Appalachian Mountains and Barrier Islands.

For this episode we venture away from the Atlantic Ocean for a few weeks to meander the Blue Ridge Parkway and see what remains of the autumn foliage on display in the Appalachians. It was sad leaving the coast but we will return after blowing some leaves in the Virginias.

The Commonwealth of Virginia

First up is Shenandoah National Park. Traveling in the shoulder season definitely has it perks – the campgrounds and National Parks are nearly empty. We just barely caught the tail end of the leaf peeping at the north end of the Shenandoah Valley.

Alas, the leaves were mostly on the ground by the time we arrived and setup the Airstream but that didn’t stop me from venturing out onto a few trails to see what was left of the fall color program.

Lots and lots of bare trees to behold. One annoying thing about camping during the fall forest foliage dump is the ridiculous amount of leaves that end up on the Airstream roof solar panels.

Little Stony Man Trail was the perfect little hike up to a vantage point with excellent views of the Shenandoah Valley and beyond.

We camped near the little town of New Market, VA which provided some interesting history and a decent latte for the drive to our next destination.

West Virginia

Hello West Virginia and the New River Gorge National Park. This was just a quick afternoon stop to check out a few overlooks and drive the narrow road that traverses deep into the gorge and back out again.

Summer is obviously the best time to experience New River Gorge for hiking and white water rafting. The area was mostly buttoned up for the winter when we arrived.

We were getting a little bored with leafing so I decided to switch up the itinerary and stay in WV a bit longer to do some wine tasting at the local Blue Ridge wineries. Lily and I moved to a stellar location close to the town of Floyd, WV that offered some spectacular valley views right outside the Airstream door.

The wineries were big and impressive but the fruit wine was horrible. At the end of the day, wine tasting was a nice change of pace and I got to meet some interesting people at the tasting rooms.

Back at the Airstream we enjoyed one last peek at the leaves before heading into the next state for a few days of hiking and adventuring.

The State of Tennessee

The Smokies beckoned us to come and explore the old growth forests. So, on a cloudy day we entered the most visited park in the United States – Great Smoky Mountains National Park.

The clouds subsided just in time for my hike to Alum Cave. Being the most visited park in the NPS, the trail was crowded to the point of annoyance with people completely unaware of trail etiquette. But I was able to meander along for a while and get some good pics without any people interfering.

The trail to the cave was really fun with lots of “natures staircases” along the way. I’ve said it before, National Park hikes are the best.

Arriving at Alum Cave I had to ask people “was this it?” because it didn’t look like a cave at all. It was more like a giant overhang. But regardless of my disappointment it was still a glorious sunny day to be on a trial out in the woods.

North Carolina

Heading east we made a stop in Asheville to visit The Biltmore Estate. This was a quick stop with the Airstream attached while en route to Charlotte. It is an impressive and super busy/popular place. After seeing The Breakers in Newport I knew I had to stop in Asheville and continue my education of the Vanderbilt lifestyle.

The Biltmore was all decked out for Christmas and the self guided audio tour was really really good. I would like to come back to Asheville someday and stay a bit longer.

Lily and I arrived in Charlotte for the singular purpose of visiting John Van Buren and family. It’s always a wonderful treat to drop in on friends while Airstreaming around the country and this certainly was no exception. Three wonderful days of golfing, breweries, eating, drinking, and visiting. Thanks for the hospitality JVB, see you in Seattle soon!

The Outer Banks

Welcome to the Cape Hatteras National Seashore. This is absolutely the most enchanting stop on our trip so far. Rodanthe is uniquely beautiful and the seashore utterly captivated my soul.

We spent several days exploring the lighthouses and life saving stations positioned around the seashore. Oh, and the Wright Brothers National Memorial at Kill Devil Hills was very very interesting.

And what’s better than a beach front happy hour at sunset. The Airstream was parked mere steps from the ocean and I could hear the waves crashing and roaring all day and all night.

After five days on Hatteras Island, we loaded onto the ferry to Ocracoke Island for more days of sunny seashore exploring and sunset happy hours. Ocracoke is a tiny little town with a lighthouse, tiny narrow roads, and a pirate themed atmosphere.

Pristine white sand beaches and a local brewery in town is the absolutely perfect vacation in my opinion. I sampled them all!

About the only things to do on Ocracoke is beach, drink, eat, and relax. And I had no problem doing any of that. Even Lily was on beach time and enjoyed relaxing with me at the campsite.

The Outer Banks are simply amazing. The sunsets were like perfect paintings every night. I can’t wait to return someday soon.

So, that’s it. After many wonderful and relaxing days it was time to say goodbye to the Outer Banks. I absolutely loved it there and plan to return again soon.

Next up, we continue south towards Florida with a few interesting stops along the way. See you again soon for more adventure updates and don’t forget to check out @paulandlilygoplaces for lots more pics and videos.

Happy Travels!!!

New England, how I love thee.

Lily and I left the wonders of Maine and eagerly traveled south towards the most populous state in the New England region. It was a beautiful sunny day when we blew right thru New Hampshire and rolled into our next destination.

The Commonwealth of Massachusetts

I was super excited to be in Massachusetts and spend some long overdue friend time with Jen and her family.

Salem was the first stop and we arrived right on time for all the spooky season festivities. I settled into a water front space at the Winter Island Park just in time for a stunning east coast sunset and before heading into town for dinner and drinks with Jen. After a long stretch of traveling, it was good to see a familiar face and catch up on life.

