Grand Teton National Park

Teton Range above Jackson Lake

Jackson Hole is the (aptly named) broad, flat valley between the Gros Ventre Range and Teton Mountain Range. To enter from any direction is to ‘drop’ into the hole. The 13,000-foot Teton Range dominates the view from anywhere in the hole which can only mean one thing… Lots of Teton Range photos!

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Boise and Sun Valley

Sue, Harry, Karen, Doug

We met Harry and Karen (from NY) and Geoff and Pat (from CT), nearly 30 years ago, in NJ. With shared passions for biking, hiking and skiing, it didn’t take long for us to become fast friends. At the time, Pat and Geoff lived near us in CT and they are still close by even though we migrated northward, so we get together with some regularity. Less so for Harry and Karen. We were sad when they told us after 5 years that they were moving to Boise ID. But no worries – we’ll just continue having outrageous ski and bike vacations together! We have fond memories of meet-ups for adventures in Sun Valley, Alta/Snowbird/Solitude, Breckenridge, Whistler/Blackcomb and more. Then came kids (mostly theirs), injuries (mostly ours), jobs with lots of travel (pretty much all of us), and all of a sudden 19 years had gone by without an adventure together… Gotta fix that!

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Flaming Gorge

Back to red rocks, briefly…

On my 1983 cross-country bike trip, I wanted to get to Yellowstone NP from western Colorado. There were several route options. For no other reason than there was a green splotch on the map, I opted to head toward Flaming Gorge. Naively thinking I was past the Rockies and large mountain passes, I was unprepared for the pass over the Uintas. I pulled into a campground at Flaming Gorge well past dark, thoroughly beyond exhausted, set up my tent and fell asleep. There are no words to describe the emotion when I woke early  in the morning and crawled out of my tent about 30 feet from the rim of the 1,700 foot deep, 4,000 foot wide Red Canyon. I stayed all day. I vowed to go back.

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Bryce Canyon National Park

Apres hike popsicles

It was clear early on that there would be no time to visit all five of Utah’s National Parks before our visit to Arizona. No problem – we can stop at four on the way south, and the hit the last one as we head back north. Ah, but which one? Fearing increasing temperatures in June, we opted for the one at the highest elevation, and we’re very happy we did. Bryce is nice!

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Capitol Reef National Park

Along the Capitol Reef scenic drive

Capitol Reef National Park is the most remote of the Southern Utah parks. Unique geological movements created a 100-mile wrinkle in the earth’s surface the eventually eroded into an angled reef surrounded by various shapes, sizes and colors of crazy rock formations. The unique movements also enabled the Fremont River to run year-round, creating the basis for settlement. The soil, climate and isolation were perfect for fruit orchards. Fruita, the remains of the historical town within Capitol Reef, is literally and figuratively an oasis in the desert.

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The plan

Ha! You were thinking we might have one!

We really enjoyed our approach to adventure planning (others might call it non-planning), well honed on last year’s adventure. We set an intention to explore one or two areas of the country, then connect them up. As we go along.

Neither one of us has ever been to the Southern UT/Northern AZ canyons, so we’ve set aside the month of May – after the snows, before the heat and crowds – to hike, bike and generally check out this gorgeous and unique terrain that is so unlike New England.  We’ll know when we’re done, and at that point, we’ll likely head north as the temps turn into summer. We’d like to see Glacier National Park. Then, we’ll likely head to the left coast, visiting friends and family, looking for music jams and enjoying fun places until it’s time to come back to New England.

Unlike last year, this adventure will require some ‘re-positioning.’ We most enjoy poking around slowly, following the wind and sound of blues. For the first few weeks this year, we’ll travel slightly longer days in a more or less direct line to Moab, threatening to visit any friends and family that may be along that line.

Of course, we’ll adapt as we go along…

The Black Hills of South Dakota

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Cathedral Spires from the Needles Highway

I visited the Black Hills in 1983 and put it on the top of my list of places to visit again. It only took 33 years! I’m finally back, and Doug is getting to see this beautiful place for the first time. Some of the tourist towns have grown, attractions have received face lifts, and more vacationers have discovered the Black Hills, yet it remains every bit as beautiful as I remembered…

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