Our journey in our RV started in July of 2017. We toured some beautiful places in the west of America, from high mountains to glacier lakes, from the highest mountains to the lowest Death Valley, from the ocean to the desert, from the tallest cactus to the oldest tree. Living in the nature is our simple way of living. We had fun hiking, biking, fishing, and rock hunting. Home is wherever we park. We have a small home but a big backyard. Hot campfire, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, starry nights, amazing wildlife, and the tranquility are the best part of camping life.
Our quest for nature took us to the road. Whale watching at Depoe Bay State Park was one of the best Nat Geo moments we saw with our own eyes. Giant gray whales put up a show for us. The deep blue Pacific Ocean was so mesmerizing. Elegant bridges designed by Conde B. McCullough adorned Highway 101. Waves crashed on the fine sandy beaches in Oregon. It was so exciting to see harbor seals and sea lions at Yaquina Head Outstanding Natural Area.
The mighty Columbia River cuts through the gorges running towards the Pacific Ocean. Snow-capped Mt. Hood in Portland, Oregon sits on the other side of Columbia River near Goldendale, Washington. Looking at the starry night through the telescope at Goldendale Observatory was fun! Interactive ranger led programs gave us insights of the nature.
North Cascade National Park is the “American Alps.” Cascade runs through the pristine forest, a sea of fireweeds brightened up the charred forest. The majestic jagged peaks and spires of Picket Range were breathtaking. The peaceful Diablo Lake mirrored the surroundings. Viewing from the overlook, the color of Diablo Lake appeared amazing emerald green! It shined like a jewel at the foot of North Cascade Range. Rowing boats drew lines on the calm water. The magnificent mountains at Washington Pass form an impassable wall. But the highway 20 carves its way around the mountains and carries people to pass the North Cascade Range. Giant Mt. Rainier looms above the forest.
Badlands National Park is a moonlike world with spires, buttes and crevasses. The exposed sedimentary rock layers have spectrums of colors. Deposition and erosion are the nature’s powers that carved this land. Badlands is home to various animals, such as bighorn sheep and prairie dogs.
Lava Beds National Monument is a live textbook for geology. Massive lava flows, craters, cinder cones, and caves were created by volcanic eruptions. Modoc people called this land “the land of burnt-out fires.” Pictograms and petroglyphs told stories of this sacred land. Peregrines and swifts call this place home.
Eagle Lake is a Shangri-La hidden in the mountains near Susanville. A natural lake without outlets. It is a sanctuary for birds. The sounds of grebes woke up the day. Great blue herons, white-faced ibises like the marsh. American white pelicans formed in groups fishing. The best of the show went to ospreys. They could dive into water and resurface with fish in their talons. This peaceful lake is also a great place for boating, and fishing. The total solar eclipse made the morning of Eagle Lake look like in the golden hour. Tomatoes reflected the sun after the totality. A red-tailed hawk stayed on top of a pine like an ornament by our campsite. The sights and sounds of Eagle Lake were magic. Brilliant sunrises and sunsets plus rainbows were the gifts of nature.
I have never been so close to a snow-capped mountain until Mt. Shasta. Cute golden mantled ground squirrels, mule deer and other wildlife live in this beautiful mountain. Sitting above 14,000 feet, the vista from Mt. Shasta was grandeur! The snow melt is the source water for Sacramento River. A couple of people were meditating. What I cherished in my heart was beloved mountain bluebirds.
Scenic Highway 395 runs along east of Sierra-Nevada Range. It was a splendid scene with endless high mountains. The eastern face of Sierra Nevada Mountains are steep when the earth pulled apart, dropped valleys on the east and raised Sierras. This wall of high mountains is so grand with mesmerizing crests! Onion Valley Road was the mountain road that has the most switchbacks we have encountered. The road to ancient Bristlecone Pine Forest was also challenging. Deep in the 10,000 feet high mountains are the thousands year old bristlecone pines. Some of them are over 4,000 years old. Some baby bristlecone pines were immerging from the ground.
