Friday, May 6, 2016

The very start of the Pacific Crest Trail!

March, 2016:  In mid March, my brother John and I began an epic adventure on the Pacific Crest Trail in Southern California.  We got dropped off at the Mexican border and started hiking north with a goal of the Pines to Palms highway, some 151 miles to the north!  What an adventure it was!  Nine glorious days on the trail, with nothing to do but hike and soak in the grand scene of deserts and mountains, sunshine, flowers, stars and solitude...
Day 1:  Campsite with views back towards Mexica

Day 2:  Hiking down towards Lake Morena

Day 3:  Climbing up into the Laguna Mountains

Day 4:  High in the Laguna Mountains looking down towards the desert way below

Day 5:  The northern end of the Laguna Mountains, just before the desert!

Day 6:  San Felipe Hills
Day 7:  Eagle Rock, just outside of Warner Springs

Day 8:  First light from an incredible, boulder-filled campsite

The dynamic duo!

Day 9:  Looking north towards Mt. San Jacinto

To the Canyon Country!

Bryce Canyon at the tail end of winter
March, 2016:  After our time in the Grand Canyon in early February, we went to Las Vegas to visit Susanna's parents.  I stayed only a few days before flying to southern California and then taking a boat to Catalina Island for two weeks of dive training.  In early March, after my return to Las Vegas, we journeyed into the heart of the canyon country of southern Utah and Northern Arizona.  It was amazing to see these great parks in the late reaches of winter and early reaches of spring.  We visited Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, Escalante National Monument, Capital Reef National Park, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Natural Bridges National Monument, Navajo National Monument and finally Pipe Spring National Historic Site.  We had a great variety in weather, from quite warm in Zion and Capital Reef, to cool and sunny at Bryce, to a major snowstorm at Navajo.  Here are some of the highlights:
Our campsite in Zion NP

Zion NP at sunset

Hiking down into Bryce Canyon

Escalante National Monument

A remote drive in Capital Reef NP!

Capital Reef NP at sunset

Enjoying a campfire at Capital Reef NP

A confident hiker in Natural Bridges NM

Sipapu Bridge, Natural Bridges NM

Jasper LOVED this hike down to Sipapu Bridge.  It involved ladders and other crazy obstacles! 
Our campsite on a very cold morning at Navajo NM, Arizona

After the storm!  Navajo NM

The Grand Canyon

February, 2016:  In late January, we made a cross country journey to the Grand Canyon.  We lived in park housing for two weeks, while I went to the Albright Training Center for work.  The day we got to the canyon, a blizzard was pummeling the rim.  The next morning, there was nothing but sunshine, bright blue sky and thick snow on the ground.  Temps stayed cold for the first week.  I was able to snowshoe twice under the incredible night sky.  Gradually, the temps warmed until the second week when it climbed into the 60's and felt much closer to spring than winter.  We enjoyed lots of spectacular sunsets along the rim and totally enjoyed our time "working" in the Grand Canyon!
Winter along the rim of the Grand Canyon!

Sunset along the rim

Just after the sunset...

Albright Training Center

El Tovar

Jasper sees something interesting across the canyon!

Another grand sunset along perhaps the grandest of all canyons!

The snow's piling high!

January, 2016:  We spent the month of January watching the snow pile higher and higher.  It was a slow start to winter into early January, but it came on with a force after that.  By winter's end, we would have 287 inches of snow that fell throughout the Keweenaw!  This made for some fantastic skiing.  We skied or snowshoed pretty much everyday throughout our short month in the north. 
Jasper and Mommy heading out onto the ski trail!

Happy skiers!

When Jasper gets tired, I pull him behind me in a sled

A silent winter forest...

Doesn't matter if it's snowing like crazy, this kid loves to play outside!

The beginning of a storm that dropped 24 inches of snow within 12 hours

After the storm...All in all, we got more than 40 inches of snow over a 3 day period!

Ahhh....  Time to ski!

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Farther South into the heart of the Caribbean!

December, 2015:  In the midst of our 5,000 mile journey to the Deep South, we boarded a giant ship and continued farther south into the heart of the Caribbean.  It was the first time any of us had taken a cruise ship, and it was a delight!  Jasper had tons of fun to kids zone and we all had fun in the swimming pools, hot tubs and miniature golf.  The food was fantastic.  The evening comedians were a blast.  We also had a chance to explore four different countries:  Cayman Islands, Honduras (Roatan), Belize and Mexico (Cozumel). 
Miami skyline at departure

On the way out to see sting rays and snorkel the reef, Grand Cayman Island

Roatan, Honduras

Black Howler Monkey at the Community Baboon Sanctuary, Belize

The army of cruise ships!

Look out!

Cozumel, Mexico