N is for National Parks & Monuments – #atozchallenge

The US National Park System has 417 official units throughout the country including 59 National Parks, 87 National Monuments, 19 National Preserves, 51 National Historic Parks, 78 National Historic Sites, 4 National Battlefield Parks, 9 National Military Parks, 9 National Battlefields, 30 National Memorials and a number of other National sites including National Rivers, National Seashores, National Lakeshores, National Parkways and National Trails.

Bison relax along Lava Creek in Yellowstone while pronghorned antelope look on from the background
Sumoflam and Cannons at Vicksburg National Military Park
Towpath Trail in Cuyahoga Valley NP, Ohio

Officially, the National Park Service preserves unimpaired the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education, and inspiration of this and future generations. The Park Service cooperates with partners to extend the benefits of natural and cultural resource conservation and outdoor recreation throughout this country and the world.

Some of the scenic and colorful hills of Theodore Roosevelt National Park
A couple of my children at the birthplace of Abraham Lincoln in Kentucky in 1997
Badlands National Park in SD

The NPS is a great blessing to the citizens of this country and all others that may visit.  They have some amazing offerings and a road trip that passes by these is not a worthy roadtrip.  These sites are the gems of our country!

Though I have visited all 50 states in the US, I have not been able to get to many of the sites.  Of the 59 National Parks, for instance, I have only visited 28 of them and some of those were way before my travel blogging and photography days. Of all of the others, I have been to 77 of the nearly 350 sites.  So, I still have a long way to go.

Grand Tetons along US 89 in March 2013
Visiting Shenandoah National Park on Easter Sunday 2017
Gettysburg Address Commemorative Sign, July 1998

That said, I have thoroughly enjoyed my visits to many of the National Parks, Monuments and other NPS sites. My personal favorites are Glacier National Park (Montana), Grand Teton National Park (Wyoming) and Yellowstone National Park (WY) — OK…I love the mountains!!

Following are some photos of some of the other NPS Sites that I have visited over the years.  More are sure to come soon!!  (In fact, just this past weekend — Easter weekend 2017 — I drove the Skyline Drive in Shenandoah National Park and got photos of the Easter Sunrise!!)

Easter Morning Sunrise 2017 in Shenandoah National Park
Grave markers of the US Calvary Soldiers that died at the Battle of Little Big Horn in Little Big Horn National Monument in Montana
Sumoflam at Montezuma Castle National Monument in Arizona in 1983
Visiting the Grand Canyon in 1983
Dinosaur National Monument, Vernal, UT
Family at Sunset Crater National Monument north of Flagstaff in July 1993
The Washington Monument and the US Capitol in Washington DC in 2016
Visiting White Sands, NM in 2013
Visiting Craters of the Moon in Idaho in 2013
Entering Mt. Rainier National Park on WA 410 south of Greenwater, WA
Agate Fossil Bed National Monument in Nebraska
With some family members and a friend at Glacier National Park (May 2005)
Purple Mountain Majesties – Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Mount Olympus and Olympic National Park in Washington as seen from Hwy 104
One of the wild horses on the sand dunes at Assateague National Seashore in Maryland
Visiting the Petrified Forest National Park in Arizona with some tourists from the Isle of Man in 1983
Sumoflam at the White House – July 1990
Mt. Rushmore in 2013
Family at the Lincoln Home in Springfield, Illinois, Summer 2001
Visiting Yellowstone National Park in 2014
Family at the George Rogers Clark National Historic Park in Vincennes, Indiana Summer 2001
Capulin Volcano – part of the Capulin National Monument in New Mexico
Some of the kids viewing the massive New River Gorge Bridge in New River Gorge National River, WV in August 1995
Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, NY 1990
Visiting Bandelier National Monument near Los Alamos, New Mexico in 1979. I have always enjoyed visiting old Indian ruins.
Sumoflam at the Everglades in Florida in July 1990
At the St. Louis Arch in Missouri
At Golden Gate Bridge in May 2015
My son Seth at Wupatki National Monument in April 1992

 

 