We made two trips to Yosemite via Tioga Road. Nature showed its wild side with naked rocks and reddish peaks on the mountain range. Rocks tumbled along hillsides. At an elevation of about 10,000 feet, Tioga Pass is the eastern entrance to Yosemite National Park. Tenaya Lake was crystal clear. The smooth giant granite rocks are the playground for rock climbers. The 5,000 feet high granite face of Cloud’s Rest was impressive. The vista at Tunnel View of Yosemite Valley is the most photographed scene in the world. On the left was El Capitan. Half Dome was surrounded by clouds in the middle down the valley. Bridalveil Falls was on the right. Looking across Merced River, there was the majestic Half Dome! Yosemite Falls dropped from the top of the mountain as if it fell from the sky. The elegant Bridalveil Falls swayed in the wind and danced. 3,593 feet vertical cliff of El Capitan is the ultimate challenge for rock climbers.
Silver Lake Campground was our base when we traveled along Highway 395. Nestled in High Sierras, it is Switzerland in California. I was thrilled to see a team of mules and horses when solo hiking on Rush Creek Trail. Sections of the trail was narrow and was right by the cliff. After a long trek, I saw Agnew Lake at an elevation of 8,508 feet.
A perched boulder is the landmark of June Lake. Gull Lake is between Silver Lake and June Lake. A colorful boulder and some interesting shapes of sierra junipers made the hike worthwhile. A mom mule deer was nursing her baby. Horses were having dinner in the ranch across the campground. I took a selfie with a mule. The dramatic sunset with unusual blue sky and ominous clouds above Silver Lake was another unforgettable moment. Trees turned into beautiful yellow in fall near Silver Lake. By the end of September, new snow made Carson Peak more picturesque.
Mammoth Lakes is a popular mountain ski area. The vista of jagged peaks of the Minarets took my breath away. Mt. Lyell, the highest point in Yosemite National Park can been seen from this overlook. Devil’s Postpile is a geological wonder with a vertical wall of basaltic columns. Deep molten lava flows filled this valley 100,000 years ago. When the lava cooled, surface cracked and hexagon shapes of basaltic columns formed. The creamy blue color of hot creek came out from faults at Hot Creek Gorge was beautiful. Rock Creek Lake is another beautiful alpine lake at an elevation of 9,682 feet. Fish were swimming in the crystal clear creek that emptied into the lake. The picture perfect Convict Lake is an ideal place to tie the knot or cast a line.
The fiery clouds at dawn in Lone Pine was spectacular. Alpenglow on high Sierras was mesmerizing. Mt. Whitney is the highest mountain in the contiguous states with an elevation of 14,505 ft. Lone Pine Peak appeared larger and higher than Mt. Whitney due to its closer proximity to us. Alabama Hills are filled with potato like granite rocks. The view of Mt. Whitney framing by Mobius arch was classic. But the view through Lathe Arch was equally stunning. Here is an enthralling sunrise with a rainbow above Lone Pine Peak! Cinder cones, Fossil Falls, and lava flows reminded us the fiery past of Eastern Sierras. At an elevation of 9,886 feet, Blue Lake is a gem hidden in the high Sierras with a dreamy diamond blue color. Glaciers still sat on the ground of the valley. A small waterfall trickled down the rocks and sang along the creek.
Mono Lake is an inland sea with salty and alkaline water. The southern shore has many tufa towers in different shapes and sizes. The two important roles in the ecosystems are the Alkali Flies and brine shrimp. Migratory birds feed on the underwater flies. Ospreys built their nests on top of the tufa towers.