The next day, I walked back into the heart of Salem to check out the vibe and do a little exploring. It was about a five mile walk roundtrip from the Airstream to the center of town. I didn’t mind the walk, but it gave me a fun idea … I’ll get to that in a minute. But first, I had to stop in at a local coffee bean and get caffeinated.

After sucking down a festive Candy Corn Cold Brew, I vibrated over to The Old Burying Point Cemetery where I am absolutely convinced the headstones are faked for the thrill and delight of the tourists. I read headstones declaring this person was pressed to death and that person was hung before continuing over to the replica of the Friendship of Salem tall ship.

Sadly, the Salem Witch Museum was THE most popular attraction that day and was completely sold out of tix with lines going ’round the block to get inside. Oh well, I guess that’s to be expected for October in Salem.

After several incredible days inside Salem, we pulled out and drove the short distance to Jen’s house to boondock on her street and spend a few days touring around and visiting the interesting places off the beaten path.

The historic cotton milling town of Lowell, which is actually a National Historic Park, was a fun and super interesting afternoon excursion.

Then it was off to the bustling little town of Newburyport and the adjacent Plum Island for a wonderfully sunny Saturday excursion.

Before saying farewell to my friends, I had to collect an important Amazon delivery and add a heart shaped rock I collected from Glacier NP to Jen’s garden of heart shaped rocks as a souvenir of our visit. Thanks Jen and Tim for sharing your home, your street, and the happy hour Gin cocktails mixed to perfection. You are fabulous hosts.

Back to the fun idea … after walking to and from downtown Salem, I decided it would be way more fun and exciting to have an e-scooter so I ordered and Amazon delivered a brand new Segway. And here’s a sunset shot from my camping spot on Jen’s street.

Cape Cod National Seashore

If Lily and I randomly go missing one day, you can probably find us living the dream in Provincetown. Despite the weather being hit or miss (it rained two days we were there) I still absolutely loved it. The town, the people, the beaches – wonderful. And, I can’t wait to go back and stay longer.

The scooter was the perfect vehicle for exploring Commercial Street and the beaches. And an oat hazelnut latte was the perfect treat to start the days.

Cape Cod is delightfully littered with charming light houses that stand out even on foggy days.

I was thrilled to discover that Cape Cod has a winery/distillery which makes it an even more perfect destination for me. The gin was delicious and provided me several outstanding happy hours. The wine was pretty good too.

Did u know, the Pilgrims set foot on Cape Cod when arriving into the new world. The Pilgrim Monument is the tallest granite structure in the United States and I climbed it to the top on my last day in P-Town.

The State of Rhode Island

Continuing our tour of New England, we sadly departed Cape Cod and made our way to the Ocean State to gawk at the elaborate Gilded Age mansions in Newport.

The opulence of The Breakers was extraordinary. It was absolutely stunning to experience in person.

It was named “The Breakers” because the waves would crash and break onto the rocks below the outdoor living area. I could sit out there and listen to those waves break all day and night.

New York and Jersey City

On a whim, and completely last minute, I decided it would be cool to tow the Airstream over the GW Bridge from New York to New Jersey and stay a few nights at the only campground in Jersey City. And, I really wanted to visit Ellis Island and see where my great great grandfather passed thru when he immigrated from Germany in the late 1800s.

A short scooter ride from the Airstream which was parked in Liberty Harbor Marina and I was on the ferry to Ellis Island and the Statue of Liberty.

Standing in the Great Hall where hopeful immigrants once waited to be granted entry into the United States was rather thought provoking. I was literally standing in the same place my great great grandfather stood some 125 years or so ago.

The museum had so much interesting memorabilia to examine and contemplate. From the graffiti covered columns where weary travelers wrote their thoughts, to the steamer trunks that carried all their belongings across the Atlantic – so much history in one important place.

I also toured the old hospital on the “Hard Hat Tour” and it was exceptionally interesting and incredibly thought provoking.

I spent all day on Ellis Island and didn’t want to make Lily wait any longer for me to rescue her from the Airstream so I skipped the Statue of Liberty and took the ferry back to Liberty Park. It was a beautiful day nonetheless.

And that concludes our time in New England with a stop over in New Jersey. It was brief but we had to move fast to book east coast campgrounds before they closed for the season. We will return again soon.

Next up we head into the Blue Ridge Mountains of West Virginia/Virginia to catch the tail end of the leaf peeping program already in progress and also make a stop in Great Smoky Mountain National Park.

Happy travels and we will see you again very soon!

Autumn! The Maine event.

Lily and I arrived on the east coast after a grueling rush to get to Maine. While casually crossing the northwest states, I came to learn that most campgrounds near Acadia National Park close for the season right after Columbus Day. So, we had to pick up the pace pretty quick to arrive in time for the Maine event.

Despite the long drive days and short overnight stops, it was absolutely wonderful to witness the impressive display of fall foliage as we cruised east along US-2. We made a few quick pitstops along the route east so let’s get going!

Heading thru North Dakota I dipped down into Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Definitely not the most exciting park I’ve experienced so far but certainly interesting. We stayed one night inside the badlands and then hit the road the next morning.

Overlooking the badlands – not much else to do here unless you bring your ATV or horse.
View of the Prairie Dogs from the campsite. Hard to see them but you could for sure hear them chirping.

