September 10, 2019 – Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park

The mule deer were out in the morning.

The park visitor center is an adorable log cabin with a deck on two sides.

Our water tank has sprung a link, so we bought a gallon of water from the grocery store to make coffee when we are not in an RV park with a water hook-up. I topped off the water jug and then Andy filled his Bubba cup at the visitor center.

Of course, we watched the movie before going out to look in the canyon. The visitor center had a few exhibits and some rocks in cases.

Holy cow! Another first for me. Look at that log picnic table. I bet it weighs a ton.

Here is the view of the overlook from the back deck of the visitor center. You can see the split-rail fence where people are walking down to the overlook at the edge of the light brown bluff.

No, it is not the Grand Canyon, but this place is truly awesome. I looked up some statistics:

The Black Canyon is incredibly deep and sheer, with plunging cliffs, soaring buttresses and a thundering river. The following lists will help you understand the physical size of the canyon in comparison to other canyons and man-made structures.

Greatest Depth:
Warner Point
Chasm View
Gunnison Point
2,722 feet (829 m)
1,820 feet (555 m)
1,840 feet (561 m)
Narrowest Width:
At the rim (Chasm View)
At the river (The Narrows)
1,100 feet (335 m)
40 feet (12 m)
Total Lenth of
Black Canyon:
Total Length
Length in National Park
48 miles (77 km)
14 miles (22.5 km)
The River:

Average descent over the entire length of canyon:
43 feet/mile (8 m/km)Greatest decent: Occurs in the park at Chasm View –
240 feet/mile (45 m/km)

There is some interesting history, HERE, if you are interested in the early explorations of the Gunnison.

We walked down the trail from the visitor center.

I got a nice shot of the visitor center sitting at the rim.

Out at the overlook, the Gunnison River is just a sparkly ribbon of water.

At the top, I noticed that the “bushes” were oaks.

Our wildlife sighting was the grasshopper-looking guy sitting in the sun on the trail.

From the top, you have to be right on it before seeing that there is a deep, steep, and rough canyon down there.

We moved on to the next overlook.

This viewpoint is at a wide section of the canyon. The narrowest is only forty feet wide.

We stopped and listened to a ranger talk about rock climbing. This high wall is one of the most popular spots for climbers in this park with dozens of marked climbs (for expert climbers only). I could not see the bottom.

After two overlooks, Andy said he could not walk anymore. We took the rim drive to the end of the road but did not get any more looks into the canyon. I did see the Painted Wall but did not get out of the RV for a better look. Here is one borrowed from the web.


September 6, 2019 – Lassen Volcanic National Park

Our first stop in the morning was a back-track to the park entrance where I could get a photo of Mount Lassen reflected in Manzanita Lake. Maybe I didn’t walk around the lake far enough to get the whole mountain in. Even if I had, the ripples in the water were not going to allow the reflection I was after.

Our next stop was the ranger station, the home of Benjamin and Estella Loomis before the park’s existence. Loomis took a series of photographs of Mount Lassen’s eruption in 1914.  They became a sensation across the nation.  He then rallied for Mount Lassen to become a national park.  They maintained the right to stay in their home for life.

Loomis built a museum and gift shop to show and sell his photos. It is still a museum and park visitor center.

Loomis also bought a seismograph and housed it in this small building in front of the museum.  The U.S. Geological Survey still collects data from it. There are nine seismographs in the park monitoring Lassen’s activity.

What a drive.  The road is very good: a two-lane highway with diving lines painted on it.  There are white lines painted at the edge of the pavement.  Beyond the white lines, in many places, is nothing but air.  The scenery is breathtaking, even when there is no fear of falling off the edge.  I paused a few times to take a picture. We drove a good distance through the park when I saw a must-have photo opportunity.  I had already passed it.  Fortunately, it was not too much farther when we reached the parking lot for the summit trailhead.  So, I pulled in and head back to THE SPOT.

I used the zoom to get a better picture of the distant lake.

It was exciting to then make a U-turn to head back in the right direction.  The road was just wide enough with the pull-off to make a U-turn, only backing up once. I am happy to report that we did not roll down the hill.

This is Lake Helen.  The blue is just and blue and colorful around the shore as Crater Lake was.  I assumed it was just a shallow spot that gathered rain and snow and was surprised to read in our guide that it is one-hundred-ten feet deep.  It is named for the first white woman to climb to Lassen’s peak. I still haven’t learned to stitch two photos together, so here is Lake Helen to the left

and Lake Helen to the right.

This enormous rock sticking up out of a mountain caught my eye.  I didn’t see any sign identifying it, I think it is bigger than an office building.

This is an errant boulder placed here by a glacier. The photo does not really show how precariously it is perched at the edge. The woman under it told her party she was going to push it over. She is my scale model today.

I walked around and found a vantage point more to my liking.

Errant Boulder

This scene is above the boiling mud pots.

There are more in the park, but we only saw two at this stop. This mud pot was at a furious boil and little blobs of mud were going airborne. My picture did not capture the copious amount of steam rising from the pot. These are the same features seen in Yellowstone. Like Yellowstone, Lassen is an active volcano.

