Joshua Tree National Park

May 13, 2022

I made it to California! It took me a month, but I had so much fun getting here. I entered Southern California from Arizona and it is very desert looking and I am surprised by all the poverty looking dwellings.

Sunset campsite view.

My first stop is Joshua Tree National Park. The temperatures are forecasted to be in the upper 90’s.


I’m unable to get reservations at a campground with hookups outside the park to be able to run my AC. So I take my chances with the first come first serve campgrounds in the park that don’t have any hookups. It is after 4pm on a Friday when I enter the park so I have my fingers crossed.

A very bright almost full moon. View from my campsite.

I pull into the first campground I come to, Belle and take the first available spot I see. It just so happens to be campsite #1 and it has some shade from a huge rock formation. As the sun sets it should offer more and more shade. As I take Berkley for his evening walk around the campground I notice that I have one of the few spots that has some early evening shade. That make me feel so fortunate.

My campsite.

The temperature is 83 with a breeze so it is pretty comfortable.

Early morning view while out walking Berkley before sunrise.
I’m so pleased to see Joshua Trees for the first time. Some can be quite large.
It’s a beautiful morning view before sunrise.

Berkley can’t be on any of the trails in the park. Bummer! I only feel comfortable leaving him in the early morning hours while it is still cool out. So my hikes will be limited.

Heart Rock

I start my hike to Heart and Arch Rock as the sun is coming up at 5:30am. It is about a 3.5 mile hike round trip from the campground. It is chilly out and the hike is flat so I make great time.

Arch Rock

Once back at camp we have breakfast and I plan out the rest of the adventures for the day.

Face Rock
Skull Rock

There are some many rock formations in the park and I can see climbers making there way up and down them. Kids would love all these rocks to climb on. It would keep them entertained for hours.

Intersection Rock
Cap Rock
Split Rock
The terrain is dry and dusty.

We continue to make out way around the park stopping a many of the pulloffs and overlooks. This really is a beautiful park and it has a lot of hiking trails that would be great in cooler weather. I just didn’t get here early enough in the season before the weather got really hot.

I pull into the Hidden Valley Campground, a first come first serve campground that I am hoping to stay at tonight around 2pm. I wanted to get here early to make sure I would be able to find a spot since it is Saturday and the park is busy. The first spot I see has some shade, but I continue to check things out to see if there is something with more shade and end up coming back to the first site I saw and claiming it.

He is exhausted!

It does get hot camping here and I’m so thankful for the little bit of shade the tree next to my site provides.

View looking out my window of the shade tree and the rocks next to my site after the sun has set.
Yup. It is dry!

The next morning as I am walking Berkley around the campground every campsite looks to be taken. I’m feeling blessed to have gotten two great campsites in the park when I didn’t have any reservations.

I do another morning hike from the campground after walking Berkley. But today is supposed to be even hotter than yesterday and I notice that it gets really hot early today. We leave the campground early to finish our tour through the park.

Grand Canyon

May 7, 2022

Today I arrive at the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. I was at the North Rim two years ago.

I check into my campsite at Desert View Campground. This is my favorite one of the two I stayed at here. These sites were private and spaced out with a lot of vegetation offering some shade. Plus it was much smaller with a lot less people.

The camphost came buy to check me in and he also told me about a trail right next to my site that went to the rim of the canyon. He also said it was a great spot to watch sunrise from. So I went and checked out the trail and planned to come back for sunrise in the morning.

View along the trail.
I’m up at 5am for sunrise. Arizona does not participate in daylight savings time. So instead of Mountain time it is more like Pacific time here.
It is beautiful and I am glad I got up early, but cold weather and the wind chase me away from my view before to long.

I travel along Desert View Drive stopping at many of the overlooks as I make my way toward the most popular area of the park.

Desert View Watchtower at a elevation of about 7300 feet.
Sunrise view of the canyon.
Colorado River far below.
In some places the canyon is over one mile deep and ten miles wide.

Fun fact: There’s a town inside the canyon.

With a population of 208, Supai Village is the most remote community in the continental United States. The capital of the Havasupai Indian Reservation, Supai is the only place in the United States where mail is still carried out by mules.

