Tuesday, October 7, 2008


After 9,700 miles, 21 states and 13 stops, my trip is complete. While I wish I could say I returned from my trip with some profound understanding of my life or a clear direction I want to take, I can't say that I did. However, my journey was certainly an experience that I will carry with me the rest of my life.

At the very least, I would like to think I have come away from this with a few things. The first is that there are some truly great people in the world. During my trip I met some of the most fascinating people who not only had their own stories but also wanted to know mine. In addition, the outpouring of love from family, friends and in some cases complete strangers about my trip really meant a lot and made me realize that perhaps at times I had let my priorities get turned around. Secondly, I realized just how much natural beauty there is in the continental US alone. There were so many times on my trip that I just had to stop and take it all in because the sights were so mesmerizing. Unfortunately, alot of it is changing and in some cases disappearing. Glacier National Park was definitely one of the best stops on my trip but by 2030, they expect that all the glaciers in the park will cease to exist and with that the changes in temperatures which will affect the wildlife and plantlife in the surrounding areas. Finally, I came away from this realizing that all those late nights and stressful days at work really didn't matter in the grand scheme of things. When I really look back at it, I can't say I was saving lives or really doing anything which had much of a positive impact on anyone. That isn't to say that I wouldn't have gone down the same path if I had a chance to do it over again but my trip definitely helped to put things in perspective and I know that someday I do want to do something that has more meaning.

Thank you again to everyone for helping to make this possible for me and for all the kind words. It all has really meant a lot. Below is a collection of the video I took while I was on my trip.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Day 15 - Yellowstone and Grand Tetons National Park

Despite the limited time I had to see both Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, I still was able to cover alot and really get an appreciation for why these parks exist. The wildlife alone at Yellowstone is a sight to be seen. From the minute I entered the park, there were elk roaming around the visitor center. From there it only continued as I drove further into the park where I saw elk, deer, buffalo and even a coyote (unfortunately a bit too fast for the camera). A couple times when I spotted something while driving I stopped and got out to take a picture all the while thinking, "This probably isn't the smartest thing I've done" - espeically when it's a massive buffalo 25 feet away. But I made I didn't get trampled so it's really a win win. In addition, Yellowstone has some of the most amazing land features - canyons, meadows, waterfalls, geothermal springs and geysers. Couple that with the Grand Tetons to the South and it's quite the experience. Here are the pictures.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Day 14 - Glacier National Park (continued)

I decided to shift a day away from Yellowstone and add it to Glacier since I had heard some great things and really wanted to see as much as possible. Plus, as someone else pointed out, Yellowstone would be much easier to reach in the future. Without seeing Yellowstone yet, I'm pretty sure I made the right decision. I used today to venture to the other park entrances and see what they had to offer which included Many Glacier and St. Mary. While Many Glacier was nice, I was really impressed with St. Mary. In addition to some of the sights along the way, I hiked just over 3 miles round trip to 2 waterfalls: St. Mary's and Virginia. After venturing to see some waterfalls at other parks, I was skeptical about how spectacular they would be. Much to my surprise, both were stunning. The first one on the hike, St. Mary's, could be heard for quite a distance and sounded like a passing train (pic 6). The second was a much taller but had much less volume in comparison (pic 7) but also had some beautiful red and yellow rocks just under the surface of where the water fell (pic 8). Both were well worth the hike and as always, I ran into some really friendly people along the way, including a couple from Los Angeles who were doing their own "National Park Extravaganza" but with alot more parks and alot more time. Enjoy the photos.

Day 13 - Glacier National Park

Yesterday was a wild day to say the least. When I got to Glacier National Park, it was sunny and hardly a cloud in a sky. I decided to take a 3 mile round trip hike to Hidden Lake which required a drive up to Logan's Point. Upon getting there, it began to lightly hail - a new experience for me. After it stopped, the weather cleared and I began the hike. It wasn't long before I was trudging through snow which was 2 feet deep in some parts. I finally made it to Hidden Lake and took some pictures and explored around a little bit. I noticed the weather starting to turn off in the distance. I didn't think much of it but began my hike back down to the parking lot. Before I could get half way down, it started to thunder, then rain, then hail, and then hail harder. I hauled ass down the trail slipping and sliding all over the place to get to as low an elevation as possible without getting struck by lightning. In the end I made it down safely but cold and wet. Considering I didn't die, it was a pretty fun experience. Enjoy the pictures and don't forget what I went through to get them! ;)

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Day 12 - Mt. Rainier

The weather couldn't have been better today. After yesterday's battle with the clouds and rain at Mt. St. Helens I figured today would be more of the same. Instead, the sky was clear and while chilly, it wasn't unbearable. Did a fun hike today that went from the visitor center at Paradise at 5400 ft to Panorama Point at 6800 ft. From there, you can see several other peaks in the cascade range including the elusive St. Helens from yesterday. I met some really cool people on the hike as well today. In particular, I met a woman today named Nancy who is almost doing my same exact trip in reverse (or I'm doing hers in reverse) while on a leave of absence from work. You really never know what kind of people you're going to meet but so far, the people I've met on this trip have been great. After descending from Panorama Point, I ended up on another trail with some other people I met and ended up running into a bear cub. Luckily, there were no signs of the mother so I was able to get some pretty spectacular shots. I also saw deer, marmot, and chipmunks while hiking. All in all, a pretty action packed day. Enjoy.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Day 11 - Mt. St. Helens

Here are my photos from Mt. St. Helens. I spent most of the day waiting to weather out to see if it would play nice but eventually most of the clouds cleared and I managed to get the first shot. The remaining shots are from a 4 mile trail I took to the "Devil's Elbow" which I'm assuming is called that because a bad step and you might just get to meet him. At times you're walking on a ledge 12 inches wide with a wall on one side and a 200 foot drop on the other - not exactly my cup of tea but I toughed it out and didn't look down. Nonetheless, the trek was worth it. I ended up with an awesome view of the mountain itself and Spirit Lake (pic 2) and some bonuses along the way like Indian Paintbrush (pic 4). It's amazing how a place so utterly destroyed almost 30 years ago has recovered so well yet still visibly scarred from the event. Enjoy the photos.

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Day 10 - Cannon Beach

I wasn't sure what to expect with Cannon Beach, Oregon. To be honest, I don't remember what made me add it my list but I'm glad I did. Despite hitting some pockets of rain on the way over, the weather was pretty mild and overall enjoyable. Cannon Beach is a small town on Oregon's northern coast with beautiful beaches and alot of mom and pop type places. The people seem friendly and helpful and less interested in trying to make a buck. I could be wrong but that the impression I get and it's refreshing because you don't always find that. They also have some of the most well-manicured lawns and gardens I've ever seen.

As I said, the beaches are the primary attraction so after exploring a bit earlier in the day, I went back around sunset and took a few more photos. The sand and water seem to produce some awesome reflections at times - almost as if you're looking at a pane of glass. If you look closely, you can see the lighthouse out at sea in the third photo. Enjoy.