 

(28)

Washington State: A Week of Travel and Variety

A Wide View of Mt. Rainier
A Wide View of Mt. Rainier
The family getting ready to head to Seattle on Day 1 of our visit.  We made the T-shirts ourselves
The family getting ready to head to Seattle on Day 1 of our visit. We made the T-shirts ourselves
Julianne and David on the Beach in Washington
Julianne and David at the Beach in Washington

My wife and I had the opportunity to fly to Seattle at the end of July for a nice week (actually 9 days) of fun with our family out there.  Over the next couple of weeks I will have a few posts about our adventures, but wanted to provide a brief preview of what we experienced: Beaches, Mountains, Sights, Sounds, Eats and Quirky fun!!

The Bremerton Ferry took us form Bremerton to Seattle.
The Bremerton Ferry took us form Bremerton to Seattle.
On the Bremerton Ferry with a Flock of Seagulls
On the Bremerton Ferry with a Flock of Seagulls

Day 1: We  took a ferry from Bremerton, WA and then spent a full day walking around parts of Seattle…then took a Duck ride.

The ferry is followed by hungry seagulls who would swoop down and eat from people’s hands. I got some amazing closeups of the birds.

A closeup shot of a seagull taken on Bremerton Ferry
A closeup shot of a seagull taken on Bremerton Ferry
The Seattle Space Needle
The Seattle Space Needle

Once we arrived in Seattle, our sea legs turned into walking legs as we visited the Ye Olde Curiosity Shop, Pike Place Market, walked along the boardwalk, rode the Ducks, saw the Space Needle and more.

There were street musicians everywhere, lots of fish in Pike Place Market and a general atmosphere of fun in spectacular beautiful (but a bit hot) weather.

Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is a must see stop for the lovers of the offbeat and quirky
Ye Olde Curiosity Shop is a must see stop for the lovers of the offbeat and quirky
This guy greets you at the door at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
This guy greets you at the door at Ye Olde Curiosity Shop
Throwing Fish at Pike Place Market
Throwing Fish at Pike Place Market

Of course, a visit to Seattle is not complete without muscling your way through the massively crowded Pike Place Market (even on weekdays).  Famous for its fish mongers, there are a plethora of other goods there for perusing and partaking.

It was fun watching all of the people, but there is no place to stop for a sit down break and the market goes on forever and forever.  One could really take a full day just visiting each merchant and seeing what they offer.  But, probably better to go when school is in session.

Pike Place Market where the fishermen are as wild as the salmon
Pike Place Market where the fishermen are as wild as the salmon
The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.
The Kravetz and Matthews family all decked out in our matching shirts Riding the Duck around Seattle.

 

One of the more unique tours of the city are the Duck Tours.  We rode the Duck for fun.  The drivers are a riot and the open air drive around the time and in a lake were really fun (not to mention the wonderful respite from all of the walking)

Ride the Duck!
Ride the Duck!

The Duck Tour does provide a fun sample of Seattle.  I will have much more about Seattle in an a future post.  Seattle is a fun place!!

On the Pacific Coast at Neah Bay, the most northwestern point in the contiguous United States
On the Pacific Coast at Neah Bay, the most northwestern point in the contiguous United States
Neah Bay, Washington
Neah Bay, Washington

After a “Recovery Day,” we were back on the road on Day 3 heading north to Neah Bay, which is the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States. Julianne stayed back in Port Orchard as we traveled the road along the Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Highway. Honestly, there may be a Strait, but the road ALONG the Strait is ANYTHING but straight.  A crooked windy road to Neah Bay.

Fat Smitty's, a burger joint near Port Townsend, WA.
Fat Smitty’s, a burger joint near Port Townsend, WA.
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of fat Smitty's
Dollar Bills plaster every inch of the walls and ceiling of fat Smitty’s

As it was a long and winding road, literally, we did stop along the way for lunch at one of those quirky eateries.  Fat Smitty’s in Port Townsend, WA is a real kick!  Indeed, the outside wooden art is a drawing card, but the real fun is when you walk inside and see the thousands of dollar bills plastered everywhere.  They claim to have over $10,000 in there. I’ll have a special post just about this place.

Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Highway is definitely scenic but certainly is NOT straight
Strait of Juan de Fuca Scenic Highway is definitely scenic but certainly is NOT straight
This seaweed looked more like a snake.  Not sure what it is called...
This seaweed looked more like a snake. Not sure what it is called…

The drive up US Route 101 along Olympic National Park and then along the Strait on WA 112 is very scenic.  Mt. Olympus can be seen along with other rugged northern Cascade peaks.  The Pacific Ocean scenes at Neah Bay are fabulous…and the beach is sandy. And there is all sots of strange looking seaweed up there.

We took US 101 home along Olympic National Park and made our way back eventually getting to the Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset.

Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset
Tacoma Narrows Bridge at sunset

PointDefianceZoo

Day 4 had us going down to Tacoma with the family and some of the Matthews family too.  We visited Point Defiance Zoo…a smaller zoo, but with some great animals.

Otter at Play at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma
Otter at Play at Point Defiance Zoo in Tacoma

I enjoyed watching the otter roll around and it was also a blast watching the kids feed the budgies.

We saw tigers, an elephant, seals, a polar bear, etc.  I’ll have a post about the zoo coming up too.  I love the flowers, the animals and the joy on the kids’ faces.

A Blue Budgie at the Point Defiance Zoo
A Blue Budgie at the Point Defiance Zoo
The LDS Seattle Temple
The LDS Seattle Temple

After a nice trip to the zoo, we returned to Port Orchard and the adults all took another ferry across to Seattle (with the car this time) to visit the Seattle Temple of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  Another beautiful building…built in 1978.  It is always nice to attend the temple, where we did baptisms for the dead and spent a nice evening away from the kids.

The ferry ride this time was also amazing as there were some spectacular views of the glacier covered Mt. Rainier.

On the ferry to Seattle with Mt. Rainier in the background
On the ferry to Seattle with Mt. Rainier in the background

Day 5 was another rest day.  We took a visit to a regional park along the coast and Julianne and I sat there and watched the boats while the kids hiked.  It was nice to chillax as the next day would be a big one.

Mt. Rainier after a day in the National Park
Mt. Rainier after a day in the National Park
a Cloud cap forms on Mt. Rainier.
A cloud cap forms on Mt. Rainier.

Our next to last day was a visit to the spectacular Mt. Rainier National Park.  This is certainly one of America’s great mountain peaks.  At 14,400 feet it towers above the landscape and can be seen everywhere on a clear day.  It reminded me of Mt. Fuji in Japan, which I lived at the base of for 5 months in 1978.

Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA (featuring Bigfoot!)
Naches Tavern in Greenwater, WA (featuring Bigfoot!)

Along the way to Mt. Rainier we stopped at a fun place for lunch in the small scenic town of Greenwater.

The Naches Tavern has a nice menu, walls with dollar bills all over it, lots of old implements and a GIANT Bigfoot wood carving.  More about this on the Mt. Rainier post in a couple of weeks.

The Mattress Ranch "pasture" in Port Orchard
The Mattress Ranch “pasture” in Port Orchard
One of a few large murals to be found in Port Orchard, WA
One of a few large murals to be found in Port Orchard, WA

Of course, I can’t avoid the quirky places on a trip like this and the Mattress Ranch in Port Orchard is udderly mooving with dozens of cows, bulls, chickens, lambs, rams, etc.  Port Orchard also has a bay complete with old US Navy destroyers and the town has some fun wall murals.

Scenic Sunrise Lake near Sunrise Viewpoint in Mt. Rainier National Park
Scenic Sunrise Lake near Sunrise Viewpoint in Mt. Rainier National Park

I am excited to share the details of our long trip to Washington over the next couple of weeks.  Hopefully those that read it will get some fun inspiration for their own trip to Washington!

Enjoying Washington at Mt. Rainier NP
Enjoying Washington at Mt. Rainier NP

(482)