The following day I hike most of the rim trail along Hermit Road. It is about a 8 mile hike and I do all but about 2 miles. There is a shuttle service that takes you all the way to the end of Hermit Road with many stops along the way at various viewpoints and the whole section can also be hiked.

That’s me!

Dogs are allowed on all trails above the rim and there are miles of paved paths for them.

Tonight I have wild horses at my campsite.
There were three ponies in the bunch.
My sunset view from inside the van because it is to cold and windy outside to be out.

Today I am going to hike a short section of the Bright Angel Trail down into the canyon. I believe this is the most popular trail in the park that goes down into the canyon.

The start of the trail is a bit scary for me with my fear of heights. I hug the inside wall and keep my eyes focused forward.
Trail carved through the rock.
It’s a little nerve wracking for me on the way down. There is a lot of loose dirt and rock to slip on and one woman infront of me did slip and fall. She was ok.
I make it to the first resthouse in just under one hour. This is my turn around point.
I turn around and start the 1.5 mile return trip with over 1100 feet of elevation gain.
Elk on the side of the trail munching on a tree.
Notice the foot prints in the dirt. It is so dry and dusty it makes a dust cloud with every step.
If you look closely you can see the trail far below me.
I felt pretty good climbing back out and didn’t have any muscle soreness from the hike. I make it back out in the same amount of time it took me to hike down.
After leaving the Grand Canyon I head over to Lake Havasu City for a couple of days. This statue was in downtown.
This is the famous London Bridge that was purchased from London. The bridge cost 2,460,000 and another 5.1 million to have it shipped over and reassembled. There were over 10 million bricks and each one was number for reassembly.

Fact: London Bridge has become Arizona’s second largest tourist attraction, after the Grand Canyon.

Sunset over Lake Havasu
Campsite at Lake Havasu State Park

Petrified Forest National Park

Arizona May 4, 2022

This is definitely a must visit National Park.
It was about 218 million years ago that flood waters carried fallen trees to this spot.
After being covered with sediment they slowly petrified. Some of these prehistoric trees stood 200 feet tall.
This pile up of logs is an ancient log jam, brought to the surface again through erosion.
The colors are beautiful.
Sunset at my free campsite just outside the park.

I just did a half day at the park today and will finish up tomorrow. Dogs are allowed on all trails in the park so we walked and hiked until Berkley was exhausted then called it a day.

This was my favorite hike in the park. The Blue Mesa trail. Don’t miss this one if you come to visit.
There were beautiful shades of green, pink and purple.
It was an easy 1 mile paved trail.
Totally mind blowing!
Old Pueblo structure which may have had one hundred rooms and as many 200 people living there.
A portion of Route 66 lies within the Petrified Forest National Park.
My free popcorn with a minimum of a $15 gas fill up.
Yes that is a humming bird sitting on the dash. He flew in an open side door and I had to open one of the front doors for him to be able to get back out. I was in the back of the van and thought it was just a bug buzzing around until I heard a little peep.
My dispersed campsite for the last 3 nights. On my last morning here, when Berkley and I returned from our morning walk there were 3 cows and 3 babies in our front yard. They were happily taking care of the yard work.
He is hiding from the flies in the dirty laundry.
My fancy fly squasher to help the little guy out!

City of Rock SP, New Mexico

May 1, 2022


I didn’t make many stops in New Mexico. It was dry, dusty, sandy and extremely windy.

My campsite for the next two nights at the City of Rocks State Park. Sunset view.
There are numerous dry camping spots among the rocks.
The park is located in the Chihuahuan desert region of southwestern New Mexico at an elevation of 5,200 feet.
The “city” is a geologic formation made up of large, sculptured rock columns rising as high as 40 feet and separated by paths or lanes resembling city streets. These rocks were formed about 34.9 million years ago when a very large volcano erupted. Then, erosion over millions of years slowly formed the sculptured columns seen today.
Looking down on the City of Rocks.
The early morning hours are frigid!
Another view of my campsite in the early morning sunshine.
We hiked to the summit of this mountain to view the city from above.
I have to admit I was a little surprised by the botanical garden located here, but it was a desert garden.
It was in this garden that Berkley got bite by an ant on his foot. It was traumatic. He couldn’t put any pressure on the foot and when he did walk he was walking on his toes. It took about 36 hours for him to start walking normally. When it happened I rushed right to a ranger and he assured me that Berkley would be fine. He said it is like getting a bee sting.
This one looks like it might want some water.
We did a lot of hiking here. It did a number on Berkley’s pads. I’m not sure but I don’t think they shouldn’t look so worn. The hair has also been broken off. When I’m trimming his toes nails I always marvel at how long the hair is and always wonder if it should be trimmed. Well walking on all these rocks has sure trimmed it. After all the hiking and the ant bite he is getting a few days of rest.
My last dispersed camping spot in New Mexico.
It was a large site with two humongous picnic tables. I don’t think I have ever seen picnic tables so large before.

