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!

 

Top 10 National Park Hikes


This is a list of my favorite national park hikes we have done. We have only visited 18 parks out of 59 so far, so I am sure these may change over time. Thanks to Adventures of a Day Hiker for the inspiration. For now here they are!

10. Bright Angel Trail-Grand Canyon National Park

I am sure the Bright Angel Trail will move higher up on my list when we finally get to stay at Phantom Ranch on the floor of the Grand Canyon. We only hiked part of the Bright Angel while we were at the Grand Canyon because we had limited time and a lot to see. Many hikers do a day hike to one of the rest houses or Indian Garden since this can be a tough one to climb back up from. We visited in October and it was still 80 when the sun was out.  The summer can be deadly. Listen to all the warnings and remember you have to go back up! This website and book are great for hikers and visitors. We also loved the South Kaibab Trail, but only got to see a little of it.

9.  The Zion Narrows-Zion National Park

The Narrows is more of a wade through the North Fork of the Zion River than a hike with elevation, but it can be hard on your legs and balance. Most day hikers do the bottom up day hike. You can also camp and get a permit to do the top down to see more of the scenery and canyon. You can rent water shoes, hiking sticks and even waders from shops at the entrance to Zion national Park if the water is cold. The shoes really help with the rocky bottom and give support to your ankles so you do not turn them. The hike is beautiful and unique. There are usually lots of people having fun towards the beginning, but it gets quiet the further you go. The Narrows can be closed from March-May, so check before you plan to go. 

8. Yellowstone Picnic Area Trail-Yellowstone National Park

There are a lot of amazing hikes in Yellowstone National Park, but we have only done a few of them so far. I hope we get to do many more next summer since we hope to work seasonally in Yellowstone or Grand Teton National Park! People raved about the Picnic Area hike in Lamar Valley near Roosevelt so we gave it a try. We only saw two or three other hikers the whole time, so I would definitely bring bear spray. It is an easy hike once you make the first initial climb from the parking lot/picnic area. There are lots of sheer drop offs so watch the kids. The views are beautiful and sweeping. We also love Trout Lake, Mystic Falls, Observation Point and the whole Upper Geyser Basin to Biscuit Basin for easy hikes in Yellowstone.  

7. Uncle Tom’s Trail-Yellowstone National Park

While short, Uncle Tom’s Trail packs a punch. It is steep going back up, and many people rush and forget water. Remember, you are already at a high elevation. The views of the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone on this metal staircase trail are great. You are right next to the Lower Falls. Try to get the rainbow in your pictures. Take your time and enjoy!

6. The Queens Garden Trail-Bryce Canyon National Park

I really felt like I was walking around in a fairy tale when we hiked the Queens Garden Trail in Bryce Canyon. You feel so tiny next to the hoodoos when you actually start walking around next to them. The floor of Bryce Canyon is lush and peaceful. Wall Street is amazing to hike through. We only stayed a night in Bryce Canyon and I can not wait to go back.

5. The Precipice Trail and The Beehive Trail-Acadia National Park

I lumped the Beehive and the Precipice Trails together even though the Beehive is shorter. I loved them both and both have amazing views. The Beehive is easier since it is about half the length of the Precipice. The Precipice is really more of a climbing/bouldering course than a hike. I wore biking/climbing gloves on the Precipice and they really helped with the iron rungs. Some parts were changeling for a short person like me, but several brave kids were doing the hikes. Not for those with a fear of heights! 

4. The Mist Trail-Yosemite National Park

I love Yosemite National Park so much. The valley is amazing. We can not wait to go back and do lots of hiking and exploring. I am hoping we can work a summer/fall season there in 2019. The Mist Trail hike was one of the highlights when we visited in 2015. Craig was wearing sneakers and it was very wet, so we did not get to Nevada Falls. My hiking boots did a great job. I would love to hike to Half Dome while we are working there, but it does scare me a bit! 

3. The Highline Trail-Glacier National  Park

Glacier National Park is a hikers dream. The Highline Trail is a great hike from the Logan Pass area. You must get there early to find a parking spot, or take a shuttle from where you are staying. There are sheer drop offs, but the hike itself is a pretty steady elevation change. We saw waterfalls, mountains, mountain goats and breathtaking views. One of my favorite national park hikes so far.

