Good morning, Northern California! Today, we drive the last leg of our trip down to San Francisco. We’ll explore the Avenue of the Giants, Redwood National Park, stop for lunch in Mendocino, and finish the day having dinner at Fog Harbor in Fisherman’s Wharf.
Category Archives: National Parks and Monuments
Vacation Day 3!
Today we drove out of Seattle. Our first stop was at Snoqualmie Falls. This waterfall is the tallest in the state of Washington. Next we drove to Mt. Rainer National Park. Just outside the park is Crystal Mountain. There we took a gondola ride to the top where the views were spectacular and we ate lunch at Summit House. It was 42 degrees and the boys loved the snow patches. After the drive through the park, we headed down to Portland. In Portland we stayed at the Nines Hotel. We snacked in the roof and then ate at The Urban Farmer restaurant. Our waitress mentioned to the chef that Davy is in a bee club at school, so he came out and took us on a tour of their rooftop garden, showed us their rooftop apiary, and then their aquaponics garden in the basement of the hotel. It was an awesome personal touch experience.
Day 7! Today, we head out of Yellowstone and off to Cody, Wyoming.
Woo Hoo! On our way out, going toward the east entrance of the park, we FINALLY see a bear. And not just one bear, but TWO! Those were some pretty brown grizzlies next to the road.
Once we reached Cody, we stopped for some lunch at Millstone Pizza Company and Brewery. Andy and I tasted their flight, while the boys played in the arcade downstairs. Afterward we headed to the Buffalo Bill Museum. This museum was amazing. Whereas Matty liked it for about 30 minutes, Davy and I wandered through for about two hours.
We checked into the Best Western, let the boys swim, and then we headed off to Wyoming’s Rib and Chop house for a few steaks before making our way to the rodeo. Nothing says 4th of July weekend like a good old western rodeo with fireworks LOL. We stayed for about half of the show, the boys were exhausted. We missed the bulls, but we got to watch the bucking broncos.
Day 4! And we’re on our way…
Today, we leave Jackson Hole and head to Yellowstone National Park. On our way we grab some bagels and fruit, stop back in Teton National Park to drive up next to the Teton’s and visit the Chapel of the Transfiguration. We were told that this little chapel has the most gorgeous view, and they were not wrong. It is a log cabin, built in 1925 and is owned and operated by St. John’s Episcopal Church in Jackson. We stopped for a small hike to see Jackson Lake, and then we headed north.
Our first stop in Yellowstone was to see Old Faithful. It’s here we watched the famous geyser and had lunch. Next, we drove to Midway Geyser Basin and walked the board walk to see the Grand Prismatic Spring, the largest spring in the park. And lastly, we drove west until we hit the edge of the park and then back east to Canyon Village to check into our hotel. The scenery was beautiful and it was the perfect day for a drive.
Day two of our Westward journey. Rise and shine we started with breakfast at Bubba’s BBQ next to the hotel and then we hopped into the car to go for a drive.
Right outside of Jackson is The Grand Teton National Park. We stopped at the visitor center and then drove through the south end of the park ending at Lake Jackson. The drive was beautiful and we saw deer and bison.
Our big adventure of the day was our whitewater rafting trip. Our bus driver drove us thirty-five minutes southwest outside of Jackson where we met our guide Tom and loaded in. Although it’s 80 degrees outside, the water was 52 so everyone was put in wetsuits. The water was cold, the canyon gorgeous, and the class 3’s were more fun than any other we’ve been on. We had 10-foot waves, it was crazy.
For dinner we ate Mexican, and Matty and I wandered into the town square for some shopping, the street shootout, and some ice cream.
After we left the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse we drove north into Nag’s Head. Since Mr. Dan is a pilot and talks about flying his planes to the boys and Pixar is releasing a movie called Airplanes this summer, I thought that it would be fun for the boys to learn a little about the first flight ever taken.
A 60-foot (18 m) granite monument, dedicated in 1932, is perched atop 90-foot-tall (27 m) Kill Devil Hill, commemorating the achievement of the Wright brothers. They conducted many of their glider tests on the massive shifting dune that was later stabilized to form Kill Devil Hill. Inscribed in capital letters along the base of the memorial tower is the phrase “In commemoration of the conquest of the air by the brothers Wilbur and Orville Wright conceived by genius achieved by dauntless resolution and unconquerable faith.” Atop the tower is a marine beacon, similar to one found in a lighthouse.
Rise and Shine! The sun is out and the weather couldn’t be more beautiful. Today we continue our exploration of the Outer Banks. The lighthouse wasn’t open just yet so we checked out of the motel and headed south to the town of Hatteras. It’s the furthest point you can drive, from here you take a ferry over to Ocracoke. There is a lighthouse here and I was sad that we were going to miss it. The boys and I stopped at a café, grabbed a few lattes, a smoothie, a few breakfast pastries and headed back to visit the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse.
Here’s a little more history about the lighthouses from the OBX. The Cape Hatteras Lighthouse protects one of the most hazardous sections of the Atlantic Coast. Offshore of Cape Hatteras, the Gulf Stream collides with the Virginia Drift, a branch of the Labrador Current from Canada. This current forces southbound ships into a dangerous twelve-mile long sandbar called Diamond Shoals. Hundreds and possibly thousands of shipwrecks in this area have given it the reputation as the “Graveyard of the Atlantic”. The lighthouse is 210 foot height makes it the tallest brick lighthouse structure in the United States and 29th in the world. The National Park Service acquired ownership of the lighthouse when it was abandoned in 1935. In 1950, when the structure was again found safe for use, new lighting equipment was installed. Now the Coast Guard owns and operates the navigational equipment, while the National Park Service maintains the tower as a historic structure. 1,250,000 bricks were used in construction of the lighthouse and it is 248 steps to the top.
In 1999, the Cape Hatteras lighthouse had to be moved from its original location at the edge of the ocean to safer ground 2,870 feet (870 m) inland. Due to erosion of the shore, the lighthouse was just 120 feet from the ocean’s edge and was in imminent danger. The Cape Hatteras Light House Station Relocation Project became known as “The Move of the Millennium.” It is the tallest masonry structure ever moved (200 feet tall and weighing 5,000 tons). The boys and I walked out to the original location, it was very close to the water and the Park Ranger told us that the lighthouse would not have survived Hurricane Sandy.