Colorado Vacation Part 2: Hiking to the Loch in RMNP

If you hike this trail, I recommend you start early. We parked at the Glacier Gorge trail head before 8 AM. It is a short ways to Alberta Falls, and this is the main reason I say start early. There were about 5-6 people here on our way up, and it was a traffic jam on our way back.

Once we passed the falls, we started seeing more and more snow.

And wildlife.

Near the Loch, the hiking trail started looking like this.

The Loch was beautiful!

We had planned on going past the Loch, but, unfortunately, we kept losing the trail in the snow, so we turned around.

This is one of the views on the way up/down.

Colorado Vacation Part 1: Colorado Springs and Pikes Peak

So…the 52 week photo project kind of fell apart. In early June, we took a Colorado road trip. I decided to try taking driving photos in addition to my regular photos this time. The driving photos are compiled in this video.

We spent 1 day in Colorado Springs our way to Estes Park. First, we went to Garden of the Gods. It was a cold and dreary morning.






We went back and forth all morning about driving to the top of Pikes Peak based on the clouds in Colorado Springs. Finally, we decided to go for it, and I’m so glad we did. The clouds started clearing as we drove up the mountain. But, they started rolling back in after we got to the top.

On the way down, we saw a tornado. We found out later, it hit Lake George. It did some property damage, but no one was injured.

That night, it was stormy in Colorado Springs and snowed on Pikes Peak. This is a photo from our hotel the morning we left.

Weeks 7 to 11

I crashed yet another hard drive, so I have been slow to upload and post.

Week 7: We went hiking out at Eagle Mountain Park. It was a beautiful day!

Week 8: A selfie for my LinkedIn profile.

Week 9: Another beautiful “winter” day! We walked down to the lake.

Week 10: This one was taken the day after the previous photo, and after about a 50-degree temperature drop. Gotta love Texas weather!

Week 11: We went hiking out at Eagle Mountain Park again. I was afraid it was going to rain on us, so I didn’t take my Nikon. This one was taken with my phone. I’m standing where the water should be.

52-Week Photo Project for 2014

So, I’m a few weeks late, and I missed week 1. LOL! This year I’m taking at least one photo a week, and trying out some new things in the process. Here are the first six weeks, minus week 1.

Week 2: I tried out my extension tubes with my 50mm on some fresh-baked chocolate chip cookies.

Week 3: Hannah’s choir sang at the Lone Star Brahmas hockey game, so I took this one there.

Week 4: Contrails.

Week 5: Ice in this unusually cold winter we’re having.

Week 6: Another attempt at using the extension tubes with my 50mm. This time, it’s snowflakes.

Running

I started running several months ago, using Couch-to-5K. I injured myself in mid-May, but I was able to run my first 5K, Run the Rails in Saginaw, on June 1. My time was 36:02, which wasn’t bad, considering I had to walk a little bit of the third mile and it was really humid and warm that morning. Now, I’m trying to decide on which race will be my next 5K.

Vacation to North Carolina and Tennessee

This year, we decided on a road trip vacation, since our flight home last year had been so much fun. The first morning, we left home about 5:30 AM, driving through north east Texas, Arkansas, and part of Tennessee. We stopped for the night in Nashville. Day 2, we drove to Boone, NC. Boone was nice, but it rained on and off for the first day and a half we were there, which meant there were practically no views from the Blue Ridge Parkway. We did stop at the Moses H. Cone Memorial Park on the first afternoon we were there, where we saw Flat Top Manor.
Flat Top Manor

We also walked on the carriage trail around Bass Lake and saw some geese.
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On day 3, we hiked at Rough Ridge and the Linn Cove Viaduct. This is the paved part of the hiking trail at Linn Cove Viaduct; it got pretty muddy once we left the pavement.
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In the afternoon, the rain finally cleared out.
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Day 4 was my favorite day of the trip. We left Boone, and our first stop was at Grandfather Mountain. It was very windy at the top that day, with sustained winds of 30-40 mph and gusts over 50 mph. They warned us if we drove to the top to remove our hats, glasses, hold on to small children, and hold onto the car doors when we opened them because the wind could bend the doors backward. Instead of driving all of the way to the top, we decided to park at the hiker parking area and make the short hike to the top. This is the Mile High Swinging Bridge from the hiking trail.
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We went across the bridge. Notice all of the tree limbs point one way; this is due to most of the wind coming from one direction.
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Next, we went to Linville Falls.
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Then, we drove to Asheville, NC to spend 2 nights.

Day 5 was a little bit of a disappointment. We had decided to drive to Cataloochee Valley in the Great Smoky Mountain National Park based on recommendations I had read in several places. I’m not sure if we missed something, but most of the sites appeared to only be accessible via hiking trails, which were muddy from the rain. We did get to see a few historic buildings, but no wildlife. This is Palmer Chapel.
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Day 6, we got up early and drove again from Asheville, NC to the Great Smoky Mountain National Park. We stopped at Mingus Mill.
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Then, we went to Clingman’s Dome, the highest point in the park.
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On the way down, we stopped at the Newfound Gap overlook on the NC-TN line where I found my favorite sign of the entire trip.
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We drove out of the park through Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. Those were definitely a site to see. We spent the last night of our vacation in Chattanooga. We were so tired by the time we got to our hotel, and we were getting thunderstorms, so we didn’t see any sites there.

