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On Christmas day, after celebrating with Isaac, Ashley and Dylan, I drove down to the beach in Oceanside. It was such an exciting, wet, wild atmosphere! The waves were crashing on the shore and only a few people were about.
Same day, different beach, just as beautiful, just as wild.
 I am forever fascinated with the  pattens in the sand, and the formation of the waves. It is always changing, and I never see the same thing twice.
 The sound is incredible when the waves crash on the rocky shore, then recede back over the smooth rocks on the sand.
It was so cold that Christmas Day, and so windy.I was surprised to see these two brave men out there in the water, windsurfing!
They just shot across the water as if they were racing. It was right about this time that it started to rain. It was already so cold, and getting wet only made it colder. I quickly turned around and headed back to my car. 
 Different day, different beach in Carlsbad. When I am not out camping in the mountains, or exploring the desert, or chasing down some new national park,  I love to spend my free time at the  beach, wandering, watching and wading in the water.
 One morning after dropping my friends at the airport, I drove down to the San Diego Harbor and cruised along the waterfront, talking to the street people and drinking coffee.
 This was taken on November 1, at a Bluegrass party in Encinitas. Our wonderful friend Bill, invited the group over to his house, which overlooks the ocean, to eat and play music. It was one of the most stupendous, magnificent, gorgeous sunsets I have ever seen. 
 Each moment grew more spectacular. We all gasped in amazement at the magnificent artistry of our Creator God. The heavens truly do declare the glory of God!
Good night one and all. I will be off soon to Indiana, as Trump has signed in a new National Park! This summer in American Samoa was supposed to be the grand finale, and I would have visited and camped in all 60 of our National Parks! Now there is one more, Number 61, Indiana Dunes National Park, along the shore of Lake Michigan. Now I went to Lake Michigan, does that count? No, I will go to the new park and be happy, happy, happy! 


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After leaving Rocky Mountain I had to drive through Kansas to get to my destination in St. Louis Missouri. It was boring on the long drive so I often pulled off the road to look at the scenery. It was on a side road when I found this creature striding down the street. I was afraid he would get hit by a car, so I pulled over and tried to shoo him off the road. The creature started snapping at me, like he would take my finger off. I later found out that he was a freshwater snapping turtle. I actually got my camp chair and tried to push him off the road, but instead he grabbed hold of my chair, and I dragged him off the street.
 
 It was late afternoon when I reached St. Louis and made my way down to Gateway Arch National Park. It made me nervous as I first had to pass through the ghetto and I really didn't know where I was. Once I got there, everything was fine and I found a covered parking lot with and attendant where I left my Subee. First thing I encountered was this gorgeous bridge spanning the Mississippi River!
 On February 22, 2018, President Trump signed the papers making Gateway Arch National Park our 60th National Park!  Visit the link Gateway Arch National Park for more information about the park. The Arch was built on the original founding site of St. Louis, on the Mississippi River and is a memorial to Thomas Jefferson's role in opening the west as well as the pioneers who shaped its history. This makes Park #59 for me!!!!! Only one left to go, American Samoa.
 The whole place was overwhelming to say the least. I felt so vulnerable and unsure of my self during my visit there. New things always intimidate me, but I had set my mind to go to Gateway Arch, so sure enough I was going! This was my first glimpse of Gateway Arch.
 Eventually I found my way around, after walking along the riverfront area, and poking my head into interesting places.
 From the river I took this very long staircase up to the arch. 
It is difficult to imagine how large Gateway Arch really is until you try to take a picture of it! I tried every angle, even looking straight up at it, but eventually had to move a great distance up the hill to get the whole image.
Gateway Arch is 630 feet tall and is the world's tallest arch. The arch was previously known as the Jefferson National Expansion Memorial, and has since been renamed Gateway Arch. The Arch was built on the original founding site of the city of St. Louis, Missouri and was completed in 1965.
Clouds always comfort me, even rain clouds. These gorgeous clouds helped accentuate the beauty in the tall buildings.
