Carefree in Gros Morne National Park

One of the great things I have come to enjoy about Gros Morne National Park is given its popularity, it does not feel overly crowded.  It’s a treat to stop at the Visitor Center and ask the staff “What are the most scenic hikes here?” without the fear of encountering a human highway on the trail.

Of course, the Tablelands, or walking on the earth’s mantle, is considered the park’s “premier park experience,” along with the boat ride to Western Brook Pond.   But Continue reading

Good Morn in Gros Morne

Continuing with my loose strategy to get north as quickly as possible before the icebergs melt, I am headed straight up the Northern Peninsula with as few stops as possible…with one exception.   The Trans-Canada Highway passes right through the heart of Gros Morne National Park.   The most notable highlight of this national park is the Western Pond Brook Tour.  This two-hour boat ride across a glacially carved, fresh water lake can only be reached by a “two-ish” mile hike to the boat dock at the edge of the pond. Continue reading

The Cabot Trail, Cape Breton Highlands National Park, Nova Scotia

The Cabot Trail, a 185 mile loop road, traces the outline of the upper end of Cape Breton Island.  The cape looks like a giant thumb, and the Cape Breton Highlands National Park is a band running right across the middle of it.   So as one travels up the western side, they enter the national park about half way up, then exit the park as the trail rounds the top of the cape.  One enters the park again traveling down the eastern side.

The road is a bit of a roller coaster, as grades are steep…even a few at 13%.  Thankfully, there’s not far to drop with the highest elevation being only 1,750 ft.  Still, the Continue reading

Fun Day on the Bay of Fundy

New Brunswick is beautiful with rolling green hills covered in evergreens. The highways are lined with tall stalks of purple and pink lupine, the largest I’ve ever seen. I make the New Brunswick Visitors Center my first stop after crossing the border, followed by the ATM at the gas station next door. The very helpful woman greets me at the door and loads me up with maps and brochures for all the Maritime Provinces. I tell her I’d like to make Fundy National Park my intended destination for the night, to which she replies, Continue reading

Border to Border

So here I sit at another border altogether, trying to figure out how to catch the blog up to “real time.” Yes, it’s behind, but I was determined to finish all the posts I had started while meandering through Mexico. To those readers who stuck with me through two months of making Mexican memories, I thank you.

And now, I’m knocking on the door of our northern neighbor, Canada, knowing that as soon as I cross the border into the “Land of Marginal Internet,” the blog is going to be behind again. Continue reading

Soaks, Snow, and a Sea of Sand

The US Dept of Interior recently posted on Facebook, “Moonlight brightens snowy dunes at Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve in Colorado. Experience the park after dark by stargazing, listening for owls along the foothills or going for a full moon walk on the dunes. Cold temperatures are the norm in winter, so bundle up with warm clothing and sturdy footwear for an unforgettable nighttime adventure.”

I find this an odd promotion, considering the park is miles from nowhere, and they have closed the one and only campground within the park.  Continue reading

If A Tree Falls in the Forest…

NOTE:  Thanks for all your wonderful comments and support on my “Dear Mr. President” post.   I’ll get back to life in Mexico soon, but first, I have a few posts to catch up on, lest I forget the last days of my southerly winter migration…

If a tree falls in the forest and I can’t remember seeing it, does it still count?  If I visited a national park but can’t remember a thing about it, does it still count?

Anyone who knows me knows that I’m a national park junkie.   I have lofty aspirations to visit all 59 with the official “Park” status. Continue reading

One Last Look Over the Rim

Just how long can one stretch out a story about the Grand Canyon, one might ask?  Well, longer than the average visitor spends on the edge of the rim…

I decide to stay one more day on the snowy South Rim, after all, no one seems to notice that the Winnie is taking up space in the empty Backcountry Office parking lot.  Continue reading

It’s All About the Layers

The “wake up knock” comes on the Phantom Ranch women’s dorm door at 5:00am.   I’ve signed up for the 5:30am early breakfast in order to get on the trail as early as possible.   The sun doesn’t rise until 7:15, so this will mean hiking for about an hour in the dark, but I figure it’s better to put in the dark time at the bottom of the canyon rather than risk having to hike in the dark at the top where it’s covered in snow and ice. Continue reading

The Ranch to Ribbon Falls

I make it to Phantom Ranch’s Canteen in plenty of time to down a couple of beers before they close at 4:00pm to prepare for the evening meals. But first, Kate, the bartender/hostess/receptionist/wait staff tells me to go to the dorm first to secure my spot.  “Pick any available bed that has a towel folded on it.”  It’s late in the afternoon, so I am thinking I’ll be lucky if I can secure a lower bunk.  Continue reading