2. Angels Landing-Zion National Park

I would rank Angels Landing #1 except it was SO CROWDED when we went in October 2015. The temperature was perfect-in the 80’s. You will probably want to get on the West Rim Trail to Angels Landing early so it is still in the shade. The switchbacks are killer. It is even a great hike if you stop at Scout Lookout. The views are incredible. If you are brave try the chain portion. It is short, but if it is crowded be prepared to wait. You may want to check on when the sun will be hitting the canyon for the best light and pictures.

1. Grinnell Glacier-Glacier National Park

Grinnell Glacier is my number one national park hike we have done so far. It is amazing to see the effects of climate change and how the glaciers have shrunk. It was also so nice to hike with a ranger and group of national park fans.The whole hike has stunning views. I can not wait to do this hike again. We hope to work a summer season in Glacier. Maybe in 2020!

Thanks for reading and happy hiking! Follow us on Facebook and Instagram for more pictures.

 

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Treasured Lands


We just got this beautiful book from the library and have been looking through it. If you love our national parks you should try to find it! 



The title is Treasured Lands: A Photographic Odyssey Through America’s National Parks. It is hardcover and quite heavy. There are 456 pages of amazing photos. QT Luong worked on Ken Burns and Dayton Duncan’s documentary The National Parks America’s Best Idea. 




I love this part of the description: “In an odyssey that spanned more than 20 years and 300 visits, Luong focused his lenses on iconic landscapes and rarely seen remote views, presenting his journey in this sumptuous array of more than 500 breathtaking images.

Accompanying the collection of scenic masterpieces is a guide that includes maps of each park, as well as extended captions that detail where and how the photographs were made. Designed to inspire visitors to connect with the parks and invite photographers to re-create these landscapes, the guide also provides anecdotal observations that give context to the pictures and convey the sheer scope of Luong’s extraordinary odyssey.”

RV Shopping 

Last Saturday Craig and went to look at some RVs with two of our friends. The only RVs we had looked at recently were Airstreams, so we were pleasantly surprised. 

Many of the floor plans would work great for full time living. There is much more storage space and room in the RVs we toured than the Airstreams we looked at. I expected them to be cheap looking, but the flooring, kitchens, wood and design were very nice. 

Some had large showers in the bathrooms and nice closets in the bedrooms. Several even had outdoor kitchens with a sink, grill and small fridge. One brand, the Mesa Ridge, had nice insulation and heat around the tanks. There were small fireplaces and heated seats!

We are pretty sure about the floor plan we want and several brands have that style. We are going to check some more out in person. It was cold, and many had the slides in so we could not get a great idea on true space. The dealer we visited has a spring open house where many will be fully open for touring. Hopefully we can see more of the floor plans we like ASAP.

 



George Grant the First Chief Photographer of the National Park Service

 

After learning about National Parks Magazine, Craig and I got several issues from the library. The fall 2015 issue had an article about George Grant, the first chief photographer of the National Park Service. I had seen several of Grant’s photographs before, but now I know who took them. You may recognize this one of Superintendent Horace Albright taken in Yellowstone National Park.

The article says that during Grant’s “quarter century as the national parks’ principal staff photographer, he crisscrossed the country numerous times, traveling more than 140,000 miles to capture more than 30,000 images from nearly all the national parks, monuments, and historic sites that existed at the time.”  One of the photographs that struck me was Fort Jefferson in the Dry Tortugas National Park. It looks the same so many years later!

If you would like to see more of George Grant’s work, as well as many other national park photographs, this is where I searched on the NPS website. Here is an article about Grant.

Shown is a view of the Grand Canyon looking west, Grand Canyon National Park, June 19, 1930. National Park Service photograph by George A. Grant.

Shown is a view of the Grand Canyon looking west, Grand Canyon National Park, June 19, 1930. National Park Service photograph by George A. Grant.

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Capitol Reef

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone

Disney and the National Parks

While I was writing a blog post yesterday about our Florida trip, I had some thoughts. I know a lot of people that travel often and visit many natural places do not like the Disney parks. They find them “fake” and “commercialized.” I have always loved the Disney parks, movies and TV shows and find them to be an experience in Americana and American history. 

The first time Craig and I visited Yellowstone, the way it was run seemed so familiar. We had been going to the Disney parks for years and even worked at Walt Disney World. The concessionaires, international workers and staff from all over the country, the restaurants- even the trams and shuttles at some of the parks are very “Disney like.”

