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  1. Default Journal entries from Cross Country Trip

    I thought I would try and post a few of my journal entries from my trip around the country. Here is one heading to Bryce Canyon:

    After a LONG night of driving, we arrived in Bryce National Park on the morning of 8/13. We left Arches and and Island in the Sky on 8/12/07 with the thought of finding a forrest service road in the Dixie National Forrest that we could pull over and find a free place to camp as we have often done AZ. However, after driving all the way through Dixie NF we discovered this seemed not to be the case and saw a sign that indicated Bryce NP was only a couple hours further. We decided to drive on towards Bryce and see if we could find some place else to pull over for the night. We didn't. On the way, at about 10:30 pm I was driving with John navigating when all of a sudden a giant flying beast, quite possibly a Pteradactyl (although more likely a Great Horned Owl or a Golden Eagle) swooped down from the heavens above right in front of van as though it was intending to snatch us up in it's claws to take us back to it's nest. I slammed on the brakes just as it was about to crash through the windshield and we narrowly escaped an early demise. We decided to turn around to make sure we did not hit the winged giant and after driving back for a while did not see it's body on the highway so we headed back towards Bryce before the blood thirsty bird came back seeking vengence. No more than thirty seconds after turning around we saw to male deer up ahead on our right eating some grass in the cool evening air. As we started to pass them, they took off running along side us no more than 10 feet away from John on the passenger side of the van and galloped next to us for about 75 yards before heading off into the forrest. It was quite an experience and made our first drive at night pretty exciting.

    We continued driving, passing by a few pay camp grounds but being the thrifty travellers that we are, decided that with a little perserverance we would find some place free to camp. We didn't. We finally arrived in Bryce NP at about 1:00am and found a couple park rangers that said there were some forrest service roads that we could use to pull over and camp nearby. We drove back out of the park looking for these magical roads where one could get a good nights sleep without having to fork over hard earned cash and found only dirt driveways that led to ranches. It was on one of these roads (driveways) that we saw headlights speeding toward us when we were about a mile in. Deciding we did not want to meet up with a shotgun toting rancher at 1:30 in the morning we kicked the van into off road mode got turned around and sped out as quickly as possible. Finally, at about 2:30am we found a parking lot for a hiking trail head and pulled over to sleep for the night in the van.

    We woke up at about 8:30am on the morning of the 13th and began our trek back into Bryce to find our campground. After setting up we tok a drive to the end of the park and saw some incredible views. Bryce was a nice change from where we had been in previous days because at it's high point it has an elevation of about 9,000 feet and the temperature was in the mid 80's. There were the same beautiful canyon views that we have seen in the rest of Utah, but at this high elevation the canyon lands were covered with a coniferous forrest. After driving around and getting some great pictures and video of the vast canyons we decided to head back to our camp, hoping to catch some animals along the way that might be out for their evening dinner. We got more than we bargained for and have some great pictures and video that we hope to soon have on the website. The highlight was a pronghorned antelope that we were able to get within about 75 feet of. John first approached him to get some still photos and while the antelope did not seem to threatened, he was definately staring John down. After getting several pictures, John moved back and I went in with the video camera. I was able to get some great video of this beautiful animal when all of sudden he started shaking his head from side to side and took a couple steps in my direction, looking a little agitated. After I finished crapping my pants, I backed away and John and I made our way back to the van. It was really cool and we can't wait to get the pictures and video on the website. Well, we are about 20 mioes from Death Valley, CA so I am siging off for now and we'll talk to you soon.

  2. Default Journal entry from Manti La Sal NF & Needles district of Canyonlands NP

    Here is another journal entry, this one from Manti La Sal National Forest and the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park:

    As we left Canyon De Chelley and continued north up Hwy. 191 into to Utah the views were amazing. The sizes, shapes and colors of the variations rock formations are among the most scenic and beautiful in the world, I imagine. As we came within about 75 miles of Monticello, UT which is the town that sits right outside of Manti-Lasal National Forest, we could see plumes of billowing white smoke ascending skyward. We soon realized that it was a forest fire in Manti-Lasal where we would be camping that night and hoped everyone was OK and we would have a place to sleep that night. The blazing fire ended up being on the other side of the mountain from where we were camping, although we were left wth an eerie feeling knowing the flames of destruction were so close. While heading up the road to our campsite we were met with an onslaught of deer everywhere. Grazing on the side of the road, standing in the middle of the road and bounding across the road in front of us as though we were stuck in the middle of a game of Frogger. We mainly focused on getting video of the moment, but did get some pictures which are now up on the website. After making it through the deer labyrinth we found our campsite within the forest and made what was our first and only camp fire in the first two weeks. It is kind of funny because you grow up with camp fires being an integral part of the camping experience, but most of the places we have been had fire restrictions in place and those that did not, we didn't have wood anyway. But on that night, we cooked up some tasty hot dogs over an open flame and feasted like kings. We had a peaceful night's sleep aided by the soothing sounds of the creek running down the side of our campsite and awoke the next morning to find a deer tip toeing near our camp, grazing on the emerald grass. We were able to quietly follow her with the video camera for about 100 yards until she silently slipped away into the safe confines, deep within the forest. After getting our gear packed up we laid our sights on our first "big" destination, the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park, UT.