Back on the highway, I said goodbye to the bright sunny days as we exited North Dakota and entered Minnesota to check out the north shore of Lake Superior. Gooseberry Falls, Split Rock Lighthouse and Tettegouche State Park were on the itinerary.

The wildly popular Gooseberry Falls. I had to stand in one place for half an hour just to capture this pic without people in it.
Split Rock Lighthouse was actually very interesting and well preserved.
I definitely climbed the stairs up to the top to check on the lightbulb – it was fine.
Awesome view of the bluffs from Shovel Point at Tettegouche State Park. The north shore of Lake Superior is really very beautiful.

After a frigid night in northern Minnesota, we moved on into the upper peninsula of Michigan. Painted Rocks National Lakeshore was the destination but at the last minute my boat tour got cancelled due to forecasted high winds and rain over the lake. Disappointed, I bundled up for a cold day and drove around the area to check out what there was to see from land.

Driving around, I made a quick stop at Miners Castle and Log Slide overlooks, and then it was over to Munising Falls to take the short hike up to the falls and get a few pics.

The U.P. of Michigan in fall is stunningly beautiful and it made for some very scenic happy hours. I would for sure like to come back someday and try again to take the boat tour around Picture Rocks.

Moving down the peninsula, we crossed the Mackinaw Bridge and parked for a few hours to explore the Old Makinaw Point Lighthouse. It was really windy and cold so I didn’t linger around the area very long. Gotta keep moving!

Bar Harbor, ME

FINALLY, after nearly a week of daily driving we arrived in New England. And we found the sun again! This would be home base to thoroughly explore Acadia, eat lobster, and reset.

Acadia National Park

Acadia and its splendorous scenery was just waiting to be explored. First on the agenda was the drive up Cadillac Mountain or I as call it, Cadillac Margarita. I guess this would be the equivalent of driving the Going-to-the-Sun-Road in terms of popularity. Once at the top, the views were pretty spectacular.

Summit of Cadillac Mountain with the view of Bar Harbor and the anchored cruise ships that dump out the gazillion cruisers onto the town streets.
Didn’t quite make it for sunrise but it was a cloudy day anyway.

Back down at sea level, it was time to take a hike. I decided to hit the Precipice Trail and really have the unique Acadia experience. Precipice is a 1 mile vertical hike climbing 1000 feet up sheer cliffs and shelf systems using iron rungs and ladders ascending to the summit of Champlain Mountain. It was awesome!

Made it to the top and it was 100% worth it. Hikes in National Parks are my favorite.

On our last day, I packed up the pup and drove over to Schoodic Point to take in the less popular part of Acadia. As you can see, it was a foggy day but that didn’t keep the trees from showing their colors.

And so, after five spectacular Maine days and nights that treated us to sun, rain, thunder, lightning, and winds, we pulled out and headed south towards Portland.

Final sunset in spot B4 at Wild Acadia Resort. The trees were already losing their leaves when we said goodbye to this perfect camping spot.

Kennebunkport, ME

Just down the road from Portland is the historic ship building town of Kennebunkport. Also very popular with tourist groups and their charter busses. I stopped for a quick look around the village and then escaped the crowds to drive the coastal route along the seashore.

The Spirit of Massachusetts parked on the Kennebunkport River.
Walkers Point Estate aka The Bush Compound.

Before leaving Maine, I absolutely had to stop and get some potato donuts for myself, my friends, and my freezer. They are a Maine phenomenon and quite delicious.

And with that, we are done with Maine. Next stop is Massachusetts for spooky season, a long overdue friend visit, and the Cape Cod National Seashore.

Thank you Maine for your hospitality and all your splendid colors.

Be sure to check out our Instagram @paulandlilygoplaces for more pics and videos of our adventures. See you again soon!

The Crown of the Continent, part 2.

Lily and I crossed The Continental Divide and arrived on the east side of Glacier National Park on a super windy afternoon. It was so windy that after disconnecting the Airstream we just hunkered down for a day to let the gusts subside before venturing back into the splendor of Glacier.

St. Mary, MT

I really liked this side of the park. It felt more remote and isolated and the views made it seem like Glacier was “right there” – especially from the campsite. It was less PNW rainforest and more Swiss Alps, in my opinion.

Space A14 deluxe patio site at the St. Mary/East Glacier KOA with a fantastic view!

Once the wind became tolerable, we ventured out to explore the area and check out a few of the popular spots.

Posing for a quick selfie with St. Mary Lake and Wild Goose Island in the background.
Distant view of Jackson Glacier, the seventh largest glacier in the park, partially cloaked by clouds.
The Many Glacier Hotel on Swiftcurrent Lake located in the “Switzerland of North America”. The hotel was already closed for the season and “mostly” boarded up.

Grinnell Glacier

I had been reading about this hike ever since arriving in West Glacier the week before. It seemed a little daunting being 12 miles round trip but I knew I had to do it and see a real live glacier up close. So, on a crystal clear morning I packed some snacks, several bottles of water, bear spray, Advil, and set out on the longest hike of my life so far.

The trail starts at a tiny parking lot near Swiftcurrent Lake just opposite the Many Glacier Hotel. When I arrived at 9:30 am the lot was full so I parked along the road not too far from the trailhead. I felt lucky to find parking anywhere since this is one of the most popular hikes in the park.

