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Published: September 13th 2014
In the summer of 2012 I traveled out west in the USA. I mostly explored national parks but did so much more! My trip was book-ended with visits with two friends - one in Seattle, WA and one in Phoenix, AZ.
I began in Seattle and stayed with my friends Mara and Brendan for a day. They were so super generous and let me borrow one of their cars to take on the ferry to Olympic National Park where I explored for a few days, based at a great hostel called Thortown Hostel in Port Angeles. I highly recommend it. In my couple days in the park alone I hiked every day! I started with a small hike behind the Hurricane Ridge visitor center. Early the next morning I drove to Salt Creek County Park to see the morning tidal pools. I saw a HUGE 22 legged octupus type creature! I hiked around in the Lake Crescent area and did 3 trails: Marymere Falls, Barnes Creek Trail, and Mt Storm King Trail. Winery stop that evening on my way back to the hostel. On my third day I drove to the Hoh Rainforest. The rainforest was so beautiful. I did
a ranger led walk and learned so much. I also hiked 2.7 miles out and then back on the Hoh River Trail which goes on seemingly forever! The 4th day, I picked Mara up at the ferry and she and I hiked the Hurricane Ridge trail. 70degrees out and snow on the ground up on the ridge! We also drove to Sol Duc Falls, hiked, and then swam in the hot springs. A perfect end to nearly a week straight of hiking!
Mara took the car back to Seattle and I set out for Victoria, Canada! My hostel was acceptable (Turtle Hostel). I wandered around and bumped into cool things to do. There was a 12 hour yoga event going on outside that was a charity fundraiser. Each class was 55 minutes with a 5 min break for a recommended $5, then a new teacher, repeat. I went to a thrift store, bought some leggings, and did yoga in the park for 3 hours in the perfect Canada summer sun. I got pooped on by a pigeon while in my warrior two yoga pose, but hey, that is supposed to be good luck! I also went to a summer
jazz festival in a different park. I did a few touristy things too: Craigdarroch Castle (a mansion, really) and Royal BC museum. One night I had dinner at a neat vegan restaurant called Rebar.
I took the ferry back to Seattle and spent a few more days with Mara and Brendan. We explored their city together and Mara and I went on a few mini-hikes and did some fun things with their toddler son. I also met up with an old college friend, Jen, for dinner which was neat!
The next part of my summer was a two week journey from Seattle to Las Vegas with a tour company called Trek America. We mostly explored National Parks and every night we camped in tents. My tentmate was Liz, a German au-pair. We got along great in the tent and on hikes. I will never, ever again sleep in a tent for 2 straight weeks though! Also, with Trek America the meals are paid for in our fee but we needed to shop for and cook the food ourselves. That added to the experience but was not relaxing. I'd rather be waited on during vacation!
We started in
Wyoming at Yellowstone National Park, where we went to Mammoth Hot Spring, the Boiling River, Old Faithful. We saw bison, bald eagles, elk. Then, on to Grand Teton National Park, where we took a boat ride across Jenny Lake with high hopes of spotting a moose. No luck. But I did try a beer called Moose Drool!
In the town of Jackson, Wyoming we went white water rafting on the Snake River. That night we went to a rodeo where we saw events like bull riding, barrel racing, bull roping, and bareback riding.
Next we visited 3 major parks in Utah. We went to Canyonlands NP, Arches NP, and Monument Valley. We spent a night with the Navajos in Monument Valley and slept under the stars. They danced and told us stories at night. This was reminiscent of Wadi Rum in Jordan and I highly recommend it!
On to Arizona where we went to the Grand Canyon, where we hiked the South Kaibib trail as far as Skeleton Point. Then we went to Zion NP, where our grand finale hike was Angel's Landing. Incredible!
The Trek America group went to Las Vegas together. I wasn't a
big fan. Maybe I'd like it better with friends. I did reconnect with a travel friend, Paula, that lives in Vegas that I met during my summer in Peru. That was fun! From Vegas the group continued to Los Angeles. I skipped LA and stayed in Vegas another day for a day tour of the Hoover Dam. That was cool! Then I flew to Phoenix and spent some time with my friend, Wendy, and her family!
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