The Cascades are a mountain range which runs parallel to the Rockies through British Columbia and down to the northern sections of California. Known for their exceptionally high peaks and tremendous glaciers, the Cascades are some of the largest mountains in the country. Impressive enough already, they put it over the top by also housing a wide array of stratovolcanoes, some of the largest in the world. Most notable are Mt. St. Helens, and Mt. Rainier, the fourteen thousand foot tall giant which dominates the mountain range. Ancient lava tubes and ash formations pepper the landscape, as well as more recent damage from the 1980’s eruption of Mt. St. Helens. Old growth subalpine forests cover the valleys, and huge sheets of ice coat the tops of the volcanoes, hiding the devastating power safely out of mind. Hundreds of miles of backroads take you up into the mountains and down through the valleys, every so often catching a glimpse of one of the volcanoes, or the Cascade’s other towering summits.
So we’ve made it to the Great Salt Lake. Honestly, if you go there, don’t get out of the car. Just look at it, enjoy it’s uniqueness and majesty safely from afar, and then continue on your way. If you’re the daring variety, as soon as you inevitably do exit your vehicle, you’ll notice the smell. It smells like sewage. Mainly because the Farmington Bay Area is actually dumping treated sewage into it… So it’s not entirely surprising. It is however, entirely disgusting. It’s a shame too, the lake which I learned is locally refered to as “Lake Stink”, normally would smell something like the ocean.
Continue reading Travel Updates Day 14: 3PM Mountain
The sky’s are clear and the sun is out as we start our journey west towards the deserts and canyons of Utah. First however, we’re seeing out Washington in style, visiting both Mt. Saint Helens and Mt. Rainier as we leave for Boise. With a savage 12 hours of road to cover, the day promises to be a long one, but it’s become second nature by this point. Plus the prospect of seeing a Volcano makes everything worth it. After the peaks of the Olypmic Mountains, we’re keen to see how the free standing stratovolcanos stack up to the ranges found elsewhere in the state. Service is a tentative possibility out here, and more likely than not we’ll lose it as we travel back into the mountains for the last time until we double back and hit then Sierras. Stay tuned for a Volcano updates as we bust out this leg of the journey.
The most Northwesterly section of the United States, the Olympic peninsula is a totally different kind of world. The temperate rainforests around the central mountains are the wettest area in the continental states. The Pacific Coast is lined with sea stacks and the breeding grounds for thousand of seals each year. The eight thousand foot summit of Mt. Olympus and it’s surrounding range range rise literally up into the clouds, which normally hang at about the same elevation, obscuring the peaks and forests above from view. The Olympic Mountain range is home to some sixty active glaciers, the largest of which is over three miles wide, and as ancient as the mountains themselves. With almost a million acres of land to explore, this park dates back to 1938, when Mt. Olympus was just a National Monument. It’s temperate rainforests and glacial summits bring in almost three million visitors a year, and in 1981, it was designated as a World Heritage Site. The Olympic Mountains are in fact so ancient that much of them is comprised of ocean sediment, the seabed from millions of years back shoved up out of the water by a wedge between two tectonic plates.
Service is iffy once again as we enter the most northwesterly corner of the United States. Unfortunately, Olympic National park has no roads able to travel through the center of the area. Massive peaks and glaciers block any sort of attempt to pass through the central mountains, and subsequently we’re forced to drive hours around the outside of the park to get from pint to point. The water here is similar to that of Banff, in that glacial sediment has turned the changed the color of the water. However instead of a light blue, the lakes here are a deep turquoise color, nearly impossible to capture on camera from these low angles.
Continue reading Travel Updates Day 11: 2PM
One of the fastest growing cities in the nation, Seattle Washington is one of the greatest examples of American tenacity anywhere in the country. Originally a small logging operation, Seattle began it’s journey to a metropolis of almost four million during the Alaskan gold rush, during which it served as the gateway to the north, and it’s status as a logging hub gave way to major ship building and transportation enterprises as well. Today, Seattle is known for being home to some of the nation’s best start-ups, and biggest corporations. Starbucks, Boeing, Amazon, even Nirvana got their start here in Seattle, and the city still bears the fruits of their labors, as the mother of America’s biggest and brightest. This however, is only a small fraction of what makes Seattle great. It’s unique atmosphere and culture has cultivated the growth of a city like no other, and one that has us coming back time and time again to see what else it has to offer.
Discovered in 1883 by a group of railway workers on the brink of completing the Trans Canadian railway, this isolated stretch of the Northern Rockies was marked for preservation literally within days of its modern discovery. One of four world heritage sites located in this part of the mountain chain, Banff is home to some of the most diverse mountain ecosystems anywhere in the world. With hot springs, plains biomes, towering mountains and lakes of every color, Banff draws over a million visitors each year from every corner of the world. It houses a massive population of grizzly bears, it has rare species such as wolverines and lynx, elk and long horn sheep call the valleys and towering peaks their home as well. Some of the grandest views anywhere can be found along its miles of trail and winding roads, and it’s even complete with a European style town, bustling in the center of the park.
Continue reading Banff, AB
WE’RE BACK! Hello again everyone, and thanks for being so patient. After five days in Canada, we’re finally back in the U.S. and back in action! The updates should start pouring back in, posts will be consistent, and best of all, we can use the gps again. Shout out to the older generations who learned to navigate using road maps, that stuff is taxing. We just passed the border into Washington and are on our way to the great city of Seattle, where we will spend the next few days exploring the city and Olympic National.
The largest city in the Canadian province of Alberta by a wide margin, Calgary is a cultural and technological hub, resting on the plains just before the Northern Rockies. Home to over two million people from across the globe, it forms the ethnic center of the Canadian mid-west, and dates back almost one hundred and fifty years. Since its founding, Calgary’s biggest successes have been owed to two particular industries, the first and foremost of which is oil and energy, which took the city from a simple home on the plains to a bustling metropolitan center of industry. The second however, is the Calgary Stampede. A twisted concoction brewed one part farming expo, one part carnival, one part cirque du soleil, and two parts rodeo; all coming together to form one of the biggest parties you’ve ever seen, and drawing in visitors the world over.
Continue reading Calgary/The Stampede
Buried in the Southern Rockies of Montana, Glacier National Park is so much more than just a park. Over a million acres of Rocky Mountain range, a three way continental divide, four forest biomes each with unique ecosystems, it’s a world heritage site, the first international peace park, it houses one of the largest populations of black and grizzly bears in the world, and of course it’s home to some of the few remaining glaciers in North America. The park itself is over one hundred years old, and sadly, only a fraction of it’s glaciers still remain. Global warming has taken a toll on this magnificent landscape, which, at the time of it’s founding, had almost one hundred and fifty active glaciers. Now it has only twenty five. Even so, travelling through Glacier National was one of the most unforgettable experiences of my life, and it’s status as one of the top rated National Parks in America is beyond well deserved.