Lee and a curious calico crisscross the country in a RV, living simply and sustainably.

Thank you to all my followers over the years – this will be my last blog post for a while as I will be parking my wheels in the new year and taking a job that truly speaks to my heart – caring for retired RVers. May your journeys be wild enough to make your heart beat faster, and bring you closer to your own wild nature…

license plate

The driving force behind my RVing adventure was to renew my spirit after my dad’s death and Worst Year Ever, visit my son, see as many national parks as possible, and hug a redwood/sequoia tree (silly me, I thought they were interchangeable). How fortunate to have had 2 ½ years to explore the United States with my home on my back like a crab shell, ducking in and out of these national treasures as time, money, and logistics permitted. I can honestly say that the parks saved me by bringing me back to my wild nature, bringing wildness literally to my door, and bringing me home once again.

“The ultimate test of a man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard ”    ~ Gaylord Nelson, founder of Earth Day

Here are the top ten favorite parks I visited during my RVing journey in order from my least favorite (still spectacular) to most. I selected just one photo from each to represent my personal experience within the park and a one liner of why it was so memorable. I am so blessed to have traveled to so many amazing places that I can even assemble a top ten list. Please share your comments and memories as well. And please support our National Parks and your local wild places.

# 10 – Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

Crater Lake

There was so much snow in the park that only a third of the drive was open, however, I wasn’t complaining about viewing the cleanest water in the world, all from snowmelt.

#9 – Glacier National Park, Montana

Glacier

WTF? – it was a sunny day in August when I started up Going to the Sun Road, yet found myself gripping the wheel around hairpin turns through rain, sleet, hail, snow and fog before finally descending back into the sun.

#8 – Yosemite National Park, California

Yosemite

White-knuckled drive across the park with my RV in tow, but when I returned I got this snapshot plus the opportunity to thank National Park Ranger Shelton Johnson who appeared in a series of DVDs on the National Parks which inspired me to hit the road in the first place.

#7 – Badlands National Park, South Dakota

Twilight

Growing up, my next door neighbors traveled out west in their tiny Shasta trailer and raved about the Badlands, and I didn’t understand the hype until I turned a corner and was on Mars???

#6 – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, Colorado

Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Extraordinary vistas seen with my son, playing Beatles songs on guitar and mandolin, and driving hair-raising Colorado mountain roads to get here, visiting friends on the way back…so worth the extra miles.

#5 – Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado

Rocky Mtn

Seeing the beauty of the world through my son’s eyes, wearing my Dad’s old shirt…a priceless memory.

#4 – Padre Island National Seashore, Texas

Padre Island3

Broke a tooth and my traveling budget was eaten up so boondocked on the beach, took a couple of free bird tours (the guide had once taught school in my tiny hometown), learned about endangered sea turtles, and camped for $5 a day or less in paradise.

#3 – Grand Teton National Park, Wyoming

Grand Tetons

Hiking and kayaking with Park Ranger pal Moe, seeing beaver’s bubbles emerge before it did from this den, Mormon row and these incredibly majestic mountains.

#2 – Yellowstone National Park, Montana, Wyoming & Idaho

Yellowstone

For me, Yellowstone will always be associated with bison gathering outside my RV in the afternoons – may they forever run free.

#1 – Redwood National Park, California

Redwood National Park

For some reason, these trees called to me from the opposite coast, set this whole quest into motion and did not disappoint – their essence touched my own and now my bucket list is complete! What’s on yours and what on earth are you waiting for???

sign

Last fall, when my seasonal contract with Yellowstone Association was up, I headed for South Dakota. When I was a kid, our next door neighbors headed west every few years in their tiny Shasta trailer and brought back Native American jewelry for my Mom and us girls. I still love wearing the exquisite coral colored stone and silver earrings I received 40 years ago. One of the places they raved about was Badlands National Park, so I wore the earrings as I explored the park.

When I drove in, my first thought was “What is all the fuss about?” Read the rest of this entry »

Bless me father, for I have strayed. It’s been 5 months since my last blog post…

Since leaving the Badlands in October, I traveled to Nashville to work for Amazon again, then followed the Natchez Trace south and veered off to Texas where I’ve been volunteering for 3 months. Despite the fact that I was gifted with free hi-speed internet service here, I have not felt moved to post about my travels. I thought about it a dozen times or so, but never felt ready to write until now. Read the rest of this entry »

Come October in the Western states, a lot of things shut down for the winter like Forest Service campgrounds and recreational sites. When I discovered that Rocky Point SRA located in Belle Fourche, SD between Billings and the Black Hills was still open, I prayed for an opening. Turns out there were plenty.

Belle Fourche means “beautiful fork” and the Belle Fourche River is important to Indian mythology. Read the rest of this entry »

This summer, I filled in for a few weeks at the Yellowstone Association Forest Store on Earthquake Lake, Montana. The Forest Service run Earthquake Lake Visitor Center is 27 miles northwest of the town of West Yellowstone and the busiest park entrance. In August 17, 1959, a massive 7.5 magnitude earthquake ripped through this popular recreation area, endangering hundreds and killing 28 campers.

Read the rest of this entry »

While workcamping in Yellowstone Association bookstores this season, we were encouraged to read books off the shelf during slow times so I picked up Stephen Ambrose’s Undaunted Courage, a historical accounting of Thomas Jefferson’s orders to send Meriwether Lewis and William Clark across uncharted country to discover a watery trade route from the Missouri River to the Pacific Ocean. Read the rest of this entry »

Bear spray…check. Water bottle…check. Hiking boots…check. Here are my top 5 favorite hikes in Yellowstone National Park. While I didn’t do any backcountry or overnight hikes, there are trails for every fitness level and type of adventurer around here. Read the rest of this entry »

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