Roadtrip 2019: San Francisco

An action packed weekend in San Francisco – with the van parked in Oakland and in the midst of a great academic conference hum, we maximized our public transit experience with buses, subways, street & cable cars, and connected with friends, food culture, and nature in the condensed exquisite forms an urban center provides.

Golden Gate Bridge and Balclutha sailing ship from SF Maritime NHP
Conservatory of Flowers aquatic room
Fresh croissants at Tartine
Divers in aquarium tank at California Academy of Sciences

Roadtrip 2019: Yosemite

Rather than last year’s missed visit to this popular park on July 4th, we lucked out with the Tioga Road pass still open in mid November and a late fall Wednesday spent in the park and camping at Upper Pines. Stunning all the way through from ice above Tuolumne Meadows to the perfectly framed view from Glacier Point. At other times of year there would be more water over the falls – and more people everywhere.

Bridalview Falls in autumn, a thin stream of water shifting in the wind.
View from Glacier Point

Roadtrip 2019: Hiking Sedona

In 10 days of great weather in Sedona we fit in hikes at Carroll Canyon, Chimney Rock Pass & the Buddhist Stupa, a scramble up Bell Rock, Allen’s Bend, and particularly loved Seven Sacred Pools, Boynton Vista, and the mesa top wander around the top of Doe Mountain.

Cholla and Courthouse view from Chapel of the Holy Cross
Coffeepot Rock from Seven Sacred Pools
View from Doe Mountain mesa top

Roadtrip 2019: Death Valley

What an impressive basin with surprisingly attractive and colorful dry canyons. We started a cold morning above Las Vegas on Mt Charleston at 8500ft, dropped down to the southern entrance to the park at Shoshone and the day had started warming up by the time we hiked at Badwater and Natural Bridge Canyon. To avoid the hottest of the day (still only 80s) we drove up to Dante’s View 5500ft directly above Badwater, then returned to Golden Canyon for a sunset hike and a full moon night at Furnace Creek, 30,000ft of elevation change for the day.

Badwater Basin, Death Valley from Dante’s View
Golden Canyon trail

Roadtrip 2019: Not quite halfway in the UP

A late summer interlude trip is about halfway in our driving for the year, lots of time on Lake Michigan and Lake Superior visiting good friends all along the way. Somehow most of the places we encounter are new to us even as we run into people we know but didn’t make plans to see.

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Tahquamenon Falls, Michigan State Park
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Sable Falls, Pictured Rocks National Seashore.
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Houghton-Hancock Lift Bridge raised for NPS Ranger III
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Trestle at Agate Falls, Michigan

Roadtrip 2019: Blue Ridge Parkway

Back in June we drove the Blue Ridge Parkway from its start in Virginia to Asheville, NC on our way home. The Blue Ridge Music Center with locals playing casual live bluegrass most days is worth a mention and a visit.

Sunset along the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia.
Clouds clearing above Mount Mitchell, NC
Along the nature trail at Mount Mitchell, NC

Roadtrip 2019: New Mexico

Retracing paths from earlier this summer, we left the corner of Texas’ panhandle at Texline and meandered through northern New Mexico to Taos, finding our first fall colors of the year – golden cottonwoods in the canyons and aspens in the passes.

In Taos we toured living ancient culture (Pueblo continuously occupied for 1000 years), and modern sustainable off-grid housing inspired by the same (Earthship community).

Santa Fe surprised us with great museums (International Folk Art) and our first Audubon Center (hiking with borrowed birding binoculars in piƱon-juniper hills). Grandparents came to visit and snow flurried for most of a day.

On our way to Chaco Culture NHP we passed through Los Alamos and Calles Valdera National Preserve (elk far across the valley).

Earthship Biotecture visitor center, Taos NM
Taos Pueblo on a cold and windy day, excellent tour by a college student who grew up here.
Snow at Los Alamos in late October

Roadtrip 2019: So Long Arkansas

We were only supposed to spend one night in Arkansas (and it was nice, on Greers Ferry Lake at an ACE campground), then visit Hot Springs and head on over the Talimena Scenic Byway into Oklahoma. Van trouble delayed us to see some more art, architecture, and gardens; long enough to take a rental car side trip down to Texas. The Hot Springs Public Library is a wonderful space of play and sharing, represents all the things libraries strive for, a standout for the trip. Ultimately we got back on track, and not far off schedule.

Not how we expected to leave Hot Springs National Park.
Anthony Chapel at Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs AR
Evans Tree House at Garvan Woodland Gardens, Hot Springs AR
The patio is flooded at Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art.
Waking up in the mountains of Oklahoma at Winding Stair Campground

Roadtrip 2019: Outer Banks

The year of roadtrips began to the east, and off to a quiet beautiful start in NC’s Outer Banks on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore a few weeks before Memorial Day. Ferries between barrier island towns, long stretches of wildlife refuge, and lighthouses. The desolate dunes and campgrounds nestled up within them remind me more of Washington’s Pacific coast than any other part of the Atlantic so far.

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Sunrise at Oregon Inlet Campground, Cape Hatteras National Seashore
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Cape Hatteras Lighthouse
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Roadtrip 2019: Big Bend National Park

As always we wish we had more time in big remote parks like this. Vehicle troubles cut our stay down to 2 days, but we lucked out with our first real cold weather of the trip here in Southwest Texas, freezing mornings and highs in the 60s at the river. Real mountains in Texas, desert that looks like the ocean floor with ocotillo towering bizarrely, and the Rio Grande splitting Mexico from the USA.

Ocotillo along Old Maverick Rd
Santa Elena Canyon appears cut into the mesa far away.
So we climbed 3000ft into the Chisos Mountains basin to stay for the night.