Just starting out and viewing Many Glacier from across the lake.
Lush foresty trail to soothe you at the beginning of the hike.
Meandering along Swiftcurrent Lake for about 2 miles with Grinnell Peak in the distance.
View of Grinnell Lake glowing like a turquoise oasis in the mid-morning sun.

After 2 miles you begin the climb and really start to feel the gain in elevation. Eventually, Grinnell Lake came into view with its stunning turquoise glow. About a mile later the trail became a stone path carved into the side of the canyon.

Looking forward toward Grinnell Peak and getting really excited about the change of scenery ahead.
Taking a quick rest and looking all the way back to Swiftcurrent Lake where I started.

At the 4 mile mark I finally got a glimpse of the top of the glacier and the waterfall that feeds Grinnell Lake from the glacial melt off. The trail through the valley gave way to a narrow cut in the cliff that takes you to the switchbacks where most of the traffic congests as hikers stop to catch their breath on the way to the finish line.

Glacial runoff waterfall (in the center-ish of the pic) from Little Grinnell Lake that feeds Grinnell Lake below.

I didn’t get any pics of the switchbacks because they were too steep and it was jammed with other hikers gasping for air while slowly traversing up. Then, finally, at the top and completely out of breath, I arrived at Grinnell Glacier and Little Grinnell Lake. It was really awesome.

The red water is actually melted “Watermelon Snow” that contains super concentrated red algae. Allegedly, the snow will be pinkish-red and smell like sweet watermelon before melting.

Sadly, the glaciers are rapidly melting and Grinnell Glacier has been retreating dramatically since about 1950. In 2003, a study concluded that nearly two-thirds of the 150 glaciers that existed in Glacier NP had completely melted by 1980. So, I’m greatful I had the opportunity to see this before it’s completely gone.

Behind me is all that is left of Grinnell Glacier. It was much bigger in real life.
Fascinating circular patterns in the rocks that were probably buried under glacial ice for centuries.
Interesting lines formed by ice moving and slicing into the solid rock.
The top of the tan rocks is where I sat and ate my snacks.
One last look at the glacier before leaving.

I spent about 45 mins hiking around, taking pics, and observing the interesting rocks all around. There were quite a few other hikers there but when they started packing up and leaving the place felt a little spooky. So, I too packed up and hit the trail for the 6 mile hike back down.

Looking toward the valley I was to hike back down into. Grinnell Glacier was behind me at this point.

Back home at the Airstream, I felt pretty accomplished and happy. It was such a great day and an amazing experience. And just like that, our time in Glacier came to an end. We spent 9 days inside this Crown of the Continent and it was the perfect way to kick off our second Airstream Adventure.

One last look as we leave this stunning National Park.

Next up, we continue east along the Lewis & Clark route of northern Montana until reaching North Dakota and dipping down into Theodore Roosevelt National Park and then crossing into Northern Minnesota. Along the way we stopped overnight at Walmart to stock up on supplies and relax.

Grocery shopping, sunset, happy hour, and sleep. A perfect stop along the way. Thanks Walmart.

See you soon for the next adventure update. Until then, check out @paulandlilygoplaces on IG for more pics and videos. Stay safe and happy travels.

The Crown of the Continent, part 1.

It’s official, Lily and I are back on the road for our next Airstream Adventure. This time, we are headed east along the northern most states en route to New England for some epic fall leaf peeping and then down the east coast towards Florida and the southern most point. Along the way, we are stopping at a few National Parks and other interesting places.

Columbia River Gorge

First stop after departing Seattle is Wanapum State Park along the Columbia River to visit friends and take in some of the amazing Washington State wines. Once again, I shall declare that State Parks are really truly amazing. When the wildfire smoked finally cleared and revealed crystal clear skies it was time to get to the wineries.

Space 35 with great views of the Columbia River and beyond.
Cave B was my favorite and their Chenin Blanc was delicious.
I’ve been enjoying Merlots again since being reacquainted over the summer.

In addition to wines, and in keeping with tradition, I stopped at a local coffee shop to grab an oat hazelnut latte (my new favorite), and a bag of their signature roasted beans for the road.

A great little eclectic coffee bean in downtown Ellensburg.
How about a sit and sip on this technicolor bench.

Alas, it was a great few final days in Washington State but we were eager to begin crossing state lines and enter the first National Park on the trip.

Glacier National Park

The Crown of the Continent! Established and protected as a National Park in 1910 and host to zillions of people each year. I was lucky to find parking anywhere! Since Glacier encompasses more than 1 million acres and is bisected by the Continental Divide, we split our time between the West and the East sides of the park. I thought this would be the best way to experience the entire park and still be home in time for a relaxing happy hour each evening.

West Glacier

We rolled into West Glacier, Montana on a cloudy afternoon and the area reminded me a lot of the PNW – similar to a rain forest, in my opinion. And, it rained twice while we were there. We settled in for 4 nights at the KOA Resort which seemed like the nicest RV park closest to the west entrance to Glacier.

Space 127 deluxe patio site, perfect for relaxing and soaking up the sun when it was shining.

Our first full day inside Glacier NP was dedicated to just navigating the park and driving the famous Going-to-the-Sun Road. Along the way, we passed Lake McDonald and its beautiful colored rocks.

The color of the rocks is determined by the presence or absence of iron.

