Category Archives: Nature Appreciation

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,

Living the Dream on a Truck Bed of Roses

We’ve just begun breaking in our restored/rebuilt 1950 Chevy 3100 Pickup Truck. It was a real treat last weekend to finally pull our custom home-built teardrop trailer with this beautiful vintage truck.

My fascination with this truck (and others like her) is that she has aged gracefully. I love that she is still pretty, tough, and practical, too. We’ve been calling the truck “Ruby,” but Mark says she’s a whole lot like me. I’ll take that as a compliment. I hope I age as well as she has.  🙂

Today, we made a run to the store to gather up materials for a raised-bed planter in the backyard where we’ll plant a variety of tomatoes, but we also committed to buying roses, even though we only rent our current home. They were far too beautiful and fragrant to pass up. I know they will bring us a lot of joy.

We’re looking forward to a few summertime camping trips up north in Arizona this year, where Ponderosa Pines in the high mountains will protect us from the desert heat.

Hope you all are doing as well as we are. If not, we wish you better days ahead.

Love,


RELATED POSTS:

1950 Chevy 3100 Vintage Truck Restore/Rebuild_1: Committing to the Project

1950 Chevy 3100 Vintage Truck Restore / Rebuild_2: Prepping Chassis and Engine

1950 Chevy 3100 Vintage Truck Restore / Rebuild_3: Hard Body Meets Firm Foundation

1950 Chevy 3100 Vintage Truck Restore / Rebuild_4: Grilling on a Sunday Afternoon

Building Our Teardrop Trailer From Scratch: Learning by Doing

Photos of Our Own Home-Built, Custom Teardrop Trailer

Pregnant Again

She’s done it again. Overplayed her hand. Underestimated the magical powers of her own fertility.

“What?” she says. “It’s not my fault. I’m just doin’ what comes naturally!”

“Fine,” we say, scratching our heads. “Now, what are we to do with all the offspring? There are hundreds of them. How will we ever find homes for them all?”

Ah, but look at them. They’re so beautiful, each and every one of them. And delicious, too. Pink. And sweet. And perfectly edible.

No way will we be able to consume all this fruit ourselves, and we absolutely WON’T let it sit and rot on the tree. Today, we began the process of harvesting these babies, bagging ’em, and sharing them with our entire neighborhood.

Abundance of this magnitude reminds me of the Law of Abundance in general. There is more than enough on this planet to sustain us all. Nature is willing to provide as long as we are willing to take care of nature. When we are so fortunate to receive nature’s gifts and God’s blessings, we must do all we can to share what we have and try not to let anything go to waste.

Wishing you ABUNDANCE,

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!

Happy Mother’s Day, Mother Nature!

Thank you, Mother Nature, for some of the most amazing experiences in the last several years out here in the western United States!

Fall Springs Ahead in Arizona

Arizona’s not one to follow protocol. Not only does she ignore the rest of the country’s insistence on turning back clocks in the fall (for Daylight Savings Time), but her desert flowers flagrantly (or is that fragrantly?) disregard the suggestion that cold is coming. Instead, she flaunts spring-like yellows like the flora fashion diva she is.

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