One of my favorite Armchair Traveler books contains gorgeous photos and essays about many of the incredible US National Parks. When I browse the book I remember past journeys (my favorites include Denali, Glacier, Mt Rushmore, Shenandoah and the Grand Canyon) and plan new adventures (Grand Teton, Yosemite, Crater Lake are on my list).
In addition to books and maps about various National Parks, there is a wealth of information on line: https://www.nps.gov/index.htm Remember when you plan your trip to a National Park, some are far more crowded than others and going in spring or fall is less crowded than the summer months.
Each park is very special and unique. While there are travelers whose goal is to journey to each park, there are others (like me) who prefer to return to a favorite park. I find that each time, I discover new vistas.
Be creative and have fun as you “armchair travel” using photo books, guidebooks and online sites. You could well be planning your next journey.
Take the time to put the camera away and gaze in wonder at what’s there in front of you ~ Erick Widman
One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things ~ Henry Miller
Savor your journeys… real, imagined or virtual, near or far.
Last year, I traveled to awe inspiring Mt Rushmore in South Dakota, which is a fabulous area to visit (including the nearby Crazy Horse Memorial, Badlands National Park and the SD Air and Space Museum). This year, the Independence Day fireworks celebration should be spectacular.
Savor your journeys… real, imagined or virtual, near or far.
George Washington: Labor to keep alive in your breast that little spark of celestial fire called conscience ~ Human happiness and moral duty are inseparably connected ~ Strive not with your superiors in argument, but always submit your judgment to others with modesty ~ Perseverance and spirit have done wonders in all ages.
Thomas Jefferson: Do you want to know who you are? Don’t ask. Act! Action will delineate and define you ~ Honesty is the first chapter of the book wisdom ~ The most valuable of all talents is that of never using two words when one will do ~ On matters of style, swim with the current, on matters of principle, stand like a rock.
Theodore Roosevelt: Do what you can, with what you have, where you are ~ Believe you can and you’re halfway there ~ People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care ~ Knowing what’s right doesn’t mean much unless you do what’s right.
Abraham Lincoln: I will prepare and some day my chance will come ~ And in the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years ~ Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed, is more important than any other one thing ~ You cannot escape the responsibility of tomorrow by evading it today.
From May 2019:
I started my journey on the Olympic Peninsula at Port Townsend. It’s a cute waterfront town to explore with marvelous Victorian architecture, interesting local shops and good restaurants.
From Port Townsend, I took the ferry to Whidbey Island. There are several small towns to explore, my favorite being Langley, on the south eastern part of the island. Here, you will find neat local shops, including Moonraker bookstore (well worth your visit) and a great restaurant (The Braeburn) which is perfect for breakfast or lunch.
Drive north on the island to Deception Pass State Park on your way to Anacortes and the ferry to Orcas Island. I’ve stayed on Whidbey Island and also use it as a connection between the two ferries. If you have the time, it is definitely worth a visit or at least a luncheon stop.
Passing beautiful Deception Pass, take Rosario Road and Marine Drive (west side of Fidalgo Island) rather than Highway 20. Either route takes you to Anacortes, with the local roads being far more scenic.
If you have time, explore Anacortes, enjoy lunch before boarding your ferry to Orcas Island. I’ve done this trip several times and depending on my schedule, I usually drive thru Whidbey Island as a connection between the two ferries and have a late lunch on Orcas Island.
Orcas is a magical place, a beautiful island any time of the year. From the moment you step on the ferry bound for the San Juan’s, consider yourself on “island time.” I’ve stayed several times at Rosario Resort and recommend it. There are beautiful grounds to walk about, a good restaurant on site and it’s only a few miles drive from the town of Eastsound. If you are lucky, you will see deer on the property as you explore the area.
On this trip, I took a whale watching cruise (great fun and I’ll do it again) plus taking the ferry to nearby Friday Harbor. I parked near the ferry terminal on Orcas Island and was a walk-on passenger. The town of Friday Harbor is at the ferry terminal so no need for a car as you explore this picturesque town. Be sure to check out The Whale Museum.
Orcas is the largest of the San Juan Islands and it’s enjoyable to drive about and explore the island. Drive to the top of Mount Constitution in Moran State Park for a gorgeous view, stop at local pottery places, investigate winding roads and breathe in its beauty and serenity.
Leaving Orcas, I took the ferry to Anacortes, walked about the Marina and then headed north via beautiful Chuckanut Drive to Bellingham.
On this trip, I used Bellingham as a base for exploring not only Bellingham but also the gorgeous Mt. Baker and North Cascades National Park areas. One rainy morning I drove to Lynden, a nearby Dutch town (terrific bakeries).
Favorite restaurants include:
- Port Townsend ~ Silverwater Café. Terrific salads, fish n chips, crab cakes and special deserts. https://silverwatercafe.com/ ** Doc’s Marina Grill https://docsgrill.com/ Terrific Fish n chips, Dungeness crabs.
