Natural Wonders

29 articles in category Natural Wonders / Subscribe
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Hiking is like life. Sometimes, you take the same walk for the hundredth time, thinking you’ll get the same old path, and find a hillside full of wildflowers instead. After much patience, and way too many emails, walking the same old paths to employment, we finally found a great job beyond the mountains! The big city is calling, so Lola and I were enjoying a few of our last days in the desert before rolling on. Monty and Niko and I hiked high into the hills. It was amazing, not only to see things growing again, but thriving in this desert dust. Everywhere we turned was a new type of flower: asters, poppies, beebalm, cactus, yucca, and …

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Looking towards LA.

The road is long, but the time it takes to gain employment is even longer! Here we are, still in sunny southern California. It’s spring now, and I’ll be honest, I’d hoped to have more news, or at least be too busy to post. But alas, since posting my op-ed on trailer parks last month, Lola and I haven’t moved an inch. We’ve been staying at a small trailer park in the desert, paying month to month rent, replying to job ads like mad and dashing over the hills for interviews. (Or rather, I’ve been applying to jobs and the dogs have lounged lazily in the trailer, waiting for their daily desert hike.) Los Angeles is supposed …

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  Nothing lasts forever when you’re an unemployed travel blogger, especially not posh places on the beach. I knew that soon my adventures would have to take a hiatus while I looked for work to beef up the coffers. I knew soon that Lola and I would have to find somewhere cheap and decidedly more horrible to live. That’s why I chose to spend three glorious days at the Jalama Beach campground, just south of the air force base in Lompoc, CA. The beach is difficult to get to from the highway. It’s about 14 grueling, hilly miles on a road with no shoulder and many hairpin turns. I’d recommend making this trip either early in the …

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I spent the holidays in Pismo Beach, a medium sized resort town north of Santa Barbara. The main attraction is, of course, the beach, which is long and pristine and allows dogs. Sign me up. The nice thing about Pismo in particular is that the majority of the beach is public, state park land with beautiful dunes and sweet-smelling eucalyptus. At Oceano State Park you can pay $10 to drive out and camp on the sand. (We did not, because Sacagewea’s 4wd went out back in Amarillo.) Between Pismo and Oceano is a grove of eucalyptus where a huge colony of Monarch butterflies spends the winter. Though my lens was a bit too short to capture them, …

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As we left “the Big Sur,” we entered San Simeon, which is more rolling and brown than the high cliffs north of there. At Piedras Blancas beach you can watch the elephant seals in their rookery. They’re sleeping, okay? I know, not very exciting. Every once in a while one would grunt and toss sand on their back. The males are huge and a little more active than the females. I saw a few playing (fighting?) in the waves. Inexplicably, the seals are guarded by a fence that says “Do not feed the squirrels.” The sunset was gorgeous, like the sky was on fire, one evening. Of course, I didn’t have the camera until the last second, …

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After many hours on Highway 5 amid very dry, dusty conditions and a sense of brownness everywhere, I finally made the turn toward the sea. It is one of the final legs of my journey: California Highway 1. At first, I was a little nervous. There were a LOT of people on the 1 around Santa Cruz, and the drive wasn’t all that pretty. Lola and I can’t drive very quickly around the bends, and traffic was piling up behind us, with no place to turn off. We headed south. Monterrey was much the same. You may ask why I didn’t stay in any of these places. At $50 a night, just for an RV spot, it …

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I am FINALLY out of the mountains. Hello, Nevada! I knew I was past the hard part when I exited the HUGE Virgin River Gorge outside St. George, Utah to be greeted by the town of Mesquite, which has a desolate and lovely view, yet can still grow palm trees I visited Valley of Fire State Park, which borders Lake Mead. It gets its name from the bright red sandstone rocks that are pitted and shaped by the strong wind. You can see three sets of mountains from the vista (usually) though today snow was happening. For once, I didn’t have to avoid it, and it avoided me. The park gets only 4 inches of precipitation annually. …

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Zion, UT

We woke up to MORE SNOW. Even though I’m sure that it was gorgeous, I’m pretty glad that we drove the road down into the canyon at night before it iced over. I took one look at it in the morning and I knew that there was no way I’d be able to go back that way. At least the wind had died down a bit and the sun had come out, so Monty and Niko and I hit the Pa’rus trail. It is the only trail in the park where dogs are allowed, and it snakes along the bottom of the canyon along the beautiful Virgin River. We took many pictures of snow covered canyon walls …

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I took the northern route out of Piedra Lumbre west, past Pedernal, towards Farmington and the Continental Divide. On the map, it looks like a flat plain. In a way, this is true. Going into the drive, I thought I would come out of mountainous territory and slope downward towards a place that resembled Texas. It was not like Texas. (Also, I had to take quick snap pictures as I went, because I was trying to avoid an impending snow storm. His name was apparently Cleon. Who names these things? If you click on the first photo, a slideshow of the drive between Piedra Lumbre and Page, Arizona will appear. It will be like you’re actually driving …

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