    Like the rest of southern Utah, entering Needles was like being part of some Daliesque painting with it's twisted formations rising from the ground, shaped by a million years of erosion. We first encountered "Newspaper Rock" which is a rock face containing etchings from a people 2,000 years in the past that we are to this day unable to decipher. Pictures of it can be seen our website. With archaeologists unable to unravel the the meaning and purpose of these ancient writings we get the privelage of gazing upon them to interpret our own individual meaning and think about the role communication of all types plays in the role of human life. Whether it is writings on a rock wall or ramblings on an internet message board, the desire to communicate our thoughts and feelings transends space and time and links together all of humanity.

    Continuing on through the park, we locate our camp site which might be the most perfect spot on the face of the earth, although you will probably hear us say that numerous times in the future. With ample shade provided by the Juniper trees, a large flat rock on the western boundry of our site to watch the sunset and monstrous canyon walls lying far to the east that would serve as our first view in the morning when rolling out of our tent, we knew this was our new home. With an excitement usually reserved for children playing on a warm summer day, we threw on our backpacks and headed out for a 5.5 mile roundtrip hike to Lost Canyon which housed an abundance of vegetation fed by the late summer rains that in one moment roar through the canyons and the next moment disappear into the dry desert. Pictures from our hike can be found on the website begining with me sitting in a white t-shirt relaxing in a rarely found shaded area and end with a picture of John and I with the canyons behind us. Our water supply and youthful exuberance ended just in time to finish the hike and we had just enough energy to bake a couple pizzas for dinner before heading off to the land of dreams.

    When we awoke the next morning we met our neighbors, Mark and Jesse who were kind enough to share some great information on what to see during the rest of our time in Utah and gave us a map of Utah to help guide the rest of our journey. We spent the rest of the day exploring this striking, yet unforgiving terrain including quite a bit of time at Elephant Hill where hiking as well as 4 wheel drive trails can be found. After a long day in the hot summer sun, we went to the Needles Outpost and consumed two swedder (swiss & cheddar) burgers as if they were made from the last cow standing and spent about 2 hours talking with the owners and ran into Mark and Jesse again. One of the owners, Tracy could also be referred to as the wasp whisperer with her ability to let the winged devils land on her hand and pet them. She also had what seemed like thousands of humming birds flying through the air like WW2 fighter pilots and shared great stories of her pals the badger and coyote. We got back home just in time to take both our video and still camera to the rock perch behind our campsite to relax under the setting sun and take a few pictures which can also now be found on our website. As the sun dipped below the horizon, we scaled back down from our rocky deck to toss a frisbee around with a feeling of freedom that we scarcely recall from our city life. As we heard from Mark and soon found out for ourselves, the solitude that can be found at Needles is one of its greatest gifts and one that we will remember for a lifetime.

  3. Default Journal entry from Alaska

    Here is a long one from Alaska. I hope everyone here gets to take at least one trip to Alaska as it is an unforgetable experience:

    Regretfully this is the first journal entry I have written on our website, although I have written many pages in my personal journal. When living as we are, everything takes a little longer to do and overall I think that is a good thing. Multi-tasking is a term that I vaguely recall a definition for. Whether you are setting up a campsite, building a fire or doing the dishes all of your focus is on the task at hand. Gone our the days, at least temporarily, of sitting at a desk with the phone resting somewhat uncomfortably between my shoulder and ear, while writing a report with my right hand as my left hand was punching away at a keyboard. No matter how long the trip lasts, I am embracing every moment as the future unfolds itself one task at a time.

    Unfortunately for journal writing, my time in Alaska has been nearly indescribable as words are unable to capture the raw beauty of the land that surrounds me. I am writing from our cabin on Fielding Lake where there is also a river who's name I do not know that slowly drifts along, seemingly unaware of the time and space that surrounds it. The table I am sitting at serves as a log of the previous inhabitants of this small but peaceful cabin. I wonder what Calvin G. who was here in '03 is doing now. There is also a rudimentary chess board carved into the table which serves as the site where John won his first game of chess against me. I knew I should not have moved my queen out so early! With a gentle warmth emanating from the wood burning stove to keep us warm, I have just cracked open the window on the east side of the cabin. The rain soaked fresh air is beginning to creep in along with the call of the last few ducks who are brave enough to endure the quickly advancing winter temperatures.