Zion shuttle stop

                         Zion shuttle stop

When we visited places like Bryce Canyon in Utah and Route 66, we realized how many details the Disney Imagineers placed in the parks. I love Main Street USA in the Magic Kingdom and The American Adventure in Epcot. While our hearts always prefer nature and wild places over man made, we can still appreciate the Disney parks as fun places to vacation. Now Adventures by Disney trips are even visiting some of our National Parks!

I do hope all Americans visit their National Parks and we definitely think they are much more important to see than Disney World. I really feel every American should at least see Yellowstone, Yosemite and the Grand Canyon. If you have been visiting Walt Disney World or Disneyland year after year maybe you should branch out. There is a lot to see in our world and our country. We made the mistake of waiting way too long to see our parks-now we have to catch up!   

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National Parks Magazine and Some Pages to Check Out

 

So I just learned that there is a National Parks magazine. Why did I not know this before? Craig and I are going to try and find some back issues, but if you are interested you can read articles and subscribe on the National Parks Conservation Association page. Stay Wild magazine also has an issue about our national Parks free to read online.

You may also want to check out National Parks Traveler for some great stories and info. I am not sure if we mentioned them in the past. 

The National Parks Experience is releasing several films about the national parks.

I read an excerpt from Ranger Confidential by Andrea Lankford the other day and really enjoyed it. I am going to get the book for my Kindle and read it on our Florida trip next month.

Enjoy!

The Sunshine Blogger Award

 

Thank you Matthew from the The Adventures of a Day Hiker blog for nominating us for The Sunshine Blogger Award! It is an award exchanged among bloggers for those who are “are positive and creatively inspire others in the blogosphere”. What a nice idea! Check out Matthew’s blog-the pictures and hike ideas are great.

Rules of the Sunshine Blogger Award:

  • Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
  • Answer the eleven questions set by the person who nominated you.
  • Nominate eleven other blogs and give them eleven questions to answer.
  • List the rules and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post.

Our Answers to Matthew’s Questions:

What is (or was) your dream job?

Craig- wants to do trail maintenance in the National Parks or run a mobile forensics lab.  Patricia- always wanted to be an SFX artist, Disney Imagineer, Park Ranger or Photojournalist.  

What is your favorite National Park?

So hard! I love every park we have been to so far, but I love Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton (our first park) the most. Craig does not have a favorite. He likes Bryce, Yellowstone and Grand Teton equally.

What is your favorite food?

Patricia-any seafood. Craig-loves hot and sour soup.

What type of camera do you use?

iphone 6, Sony RX100.

Why did you start blogging?

We wanted to share our love of the National Parks and our pictures.

How long have you been blogging?

About 1 year 6 months now.

What is your favorite animal?

Another hard one! Patricia-wolf or giraffe. Craig-cheetah.

What is your favorite beer?

Wormtown’s (Worcester, MA) Norm (oatmeal, coconut, chocolate stout.)

What place is at the top of your Bucket List?

Patricia-Africa, Craig-more National Parks

What is your favorite book?

Patricia-The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings. Craig-Catcher in the Rye, 1984 and Siddhartha.  

What is your favorite state?

California and Utah so far.


Our blog nominations:

Retirementally Challenged

Drivin’ & Vibin’

tandem trekking

ZenOnWheels

Northern Star Travelers

Paint Your Landscape

Traveling the World Solo

We are still finding blogs to follow and read-new to this!


Questions to our nominees:

Why did you want to start a blog?

What is the most amazing place you have traveled to?

Where do you most want to travel to?

Favorite hike?

Favorite outdoor activity?

Favorite movie?

TV show?

Best animal encounter?

Favorite personality (actor, singer, writer, humanitarian, etc.)?

Favorite band?

Song?

Quick Update 


2016 was an amazing year! Craig and I got to visit 4 new national parks (Glacier, Everglades, Biscayne and Dry Tortugas) and revisit 2 of our favorites (Grand Teton and Yellowstone.) We also had a great camping weekend with friends in Acadia National Park and hiked a must do-the Precipice Trail.


Our plans for full time RVing are a bit up in the air now with probable changes coming to the ACA. We will keep our eye on what happens and continue to save for an RV (hopefully an Airstream) and truck. We want to have a nice cushion to buy some land soon too. 


We had a wonderful time in Florida in October and are going back in January to see friends and family. We have no other plans right now for 2017. Our Alaska trip is being put off until we have more money saved. We will see what the new year brings! We know we want to see the Pacific Northwest soon. We also want to hike more of Yosemite. We hope you all have an awesome 2017! 

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!