Boiling Mud Pot

This is the hillside just to the right of that mud pot. According to the sign, the colors are from the minerals in the water seeping from the ground uphill.

The second mud pot, across the road, was also boiling and steaming but farther away.

Lassen is not the only volcano show in town.  Many of the peaks here are volcanoes.  The park has all the four types of volcanoes: plug dome, composite or stratovolcanoes, shield, and cinder cone. The literature says that there was once a large mountain and these are just what is left of it. Lassen is the southern-most of the string of volcanoes starting with Mount Garibaldi in British Columbia.

There are many fascinating sights in the park that we did not see because of the long or strenuous, or long and strenuous hikes to get to them. We stopped in the visitor center near the park exit (for us).

Visitor Center

I saw the view out the back windows and then the café to my left with the same view.  It was lunchtime. That was one of the best veggie wraps I’ve ever eaten.

There was an excellent movie showing many of the sights we missed and a good explanation of volcanoes.

Andy decided to leave a day early and go on to the next stop in Provo, Utah. It was a long drive and I was tired and hungry – and cranky – by the time we got there. I seem to have lost the pictures I took of our nice campsite by the lake in Utah Lake State Park.

September 5, 2019 – Eureka to Lassen Volcanic National Park, California

California Route 299 connects US 101 (the Coast Road) to Interstate 5 at the north end of California’s Central Valley. My photos don’t show it, but it is one of life’s memorable drives. I did take some pictures because there were so many spots where road repairs stopped us.

This was a particularly scenic spot, with an overlook to take in the scenic mountain view. The entrance to the overlook was just where the flagger was standing with a stop sign. When we finally moved again, we decided not to stop there.

I did take a picture out my window of the scenery uphill. We were close to the top.

I was surprised to see a rest stop and pulled in to take advantage of it. This was in a narrow-valley section of the road and the hill was steep just behind the building.

This is the rest-stop cat.

The road follows the Mad River and its tributaries through the mountains. We were often far above the gorge and could not see the bottom.

Those are some mean looking mountains.

At one point, I saw a place to pull off the road where I could get out of the van and take a picture of the river. This is not the most scenic spot.

There were many cascades.

This stop was a long one. From the amount of dust in the air, we thought they were blasting ahead, though no signs advised it. I looked to me as though they were clearing back the hillsides farther away from the road to prevent rock slides onto the highway. Loaders were filling dump trucks with rubble. We saw this in several spots.

This photo was through the windshield while we were stopped, yet again.

Note the piles of dirt/gravel on the roadside ahead. The actual roadwork was around the bend.

At Redding CA, and Interstate 5, we took California 44 right to Lassen. That drive was also scenic, but no road work gave me an opportunity for pictures.

Here is Scamp in our campsite in the Manzanita Campground in the Lassen Volcanic National Park. It smelled so good there!

Every campsite has a bear box and a sturdy picnic table.

The trees are magnificent. I think these are Douglas Firs.

This is Manzanita Lake, which is next to the campground. I suppose, though, I should say the campground is next to the lake.

The campground store has a great log bench in front.

August 20, 2019 – Crater Lake National Park

It was breakfast on the road again, since the RV park people told us we should go to Beckie’s. It is on the National Register of Historic Places and it’s also adorable. The resort is across the road. Beckie was a man named Beckelheimer (or something like that). Beckie was his nickname. The restaurant has been serving food since 1926.

Beckie’s Restaurant

Here is a peek inside. We ate in an adjoining white room, not as charming as this.

Beckie’s Restaurant Interior

Then we were on (up, up, and uphill) to Crater Lake. This is the visitor center where we saw an excellent film about how the lake was formed about 5700 BC by volcanic eruptions in several spots around the mountain. Then the top of the mountain caved into the void created by those eruptions. They estimate that Mount Mazama was about 12,000 feet before the eruptions and collapse and 8,000 feet after. Over the millennia, the average 43 feet of snow annually filled the crater with water. It is the deepest lake in the U.S. at 1,943 feet. It is also the cleanest water in the U.S.

Crater Lake Visitor Center
Crater Lake Park Headquarters

Would you please look at the size of those rocks in the visitor center building?!

We took off for a 33-mile drive around the lake. The lake is 21 square miles. There are more than 50 turnouts along the drive and we probably hit most of them. This is our first look at the lake. It is more beautiful than any photos depict. It is beautiful enough to make a person cry. Crater Lake Blue is mesmerizing. And, the whole place smells like a Christmas tree.

That is Wizard Island in the lake. It is a volcano. Mount Mazama is not extinct; there is still hot water at the bottom. Another interesting fact: the lake seldom freezes. The last time it froze was 1949.

There are still a few patches of snow in the crater and on surrounding mountains.

The dark rock on the side of the caldera is called Devil’s Backbone. It is magma from underground that came up through a fracture.

These guys are everywhere. I had to look it up: the difference between a ground squirrel and a chipmunk is that the ground squirrel does not have the stripes on its head.

