New Book

The other day I saw Celine by Peter Heller suggested on one of my Facebook groups. Part of this mystery story takes place in Yellowstone National Park so I thought it would be interesting to read. So far I like it. Here is the description:

From the best-selling author of The Dog Stars and The Painter, a luminous, masterful novel of suspense–the story of Celine, an elegant, aristocratic private eye who specializes in reuniting families, trying to make amends for a loss in her own past.

Working out of her jewel box of an apartment at the base of the Brooklyn Bridge, Celine has made a career of tracking down missing persons, and she has a better record at it than the FBI. But when a young woman, Gabriela, asks for her help, a world of mystery and sorrow opens up. Gabriela’s father was a photographer who went missing on the border of Montana and Wyoming. He was assumed to have died from a grizzly mauling, but his body was never found. Now, as Celine and her partner head to Yellowstone National Park, investigating a trail gone cold, it becomes clear that they are being followed–that this is a case someone desperately wants to keep closed. Inspired by the life of Heller’s own remarkable mother, a chic and iconoclastic private eye, Celine is a deeply personal novel, a wildly engrossing story of family, privilege, and childhood loss. Combining the exquisite plotting and gorgeous evocation of nature that have become his hallmarks, Peter Heller gives us his finest work to date.

Let me know what you think of Celine if you get it from the library or on Amazon!

 

Dry Tortugas National Park

The Dry Tortugas are seven islands located nearly 70 miles west of Key West. You can take the official concesionare ferry (the Yankee Freedom), a seaplane or your own boat to get there. Most visitors plan a day trip by ferry. The ferry costs about $175 per person, but check during the year for coupons. They sometimes give $25-$50 off. You should know, the Yankee Freedom ferry is very fast and several people were seasick on our trip. We took Bonine just in case and were fine. We stood out in the front of the ferry for most of the trip back and forth. I saw a huge sea turtle! You can also camp for $8 per night. The Yankee Freedom ferry will carry your gear for you. The campsites were pretty nice and some were shaded by trees. They were steps from a beautiful beach.

The Island you will visit on your day trip is Garden Key. Most of the island is taken up by Fort Jefferson. This fort was built from 1846-1875. It was built to protect an important shipping channel. In 1825 a lighthouse was built to warn vessels about the dangerous reefs. There are many shipwrecks all around the islands. The fort was also used as a prison during the Civil War. Audobon loved the islands for bird watching and Hemingway for sport fishing.

There were two tours offered of the fort. A 30 minute one and one that took an hour and 1/2. Craig and I just did a self guided tour. There are apps you can download for this. We toured the fort for about half an hour-45 minutes, got our national park stamps in the visitor center and then went snorkeling with our new masks! We rinsed off, changed and had lunch on the ferry. Then we went back out to take more pictures. I also got a new t-shirt in the gift shop. It takes about 2 hours and 15 minutes to get to Garden Key by ferry. We left at 8am from Key West and got back about 5pm. We did not feel rushed, but would love to spend more time on the islands camping for our next trip.

It was a great visit and our 18th national park! Craig and I were celebrating our 20th anniversary and we had a wonderful time in the Florida Keys and the three Florida national parks. More posts about our Florida road trip soon!

The Precipice Trail-Acadia National Park


We had a great long weekend in Acadia National Park. One of the highlights was The Precipice Trail to the top of Champlain Mountain. The Precipice is an iron rung and ladder route up the steep cliffs along the east face.


Last year, we were not able to hike the Precipice  because the parking lot was packed. We did the Beehive instead. The Precipice is twice as long as the Beehive and harder. This year we took the park shuttle from Blackwoods Campground where we were staying with friends. It worked out great.


There is an 850 foot elevation gain up the trail and it takes about 1 and 1/2 hours if you go at a safe pace. Wear good hiking shoes and bring water. This hike/climb would be hard to do if you are afraid of heights! There are several exposed areas and narrow ledges. Sometimes you will have to wait on a ledge for others to climb. 

