Experience Your America (Our NPS Tour)

Olympic Peninsula

After we got a new truck, we went to Dick’s Drive-in to celebrate, and then Riley and I went to Mount St. Helen’s for a mini-adventure. I had never been (neither had she, obviously) and it planted a bug of wanting to explore more National Parks. She and I went on a mini road trip around the Olympic Peninsula to see the Hoh Rainforest, Hurrican Ridge and Rialto Beach, and we also visited Neah Bay, Cape Flattery, Ruby Beach and Grayland before heading back home.

When it came time to plan a vacation for the fall, Matt and I were still enjoying being local and didn’t want to leave the dog behind so we decided to road trip it down to the Grand Canyon through Montana, Yellowstone, Colorado, and New Mexico. On the way back we went through Death Valley and Yosemite, then home through Oregon. It was a great way to see so much of the western states, as well as so many parks (and wildlife), but we weren’t equipped to camp and many of the trails either didn’t allow dogs or it was too hot to take her for long, so it was a good sample tour of places I now want to go back to. I collected a lot of stamps for my National Parks passport, but didn’t write much but here are some photos.

Road trip

OLYMPIC NATIONAL PARK

Hoh Rainforest

YELLOWSTONE NATIONAL PARK

Mammoth Caves

Yellowstone

Bison

En route through Wyoming

Farmland

ROCKY MOUNTAIN NATIONAL PARK

Colorado

Elk

TAOS PUEBLO

Taos

Riley

CHACO CULTURAL NATIONAL HISTORIC PARK

Chaco Cultural NHP

Arizona

CANYON DE CHELLY NATIONAL MONUMENT

Canyon de Chelly

Arizona

HUBBLE TRADING POST

Hubble Trading Post

PAINTED DESERT / PETRIFIED FOREST NATIONAL PARK

Painted Desert National Park

Sunset

DEATH VALLEY NATIONAL PARK

Death Valley

Death Valley

YOSEMITE NATIONAL PARK

Yosemite National Park

And finally home.

4468 miles, 9 National Parks and monuments, 10 states. My favourites were Yellowstone, Hubble Trading Post (how I wish I could afford some Navajo weaving!) and Canyon de Chelly. Matt’s were Chaco Culture NHP and the Petrified Forest. Riley liked the dog parks, jumping on hotel beds and sampling sticks in all locations. And the Xterra held up exceptionally well. In fact, we christened it Wade Davis, after my favourite explorer.

October, November; Fall in Love

Degan
“Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.” 
~Albert Camus

Leaves
I expected to see rain as soon as we got home from Prague but this fall has been so beautiful and crisp and clear  – the kind of weather that brings out the colours in the trees and allows them to stick around for a little while without melting… a.k.a the kind of weather we never get here. Matt and I were even able to get in a couple of extra (chilly) motorcycle rides up the Sea-to-Sky highway and I’ve managed to put off buying both a winter coat and umbrella a lot longer than I should have been able to expect.

Tea
So Riley and I have been taking advantage and heading out to the dog park every day and running and generally spending a lot of time outside where I have fallen in love with the way the sunlight streams through the trees, dressed in yellows and reds and golds. I can’t seem to go around the block without taking a photo of everything.

Degan
This isn’t new for me (I love fall and I am always taking a photo of everything) but I am also taking a self-portraiture class with Vivienne McMaster. It’s the second art class I’ve taken this year that was at least as much therapy as art but it’s been interesting to explore some new areas. Normally I hate taking photos of myself but the light and the leaves have been incredible and my hair matches the dying maple leaves so I’ve been keeping an eye out for photo ops.

Degan
Autumn is all about tea and toques, sweaters and boots, seeing your breath when you speak in the morning, having rosy cheeks and spending evenings reading (preferably by a fire). It’s my favourite weather when it’s cold enough to wear a vest and a toque but not raining so you can wrap both hands around a mug of tea. I should probably move somewhere where this season lasts longer than a week (as it usually does in Vancouver) and I am looking forward to winter but I’ve just been so in love with this fall.

Fall
I’m still on my “summer off” working – it seemed like we had just got back from Europe before we left for Hawaii – but I am starting to dig in and see what’s possible there before we move to Seattle in June. Everyone told me that I would know my dream career when I saw it, and I guess that’s true because I can say pretty confidently that I want to work at the Museum of Anthropology or at National Geographic but in terms of career paths and moving to Seattle, that means going back to school to do Anthropology or Museum Studies or taking a job, any job, at the Seattle Art Museum and working my way into a good fit. In preparation for that, I’ve applied to volunteer at the Museum of Anthropology, the Museum of Vancouver, the Vancouver Art Gallery and the Police Museum and registered for some day-long classes at UBC’s Continuing Studies – “From Cabinets of Curiosities to the Modern Museum” and “In the Footsteps of the Adventurer Archaeologists.” I’m also looking into taking some classes at the University of Washington next September and  I’ve started doing some work at the David Suzuki Foundation, which I’m really excited about.

Degan Walters
But right now I just want to get to work.

Tea

What I’m Reading and Listening to this month:

Degan Walters