On the final day of our trip, we got up before sunrise, and drove through Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana, before finally seeing this.
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We have decided we are flying next year…

Better Late Than Never

Since it’s the end of the year, I’m finally getting around to writing about our August vacation.

The first day, August 11, we flew into Sea-Tac, picked up our rental car and headed for Sequim, Washington. The only stop we really made was on Mt. Walker. I was hoping to get a good view of Seattle across Puget Sound, but it was just too hazy.

On the second morning, we woke up and headed for Hurricane Ridge.
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We did a little hiking on the trails around Hurricane Ridge, almost got run over by this deer,
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and had to walk on this snow.
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Then, we hiked up to Hurricane Hill. It’s about a 1.6 mile hike, and for this flat-lander, it felt like it was almost straight up. We were rewarded with more great views at the top. Mt. Baker, Port Angeles, and Canada.

That afternoon, we drove over to Lake Crescent and did a short, fairly flat hike to Marymere Falls.

On the third day, we drove from Sequim to Longview, via highway 101. Oh, the fog! We drove through Forks, which is really as dreary as Stephenie Meyers describes it. Then, we stopped at Ruby Beach.
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We drove on to Aberdeen for lunch, and finally made it to Longview. There’s not much to do in Longview, so we went to the movies.

The fourth day, we headed to Astoria, Oregon and again were foiled by the fog. We climbed to the top of the Astoria Column, but didn’t get many views.
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Then, we headed on to Ecola State Park. We both liked this park the last time we visited Oregon.
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This time, we hiked a different trail. The reward was supposed to be a good view of Terrible Tilly, but we only got more fog. I was surprised just how big Haystack Rock is when we drove into Cannon Beach after our hike.
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Then, we drove to Portland to spend the night.

Bright and early the fifth day, we drove to the top of Larch Mountain, and although we had driven out of most of the fog, it was still hazy. We had intended on doing the Larch Mountain Crater hike, but a nice Portland man at Sherrard Point suggested the Angel’s Rest hike instead, so we headed back down to the gorge to try it. Angel’s Rest didn’t disappoint. Great views of the gorge!
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After we got back to the car, I convinced Bill to drive back up Larch Mountain, so that I would get another shot at the volcanos, and although it was still hazy, we were able to see them this time. Mt. Hood looks so close.
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Day 6, we drove the White Pass Scenic Byway and stopped at Mount Rainier National Park. We hiked the Grove of the Patriarchs, which is short and flat, but amazing. Finally, some beautiful clear skies!
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We did the short Nisqually Vista hike near Paradise. The wildflowers smelled amazing! We drove to Yakima, where the scenery is quite different than everywhere else we had been. Our hotel was right on the river, and we had a balcony.

On our final full day, we left Yakima and took the Chinook Pass Scenic Byway, stopping at Tipsoo Lake.
Mount Rainier from Tipsoo Lake
We did a fairly short hike at Mount Rainier – the Emmons Moraine Trail and drove up to Sunrise.

The flight back home was not fun. We were about an hour late taking off because the plane was being serviced at DFW. Then, we had to zig-zag around thunderstorms, only to find what seemed to be the biggest storm sitting over DFW. We circled Wichita Falls for 20 minutes and were finally able to land at DFW. The descent was the scariest I have ever had. I don’t think I was ever so glad to see Southlake Carroll’s football stadium.

Bluebonnets Everywhere!

This has been a fantastic spring for wildflowers in Texas! I took this photo last weekend near De Leon.

Bluebonnets

Meet Lily

A few weeks ago, we adopted Lily from a local rescue, Forgotten Tails Animal Rescue. Lily was very shy at first, but she’s starting to come around. She’s very affectionate and vocal. Shadow is not very happy we brought a new cat home, but she forgave me after about a day.

Meet Lily

Mother’s Day on the Trinity Trails

Bill asked me what I wanted to do today, and I decided to find the local waterfall since we have had rain recently. The waterfall is part of the Trinity Trails system and is located on Farmers Branch Creek just off of Pumphrey Drive in Westworth Village, near the entrance to NAS JRB. It was already pretty hot when we got there this morning.

Zachary taking in the falls from the trail.
Zachary at the Waterfall

Hannah at the seating area near the falls.
Hannah by the Waterfall

Another view of the falls.
Waterfall on Farmers Branch Creek

The kids were excited to see horses right by the trail.
Horses

Zachary had to stop to look for alligators and monsters.
Looking for Alligators and Monsters

On the way back to the parking lot.
Sunning

After we got back past the falls, we found goats. The baby goats were shy and wouldn’t come near us, but the adults came right up to the fence.
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