    Looking outside my window to the world, I see snow-capped mountains that because of their size seem close enough that I could reach out and grab the frozen water that sits atop them. In addition to the ducks, some type of predatory bird soars in the sky high above us, circling for hours looking for a food supply that is diminishing with every drop in degree of temperature. It is now 38 degrees and I just put another a log in the wood burning stove.

    While the fauna in the area seems to be disappearing as they prepare for the long, dark months ahead, John and I had a neighbor of epic proportions last night. While we where throwing a disk around in the cold, but surprisingly comfortable air I heard the noise of something sloshing around in the river 20 feet to the west of us. John, who was closer to the river's edge than I looked as though he might explode with excitement and I soon saw the source of his elation. A large female moose was taking an evening stroll through the frigid river, occasionally dipping her head in for a drink. It was the largest moose I have seen and she allowed us to watch her in silence until darkness overcame her form. We continued listening to her gently making her way through the water long after the soft glow of the evening hours had disappeared.

    Prior to arriving at our cabin on Fielding Lake, we were at the North Fork cabin on the Chena River for 3 nights, which were definitively the most calm, relaxing days of my life. While the Fielding Lake cabin has been a quiet, cozy shelter from the forces of nature, at 12'x14' it is somewhat diminutive. Our 20'x24" mansion at Chena River was so incredible I could envision living the rest of my days there. We didn't see anything spectacular like bears or caribou and the towering trees blocked any possible views of the landscape that surrounded us, yet an overwhelming sense of peace flowed in like the tide on a serene ocean beach. Of course practically speaking, it was nice to have hard sided shelter from the continuous rain as opposed to living out of a tent, but there was much more to it than mere refuge from the weather that had been conspiring to block our view of the northern lights. The satisfying feel of a simple log cabin in the woods with no electricity or running water is unparalleled. When we were cold, the wood burning stove which was roughly the size of a 50 gallon barrel was more than adequate. While the outside temperatures were in the low 30's at night, I was dressed in nothing but shorts and flip-flops while reading a book before bed. When we needed to wash dishes the clear, crisp water of the Chena River was only 50 yards away and while the walk to the river took longer than merely turning on the faucet, it was time well spent in a majestic setting. If god is an artist, than Alaska in September is his palette. The array of colors, in particular green, gold and red is unlike anywhere else I have seen and
    this was seen in even greater detail while standing on the bank of the Chena River, gazing in amazement at the beauty of the foliage which was signaling the onset of winter.

    When we first decided to include Alaska in our trip we knew one of the highlights would be Denali National Park where we camped for 3 nights at the Teklanika campground, and we were not disappointed! The vast open land of Denali, which at 6 million acres (roughly the size of Massachusetts) is captivating. There is one dirt road and with the exception of three days each year cars are not allowed on the road. The only way to reach the heart of Denali is on a bus or on foot. We did both.

    On our first morning in Denali we awoke at about 7:30am to catch the 8:25am bus that would take us to Wonder Lake which is about 85 miles inside the park. We were about to embark on a 9 hour trip into the deep recesses of one America's last unspoiled treasures and my excitement could not be contained! I don't recall what I was expecting to experience, but whatever it was paled in comparison to reality. From the peak of Mt. McKinley down to the braided rivers that snaked through the landscape more than 20,000 feet below North America's highest peak, everything Denali encompasses is in a word...BIG. Despite the almost two weeks of continuous rain, our one day of perfectly blue skies over head was this one. We had an almost completely unobstructed view of Mt. McKinley which is typically shrouded
    with clouds and hidden from sight. At 20,320 feet McKinley, which is referred to as Denali by the native Athabascans is widely considered the most difficult mountain to summit. With winter temperatures of -100 degrees fahrenheit and wind gusts of up to 150 mph only about half of the climbers attempting it's peak make it.

    The wildlife of Denali is as good as it gets in North America and we were lucky enough to see all of the "big 5" along with a rare bonus. While on the Wonder Lake bus we saw 16 grizzly bears, 5 moose, 3 dall sheep, and 3 caribou which are 4 of the big 5. On our way out of the park on the last day we saw a pack wolves running along a hillside which completed the big 5 and in addition to this we saw a fox, a beaver and a few golden eagles floating far above our heads.

    There is just nothing quite like watching a giant grizzly grazing on berries right before she takes off on a sprint in search of wherever her nose takes her, just thankful that it does not turn out to be towards me. We spoke with several people on our journey through America's largest national park who had been there for weeks who said this was by far the best animal viewing day they had. After arriving back at our campsite, John and I took a short hike around our campsite when we were surprised by an animal rarely seen, the lynx. There are no trails through Denali so as John and I were making our way through the thick tiagra growth, we looked up to see two 30-40 pound cats sitting quietly under a spruce tree. We were a little surprised to say the least and slowly took a few steps back so as not to alarm our new
    feline friends. We were shocked to see them in the first place and that feeling increased to see them approach us as we were backing away. We calmly (somewhat) continued our backwards hike trying to enjoy the encounter while also hoping we would not become kitty chow. We feel blessed to have had the opportunity to get a glimpse into a day in the life of our country's most remarkable wild life and it is a memory that will be treasured for years to come.