There are a few different trails you can take back down the other sides of Champlain Mountain.

I thought the Precipice Trail was amazing and challenging. I am glad we hiked when it was a cool 70 degree day out. It was definitely more like climbing than hiking. Have fun and be safe if you do The Precipice. Remember the trail is usually closed from March-August for Peregrine Falcon nesting.

National Parks Visited

  2014-Grand Teton and Yellowstone

2015-Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, Joshua Tree, Acadia, Zion, Bryce Canyon, Capitol Reef, Canyonlands, Arches, Mesa Verde and the Grand Canyon

    

Future:

2016-Glacier, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Everglades, Biscayne, Dry Tortugas

2017-Shenandoah, Great Smoky Mountains, Congaree

2018-Big Bend, Guadalupe Mountains, Carlsbad Caverns, Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Great Sand Dunes, Rocky Mountain, Grand Teton, Yellowstone, Bryce, Zion, the Grand Canyon (planned so far!)

Parkitecture in the National Parks

Parkitecture is an architectural style that developed in the early and middle 20th century in the National Park Service. The NPS wanted to create buildings that worked in harmony with the natural environment and historic surroundings.  There are a lot of elements in common with the Arts and Crafts movement- for example architects used a lot of native wood and stone. The Parkitecture style can be found in many National Park structures like entrances, lodges, and visitor centers. Many of these buildings are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

I really love the buildings in our National  Parks designed by architects like Mary Colter and Robert Reamer. The Desert View Watchtower in the Grand Canyon National Park and the Old Faithful Inn at Yellowstone are amazing. It is part of the National Park experience to stay at one of the amazing lodges like the Ahwahnee, the Bryce Canyon Lodge or the Wawona Hotel. I will never forget my first stay at the Old Faithful Inn and our visit to the Crow’s Nest!

I am excited to get a picture whenever I see the entrance signs to the parks, and the Roosevelt Arch at the North Entrance of Yellowstone is beautiful. 

Have fun exploring when you visit our parks and take plenty of pictures of the great PARKitecture.


Queens Garden/Navajo Loop Hike-Bryce Canyon National Park

Najavo Loop Trailhead

The Queens Garden and Navajo Loop combination is a great hike when you visit Bryce Canyon National Park. The combination is about 3 miles round trip. Most people start at Sunrise Point and the Queen’s Garden Trailhead. The views from the rim overlooks at Bryce are amazing, but you really want to get down into the Hoodoos and walk on the canyon floor. It is truly like walking around in a fairytale!

Navajo Loop Trail

Bryce Canyon Floor

The colors change during the day with the sun, so you will want to bring your camera to capture your hike. It can be hot (even in the fall) so we always carry plenty of water and hats on our hikes. Remember, you are at a high elevation. You can walk right up to the edge at some points- be careful. I loved the narrow Wall Street section and the switchbacks at the end. Enjoy, and let us know how you like the hike.

Loop

Bryce Canyon  Bryce

 

Uncle Tom’s Trail-Yellowstone National Park

If you love waterfalls, do not miss Uncle Tom’s Trail in Yellowstone National Park. You descend 328 steps on a steel staircase 3/4 of the way into the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone. When you get to the bottom you have an amazing view of Lower Yellowstone Falls.  Just remember you have to go back up! Since you are already at 8,000 feet elevation, you may want to take it slow. There are some benches along the way.

Uncle Tom's Trail Down

Lower Yellowstone Falls

The sign at the trail head tells you a little bit about H.F. Richardson. His nickname was “Uncle Tom” and he built a trail to the canyon floor in 1898. People would have to climb down ropes and rope ladders to reach the bottom. Then they would have a picnic lunch and climb back up. I can not imagine climbing in the long dresses and skirts of the early 1900’s! Let us know how you like the hike/climb if you do it.

Uncle Tom's Staircase

Preview Yellowstone Treasures below!

Yellowstone Treasures