shocking surprise | Death Valley National Park

Seeking to return to our Idaho roots where we can reconnect with treasured friends and settle into a brief stationary rhythm, we begin a northerly ascent. Leaving the palm tree warmth of Southern California, we are now in search of snowy evergreens. Along our route, Death Valley National Park places an unexpected pull on my curiosity cord and we pause our progress to take a peek.

Death Valley shocking surprise

LOW ELEVATION AND EXPECTATIONS

I know nothing more than the fact that Death Valley is the reigning champion of high heat (134 degrees) and low elevation (282′ below sea level) as we descend into her depths. To be honest, my expectations are also low. I anticipate a dry, desolate, wasteland. Right out of the gate, she shocks us in a way we could never have expected.

Death Valley shocking surprise

EXCITED EXPECTATION

Enough margin is built into our afternoon that when Trent asks if we should stop at the Father Crowley Vista overlook, I affirm the idea and look forward to my first view of the valley. Pulling to a stop, we hop out of the truck. The air at this upper elevation of 4,000 feet is chilly but we don’t expect to linger long. Making our way to the edge of the overlook, the wind whips at my hair as I lean over the railing and capture my first glimpse of Death Valley. Continue reading “shocking surprise | Death Valley National Park”

breathtaking beauty | Utah

We are up before the sun, dressing, eating, prepping. Our goal is to leave by 7:00 am. A long drive is on the horizon. We pull out of our site at 7:21. Today we say goodbye to Utah. It’s a bittersweet parting. While I’m filled to the brim with anticipation for the upcoming balloon fiesta, three nights in Utah has been far too little in my opinion.

MORNING ROUTINE

As we begin our drive south, the rays of morning light slowly illuminate the iron-rich rock formations of Capitol Reef National Park. The ground sparkles with a blanketing layer of frost that captures the sun in a brief prism-like show of brilliance before surrendering to the warmth of the dawn. The Fremont River courses through its morning routine as steam rises to meet the cool air before bowing its head and returning to the moving water.

We pass no one, yet despite the absence of admiring onlookers, the majestic opulence of towering rocks, layered in color and adorned with strength, remains. Here beauty abounds from the earth in an exorbitant show of confidence.

I reflect on our time here punctuated by RV friends and vast vistas. Thoughts of exploring the land on foot and hiking to overlooks that took our breath away, wisp through my mind like clouds. Continue reading “breathtaking beauty | Utah”

the state with big shoes to fill | Maine

I’ll be honest, of all the states on the East Coast, Maine has the biggest shoes to fill. Somehow my expectations of her rugged beauty are elevated to a level that, in all honesty, is likely setting things up for failure.

I am coming off of a Connecticut crisis when we cross the border into The Pine Tree State. Still feeling a little jittery with the idea of all those Lyme tainted ticks roaming through the lush forests, we press northward.

SETTLING IN

Somewhere South of Portland, the pine trees start whispering to me. “Our cousins in the West told us you’d be coming. Welcome.” The monochromatic greens of deciduous and evergreen trees are carpeted by the lush, lavender lupins lining the roadside in a welcoming, woodsy hug. Breathing deeply, I settle in. “So far, so good,” I think. Continue reading “the state with big shoes to fill | Maine”

our first visit to New England | Cape Cod, MA

Our East Coast wanderings have brought our family to New England. This makes the needle of my internal travel-meter quiver with fresh excitement. We begin our family visit to Cape Cod traveling along Highway 6. Shaped like a finger, I imagine Massachusetts beckoning me to come close in order to discover her hidden secrets.

family visit to Cape Cod

CAPE COD CREATIVITY

Ever drawn to the outer extremities of land, we drive past Provincetown to the tip of Cape Cod. Here, rugged dunes are held back from the sea, restrained by the grip of wild grasses. Continue reading “our first visit to New England | Cape Cod, MA”

Yorktown’s life lesson: the gabion basket

As I enter the Yorktown National Historical Battlefield, I carry with me the knowledge that I’ve ascertained primarily through osmosis while staying in this historic triangleI am standing at the site of the last major battle in the Revolutionary War.

I did not know this one week ago.

I knew about the Revolutionary War mind you–I’m not completely incompetent. But when I hear the word “York,” I think of peppermint patties and cute little terrier dogs–not a battle sight.

Continue reading “Yorktown’s life lesson: the gabion basket”