 The city surrounding the arch is a blend of the very old and the ultra modern, the well groomed park and the broken down, graffiti covered ghetto. The building with the dome was built in 1864 and served as the St. Louis County Courthouse, the very place where Dred Scott sued for his personal freedom. The building now belongs to the National Park Service and is open for touring. If you look carefully in the lower left hand side of the picture, I captured a bride to be, getting her professional wedding pictures photographed!
I always love reflections, and I found this reflection of the city on one of the buildings in the city. It was all very beautiful!
Eero Saarinen was the Finish-American architect who designed the arch. There is a tram system built into the arch that goes to the top of the arch where there are viewing windows to look out over the city. I actually had tickets for the tram and the river cruise, but I woke up the next morning with a migraine and knew I would never make it to the top. I think it was all too claustrophobic, too new, and way too scary. I needed someone with me, and there was no one. Sometimes I can't walk through the fear, and end up walking out. Either way I learn.
 The river front was pretty, with people strolling along the walkway and boats going up and down the river. I did go in the new museum which is built underneath the arch. It was fabulous, with many displays about the Great Expansion. Nothing was sugar coated either. I liked that. It seems like we are getting better as a people about taking responsibly for our wrong doings. 
The newly renovated, bronze, 9000 pound  statue known as "The Captain Returns" commemorates the 200th anniversary of the return of Lewis and Clark. It is breathtaking.
 After leaving Gateway Arch National Park, I drove through the city, over to my campsite in Eureka, Missouri.
 A final good night from my campsite. As the sun set, the trees were covered in shadow, and my heart  was finally at rest. God bless you, one and all.
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The majestic Colorado River is a sight to behold. On my way to Rocky Mountain National Park, I drove along the Colorado River for quite some time. In this picture it looks very still, but there are places in the river with rapids and rushing water that entices rafters of all ages to ride the river. I stopped several different times along the way, and at one point a whole group of excited kids and several adults were putting in their raft. I was glad I was not with them! Been there, done that.
 It took me several days to get to Idaho Springs in Colorado where I encountered a street fair, with music, food, booths and fun! From there I drover up the State Road 72 past Nederland and stayed at a free Forest Service Campground. In order to get to it, me and the Subee had to off-road down some terribly, bumpy dirt roads until I found a  campsite. It was late in the afternoon when I heard some branches breaking and looked up to see a moose in the distance. 
It was quite shocking to see the moose, as my campground wasn't  even in the National Park. By the time I found my camera the moose was gone. I went about my business and was flossing my teeth when in walked the moose, just like he owned the place. Even though he was young, he was as big as a horse. With my camera in hand, I snapped a couple pictures of my afternoon visitor.
After one night of peaceful quiet, I continued driving up State Road 72 to CO-7 and took that all the way into Estes Park. On the way in, I spotted this house-castle-church building, and jumped out to take some pictures. The place was quiet, not a soul in sight. Feeling like Nancy Drew, I scouted around and walked back towards the mountains to see what it was like. All very strange.
Finally I made my way into Rocky Mountain National Park! Of course there was a festival of some sort down in Estes Park, so before I went to my campsite, I walked around town and ate steamed Edamame topped with soy sauce and sesame seeds, and looked at all the booths. Very fun. 
At the Moraine Park Campground, I had a great campsite that overlooked the Moraine Valley.  This park is very popular, so if you plan on going, get a reservation or you won't get in! Click this link: Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado to go directly to the National Park Service page for Rocky Mountain National Park and you will find all the camping information you need. 
The National Parks are so busy now, that it is always wise to go to the National Park Service sites on the web before you go to any park, and get all the info. The fall is especially beautiful at Rocky Mountain National Park, and is also the time of year the elk gather to mate. Another reason to go!
 Fall color ranged from dark and light green, yellow, gold, orange, red and brown! I felt like I was feasting on color every day I was there.
 At times the skies were filled with great big cumulus clouds that only made the blue sky look bluer. That would be me sitting on a rock, while on my hike up to Emerald Lake. I always meet the nicest people while hiking and feel so accepted by our warm conversations.
 One of my favorite places in Rocky Mountain National Park is anywhere along the Big Thompson River. It is one of the most beautiful places that I have encountered. very peaceful, yet full of life.
