Friday, April 26, 2013

National Parking: Castle Clinton National Monument

The Statue of Liberty in the distance
The Statue of Liberty is probably the most famous National Monument in New York City.   It's one of the iconic symbols of our country.   My first visit to NYC was in high school and the day that we took the ferry out to the statue, it was so foggy that you couldn't see anything from the dock.    My friends and I made the executive decision to go to Ellis Island instead.    We pretty much had the whole place to ourselves.     Currently both the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island are both closed in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.    The Statue of Libery is slated to reopen on July 4th this year.  
Castle Clinton National Monument is also closed right now for the same reason.     It was built as one of many harbor forts in the early 1800s to keep the British out.   The fort itself is hard to see in this picture that I took in Battery Park.     The sculpture in this photo is called The Sphere and it was originally between the twin towers of the World Trade Center.   This is its temporary home.  
It's been a few years since I've been to NYC.   Hurricane Sandy has probably changed the landscape and these pictures I took might not look remotely the same if I went back this year and took them again from the same spot.
Have you been to New York since Hurricane Sandy?   What has changed?
So many national little time
My Favorite Summer Job: Yellowstone National Park
National Parking: My Other Passport
National Parking: Black Canyon of the Gunnison
National Parking: Mount Rushmore
National Parking: Bryce Canyon
National Parking: Haleakala

Thursday, April 25, 2013

National Parking: San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park

San Francisco is home to so many amazing things!  
The bridge.  The cable cars.   The sea lions.  
The Irish Coffee at the Buena Vista. 
Today we're visiting San Francisco Maritime National Historic Park as a part of National Park Week.  You can't go far in the San Francisco area without hitting a national park, monument, or rec area including:  the Presidio of San Francisco,  Golden Gate National Rec Area, Muir Woods National Monument, Alcatraz, and Fort Point National Historic Site.  
The maritime park is right on the waterfront...just a few piers away from the tourist mecca of Pier 39.  There's no entry fee, so you might as well just well learn something in between dining on chowder in a bread bowl and stopping for ice cream.     On my most recent visit, I tried my hand at knot tying (above).   It's probably best that I followed a different career path. 
What's the best thing to see, do or eat in San Francisco?
The National Park Love Continues with...
My Favorite Summer Job: Yellowstone National Park
National Parking: My Other Passport
National Parking: Black Canyon of the Gunnison
National Parking: Mount Rushmore
National Parking: Bryce Canyon
National Parking: Haleakala

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

National Parking: Bandelier National Monument

Pueblo ruins at Bandelier
Today we're traveling to my neighboring state of New Mexico to visit Bandelier National Monument as a part of National Park Week!     The Ancestral Pueblo people lived here from 1150 - 1550.   This was taken on my first trip to New Mexico the first year that I moved to Colorado.    I'm heading back later this spring for my third visit.   Can't wait to enjoy more green chile!

Climbing down into a Kiva
Have you been to New Mexico?   
What is your favorite part of the state?  
What's your personal opinion about green chile?

Like Traveler for Good on Facebook and share your National Park story!

The National Park Love Continues with...
My Favorite Summer Job: Yellowstone National Park
National Parking: My Other Passport
National Parking: Black Canyon of the Gunnison
National Parking: Mount Rushmore
National Parking: Bryce Canyon
National Parking:  Haleakala

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

National Parking: Haleakala National Park

The "sunrise" at the top of Mt. Haleakala before a kickin'
 bike ride all the way down to the ocean
Finally, the sun actually rose.  Beautiful!
National Park Week continues....this time we venture to the tropical islands of Hawaii.   The island of Maui in particular which is home to Haleakala National Park.     My mom, sister and I decided that we wanted the adventure of the sunrise bike ride down from the crater to the ocean.    We were picked up at our hotel at 2 in the morning, taken to the crater and outfitted with bikes.   And these stylish rain coats/pants.    Because even though you are in the tropics, it is still cold at 10,000 feet before the crack of dawn.    I had to buy a post card of the spectacular sunrises that some visitors see over the crater - but the rest of the ride was awesome.     Crater to ocean through seven different ecosystems and saying "hi" to the nene's (Hawaii's national bird...a tropical goose) and a stop for breakfast.    

Have you been to any of the National Parks in the Hawaiian Islands?  

The National Park Love Continues with...
My Favorite Summer Job: Yellowstone National Park
National Parking: My Other Passport
National Parking: Black Canyon of the Gunnison
National Parking: Mount Rushmore
National Parking:  Bryce Canyon

Monday, April 22, 2013

National Parking: Bryce Canyon

Utah has a lot to offer the National Park lover.   Today, I present Bryce Canyon.   Bryce is a smaller park (less than 60 square miles), known for formations called hoodoos (among other things).    On this particular trip, my friends and I visited both Bryce Canyon and Zion.   To get an idea about the difference in elevation (and thus temperature - this was at the end of you can see there was snow):  the highest elevation at Zion National Park is the lowest elevation at Bryce Canyon.
Have you been National Parking in Utah?   What's your favorite?