The red rocks were deposited in shallow ocean waters where the iron was oxidized by the tidal exposure to air. The green rocks were formed in deeper water where oxidation was limited. Actually, I noticed colored rocks big and small all over the park because they had been scattered everywhere by the glaciers.

Hugging the lakeshore is the historic Swiss Chalet themed “Lake McDonald Lodge” where the iconic Red Busses from the 1930s pick-up and drop-off tour passengers.

The road to Logan’s Pass, aka the “Going-to-the-Sun Road” or “The Sun Road” or “GTTSR”, was completed in 1932 and is a very narrow two-lane winding road with hairpin curves hugging the side of the Rocky Mountains. Driving it wasn’t nearly as bad as most people reported on TripAdvisor; unless you have never driven a mountain road I suppose.

The beginning of the climb to Logan’s Pass at 6,647′ elevation.

Granted, the road is exceptionally narrow, and rocks hung over sections of the roadway at times, but that is what made it exciting and interesting and exhilarating.

This was part of a sketchy seven mile stretch about half way up.
Lily taking in the view at the summit.

We drove the GTTSR twice, one day was cloudy (as you can see), but the other day was brilliantly sunny and there seemed to be more traffic because of that.

The GTTSR crossing the little arched bridge at Bird Woman Falls (it’s the lower center of the pic).
The truck was nearly at the width limit for driving the road, so we hugged the yellow line all the way up/down.

Here are a few more pics before we head back down to earth. The views from every turnout and around every curve were spectacular.

These one-dimensional photos don’t even come close to replicating the grandeur of the experience.

Back down on earth, and as soon as I could find parking, I set out on a few hikes. Unless you wake up at the crack of dawn it’s nearly impossible to find parking at any of the popular trailheads. Having patience and a plan B are keys to enjoying your time in Glacier. So, the first hike was part of the Lake McDonald Loop which went along the upper McDonald Creek and showcased some gorgeous pools and waterfalls.

Even with the cloudy sky you can see the multi-color rocks in the water. When the sun is out the colors are much richer and way more vibrant.

The deep blue water color is the result of ground up rock and sediment called “glacial flour”. The movement of nearby glaciers provides a constant source of “flour” for the lakes and rivers.

All the trails in Glacier offer stunning scenery but my favorite on the west side was the Avalanche Lake Trail. Again, parking was guaranteed impossible but I was lucky to be there just as a car was pulling out.

The trail started on a boardwalk that meandered peacefully among the ancient cedars and then continued along the Avalanche Creek Gorge until it reached Avalanche Lake.

Resting and a quick selfie along the trail with the glacial valley behind me.
First view of Avalanche Lake from the trail.

Arriving at the lake was such a highlight. I sat on a log taking in the view while munching on trail mix and hydrating. Legend says the lake was named “Avalanche” because in 1895 when it was discovered they could hear the avalanches of glacial ice falling and echoing loudly through the gorge. The lake is fed by glacial runoff and that makes the water crystal clear and turquoise blue. It was such a gift to have this experience that day.

Back home at the Airstream, I enjoyed several happy hours with some local gin and whiskey I tasted and then acquired at Glacier Distillery.

My favorite kind of street sign.
Huckleberry Whiskey and Gin is delicious.

And so, on a cold and rainy morning, we left West Glacier and drove two hours towards East Glacier crossing the Continental Divide to begin the second half of our Glacier NP experience.

One last look at Lake McDonald as we depart on a cold and cloudy morning.

Stay tuned for the second half of our Glacier NP experience with more hikes, lakes, waterfalls, and an actual glacier!

A Seattle Summer to Remember!

Hi there! We hope you’ve had a splendid summer so far. Lily and I have been parked at home in Seattle for six months relaxing and planning out the next adventure. The weather sure did take a bit longer than I had hoped to turn nice but once it did I was reminded that summer in Seattle is absolutely spectacular.

“Seattle and the Olympics at dusk from the Mt. Baker Ridge Viewpoint.”

One of the best things about being home was reconnecting with friends and spending time enjoying my favorite eateries and home happy hours. In my opinion, happy hour at home is much more enjoyable and practical these days. Here are a few of my home happy hour indulgences.

“Spring Mtn. Napa Nectar of Joy”
“The Bloody Brunch Mega-Mary”
“The Classic Bleu-Bob-Tini”

So, here’s what Lily and I have been up to all summer.

Immediately upon returning home, I bonded with my neighbor’s Husky “Otis” and we had some amazing walks and quality dog time outside wandering the neighborhood together. Lily didn’t mind sharing me, in case you were wondering.

“This is Otis and he’s a pretty good boy.”
“Otis loves perusing ivy for rodents and sticks.”
“THIS is a happy husky.”
“Lily always answers the door when Otis comes over for a visit.”

In May, Lily and I took a road trip sans Airstream to visit our very closest friends in Northern California. We got to visit some of the amazing wineries in the stunning Anderson Valley of Mendocino County. Spending time with my favorite people drinking amazing wine is always good for my soul.

“Handley Cellars – Philo, CA”
“My most favorite people.”
“The beautiful Anderson Valley.”

Summer arrived with Pridefest and Seafair returning to Seattle after a two year hiatus. It was fun to be out mingling and celebrating at the street fairs and then have the Blue Angels roaring over my house and decorating the sky with smoke trails. Life felt almost normal again post pandemic.

