rather than on the fringes, we were happy to take up the campground office’s compensatory one-time offer to allow trailers to park on the turnaround road in our dedicated loop area. We made camp at one end of the turnaround road . . .

WILLIAMS_07042015_082while another teardrop trailer made camp at the other end . . .

WILLIAMS_07042015_045Though we technically camped on a paved road, we were happy about our setup. Tons of space around us to spread out. Plenty of room for the dog run. And exceptional real estate for putting up our over-sized American flag . . .

WILLIAMS_07042015_002We had some rainy weather to deal with, which served to remind us why we love our teardrop trailer so much more than tent camping. Rain? No problem. Time to curl up inside on the queen-size bed and read a good book or take a little nap.

Knowing the event included a Saturday afternoon picnic, Mark made his Dutch Oven Sweet Potato Curry Chicken recipe to share with 30 or so folks who gathered at one of the covered (thank goodness!) picnic areas. Thanks to everyone else bringing equally great appetizers, entrees, and desserts, we probably ate better than our forefathers did on Independence Day 1776!

After the community food fest, we headed over to downtown Williams, AZ, for a good old-fashioned 4th of July parade down their main street–a vibrant stretch of historic Route 66.

Williams, AZ is a super-fab place to visit on your way to or from the south entrance of the Grand Canyon. It’s chock full of restaurants, music, and gift shops . . . and even the occasional play-acted cowboy, shoot-em-up showdown in the streets.

But especially on this Independence Day weekend, there was no shortage of patriotic spirit in Williams . . .

and no shortage of teardrops, since a half dozen or so of our teardrop trailer-event folks joined in on the parade, too . . .

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

On Sunday, Mark and I spent the afternoon at Grand Canyon National Park. The weather was still snotty, but we enjoyed the park just the same. If anything, cloud cover adds interest to the canyon.

When we were exiting Grand Canyon National Park, we were treated with an elk sighting that perfectly wrapped up a great day and an awesome weekend. Check her out . . . isn’t she purty?

WILLIAMS_07042015_151

Check out the Williams area if you ever get a chance. And if you’re interested in future camping events in the Arizona area open to vintage trailer owners and teardrop trailer owners (both vintage AND new), check out the Arizona Roundup web page .

WILLIAMS_07042015_140


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Happy trails, y’all!


Sue J signature