Share your favorite National Park here in the comments or on the Traveler for Good Facebook page.

 The National Park Love Continues with...
My Favorite Summer Job: Yellowstone National Park
National Parking: My Other Passport
National Parking: Black Canyon of the Gunnison
National Parking:  Mount Rushmore

Sunday, April 21, 2013

National Parking: Mount Rushmore

In honor of National Parks Week, we're going to celebrate by sharing photos of different parks.   If you want to share a favorite, go ahead and LIKE Traveler for Good on Facebook and post away!
There is something about Mount Rushmore that compels every single solitary visitor to take the same photo from the same angle.   More than once.  As if the carving was going to move or another president's face was going to magically appear. 
Have you been to Mount Rushmore?    Do you have a picture that looks exactly like this one?

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

National Parking: Now With a Whole Week of Celebrating!

Elk at Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
I love our National Parks.    These parks capture some of the most beautiful spots in our country and preserve our history.  One of my most visit NP memories was in high school when Mom took my sister and I on a two week adventure in Wyoming.  We went white water rafting, hiking, wildlife watching and horseback riding.   That adventure whet my appetite to spend more time in the parks, getting stamped at every park I visited and finally working in Yellowstone for a summer.  
There are currently 401 parks all over the country and every American is within 100 miles of a park.   Check out this map to see where the park magic is close to you.  
And starting April 20 it is NATIONAL PARK WEEK!   A bonus 9 day week at that since it runs from April 20 - 28.    And next Monday-Friday, April 22-26, you can visit a park for free!  All entrance fees are waived.  
Random Fun Facts about our National Parks (from
  •  In 1872 Yellowstone becomes the world's first national park (YAY!).   Yellowstone also has the world's largest collection of geysers.
  • Wyoming is also the home of the first national monument:  Devils Tower...also featured in Close Encounters of the Third Kind
  • In 1916 the National Park Service was created
  • In 1933 Roosevelt creates the Civilian Conservation Corps, which created jobs as well as whole lot of trails in our parks
  • In the 1940s, I could have been a special "lady ranger"
  • Alaska single-handedly doubled the size (in land) of the park system...way to go Alaska!
  • In 2004 the World War II Memorial was dedicated in Washington DC
  • Acadia National Park in Maine was the first national park east of the Mississippi
  • Want to visit a park by boat or seaplane?   Try Dry's 70 miles from Key West.
  • There are only two parks in my home state of Wisconsin:  Effigy Mounds National Monument and Ice Age National Scenic Trail
Isn't it time that you loved a park?   
Are you visiting a park next week to celebrate?
What National Park do you want to visit next?

{my answers:  1) yes  2) possibly, Klondike Gold Rush Historic Park is in Seattle  3) I'd really like to go back to Yellowstone and's been too long}

The National Park Love Continues with...
My Favorite Summer Job:  Yellowstone National Park
National Parking:  My Other Passport
National Parking:  Black Canyon of the Gunnison

Friday, April 12, 2013

I Like It Here

Every Friday (and sometimes Saturday if people are busy) a group of bloggers from all over write on the same topic, unscripted, for five minutes.    If you want to get in on the Five Minute Friday fun, click here

Today the word is here.

Colorado is Here

I landed here due to a promotion.   Seven and a half years, I'm still here.   I ponder transferring to other cities and states.  Maybe the Caribbean.   Would it be as good as here?   Would the people be as nice?   Would the weather be as good?   Would there be a lack of creepy crawly bugs (and, sadly, lightening bugs)? 

Would world class skiing be as close?   What about independent restaurants, coffee shops and ice cream parlors.   Here, we have Sweet Action, Bonnie Brae and Little Man.    What would they have there?

Now, there might have palm trees.   Or a big body of water.   Or a shorter flight time to visit my parent.   There might have an even bigger food truck scene.  Or giant redwoods.   Or armadillos.  

When do you make the decision that here is where you are meant to be?   Or is it always in flux?

Today here has great co-workers, blue skies, a good workout and a glass of wine.  

And today, that's all I need. 

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Favorite Summer Job: Yellowstone National Park

Summer jobs are a rite of passage.   My first real job was working in the kitchen at a local restaurant.   Now with my fancy knowledge of the food and beverage world, I could say that I was in garde manger.     In reality, I was the only girl in a kitchen of guys making a whole lot of salads. 

And then there was the summer at a western theme restaurant where I wore saloon girl dress...that's a tale for another time. 

It's been quite a few years since I had a summer job.    Now I have a career.   And I love what I do.   But there is the wanderlusty part of me that would like the opportunity to hop up to Alaska for the summer or to a tropical island for the winter.