“View of Seattle from Alki Beach on a sunny June afternoon.”
“Pride at the Space Needle. “
“Welcome back Blue Angels.“
“Flying in perfect formation over Seattle.”
“High arc maneuver over Lake Washington.”
“Angel dust across mighty Mount Rainier.”

Seattle had a few delightful heat waves in July and August so we took that as an excuse to escape the city for a few local road trips to visit the Washington coast. Port Townsend was a fantastic day trip for some wine tasting and exploring the little historic downtown with someone special.

“Harbor View from the Port Townsend Vineyards Tasting Room.”

Then we were off to Ocean Shores for a relaxing weekend of cooler cloudier weather to celebrate Rachelle’s birthday. I took the Airstream out of storage for this trip so Lily and I could get reacquainted with Airstream life and start prepping it for our next big trip towards the east coast.

“Camping near the Oyhut Bay Seaside Village.”

Well that pretty much wraps up our little summer break in Seattle. We will be back in the Airstream very soon getting ready to see more beautiful places and bring you along for the adventure.

“Back in the Airstream ready to go.”
“Lily is packed and ready to go.”

Our first stop on the way east is Glacier National Park and I’m very excited to get there and share the experience and some stunning photos with you so stay tuned!

7,223 Miles, 123 Nights, 63 Destinations.

Our West Coast journey is complete! Lily and I reluctantly returned home just in time for the tail end (we hope) of the rains that will produce a typical stunning Seattle spring and summer season. Bring on the allergies!!!!

Before we sign off for the summer, here’s a look at our travel map: the route we took, the stops we made, and the path that led us to some of the most stunning places and memorable experiences of our journey(s) so far.

West Coast Adventure Travel Map.

Our very last attraction on the drive home was Multnomah Falls in Oregon. Just a quick stop with the Airstream attached before we got onto I-5 north towards Seattle.

Seattle, WA

Back at home, I was missing and craving some of my favorite eateries and did not hesitate to jump right back into the foodie scene.

Fuji Sushi. I waited 4 months for this!!!!!
Geraldines French Toast.

And so, that concludes our first Airstream adventure. We cannot wait to get out onto the road again and see all that we can see. Thanks for following us and have a spectacular summer! We will see you soon for the next journey which is already in planning.

“A giant sky, the open road, just let us roam, and we are at home.” Paul and Lily

Fire, Death, and Parachute Shields.

Lily and I wrapped up our month in Utah and prepared to head into Nevada for the final stretch of our West Coast trip.

Enjoying one final Utah evening around the campfire.

Alas, the snow caught up with us and we woke up to a winter surprise on our last morning in Kanab.

The day before it was super windy with dust and sand blowing all over everything. Combined with the overnight snow, everything was a filthy mucky mess! So, on the way out of town we stopped at a car wash to spray off the gunk and grime.

Valley of Fire State Park

This was our first stop as we entered Nevada and we planned to spend two nights at the very popular Atlatl Campground. I was pretty anxious about this stop because the campground is very popular and operates as first-come first-served. All the online reviews I read told stories of how people drive in circles all day frantically looking/waiting for an open site. As cliche as it sounds, we got the last open site on the day we arrived.

Site 19 dry camping space.

It rained one of the two days we were there so I only got one hike in and that was the Fire Waves Canyon Trail. It was spectacular. At one point, I accidentally hooked up to another trail that took me into a slot canyon and around the White Domes. This state park is fantastic and rivals some of the National Monuments, IMO.

The waves of colors in the sandstone were simply phenomenal. I had to stop and pause periodically just to take in the incredible landscape. This was the first time I have ever seen purple sandstone.

Eventually the slots widened and the trail took me around the White Domes and then returned me to the truck and Lily.

Hoover Dam

On a day that it rained in The Valley of Fire, we took the drive through Lake Mead National Recreation Area to the Hoover Dam. The dam tours were cancelled due to the damn virus so the best I could do was walk around and take dam pics from the damn viewpoints.

Here’s a damn video from the Dam Visitor Center viewpoint.

Death Valley National Park

Truth be told, Death Valley wasn’t even on the list to visit, but when I saw it would fit nicely into the itinerary, we made the stop. And, I’m glad we did. It was nice to be out of the winter weather for a bit and also the park is remarkably interesting, and the sun was very bright.

Dantes View overlooking Badwater Basin – the lowest point in North America.

I did the short hike into Mosaic Canyon which is yet another slot canyon on my journey. I have only explored slot canyons carved out of sandstone so this one carved out of actual rock was really fascinating.

The rock was marble smooth and you could easily slip and slide down it.

On to The Devils Golf Course which was my favorite stop inside Death Valley and Lily got to explore here as well. It was strangely serene being in this place and I wished I had packed a lunch to enjoy there.

Next, we drove the 9 mile Artists Drive Loop and marveled at the multi-colored volcanic deposits. National Parks are truly special places.

The one-way Artists Drive through multi-colored painted hills.
Stopped for a selfie with Artists Palette in the background.
The Artists Palette.

And that wraps up our day trip into Death Valley NP. Here’s one last sunset pic before leaving this fascinating place.

Great Basin National Park

Since it was still winter, most of the roads and trails in Great Basin NP were snowed over and/or closed, but the Lehman Cavern was open and I took the ranger guided tour. Parachute Shields are the most unique feature of this very interesting limestone cave.