 My friend, the Magpie, a very social bird, very inquisitive. Magies are close relatives of both jays and crows, and have very similar characteristics. This one kept an eye out for any speck of food that was dropped near my table.
 On one of my hikes I spotted this group of golden aspen shining against the dark gray cliffs. 
 A male elk with his harem of females strolled through or near my campsite every day. He was very vocal and was always bossing the girls around, calling and huffing and bugling to get their attention. 
 A male elk on his way to the valley, where the real battles for the females took place. The males would call out to the females, it is called bugling, and try to get them to join his group. Other males would either challenge the big elk with the girls, or just strut around looking good. Several times a new male would come in and the girls would flock to him and leave their old love behind. Mostly it was just a lot of huffing and puffing and demonstrating their bravado that won the females.
 Right below my campsite, was the meadow and the Big Thompson River. So pretty in both the morning and the evening.
 It rained nearly every day I was there, which also resulted in rainbows! This one turned into a double rainbow as I was taking pictures. So pretty!

This bull elk looks like he's giving me the business for taking his picture. Actually he is bugling, If you have never heard an elk bugle you can click on this link Elk Bugle to hear them belch, bugle,. huff and puff.  There are different reasons for different sounds. Whatever noise they make, stay away from them! They can be dangerous,  especially during the rut. All these pictures were taken with my long lens, from very far away.
 At times it seems like the males feel safe in the campground, which may be why they bring their females up there to graze. It was breathtaking.
 A beautiful pink sky after a light snowfall. So incredible.
 On another hike up to Alberta Falls, I could see the storm clouds coming in. I encountered rain and then a hard hail that felt like sand blowing into my face.
 At Alberta Falls, I met a nice young lady who took my picture, while sitting on the rocks. 
 Alberta Falls, a scenic 30ft waterfall that thunders down a small gorge on Glacier Creek. One of the places I recommend visiting if you ever get to Rocky Mountain National Park! 
 Snow on the mountains, snow in the forecast, a 29 degree nighttime low predicted for my last day in the park. I decided to leave a day early and miss the crowds trying to escape the inevitable snowstorm. 
 On my last day in the park, I drove the Trail Ridge Road up to an elevation over 12,000 feet. The fog rolled in making it difficult to drive. I stopped at Rock Cut and hiked out on the Tundra Communities Trail, reminiscing about my time there in 2005, when I cried my guts out over my divorce. It was and still is a good place to be cleansed.  The harsh elements seem to scour one clean. However on my last day in the park I had no need to cry, but only rejoice over all the healing and restoration in my life.
Along the Tundra Communities Trail, this section is called Mushroom Rocks. The fog lifted just enough for me to get a picture, but just at that point it started hailing. If it had been clear, I could have looked over to the other side and seen Longs Peak. I was freezing and being pelted by hail, so I turned around and headed back to my car. It was sometime after this picture that I fell and broke my new camera. So sad. Thankfully I had my iPhone, and used that for the rest of the trip. Good night to all, and may God be with you and yours.
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Gates of the Arctic National Park is not easy to get to. After hopping on a very sketchy plane from Lake Clark to Anchorage, one of the guys, Danny, offered to give me a ride to the Anchorage airport. When his mom came to pick us up, me and another guy that was going with us, jumped in her truck, but there was no room for Danny. He  called a taxi and his mom drove me and Jim to the airport! She wouldn't take any gas money from us and said, "Its the Alaska way!" I arrived at the airport about 7pm, then rented a little car and started driving to Fairbanks. It was still daylight at midnight and people were riding their bikes on the frontage road next to the freeway! After a few rest stops, I finally arrived in Fairbanks at 6am, grabbed some coffee and immediately jumped on another plane that took me to Bettles, where the Gates of the Arctic National Park Visitor Center is!
Bettles is extremely small. A population of 10 year round residents, a lodge, some, houses and airplanes. Around back of the buildings, I saw a bunch of dogs that were tethered to their kennels, barking their heads off. This beautiful dog, was free and easy, roaming about and creating all the fuss for the dogs on their tethers.