Ground Squirrel
Scamp at Crater Lake

It may be past peak flower season, but we did see some. I don’t know what any of them are.

Crater Lake National Park is not just about the lake. the rim road around the lake has elevations between 7,000 and 8,000 feet. Many of the pullouts are overlooks from the mountain.

Our guidebook says that on a clear day you can see Mount Shasta, 100 miles away in California. It took us a few minutes studying the signboard and the horizon, but then we saw it. Once we spotted it, it was clear to see. I zoomed all the way with my camera for this shot.

I think this is Hillman Peak, but it could be the Watchman.

Pasqueflower seedpods also called Mouse-on-a-stick
Wizard Island
Llao Rock
Wizard Island Again
Toilet Building
Union Peak (7,698 feet) (older volcano) OR Mt. Thielsen (9,182 feet)

I don’t see how the lake can stay pristine with boat traffic on it.

Boat on Crater Lake
Cleetwood Cove
Yellow Flowers Over Crater Lake

The lake seemed to get a deeper blue as we moved around and had the sun behind us.

Pumice Castle (the red rock)

The rock formation jutting out of the lake is called Phantom Ship. What is most interesting about it (to me) is the picture of what it is like underwater from the signboard.

After our drive, we went to the Lodge for a meal. This is the lobby.

The next room is a large lounge.

There are large fireplaces in each of these big rooms.

The lodge sits right on the caldera rim, so there are great views of the lake while you eat. That is if you sit on that side of the room.

Dozens of (occupied) rocking chairs line the balcony/porch overlooking the lake.

Crater Lake Lodge

I kept snapping one more last picture of the lake as we walked back to Scamp.

A man asked me if I would take a picture of his family and then he took some pictures of us in the same spot.

It was a wonderful day with perfect weather. And, I FINALLY got to see Crater Lake.

December 8, 2015 – Dates, Times, and History

For the past few days, I have been reading through my Big Creek Journals and deleting dates, changing times from 24-hour to 12-hour or deleting them altogether, and writing a little history paragraph about Big Creek. Patricia Ross had said that an essay has observations and then reflections on those observations.  I realized that I do have some reflection and perhaps just need to expand on that. I am a bit encouraged.

There was once a logging operation and town, called Crestmont, in the Big Creek watershed when the park commission began acquiring property for the park in the 1920s. I found some old photos in the ranger station and photographed them. The only remnants left of the logging operation and the town are some pieces of metal, bricks, and strange cement structures in the woods.

I have tried and failed to match these photos to today’s reality. I can’t even find Big Creek.

Crestmont Lumber Mill

Buildings in Crestmont NC

Crestmont from Hill


December 4, 2015 – Big Creek In the Night

It has been raining which made it easy to spend most of yesterday and today at my computer, reading over my Big Creek Journal and deciding what to use and what to delete. So focused. I woke up in the night and thought we were in Big Creek.

This is the swimming hole at the picnic area.  I had walked across the bridge to the far side of the creek and taken the picture back toward the picnic area.  The tables are obscured by the trees.

b Swimming Hole at Picnic 'Area

Why do we need national parks?

September 17, 2015 – Grand Canyon North Rim

It was a Grand day.  We had not planned to go to the Grand Canyon since we had been to the south rim a few years ago.  Son Christopher had never been and wanted to see it, so we went today and I am so glad we did.  The north rim is beautiful even before looking into the canyon itself.  The drive there was also beautiful.

There really isn’t much to add to the pictures, except that it is bigger than it looks in these pictures folks. 

As soon as we were parked, Christopher and Andy ate the road food we had packed.

b Christopher Andy Eating Tailgate

b North Rim Sign Christopher

Our first stop, after the restrooms was Bright Angel overlook.

b Chrisopher on Trail to Bright Angel Overlook

This bridge was breathtaking.

b Bridge to Bright Angel Overlook

I loved this spot along the trail. It was cold up there (8,000 some feet). I was glad Christopher had a space down jacket in his truck. I have a serious case of hat hair.

b Andy Dinata on Bench

This is the wedding spot. The bride and groom stand at the edge of the cliff.  If they get cold feet, they can just jump off.
b Wedding View

The wedding guests sit on these benches.

b Wedding Seating

b Purple Flowers

b Grand Canyon 6

Observation point in front of lodge.

b Overlook at Lodge

Lodge on north rim

b Lodge from Overlook

Observaton room in lodge.

b Observation Room

Lodge dining room. The food was good.

b Dining Room

b Grand Canyon 5

b Dinata Christopher Overlook

b Grand Canyon 4

b Christopher on Angels Window

b Grand Canyon 3

b Feather Flowers

b Grand Canyon 2

b Grand Canyon 1

Angels Window

b Angels Window

Walking out on top of Angels Window.

b Andy Walking on Angels Window

Angels Window from another overlook.

b Edge of Angels Window

Andy fell asleep in the back seat between overlooks.  It was after lunch.
b Andy Asleep in Back Seat

b Ampitheatre

Driving back to Virgin, we could see the steps of the Grand Staircase.

b Grand Staircase