This is a Parachute Cave Shield – the shield is the round flat top part and the parachute is the bottom portion.
The innards of a broken Stalactite.

The cave was discovered about 100 years before it became a National Monument and later protected by the NPS so it’s been somewhat abused and altered. Before becoming a National Monument, tourists and explorers were encouraged to break off stalactites to take as souvenirs. “Whatever you can break, you can take” was the motto.

The biggest scar on the cave is the graffiti all over the ceiling in the “Inscription Room”. Some of the markings date back to the very early 1900s.

Early explorers and tourists would use charcoal and soot to engrave their legacy into the limestone ceiling of the cave.

Heading Home

Lily and I left Nevada and continued north. We are only one week from the conclusion of this West Coast adventure. Long drive days and overnights on BLM land and Harvest Host wineries are the theme until we arrive back in Seattle.

Parked overnight on BLM land near the Bonneville Salt Flats.
Sunglow behind the Superstition Mountains.
Lily loves roaming free when we are boondocking.

Finally, we enter our home state of Washington and spend our final Airstream weekend at the Columbia River Gorge on the WA/OR border.

Sunset over the Columbia River.

In a few days, we will drive the final few hours to Seattle and wrap up this incredible four month trip. Stay tuned for one last blog before we sign off for the summer and start planning our next adventure.

Dramatic Canyons, Famous Valleys, and Crimson Spires.

We are wrapping up our time in Moab and still exploring this fascinating area. It’s quite a small town but I actually found a little local grocery store that carries all my favorite organic food brands that I regularly enjoy back home in Seattle.

Canyonlands National Park

Next on the list is Canyonlands and I will confess that I almost skipped this park in favor of something else. But, I am really glad I did not skip it. The park is really off the beaten path and I think that is what made it a special experience. I really enjoyed being here and it was nearly deserted so Lily got to explore some of the areas where dogs were not allowed.

The Shaffer Canyon Overlook.

And here’s a quick video of Lily trekking down the overlook trail.

First stop upon passing the visitor center was Mesa Arch. The little hike to the Arch was short and sweet and there were only a few other people on the trail. I spent about an hour there sitting on a ledge overlooking the expanse.

Just through the arch is a sheer cliff drop-off into the canyon below. Here’s a video of the dramatic situation.

After Mesa Arch, I headed over to the Green River Overlook and took a hike down into the canyon and literally descended 1400 feet down the side of the sandstone cliffs.

View from the trailhead just before descending down the canyon walls.
View of the Green River as it joins with the Colorado River.

After the hike, I woke Lily up from her nap in the truck and we sat on a sandstone ledge overlooking the canyon I had just conquered.

It was a great afternoon in Canyonlands and I truly appreciated the lack of people everywhere in this off-the-beaten-path National Park. With that, it was time to wrap up our stay in Moab and hit the road to the next amazing destination.

Monument Valley

Just down the road from Moab is the film famous Monument Valley. For this adventure, we drove deep into Navajo Nation Land to experience the incredible scenery and camp in a pretty unique spot.

This is the spot where Forest Gump stopped running. Everyone stands in the middle of the road to take pics of the famous film location.
Parked in space 34 at Gouldings Lodge Campground.

I signed up for a guided tour into the Valley Tribal Park and it was a great decision. Since there are about 10 families that actually live in the valley it was worth it to be taken behind the fences of the residents by a Navajo guide and see things I would miss if I drove in alone.

Natural Bridges National Monument

This was a fun afternoon excursion. We set out north on The Trail of the Ancients which is Utah State Route 261 from Monument Valley to Natural Bridges. Three miles of the journey included traversing the Moki Dugway which is an unpaved road literally carved into the side of a cliff with steep switchbacks ascending/descending.

The Moki Dugout warning sign as you approach the cliff.
View of the switchbacks from the top.

We didn’t have much time in Natural Bridges so we quickly did the 9 mile drive around the park and stopped at the last bridge to take a quick hike and some photos. I would like to come back someday and hike down into the canyons to see the bridges up close.

Owachomo Bridge.

Video of the quick hike to the Owachomo Bridge viewpoint. The trails in National Parks and National Monuments are so cool.

Valley of the Gods

On our last day in the area we took the 17 miles scenic off-road drive thru Valley of the Gods and explored more sandstone formations which also included quick stopovers at Goosenecks State Park and Mexican Hat.

Parked for a little break in Valley of the Gods.
Strange solitary sandstone statue in Valley of the Gods.
Goosenecks State Park.
Mexican Hat.

And that completes our time in Monument Valley but before we leave I had to capture some of the incredible sunsets to take with us. The evening sky is phenomenal here as it lights up the sandstone mesas with heavenly colors of red, then orange, some yellow, and finally purple. It was marvelous.

Kanab, UT (again)

We have come full circle and are parked back at the amazing Dark Sky RV Campground for one last excursion. So far, this is the only place we have stayed at more than once on this journey. And here’s why …

The sunsets are spectacular and the campground is setup perfectly.
It was the weekend for Balloons and Tunes so this is what we woke up to each morning.

Bryce Canyon National Park

Finally, it’s time for Bryce. TBH, I almost skipped this park because the campgrounds near it were closed for the winter but I’m glad I came back to Kanab and kept it on the list. Bryce was like nothing I had ever seen before. I couldn’t wait to get parked and hit the Queens Garden and Navajo Loop Trails. Unfortunately, Wall Street was closed due to snow.