Big Bend National Park


I woke up to rain and it rained most of the drive here. And wow…getting here involved some boring roads without many good views.
But once I am in the park things change quickly. Before I know it I am climbing up in elevation and I’m soon in the clouds. I wish I could see the views but today is not a good weather day.
The Chisos Basin Campground is at an elevation of over 5000 feet. It looks like the views are going to be stunning when the weather clears up.
I wanted to do a hike today but it is just to nasty. It is cold and misty. So I decide just to relax instead. I’ll do a hike tomorrow. The weather report shows the sun should be out around 11am.
I wake up to temperatures in the high 40’s. Berkley is not happy. He is not a fan of cold weather and after having to go out multiple times yesterday in the rain I am sure he is ready for some sun.
I head out of camp for a hike to the window, at about 10:30. It is still cold and overcast but it should clear up soon.
Upon starting the trail I am already seeing numerous piles of bear scat close to the campground and I continue to see them along the entire trail but no bear.
The hike is beautiful and I finely end up at the window. This is supposed to be great at sunset. With the sun setting in the window.
There are views all around and I’m feeling so blessed to be here.
This one is for you, Ruthless. I know how you love those selfies.
On the return trip the sun starts to come out and I take off all my warm layers.
The Window Trail is about 3.6 miles long when hiked from the campground.

What did the big flower say to the little flower?

…What’s up Bud?

Someone is finely getting to enjoy some sunshine.

While out enjoy the sun I see a bear in the campground! Then I see her carrying a cub with 2 more little ones following her before she heads into some brush and I can’t see her anymore. I love spotting wild life!

Beginning view on Lost Mine Trail.

The next morning I head out of camp early. I want to get to the Lost Mine Trailhead parking area before it gets to busy and I can’t get a parking spot. I passed the parking area on the way in the day before and it was small and full!

I arrive and there are only 3 other cars in the parking area. It is cool out but not as cold as yesterday. I start the 3.8 mile hike at 7:55am. It is an out and back hike with a 1200 foot climb to the top.

There are lots of switch backs, so you get views in several directions while hiking. I’m enjoying the challenge and my legs are no longer sore from climbing mountains.

I finish in about 2 hours and we continue on our way to explore more of the park.

Top of the ridge view.
Holder Wilson Ranch abandoned in 1945.

Tonight I am staying at the southern most campground in the park, Cottonwood.

View of Mule Ears

I arrive at my campsite and it is in the sun. It is much warmer here. HOT about 93. I am much lower in elevation than I was last night.

Tuff Canyon

Berkley enjoys some sun time but it’s not long before he is looking for some shade. I set up a chair under a shade tree, but just sitting here I am sweating.

The camphost comes by around 7pm to check on me and go over campground rules. Texas has a burn ban in effect bucause of the drout and high winds. She tells me that tomorrows temperatures will be close to 100. I have a reservation for one more night here but I tell her I’m not going to stay tomorrow night. It is just to HOT. There are no hookups here so no AC for me tonight. It was a very hot and uncomfortable night.

Berkley found himself a hiding spot and he is hiding from flies. He hates them!

I head out the next morning and drive to the most southern point in the park to hike the Santa Elena Canyon Trail. The trail has a lot of sun exposure and by the time I get back to the van it’s hot. Luckily the parking area had some early morning shade and I parked the van there so Berkley would be comfortable.

The trail went into the Rio Grande Canyon. It amazed me how green the area was surrounding it. There were so many plants and even some trees.