 Brooks Range Aviation was the company I booked to take me on a flight to both Gates of the Arctic National Park and Kobuk Valley National Park. I was so excited to meet three other fellow travelers doing the same thing I was doing, and who also joined me on the flight! The whole experience was wonderful, and enabled me to see from the air and touch down in those wilderness parks. Thank you Brooks Range Aviation!
I stayed in the very rustic bunkhouse on Skid Row, or so they call it.  Another new experience!
My fellow travelers, Laura, Adam and Steve, and our faithful pilot Jim!
 Within an hour of arriving at Bettles, we were up in the air with Brooks Aviation and off on a new adventure. The scenery was spectacular and the people were fun and friendly.
 We flew over the Arrigetch Peaks, which in the Inupiat language means "Fingers of the Outstretched Hand." The peaks are a cluster of rugged granite spires in the Endicott Mountains of the central Brooks Range. 
 A mist and clouds played games with the peaks but in the long run, it only accentuated their ethereal beauty. Some people actually go down there and hike the peaks. Not me. I just wanted to see them!
Our  pilot, Jim, said that this was the closest he had ever been able to get to the peaks. Apparently the clouds frequently cover the peaks and forbid any airplane from getting too close.  It was as if on that day, the Lord opened the clouds for us to see those amazing peaks!
 I really enjoyed the pattern the braided rivers made. All so very beautiful.
 We flew over the Kobuk Valley Sand Dunes, left behind by glaciers retreating in the valley. The sand dunes lie on the southern banks of the Kobuk River. At one time, there were over 200,000 acres of sand dunes but over the years the vegetation has reclaimed all but 16,000 acres of sand dunes.
 
The local residents are the only ones allowed to hunt in Kobuk Valley which is on the migration path of 1/2 million caribou!
Grass, sedges, wild rye and the Kobuk locoweed  grow in the sand dunes. They stabilize the sand and from there moss, algae, lichen and shrubs grow, preparing the way for aspen, birch and spruce to take root. Such an amazing process.
The green looked so green after looking at the barren sand dunes.
After circling the dunes, our pilot, Jim, took our plane down and landed on the Kobuk River. That would be me on the left, then Steve, Laura and Adam. What a great group of people! We were all talking about the places we had been and where we were going. All of them are on the National Park Quest like myself. Adam has already booked to American Samoa National Park and has promised to tell us all about it. 
 The Kobuk River runs through Kobuk Valley National Park. Kobuk means Big River, and as you can see it is a very big river......280 miles long! Our pilot, Jim, pointed out the wolf tracks running alongside the river. That gave me the shivers!
 After the Kobuk River we headed over to Walker Lake in Gates of the Arctic National Park. That would be me standing in front of our plane at Walker Lake.
 The lake was very peaceful and serene, with no one there but our group and the fish, birds and animals.
Our pilot took full advantage of the moment and went fishing, quickly coming up with one big fish he didn't want to keep. 
As I explored the lake, this beautiful Old World Swallotail butterfly  came to rest right next to me. They are also known as Yellow Swallowtails. So pretty!
 After we left Walker Lake, it all went south for me. I got so queasy and put my head down and couldn't see anything. A very bumpy ride to say the least. After we got back, we still had two nights in Bettles. There was plenty of time to rest, have coffee, eat and get to know my fellow travelers.
 A couple of the folks stayed at the very expensive Bettles Lodge, a log structure built in 1951 on the Koyukuk River in the foothills of the Brooks Range. They didn't know what they were missing over there in Skid Row where I stayed! Tuna and peanut butter for dinner, my sleeping bag at night, and a roof over my head!
 One of the oldest structures in Bettles. Laura told me all about this house, but I forgot what she said. Something about an old lady living here forever.
Beautiful rainbow over Bettles. Good night Bettles. Good night fellow travelers. Good night Brooks Aviation! It was fun! 
On my way back to Anchorage, I stopped in Denali National Park for two days. Took a hike along the Savage River, also took a much needed shower and washed my hair!