Hands down, of all the summer jobs that I had, the summer I spent at Yellowstone National Park was the best.    I have three months worth of reasons, but here a just a few.   With pictures.    Pictures that I took on my cell phone of pictures that are in my scrapbook.   Because this western adventure was handled with a film camera.   That's right.   No cell phones.   No ipods.  No facebook.  

Just a whole bunch of kids living in cabins, drinking Fat Tire or Moose Drool, and telling tales of hikes, waterfalls and bear jams.    This is Yellowstone.  

In order to get to YNP from Illinois, you must take a road trip.
Every good road trip deserves a visit to a ghost town.  

YNP:  Where bull elk hang out by the post office
I spent the summer at Roosevelt Lodge

The view from the front porch of the lodge
Those little cabins?  That was home.

 The dining room where I was a manager
Sometimes we did this on our days off

And sometimes we did this instead

So hard to say goodbye...

If working at Yellowstone sounds like a great way to spend a summer, click here to learn about job opportunities.   If another national park strikes your fancy, just do a search for ___________ (name of the park) jobs.    Bottom line?   You'll get to spend a season, or more, at a beautiful place that most people only get to explore for a few days of their vacation.  

Be the local expert that knows the sights that can't be found along the road or at a designated scenic viewpoint.  Eat huckleberry ice cream until you burst.  Learn how to throw a hay bale.  Step off the trail to let a bear pass.   It's all part of the adventure.   

What was your favorite summer job?      

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

If you called it a sad hour, no one would come

There's no hour like a happy hour

Growing up, I used to watch a cartoon called Pinky and the Brain.  
Brain was a lab mouse who wanted to take over the world.
Pinky was his clueless sidekick.   Pinky may or may not have wanted world domination.  
He may have just wanted lunch.   Or a pair of culottes that didn't ride up. 

In every episode, Brain would pose the question, "Pinky, are you pondering what I'm pondering?"
And Pinky would reply with something completely random.    One of my favorites:
"I think so Brain, but if they called them sad meals, kids wouldn't buy them."

After a dry spell (ahem),  I have resumed the practice of happy hour.    This afternoon the restaurants downtown had their windows and sliding doors open and the place to be was on the patio.    My friend and I got the last patio table at Row 14 and enjoyed the sunshine, wine, and some apps.  

Pinky was right.
If you called it a sad hour, no one would come.

Don't be sad.
Call, text or email a friend you haven't seen in a while.   It's time for a happy hour. 
When was the last time you relaxed and caught up with a friend?   What did you do?

Are you pondering what I'm pondering?

Monday, April 1, 2013

Who Cares About the Early Bird? 5 O'Clock Should Only Come Once per Day

I strongly feel that I should only see the sunrise if I'm leaving for the airport early in the morning.
Airport = Fun & Adventure
So in that particular circumstance Sunrise = OK
Don't get me wrong, sunrises can be beautiful.  
It's just that they are so early.
In the morning.
When I should be in bed. 
It's a popular belief (on one side of our family, at least) that 5 o'clock should only come once a day. 
That same 5 o'clock that's referenced in the Alan Jackson / Jimmy Buffet song
It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere."    You know, "pour me a hurricane, before I go insane."   
Sunrise is way too early for a hurricane.    Talk about insane. 
Every once in a while, something beautiful happens early in the morning.
Like this sunrise over Ngorongoro Crater in Tanzania.

Why are early mornings on the brain?
At work we just started a partnership with a local athletic club.   It's so close, that you can see it from the employee enterance.   It's only a half block away.    In fact, nothing stands between us and the gym but a hot dog cart. 
And the hot dog cart is not there at the pre-crack of dawn.    And if it's not there, I surely shouldn't be there.   
Early morning fitness is a hot topic of conversation.    The club has a full slate of 6 o'clock classes.
In the morning.  
It seems really early.    Yes, you get it done before work.   Yes, you can commute in your pajamas.   Yes, they provide towels, hair dryers and flat irons.
Fitness, to me, is an afternoon or early evening endeavor.  
Except skiing.    I am, in fact, willing to get out of bed to go skiing.
But if it's not skiing, I really feel that noon is about as early as it should get.  
Today, I took a big step.  (ooooh)  I took a lunchtime Zumba class.   45 minutes.   I was done with my fitness before 12:30.    I could hop on the train, guilt free, after work, in time to buy some Easter candy at 50% off, return a disappointing movie to the redbox and still be home before The Voice.  
It's not sunrise fitness or an early morning spin class.    But I survived.    In fact, I may do it again.  
Perhaps on Wednesday.
What do you think?
What's the best time of day for fitness?
What's your reason for being up at the pre-crack of dawn?
Getting there is half the fun....join in!


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