Canyon view

My time in the park was filled with so much variety. Rain my first day and frigid temperatures. Driving at elevations over 5000 feet and in the clouds. Stunning mountain views. Then hot, dry and dusty in lower areas. Mountain climbs and low canyon hikes.

Getting to the park was a very long drive. Once you leave the town of Marathon, the last place to get gas before the park, it is 70 miles before you reach the parks north enterance. The views get more beautiful the closer you get to the park.

Looking out of the canyon.
Total cuteness all tucked in for the night.

I exited the park through the west enterance and those views are stunning. The little towns I passed through were interesting. Some of them appeared to be very old with buildings in disrepair and no longer in use. Far different from the newly developed area I am from.

Upon arrival at the Guadalupe mountain I checked to see if I could get a campsite in the park but it was full. It is the most unusual campground I have ever seen. It is just a black top parking area with lines painted on it. But the views are stunning.
I travel to a nearby rest to spend the night. The view isn’t as good but it is a pretty sunset.
Head back to the park in the morning to hike the McKittrick Canyon trail.
The wind is blowing a steady 20mph. It has been super windy.
Pratt Lodge
It was not open, but take a few pictures looking in the windows.
The Wallace Pratt Lodge was the summer residence of Wallace Pratt, the principal donor of the lands that would become Guadalupe Mountains National Park.
It was built around 1932 and was used primarily as a summer home.
Total cuteness!

The Lone Star State


I have landed in Texas.

I’m not going to lie. The roads are rough here. I hit a bit of construction and the fact the van rides like a bounce house, I was ready for some relaxation!

Interesting art at the welcome center.

My first stop is to find a store where I can get a beach permit to be able to drive on Bolivar Beach. I get lucky and the first one I stop at I’m able to get the beach pass for $10, which is good for the whole year. It allows me to drive and camp on the beach.

View from my beach camping site.

I’ll admit I’m nervous to drive on the beach with the van. This isn’t Daytona Beach with hard packed sand. There are areas of softer sand and when I drive across, it feels like I am sinking. I hold my breath and hope I make it across without getting stuck. After passing a couple of class A’s and a fifth wheel I relax more. Surely if they have made it this far I will be ok.

Sunset to the west.

The beach experience was not all I hoped it to be. I ended it the next morning. The wind was blowing about 20 mph and blowing sand everywhere. I couldn’t have any windows open. But it was the tide that was coming in fast that had me nervous.

Early morning view. I didn’t get swept away by the rising tide.

When I got up the next morning and went out to walk Berkley the tide had come in a good bit. We went for a our walk. It was cold and super windy. When we got back I left him in the van and went for my run. I ended up cutting my run short because the tide was really coming in and I think the wind was making it so much worse. It was time to pack up and get off the beach.

Sunrise and incoming tide!

I went to the beach enterance and parked where there was more beach and I was much farther from the water. I continued to enjoy the sunrise and people watched.

Then it started. Campers were exiting the beach. First came a truck and trailer camper then the fifth wheel and some car campers. I’m sure all having an oh shit moment when they saw the rising tide. Hightide was at 8:50am so if you are a late sleeper that is a slap in the face wake up. I’m sure glad I was an early riser.

The wind was so bad that I was definitely not enjoy the beach so I decided to leave the little safe haven I found and get a campsite it town. I’m so glad I did because when I went to exit there was so much new sand that had been blow onto the exit road that it was really soft. Luckily I made it out ok.

I called around and found a campground but the first stop was the car wash. There was sand everywhere. Even after the wash there was still sand! I think it will take several washes to get rid of it all.

I’m staying at the Lazy Pelican RV Park and they have FREE laundry. Score! I do 4 laods.

Boarding ferry.

The next morning I head out to catch a ferry to Galvaston Island. I am staying at a state park on the island. The ferry ride on the Gibb Gilcrest is FREE and takes about 20 minutes.

We are packed in like sardines! I am squeezed in-between a Stairwell to my right and a flatbed semi on my left.
I’m unable to open the front doors to get out. I exit through the slider, but I am shocked when I look down to see how close I am to guard rail!

I head up to the upper deck but the windows are so dirty it is hard to see out and I’m not heading out to the open deck. It is to cold and windy, plus it will make my hair friz.