Death Valley, a desert that is the hottest, driest, and lowest in the world. The vista from Dante’s view was spectacular. 5,000 feet below lies a vast area of salt flats in Badwater Basin. Telescope Peak soared more than 11,300 feet above the Basin. Badwater Basin is 282 feet below sea level and covers 5 miles wide and 7.5 miles long. The salt looked just like table salt. The amazing rock formations at Zabriskie Point were finely sculpted by nature. Deep gullies carved the bare mudstones into a maze. Death Valley is a stark beauty in the colors and shapes of rock formations, in its contrast of extremes. Watching sunset on Mesquite Flat Dunes in Death Valley was wonderful. Artist’s Palette sits on top of an alluvial fan at Artist’s Drive. A spectrum of color displayed on the rocks. We were extremely excited to find a gleaming creek under a colorful rock formation in Death Valley. Mosaic Canyon is a nature’s art gallery. Smooth cream colored marble walls curved along sides of the canyon. Walls of breccia looked like mosaic. Breccia and marbles contact seamlessly. But there is a 700 million years gap between them.
Valley of Fire seemed to be on fire with red sandstone formations. The best thing of waking up was seeing desert bighorn sheep! They were right there by the campground. We saw them again when touring the park. Yellow, red, pink, orange, purple colors and lines transformed the towers of rocks at White Domes into a splendid gallery. Some rocks had huge caves that were taller than me. Waves of cream and red color flow on the rock formation as if they were painted by a big brush. The swirls on the mounds seemed reminiscent of mocha ice cream. These two barrel cacti were huge and beautiful.
Gorgeous sunrise above Lake Mead near Las Vegas. Gambel’s Quails made the campground lively. This poor roadrunner seemed to have a broken leg.
We were greeted by a female elk at Mather Campground in Grand Canyon. Limestones glowed with dazzling golden hues in sunset. A raven landed on top of a cliff making screeching calls. About five million years ago, Colorado River from the Rocky Mountains found its way across Colorado Plateau to the Gulf of California, starting its grand carving of Grand Canyon. A male mule deer with huge antlers appeared in the campground early in the morning. The kiss from first sun rays on the rims woke up Grand Canyon. In a moment, the sun jumped above the south rim and shone into our eyes. It brought light and warmth to the world, and started revealing the beauty of Grand Canyon. The rock façade of Lookout Studio seamlessly blended with the cliff. Mules were waiting for a ride down Grand Canyon. A tunnel cuts through the cliff on Bright Angel Trail.
Giant Saguaros raised their arms welcoming us to Sonoran Desert. Saguaro is the biggest cactus and can grow up to 60 feet and live up to 200 years. Silhouettes of happy saguaros added a desert note to the splendid sunset scenery. Chollas were painted with a soft hue in sunrise. The vista at Fish Creek Hill on legendary Superstition Mountains was grandeur.
We had fun hunting rocks at Rockhound State Park in Chihuahuan Desert. We climbed up the steep mountain to the digging site. Standing in front of the magic door to treasures, we had no idea how to knock it open. Our patience was paid off in our second expedition. A big thunder egg nodule was dug out from the rock wall. Here is a beautiful geode and an eyeball shaped red jasper we dug out. Rosy lacy clouds flew above the silhouetted Florida Mountains. Then a brilliant sunset swept across the Chihuahuan Desert.
The sand at White Sands National Monument is as white as snow and as fine as sugar. It holds the world’s largest gypsum sand dunes that covers 275 square miles. Sand dune sledding was fun! Under the dreamy sky at dusk, beautiful ripples on sand dunes made this place a fairy land that shouldn’t be disturbed. A soap tree yucca with dry flowers stood proudly above the sand dune, saying good night to the setting sun.
Celebrating Christmas by the flames of a huge bonfire, and indulging ourselves in hot springs at T or C, it was amazing to experience all of these in the desert.
Bosque Del Apache National Wild Life Refuge is the ultimate paradise for birds in winter. Thousands of Rocky Mountain sandhill cranes and snow geese migrated here for the winter. It is also home for Javelinas and other wildlife. In a subzero winter morning, thousands of sandhill cranes woke up on the frozen marsh. Yellow cottonwoods and grass glowed like fire. Canadian geese and ducks also winter here. A bald eagle was sitting in front of sandhill cranes on the fields as if watching over them. Another field was covered with snow geese. The sounds of the snow geese and sandhill cranes filled the valley like a symphony. What a stunning view!
Our 2017 RV adventure was filled with cherished memories.
Thanks for watching!😊