That would be me, the final picture of the grand adventure to Katmai, Lake Clark, Kobuk Valley, Gates of the Arctic and Denali National Parks! I have now seen 58 National Parks and loved every minute of my exploring. Sometimes it wasn't so good, but all in all it was great fun. Only two left: American Samoa National Park, in American Samoa, and Gateway Arch National Park in Missouri. Gateway Arch was just dedicated a National Park in February of this year! Good night all!
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After I visited Katmai National Park in Alaska, I was ready for a break. Back in Anchorage for one quick night, then I was up in the air the next morning, heading to Port Alsworth and Lake Clark National Park. The view of the river and the clouds are the first notable things I saw on the trip.
That would be me, smiling for the guy behind me who was not supposed to be taking my picture, but a picture of the river below! I had so much fun looking out my little window, and didn't even get sick!
We flew through Lake Clark Pass, one of the prettiest flights I have ever taken! From my little window I saw, glaciers, snow covered peaks, turquoise lakes, and green cliffs.
This glacier was outstanding!
As usual the clouds and rain were ever present, creating dramatic lighting for the photos.
We landed right near the lake in Pt. Alsworth on the 4th of July! Boats and planes lined the lake shore, but there were no fireworks, flags or decorations. I was startled by how small Pt. Alsworth was. It was basically just a gravel airstrip for the planes, one lodge, a post office, a church, the NPS Visitor Center and a food truck that made hamburgers and milkshakes. 
One  of the guys that worked for Lake Clark Air volunteered to take me and my purple suitcase about a mile down the airstrip to Dry Creek. Across that creek was where my campsite was. He dropped me off and I was left looking at that tiny little footbridge over a very wet creek and wondering how I would ever get across. I eventually pushed the suitcase ahead of me and very slowly walked and pushed, walked and pushed, trying not to look down until I reached the other side. I nearly had a heart attack!
Once across the creek, I rolled that purple suitcase down the trail until I found my Tulchina Adventure Camp Hut which was all screened in away from the bugs. You can see it in the picture above, over  in the far left corner. Beth left me plenty of wood, and I could hear the creek, but could not see it. After I set my tent up in the hut, I made some soup, then took a walk down to the beach.
The beach was covered with flowers, driftwood and rocks, just like Katmai was. I loved it and did not see one bear the whole time I was there. Yay!
Beautiful wild rose grew alongside the trees near the water.
Back at Lake Clark,  I sat by the lake, drinking coffee and watching the kids playing in the water. A blue and white float plane took off while I was sitting there. 
Lake Clark National Park and Preserve is one of our most remote National Parks. Not easy to get there! The park and preserve protect 4 million acres on the Alaska peninsula in southwest Alaska. I only had three days to stay there and see only a very tiny piece of the park, but what I saw, I loved!
I stopped by the Lake Clark National Park Visitor Center where they have the Trefon Fish Storage Cache on display. It was built in 1920 by Wassillie Trefon at Miller Creek on Lake Clark and could store 2000 dried salmon for both human and dog consumption. It has been restored and moved to the Visitor Center where people like me can see it and imagine what it was like to live at Lake Clark nearly 100 years ago. Love that sod roof! 
On my second day at Lake Clark I woke up with a raging migraine. I could barely move. All day long I lay in my tent, throwing up into a plastic bag. It rained all day and into the night, so maybe it was a good time to be sick. I couldn't eat one thing, or even take my medication I was so sick. That day and night I was the only one out there, so I was happy no one heard me moaning and groaning. God was merciful, and come morning I woke up happy and well! 
That morning, I had to pack up all my stuff and haul it back to the airport. I still felt so weak I wasn't sure I could navigate that little bridge and walk the mile down the gravel airstrip to the plane. Again, God was merciful, and Beth from Tulchina Adventures found me and packed me up in her ATV and took me down to the creek. She picked up that huge purple suitcase and walked it over the bridge and I meekly followed her, trying not to look down. Then she put me in her truck and drove me to the plane. Wow, thank you Beth! My plane wasn't taking off until 5pm, so I decided to hike to Tanalian Falls. That would be me, ready and willing to hike the trail. 