I drive beach side to get to Galvaston Island State Park. The weather is so bad that there’re are not many people at the beach and there is plenty of beach side parking. I don’t stop, but I do marvel at the seawall that goes on for miles.

Fun Fact: The Galveston Seawall is the longest continuous sidewalk in the United States at 10.3 miles long. I had to look it up!

Bay side of Galveston Island State Park.

Galveston Island State Park is located ocean and bay side. Currently the ocean side is closed for repairs from hurricane Harvey. Most of the roads on the bay side looked like they were just redone. I wonder how much damage the hurricane did.

One of the trails.

The park is very open and not many trees in sight. There is no privacy in the camping area and no shade from the sun. I don’t think I would stay here again. The trails in the early morning were wet and muddy in some areas.

I am starting to make my way across the state. I’m headed to Big Bend Natuonal Park. My next stop is at Palmetto State Park. It is only a few miles from the highway and easy to get to.

View from my campsite.

The park is beautiful with lots of shade trees and because there are not very many campers here, it is quiet.

This artesian well has a funny smell to it.
A couple of other camping sites in the park.
Notice the gray color of the water? Not sure why it is that color.
The next morning I hike a couple of trails in the park. At the trailhead it warns to lookout for snakes. I see 5 deer, 2 turtles and one buzzard. Thankfully no snakes!
I am out early and it is a beautiful morning. Overcast skies and coolish temperatures.
The trail is easy walking and would also make a great running path. Mom, you would love this one. No rocks or roots.

We head out of the park fairly early. I want to make a stop at the carwash and clean up the van again. It got so dirty while parked beach side. I also want to stop at the grocery store before heading into Big Bend National Park in a few days. It doesn’t look like there is much around that area and I will be in the park for 4 days.

Frio River at Garner State Park

The carwash was a very messy affair. The winds here are as strong if not stronger than at the beach. It was the first shower I have taken at a car wash. HA!

Frio River

I am headed for Garner State Park today. This is one of the busiest state parks in Texas. I originally saw a picture of it as a screen saver on Jim’s computer. I knew I wanted to try and make it here if I could and it worked out great since I decided to abandon the rest of the beach camping.

When we arrived we took a hike along the Frio River. The water was crystal clear and so beautiful. There were lots of people out enjoying the cool water in the hot summer sun.

A view from above looking down on the river.
Wild horse creek trail.

The winds were super strong yesterday but this morning they are calm and we head out for a hike around 7am.

Probably should have checked weather, but where is the sense of adventure in that!

It is overcast with a chance of rain. We hike up the Wild Horse Creek Trail, connect with the Foshee Trail and end with The Bridges Trail making it almost a 3 mile loop hike.

Not a good spot to take a rest when it is starting to sprinkle.
But how can you complain when you walk around a bend and there is a view like this.
The hike down The Bridges Trail was a challenge. It is steep and the limerock was wet from the light rain. This is a view looking back up the trail! There were a few sections I came down on my butt. I had Berkley in his carrier so I was trying to be really cautious.
The next morning we head out again to take in a couple more trails. We start on the White Cave trail, connecting to the Foshee trail then Old Baldy trail for a 2 mile ish loop.
This one has been vandalized.
It starts to mist on us some. I have Berkley riding along with me. He is not a fan of the rain but he never complains.
My campsite.
We hike along a ridge all the way to Old Baldy, the mountain pictured. We come down the trail that you can see on the right side of the picture.
The trails here have had plenty of rocks and they are steep.
After leaving Garner State Park I head to Seminole Canyon State Park. It has been an overcast day and is 80 with cloud cover so I start down the 7.5 mile Canyon Rim Trail. I get about 2.5 miles down the trail and the sun comes out and it gets hot. Berkley is panting so I turn around before making it to the Rio Grande River.
I tried to share my hat, but he was not a big fan of it.
Canyon view.
The camping fees for both the state and national parks has been really reasonable in Texas. This site was $24 for the night with water and electric.
East direction glow from setting sun and my campsite for the night.

Next stop is Big Bend National Park…

What’s Next?

Friday 4.15.22

Wow…Where to start. There is so much to tell. I’m on the road again for another grand adventure.

