Within a mile of the Ohio River, West Virginia made a definite transition from valley to Appalachia. Rolling hills gave way to steep mountains and narrow, twisty, up-and-down roads – as well as gorgeous foliage. And it stayed that way until the Hudson River, with the exception of the rolling hills along the Susquehanna River Valley in south central Pennsylvania.
Just because we’re heading back to VT doesn’t mean we can’t explore new places. However, with ski season (read: snow) on the horizon, we’re aware our schedule is no longer timeless. We opted to explore the Ohio River Valley. We’ve been to the source in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and to Paducah, Illinois near where it joins the Mississippi. From prior travels, we’ve learned that river valleys tend to have unique stories and a sense of inter-connectivity. And we’d get to see a slice of the other 4 states along the river: Indiana, Kentucky, Ohio, and West Virginia.
Yosemite has been on both of our bucket lists for a long time. We didn’t think our schedule would allow us to visit this year. However, our 2 loops through No Cal provided an interesting opportunity. To get from Grover Beach to Tahoe City, the shortest ‘no interstates’ route took us through Yosemite. And we could have 2 free days. As with most of the larger and more popular National Parks, campsites are are sold out months in advance. I checked for cancellations and found exactly one, in Yosemite Valley, for the days we’d be passing through. The universe spoke. I snagged the reservation.
Leanne and I bonded as ski buddies at Sugarbush, a dozen-plus years back in time. About 11 years ago she and the kids up and moved, first to Spokane and then to Tacoma, where we finally caught up with each other. Leanne hasn’t changed a bit! The kids, however…
Having skirted the worst of the smoke, we entered the North Cascades National Park from the west, up wind from the nearest wildfires. Although the air quality was improved – it smelled like a 24/7 campfire but it didn’t hurt to breathe – the skies were still smoky and views obscured. Oh, and add to the wildfires a record breaking epic heat wave torturing the Pacific Northwest. We’d figure out how to turn this into an adventure…
Early explorers called the area around Glacier National Park The Crown of the Continent. If we’d have been here first, we’d likely call it something similar. The hiking in Glacier National Park was mind-blowing. The glaciers, and the broad, deep glacial-carved valleys and long, skinny, clear lakes, were unlike any views we’d ever seen before anywhere. And we experienced a new type of adventure – patiently queueing.
Stan and Cyndee were driving their new truck camper from Vermont to Big Sky, Montana. We were on our way from Yellowstone to Glacier National Park. The paths would cross, but the timing was off and it appeared we wouldn’t get to meet up (does this sound familiar?). Then the sun set, Jupiter aligned with Mars, schedules changed just a teeny bit, and we found ourselves a window of opportunity. We held over an extra day at a free campground overlooking the Yellowstone River, conveniently close to an air-conditioned museum on that scorching day in Columbus, Montana, then took a short detour to the south to meet our friends as they arrived at their destination.