- Whidbey Island, Langley ~ The Braeburn Restaurant. Terrific breakfast and lunch menu, including a magnificent bread puddin’, French toast, and many delicious specials. You will want to come back. https://www.braeburnlangley.com/
- Bellingham ~ Mykonos has an extensive menu, featuring Greek specialties (the Moussaka is incredible), seafood and pasta. https://www.mykonosbellingham.com/ ** Anthony’s is a very good chain in the Pacific Northwest, the food is always good and the restaurant in Bellingham has an incredible view https://www.anthonys.com/restaurants/detail/anthonys-at-squalicum-harbor/
- Anacortes ~ also has an Anthony’s restaurant — good food and a great view https://www.anthonys.com/restaurants/detail/anthonys-at-cap-sante-boat-haven/
- Orcas Island ~ Brown Bear Baking – fabulous pastries and quiches, etc. Open for breakfast and lunch https://www.brownbearbaking.com/menu ** The Mansion Restaurant (Rosario Resort) always a terrific dinner menu from appetizer to dessert, beautiful view and also a good place for breakfast. https://rosarioresort.com/the-mansion-restaurant
When planning road trips, always be flexible. You may want to stay in a favorite place longer or completely change your itinerary as you meander along. Weather may also cause you to change plans and improvise. That is the joy and fun of a road trip.
Savor your journeys … past, present and future … real or imagined…. near or far …
Links to additional photos:
- Interstate 90 from Western Washington to Rapid City, South Dakota
- East bound, stop in Missoula and Billings
- West bound, stop in Billings, Missoula, Coeur d’Alene
- Total road trip mileage: 2,713 miles
- Mountain passes on I-90 include
- Snoqualmie Pass, Washington, Cascade Range, 3,105 feet
- Fourth of July Summit, Idaho, Coeur d’Alene Mountains, 3,173 feet
- Lookout Pass, Idaho-Montana border, Bitterroot Range, 4,710 feet
- Homestake Pass, Montana, Continental Divide, 6,375 feet
- Bozeman Pass, Montana, 5,760 feet
- Montana is truly “Big Sky” country; gorgeous area; friendly people. Highlights include:
- Missoula ~ great place to explore (good restaurants, parks & book stores)
- Billings ~ neat area; Gateway to Yellowstone (have to plan another road-trip)
- Little Big Horn Battlefield and National Monument ~ a must visit
- Mt Rushmore and the surrounding area are definitely worth the drive
- Mt Rushmore ~ spectacular, awe-inspiring
- The Badlands ~ fascinating and mysterious
- South Dakota Air & Space Museum ~ a must see museum
- Coeur d’Alene, Idaho ~ a favorite spot which I love to re-visit
- Beautiful scenery, good restaurants and my favorite book store
- I planned to travel prior to Memorial weekend to avoid summer traffic
- Encountered snow in Wyoming
- Be flexible with your travel plans
- Leave time to explore and perhaps re-arrange itinerary
- Have fun and savor your journeys
The Badlands, located 70 miles east of Rapid City, SD are phenomenal, mysterious rock formations.
You can opt to take a bus through the area (check out bus departures from nearby Wall) or do as I did and drive about the Badlands Loop Road with incredible scenic overlooks and trails.
It was cloudy on the day I went, but even still, I observed the marvelous different colors and imagined their distinct beauty in sunlight. Around each curve of the winding loop road there are extraordinary unique vistas. There are numerous places to stop and take in the wonder and majesty of this very distinctive place.
Savor your journeys.
Mt Rushmore is awesome! It is an incredible experience to gaze at the magnificent sculptures of four notable United States Presidents: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Theodore Roosevelt and Abraham Lincoln.
Located approximately 20 miles from Rapid City (where I stayed), it’s a beautiful drive into the Black Hills, past the town of Keystone (elevation 4,331’) to Mt Rushmore. After parking my car, I walked towards the Avenue of Flags, which opened in 1978. The 50 states are represented plus the District of Columbia and territories (total 56) offering a beautiful first impression of Mt. Rushmore.
There are several trails to explore plus the Sculptor’s Studio (unfortunately, closed on the day I visited). Each year, over 3 million people visit this monument. If you have not visited, I recommend that you add it to your “bucket list.” It is well worth the drive.
Savor your journeys.
Sixty-five miles east of Billings, heading toward Mt Rushmore, a terrific stop is Little Bighorn Battlefield. Park rangers at the Visitor Center readily answer your questions. The Museum has very informative exhibits and a very good collection of books, including Stephen Ambrose’s “Crazy Horse and Custer”.
Leaving the visitor center, as you walk toward Last Stand Hill and the 7th Cavalry Memorial and then the Indian Memorial, you can feel the history all about you. Gaze about and sense what happened here in June, 1876. Think of what victory and defeat meant. Drive about Battlefield Road, following the map from the visitor center to get an idea of the size of the battlefield, stopping at Memorial Markers.
Savor your journeys.