But let’s start with what I’ve been up to since last summer. After getting back home in August from my trip out west with Jim. I was home for a couple of months before itching for the next adventure.

I left the end of September and headed to the northern entrance of the Shenandoah National Park. I then headed south along Skyline Drive. Hiking and camping along the way. The fall colors were starting and it was beautiful.

Shenandoah National Park is a must visit park. The hiking is awesome and there are so many great places to camp along the way.

I continued the drive down the Blue Ridge Parkway for a continuation of hiking and camping. Unfortunately, I didn’t make it all the way to Smoky Mountain National Park before the weather turned rainy and cold.

I decided to exit the Parkway and headed to Franklin, NC where my Mom had rented a house for a few months. I visited with her for a week before heading home in November.

I made it all the way until February before heading out again. It was to cold to travel north so I headed south to the Everglades National Park looking for warmer weather.

I manage to to get a last minute reservation for a couple of nights in the northern most campground, Long Pine, in the park. It is a great campground with some large shaded sites.

When I got to the southern tip of the park and inquired about camping at the Flamingo campground there was availability but the mosquitos were so bad I decided not to stay. You literally had to wear netting if you wanted to be outside! It reminded me of hiking in Oregon!

The big news is… I am currently making my way to California looking for adventure.

I have many stops planned along the way but if you have any adventurous suggestions, please share them.

First stop is Henderson Beach State Park in Destin, Florida. The Emerald Coast.

This is a 5 star state park and not to be missed if in the area! It is on the beach although you can not see the beach from the campground. The beach is just a short walk away on a concrete path then boardwalk over the dunes to the beach. The campsites are ginormous and privately spaced on gravel pads. The bathrooms and showers are clean and there is no trash on the ground anywhere.

I travel along the coast to Pensacola, stopping to visit Gulf Islands National Seashore and Fort Pickens National Park.

The beaches are a site to see, white sand and blue-green water. Picture perfect.

While up north one plows the road to remove the snow down here in Florida it’s plowed to remove the beach sand!

From one of the picnic areas in the park I stumble across the Florida trail. It is less than a mile from the northern terminus. So I do what an hiker would do. I head to the northern terminus. Very little of the hike is shaded and Berkley has had enough less than half way through. So I pick him up and stuff him in his carrier and continue on.

Northern terminus of the Florida Trail.
I’m really not to interested in the Forts, but I take a few pictures anyway.
There is a plaque at one of the forts informing readers that they were build with slave labor. Now I care even less for them.
I took a side trail off the FT and end up here. I have the whole beach to myself and it is so beautiful.

This was my last day in Florida before continuing my trip west. On to the next adventure.

Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Thursday July 22, 2021

We had numerous recommendations of places to see and stop at on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This was not one of our planned stops on this trip,, but we had a few extra days before needing to be home and I thought the weather would be fairly comfortable here. We’ve been trying to avoid the heat wave out west as much as we can and have done pretty well at it.

Our first stop was Porcupine Mountains State Park. We were able to get a first come first serve campsite, one of just two available. Our good luck again.

Upon arrival we walk the 2.5 mile loop trail that goes by 3 waterfalls. After being out west and seeing the beautiful blue water this just lacks that magical beauty.

The sky is dark and looks like rain but it holds off and later the sun comes out.

Friday July 23, 2012

We head out of the campground to explore more of the park. I wanted to visit the Lake in the Clouds area.

Saturday July 24, 2021

This morning we head to the Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore. Our first stop is Munising Falls. There is a light misting rain, but we are not the only ones here and others are putting on their rain gear for the short walk to the falls so we do the same. Berkley sits this one out preferring to stay dry.

We then head to the Pictured Rocks Lakeshore and are able to do some walking around in-between light rains. The water color is as amazing as it looks in the picture.

Sunday July 15, 2021

We are lucky again and are able to get a campsite at Tahquamenon Falls State Park for the night.

This was truly the waterfall that Jim enjoyed the most because there was a pub in the parking area. He never got past the pub! He just stayed right there.

Monday July 26, 2021

This was our last stop before heading home. The Soo Locks just before crossing the Mackinac Suspension Bridge into Michigan’s mainland.

