Mammoth Cave National Park: Year-Round Air Conditioning

The dark clouds are above us as we approached the Mammoth Cave visitor center. The threat of rain is hovering over us but fear not – Most of this park is indoors, and naturally air-conditioned!

Fortunately, we did our research ahead and booked the tour before we got there. Nearly all tours were booked for the morning with only a few left in the afternoon. While it was a warm summer day, most visitors carried a sweatshirt with them. It will be important in a few minutes.

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Congaree National Park

Congaree National Park – The Park That Is Not A Swamp

The rain was light but constant as we approached the park in mid-morning on a Monday. As we leave the relative hustle and bustle of Columbia, South Carolina, the traffic melted away and the trees became thicker. The air is musty and the crowd is — well, not there. The parking lot is nearly empty. The entrance is unassuming, just to the side of the road. What can we expect? Where are the people?

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Crater Lake National Park

Crater Lake National Park: Deep and Blue

An enormous eruption 7,700 years ago created Crater Lake, when massive pressure under the 12,000 foot Mount Mazama caused a circle of vents to form and started to spew lava. Eventually, enough vents formed around the mountain in a circular pattern and when enough lava flowed out, the entire top of the mountain collapsed and formed a deep, circular hole. Over time, rain water filled the hole to create a lake.

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Crescent Beach

Redwood National and State Parks Part Two: Forest and Coastal Beauty

The next morning, we worried because as we left the hotel, it rained steadily. We decided to just go and see what happens, hoping the rain would let up. A very friendly volunteer ranger at the Prairie Creek Visitor Center encouraged us to go on a hike anyway, even in the light rain because it was even more magical with the rain. I wasn’t sure what she was talking about but because she was so enthusiastic, we listened to her. I bundled up by putting on my water resistant black Columbia jacket and the recently purchased water repellent hat. Loretta didn’t have a water repellent jacket but she took the umbrella and we set out on a three mile hike through Prarier Creek trail and the Foothills trail.

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SSC_1143 Tall Redwood at Redwood National and State Parks

Redwood National and State Parks Part One: Tallest Tree and Elk

We left the artsy town of Arcata on a cloudy morning and drove past forests, lagoons and beaches to arrive at Kuchel Visitor Center where we did our National Park business. The temperature was cool and visitors few at this visitor center by the sea. The ranger suggested many short and mid-distance hikes of different kinds which was more than we could do – a great sign. He also suggested many scenic spurs from the highway 101, the main thoroughfare through the park and several towns.

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