Category Archives: Travel

Summer 2010 Greatest Hits #1: The National Parks

The first National Parks (NP) first grabbed my attention during the summer of 2004 on my Great Move West.  In the midst of a 2500 mile journey, my brother and I pulled off I-90 for a scenic detour through Badlands NP at sunset.  We were blown away.  We’d never seen anything so natural and beautiful in our entire lives.  We just kept coming around corners saying, “Oh. My. Gosh.”  Two days later, we made a similarly adjectived drive up Going-To-The-Sun Road in Glacier NP.  We hiked over snowy fields in our flip flops in July and fell in love with the bright turquoise water of glacial lakes.

The National Parks are something to be celebrated…that American pioneers had the foresight to preserve our best places, when humans tend to be so good at exploiting lands for a profit.

This summer, we took several excursions that led us through Crater Lake, Yosemite, Arches, and Canyonlands.  Each park was unique, but each one held breathtaking viewpoints, and  a myriad of color and natural beauty.  The parks were a melting pot of nationalities, and during our time in Utah at Arches and Canyonlands, we ran into very few Americas, rather we met mainly Europeans in rented RV’s.  It made me wonder if the National Parks are something we might take for granted, when we are the very people they were set aside for!  And, even with some of the parks boasting as many as 15,000 visitors a day (Yosemite) I was amazed at how much is still preserved.

So one of Summer 2010’s Greatest Hits for me was being introduced to the beauty of the National Parks, I must agree with historian Wallace Stegner (who was tagged by Ken Burns for the National Parks documentary) in saying they are “the best idea we ever had.”  Here’s a few snapshots in testament to their beauty!

Crater Lake National Park (Oregon, June 2010, with mother-in-law and father-in-law)

Yosemite National Park (California, June 2010, with friends from Taylor University days)

Arches National Park (Utah, July 2010, with Mom and Dad)

Canyonlands National Park (Utah, July 2010, with Mom and Dad)

So, now, it’s your turn.  Where would you like to go?  I’m thinking, Hawaii or American Samoa.

Coming up Next, Summer 2010 Greatest Hit #2:  The Backyard Garden.

Yosemite…it’s so hard not to call you “Yosa-mite.”

The first assignment I remember from my first semester of college was writing a narrative response to John Muir’s essay “A Wind-storm in the Forests.”   This last week, 4 friends, friend’s baby, husband and I travelled to a land that inspired John Muir: Yosemite National Park.  It’s the place Ansel Adams photographed, the place John Muir traipsed across while writing his essays, and the location for our weeklong summer vacation.

Yosemite  seemed to be part Eden and part Disney World…Eden, because I found myself uttering more than once, “I have never seen anything this beautiful in my entire life,” as I craned my neck towards the tops of  waterfalls and granite canyon walls.  Part Disney World, because I shared the experience with about 15,000 of my best friends, riding from trailhead to trailhead through Eden on the packed out hybrid Yosemite shuttle busses…part Eden because I could not stop saying, “This is so, so beautiful,” everytime I walked back to our campsite on the banks of the South Fork of the Merced River.  Part Disney World because we literally waited in line to take pictures under the giant sequoia tunnel tree in the Mariposa Grove.

It’s a funny thing to be camping in nature in the middle of nowhere with 15,000 other people, spending an hour or two each day waiting on construction flaggers to switch their signs from stop to slow, and stalking passersby in hopes of snagging their parking spot.

But Yosemite has to be that amazing, if at the end of it, we would say it was all worth it…the crowds, the construction, and hand-washing our dishes in a National Park sink three times a day…to be walking through Yosemite Valley with best friends, eating picnic lunches aside towering granite cliffs.

The moral of the story?  You should go to Yosemite.  It’s beautiful, and you will love it…

Hiking the Mist Trail to Vernal Falls.  We got drenched.  (Check out the tiny people on the right-hand side.)  Clay and I hiked up to the top!

A great shot of Half-Dome from Glacier Point.

A shot of Upper Yosemite Falls from the Swinging Bridge.

A giant sequoia in the Mariposa Grove.

Our campsite in Wawona Campground, near the South Entrance of the park on the South Fork of the Merced River.

Yosemite Valley from the Tunnel View.  El Capitan is on the left and Bridal Veil Falls on the right.

At the Tunnel Tree in the Mariposa Grove.

Patty, Buddy, Pike Place: Maundy Thursday in Seattle

Last night, Husband and I went to see the ever-wonderful Patty Griffin and Buddy Miller at the Moore.  On Maundy Thursday, Patty’s haunting covers of gospel standards (from her most recent album Downtown Church) were quenching parts me I didn’t even know had dried up.  She wasn’t necessarily trying to facilitate worship, but for me, that’s what it was…a quality of music that transcends anything I can normally experience during worship, and no one was up there trying to manage how I should be feeling…I was just able to experience it.

Beforehand, we grabbed dinner at a hole-in-the-wall in the International District, played cribbage at Starbucks, and took some pics at the market at dusk.  I’ve been messing with the manual features on our Nikon D60 lately, because it seems sinful to own such a great camera and keep using it as a point and shoot.  No pics of the concert, but a few snapshots of the streets of Seattle on a quiet Thursday night.