The locks are located on the St. Marys River between Lake Superior and Lake Huron. I got us a spot at a campground that I thought you could see the locks from but all we could see was the large ships going by.

Thursday July 29, 2021

We spent the last couple of days traveling home and arrived back home yesterday.

We traveled through 22 states and covered almost 10,000 miles in just 8 weeks. With a gas bill of almost $1,800. It was our most expensive traveling expense.

Yes, Jim and I are still married after spending so much time together in that tiny van and I would do it all over again. It was an awesome trip and we got to do and see so much. Thank you, Babydoll for coming along with me.

Glacier National Park

Saturday July 17, 2021

It is crazy to enter a national park on a weekend. It is super busy. Especially this year after everyone was cooped up last year.

We need timed entry passes to enter the park and we don’t have them so we have to enter before 6am. I am up a 4am. Jim at 4:15, it’s a struggle for him. He had a very long day of driving yesterday and he’s tired.

We enter the park in the dark and arrive at the Avalanche Lake hiking area at 5:30am. The one good thing about entering so early is that there is no line to wait in to enter the park. When we get to our destination I clean and cut up a bunch of berries that we just recently purchased. We enjoy some fresh berries with yogurt and granola for breakfast.

It is cold outside so I linger before I set out to do my hike. Jim wants to stay behind and go back to sleep.

I did this same hike last year and loved it. It is a fun hike and the lake is beautiful. I am in long pants and a fleece and I never take the fleece off the whole hike. The temperatures are pretty cold in the mornings. So I never got over heated.

When I get back Jim is just waking up from his nap. We are parked in a great shady spot so I decide to cook us some black bean and corn quesadillas for lunch and then we can have leftovers for dinner on days that it is to hot to cook in the van.

We leave the park around 3pm to pick up some things at the grocery store and do some laundry. Then later return to the park to camp for the night. We do not have a campsite in a campground since they were all full. We are actually camping illegally. We camp near a boat launch. When we entered the park this morning we noticed a van that looked like it had spent the night there. So we decide to try it and it all works out fine. The next morning when we wake up we notice another van parked right next to us. I guess they had the same idea.

Sunday July 18, 2021

We are up before 5am and head out shortly after. We are headed up to Logan Pass on the Going To The Sun Road to hike to Hidden Lake overlook. It takes us almost an hour to get there and when we do the parking lot is already half full at 6am. It sure wasn’t like this last year. There are so many people out enjoying the parks and nature.

It is an amazing hike and I highly recommend it. Although I don’t think Jim enjoyed the few hundred steep steeps it takes to get there. And the worse part is that you can see that the trail keeps going up and up! I thought Jim was going to kill me. My only saving grace was the wildlife that we saw. There were three animals that Jim wanted to see that he hadn’t seen yet and we saw them all on this hike. We saw big horn sheep, mountain goats and two grizzly bears!

We have seen an incredible amount of wildlife on this trip and I feel so thankful to have seen all that I have. Most of it has been pointed out to me by Jim. He has an incredible eye for finding the wildlife.

We head east toward the east enterance of the park continuing on the Going To The Sun Road. This is new territory for me since I was to nervous to drive further than Logan Pass last year. There was a waterfall that I wanted to hike to last year, but I didn’t because I was so nervous about driving back on the very narrow road once the traffic picked up. So last year I just drove up to Logan Pass walked around some and once I saw how busy the the road was getting I decided to go back down asap. As we are heading east toward St. Mary the road really isn’t that narrow and scary. It is much scarier driving to Logan Pass from the west side, which just happened to be the only enterance that was open last year.

We arrive at the Virginia Falls trailhead around 10am and I hike to the falls without Jim. This mornings hike kinda did him in. It is a 6 mile round trip hike that goes by a total of three waterfalls.

As we are heading out of the park we see a pullout with a few cars parked and numerous people with cameras and binoculars out looking at something. Jim and I look and see something brown so he pulls over to check it out and it is another grizzly bear. What timing we have.

We exit the park and head south to the Two Medicine park enterance. We find a first come first serve campsite in the campground and reserve it for the night. I wanted to stay two nights here but it looks like tomorrow’s high is supposed to be 98 according to the camp host. Way to hot for a campsite with no electric so we may move on tomorrow after the morning hike.