I passed this old shed on the way up to the Falls, and of course had to take a picture.
The hike was wonderful and it felt good to be out in the woods, singing my trail songs.
Alaska Cotton Grass grew along the trail, and looked so silky smooth flying in the breeze.
The view from the trail overlooks Lake Clark. So pretty!
Near the falls, there was a boardwalk to cross over the meadow. The whole experience reminded me of hiking in the Sierras, near Tuolumne Meadows in Yosemite. As a child, my aunt used to take me and my sisters there during the summer, and it soon became one of my most favorite places! That was way back in the 60's and Yosemite was still a wild child.
 As I drew near Tanalian Falls, I could hear the roar of the water as it cascaded down the mountain.
 I got as close as I could get to the water without falling in. It made me so happy that there were no guard rails to stand behind. Made me feel alive and free.
 Looking down the river and listening to the roar of water, I felt such peace.
With one last look, I said goodbye and started walking back down to the lake.
One of my last views of the lake before boarding the plane to go back to Anchorage. Once I reached Anchorage, I had to rent a car and drive up to Fairbanks for the last half of my trip! Goodbye Lake Clark National Park!

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Coming out of the winter months, I always enjoy going to the beaches. But then again I always love going to the beach; rain, sun, wind, night or day. Oceanside Beach and Harbor are home to me. My kids learned how to surf here, and lots of happy hours have been spent here.
One day I drove down to the beach and the tide was way up. It was glorious, with the surf crashing on the rocks at Wisconsin St, and nobody there but me and the ocean, and one homeless guy who came down to the water to wash his feet. Very touching.
Up at the Oceanside Pier, the homes overlooking the water are pretty, but not as pretty as the surf, shore, clouds reflecting in the water, and the sound of the waves.
When my friend Celeste came down from Canada we drove to the Oceanside Pier to watch the sun set. We found one kind soul to take our picture against the setting sun over the ocean.
I love reflections and loved the way the pier was reflected in the windows of the old building the lifeguards use.
Up at the harbor, a working lighthouse goes on at night, giving the whole place a festive atmosphere that takes away any blues I am feeling.
Boats in the harbor, on a quiet day, peaceful, full of contentment.
A bit of a stormy day in Carlsbad, where I go to walk around the village, and also up and down the seawall. Recently, Carlsbad got the new sign and it makes the whole place so beachy! (Is beachy a real word?) That old building in the background is an original, built in 1887 as a family home, which later became known for its chicken dinners. It has changed owners over the years, and now houses a restaurant and a surf shop. They still have the old photographs up on the walls and that is worth seeing if you are ever in town.
View from my timeshare overlooking the ocean in Carlsbad. Those were happy days too!
Encinitas, a bit strange, how would you say, new age?, and full of incense and people who want to chill. In spite of its quirkiness it will always be one of my favorite places. 
At Swamis beach in Encinitas, the view from the top is spectacular!
One day my son Isaac took me to Swamis, and with his son Dylan, we walked down the stairs to the shore. What a fantastic day that was. 
Such unbelievable views. Now that summer is upon us, the tourists and kids will swarm the beaches, with their umbrellas and beach balls.  Still fun, but I do like a lonely stretch of sand to walk upon.
Another favorite place of mine is Torrey Pines State Reserve, nestled in-between La Jolla and Del Mar, in the northwest edge of the city of San Diego. A great place to hike as the trails take you all along the cliffs with spectacular views of the beaches, and then down to the ocean, to jump in the water, or just to walk in the wet sand. Just love it here.
There is a lot of erosion in the sandstone cliffs which make it all the more interesting!

When my sister Judy came to visit, we hiked the trails, ended up at the beach and had a marvelous time. So much beauty, so much freedom and so many people!
That would be, sitting in a little cave on the sand, surrounded by rocks and shells.  Heaven on earth, in my humble opinion.

Weird rock formations are fun to explore and take pictures of. Can you tell what kinds of things are my favorite things?
View of the city of San Diego from the Harbor Island Park. There is much to see down here at the beach. Definitely a must in my opinion!
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