The amphitheater lit up by the mid-day sun.
Queens Garden Trail with a few tunnels for the queens goblins to pass thru.
The famous switchbacks at the end, or the beginning depending on which way you go, of the Navajo Loop Trail.
View from the top of the switchbacks.
One last look at the amphitheater from the Bryce Viewpoint.

And that’s it, our time in Utah is complete. We spent nearly an entire month exploring the strange landscapes and mighty national parks. It’s such an amazing place and I’m sure we will be back again soon.

With only about two weeks of travel remaining on our West Coast trip, Lily and I head west into Nevada for some fire and drought.

Majestic Rock Faces and Natures Architecture.

At last, we arrive at the mightiest and most spectacular of the National Parks. This is probably the highlight of our West Coast trip and our first time camping inside a National Park. It was awesome in every sense of the word.

Zion National Park

What can one say about Zion except it is simply majestic. Literally, as you drive into the park from the east you start to get hints of the stunning landscape ahead. And then, you arrive and see it for the first time and almost drive off the road and crash.

We entered from the east on highway 9 which means we drove through The Zion Mt. Carmel Tunnel which is the longest vehicular tunnel in the National Park System. It was constructed in 1930 and is not quite big enough to accommodate two-way traffic with my Ford Super Duty pulling a 28′ Airstream. So, they closed down the tunnel and let me drive right down the center line for the mile long journey to the other side. Of course, there was a surcharge for this privilege. And it was worth it.

Once thru the tunnel, you start the winding road down to the canyon floor. The scenery was breathtaking (yup I used that word, breathtaking) and it was hard to drive and gawk out the windows at the same time. I had to pull over a few times to fully appreciate what I was experiencing on my first time in Zion.

After safely navigating the switchbacks and pullouts, we settled into the Watchman Campground which is in the heart of Zion and being off-season it was nearly empty the entire four days we were parked which was a nice reprieve from the nosey people always wanting to see inside the Airstream and chat about the RV lifestyle.

Amazing campground in the heart of Zion NP.

After getting setup and chasing Lily around (she was happy to be there too), I swiftly organized a National Park Happy Hour and began to settle in for the first night in this spectacular place.

Wine for the first night, then …
… switched to Gin for the rest of the stay.
Night shot from the campground as the stars were coming out.

We woke up the first morning and set out to explore the surroundings on the Zion Canyon Scenic Drive. It was truly amazing being in this grand place with hardly anyone else around. Zion is a lot more intimate than I expected – I think I was comparing it to Yosemite which is has a much larger canyon/valley area.

Morning sun illuminating The White Throne in the distance.

After getting the lay of the land, we ventured outside to the little town of Springdale which is just outside the south entrance. I found a great little coffee shop to fuel up on caffeine and a breakfast burrito. After eating, I was ready for the first hike which was the Canyon View Trail and it was really fun.

There was some pretty amazing scenery along the hike and I couldn’t stop taking pics.

After traversing natures staircases, I arrived at the top and experienced the glory of Zion. And let me once again say that it was really fantastic being there in the off-season without a million other people. It made the experience a lot more memorable and positive.

I was too scared to attempt the Angels Landing Hike which is supposed to be the epic Zion adventure. However, I did enjoy an afternoon of hiking around the Emerald Pools and despite some ice on the trails and ice cycles hanging overhead it was pretty spectacular. There are just no bad views from any trail when hiking in Zion.

Deadly ice cycles hanging directly over the trail at Lower Pool made this trek quite exciting.
Video view of the canyon from Middle Pool.
Video view of Upper Pool frozen solid with a snow cone on top.

Four days passed quickly and all too soon it was time to leave and head to the next amazing National Park. We packed up and settled in for the 5 hour drive across Utah to Moab which would be our home base for nearly a week.

Moab, UT

What a cool little town nestled around Jurassic sized red rock landscapes. This would be our jumping off point for the next few National Parks on the list. The Portal RV Resort was an awesome place to call home. The only bad thing about being here in February was most of the eateries I had earmarked for trying were closed for the season.

Arches National Park

After Zion, I did not think anything could impress me ever again but that changed when I entered Arches National Park. I spent all day hiking around and exploring the fascinating formations created by nature. The hike to Delicate Arch was the most cool – half of the hike was up the side of a massive granite rock dome and the final stretch was a path carved into the side of a sandstone cliff.

Trail marker on the granite dome.
Steps to the final stretch of trail.
Final stretch before the big reveal.

And then you arrive at the most interesting and fascinating formation by nature – Delicate Arch.

Being at Delicate Arch was the highlight of my day,
Video of the final stretch and big reveal at Delicate Arch.

Then is was off to Windows to check out more arches and let Lily out for a little adventure. Hiking in Arches was a little different than what I experienced in Zion, the trails were mostly marked by Cairns.

Lily got to enjoy some of the interesting hikes as well.
Trail up to Windows.
Windows Arch.
Double Arch.
View towards the Windows from inside Double Arch.

And finally, at the end of the day, we made our way back thru the park and stopped to check out Balanced Rock and Park Place.

Balanced Rock.
Park Place.

So that was the first half of what we experienced while positioned in Moab. There is just too much to do in this awesome place. Tons of off-roading and natural wonders to explore. Stay tuned for more!