Monday July 19, 2021

We hike to Aster Falls this morning and it was an awesome hike. We see a huge moose in a pond on the way to the falls and we got to see her again on the way back. That is a total of five moose that we have seen on this trip. Jim brought the binoculars along so we were really able to view her well. She was munching her way around the pond eating the grass growing on the pond floor.

We did make plans to move on this morning after our hike but we later heard that the weather was only going to be a high of 84. We don’t have service so we couldn’t check it ourselves. I am bummed about this but Jim is getting a little bored with all this nature. He needs bars, people and socialization.

On our way out of the park there is another waterfall that is a short walk. Of course I make Jim stop and I am so glad I did. It is an amazing waterfall named after a indian warrior woman.

Once we have cell service again I start to check the weather ahead it looks really HOT! We are headed across the northern part of Montana and North Dakota to the Great lakes. It is to hot to stop driving. Jim drives until 1am looking for cooler weather. It is at a Flying J truck stop in Minot, North Dakota where we finally stop and rest our heads.

The drive was not exciting. It was flat land covered in wheat. We are following the Hi-line Railway so we also saw a lot of trains.

Tuesday July22, 2021

Today was supposed to be a short travel day, but it didn’t work out that way. We leave the Flying J and it is more flat land again. This time covered in sunflowers, but the railway is still there. We run into some unexpected heavy smoke from fires in Ontario. We decide to keep driving until it clears.

We arrive in the town of Duluth, Minnesota around 7pm. We find an excellent public parking area directly in downtown and on Lake Superior. It is $10 for 24 hours- we’ll take it! The smoke is very minor here and there are breweries with in walking distance.

Wednesday July 21, 2021

I awake later than normal at 6:45am after a late night last night.

We are motivated to get moving quickly by the sound of the horn for the lift bridge. We are not only camped on Lake Superior but also by an shipping canel inlet to Duluth Harbor. The bridge is being lifted for a massive fuel carrier. You can even yell good morning to the crew on the ship as they pass by.

We take Berkley for a 3.8 mile morning walk along the Canal Park River Walk. It is a lovely morning with temperatures in the low 60’s.

We tour the shops around downtown then stop in a bar for a 2 hour lunch. Jim was in his happy place. We had great beer and good food.

North Cascades NP

Tuesday July 13, 2021

After leaving Olympic NP we decide to see if we can take  the ferry from Port Townsend to Whidby Island which will save us hours of driving, plus it will be a new experience. The reservations are all full, but we were able to get on by standby. I was a little worried about putting the van on a ferry. But after arriving at the port and seeing semi trucks inline to board I felt much better about it. I thought it was pretty cheap at less than $20 for us to cross with the van.

While we were waiting for the  ferry to come in we took a short walk around the area. There were some pretty neat old building in the area.

Upon landing on Whidby Island we passed Deception Pass, unfortunately it was way to crowded for us to find a parking spot. That is another one of those spots that needs to be gotten to early in the morning. The state park was also full.

Jim has a friend who lives in the area. We meet up with Keith for pizza and beers. Then follow him back to his house on Big Lake in Mount Vernon. The guys enjoy more beer from the back deck.

We enter North Cascades NP and head to the first campground near the Newhelem Visitor Center. We find an open site even though the enterance sign says the campground is full. We walk up to the visitor center and it is closed. We later learn that the sites are by reservation only and any sites not booked 3 days in advance are free for first come first serve. We were shocked to hear this. Talk about lucky! So we have a camp spot for the next two nights free.

After settling in and having some lunch we hike down to the Skagit River. We enjoy the views and watch some fly fisherman for a spell. They don’t catch anything while we watch.

Wednesday July 15, 2021

I sleep in until almost 7am. What a treat. Then it is up and out the door with Berkley. He is quick today. When I get back I make some hot chocolate for myself and some tea for Jim. Later we have a grapefruit half each then the leftover sausage hash with eggs.

Today we hike the Trail of the Cedars, full of old growth and large cedar trees.

Thursday July 15, 2021

We are up and on the road early to explore more of the park.

We exit the park today to the west since there is a fire up ahead and highway 20 is closed. It is gives us an opportunity to stop in and see a dairy farm.