    On our second full day we embarked on foot to hike through the rivers, mountains and valleys that served as our temporary home. We spent about 5 hours exploring the depths of Denali, most enjoying walking along the Teklanika river, amazed at the way it constantly changes shape as it weaves through the soft soil. Because of the constantly changing nature of the river we often got the pleasure of feeling the arctic chill of its waters when we had to leap over (or through!) portions that had cut in front of us. Luckily we had brought our rain gear with us because while it had been overcast all day, on our way back it began to rain which added to the excitement of the day by immersing us in all that
    the environment had to offer.

    What makes Denali so special is how it places you at the center of the universe that you are in at that very moment. There is no good or evil. There is no rich or poor. There is no war or peace. There is no heads or tails. There is only the pure, magnificent beauty that exists everywhere in the world if you are only able to take the time to notice it. That is exactly what the serenity of Denali, and Alaska as a whole allows you to do.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-14-2008 at 06:55 PM. Reason: Removed the extra spacing

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 1998
    Las Vegas, Nevada

    Default Great Report

    I really enjoyed the reading of the latest adventures you have been on. Great report!


  5. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Editor View Post
    I really enjoyed the reading of the latest adventures you have been on. Great report!

    Thanks Mark - I will try and put some more up in the next few days.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Washington state coast/Olympic Peninsula

    Default Chuckling here...

    The "pterodactyl" story was hysterical. You are having some wonderful adventures, aren't you? And you have a great way of telling your stories.

  7. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Judy View Post
    The "pterodactyl" story was hysterical. You are having some wonderful adventures, aren't you? And you have a great way of telling your stories.
    Thanks Judy - We have had a really great time and that trip through southern Utah was filled with some pretty exciting experiences.

  8. #8

    Default Look forward to hearing more

    I look forward to hearing more - these reports have made fantastic reading. Do you have any photos online that you can share?

  9. Default

    Quote Originally Posted by UKCraig View Post
    I look forward to hearing more - these reports have made fantastic reading. Do you have any photos online that you can share?
    Thanks Craig - Here is one more:

    While at our last campsite in Washington which we arrived at via a spectacular 40 mile dirt road through the Kanisku National Forest we took about a four mile hike that led us up into the surrounding mountains. While walking through the woods we came across two occurrences of my favorite natural feature...waterfalls. I could sit at the bottom of one for hours feeling the cool spray of the water as it descends onward towards its destination that may ultimately be an ocean far to the south of us where a different language is spoken. It is an amazing journey a drop of water takes, not knowing what lies ahead as it falls from the clouds high above. At the Triple Divide Peak in Glacier National Park, MT which we are camping about 10 miles southeast of now "a hand's width can determine whether a rain drop becomes part of the Columbia, Mississippi or Saskatchewan rivers" which will ultimately flow into either the Pacific Ocean, the Gulf of Mexico or the Hudson Bay.

    This reminds me of our trip as from day to day we never know where we might go and what experiences lay ahead. We are hoping to hike to Grinnell Glacier in the next day or two and the waiting along with the thought of the weather that is conspiring to get in our way is driving me crazy. The other day John and I were talking about what we each wanted to get out of our journey and my response was that if I were to die the day after the trip ended that I would have seen and experienced the greatest things this land has to offer and we have done that many times over already, although I REALLY want to get out to that Glacier! We did however take about a 5 mile round trip hike to Avalanche lake in Glacier NP a couple days ago and I felt a surge of energy that I had not experienced since Alaska. With the towering snow covered mountains as our walls, the rocky beach as our floor and the endless sky for a ceiling I truly felt at home. A fallen log served as our sofa and the mountain goat we saw high up on a mountain ledge was like a painting on our living room wall, only better. Much, much better!

    We just got back from skipping stones into the Hungry Horse Reservoir which is one of my favorite pastimes when we can fit it into our busy schedule, usually at least once or twice a day. John just found out the world record is something like 40 skips and while we are not there yet I think we should be able to beat it soon. We all need goals, right? When we first arrived here we noticed what seemed like millions of almost jade colored rocks and wondered aloud what they might be. We have now found out that the objects of our curiosity that we casually through out into the water, only to have them return to land years down the road are argillite and limestone which began their lives as mud and sediment 1.5 billion years ago. You begin to look at it not as a rock, but a portal through time that transports you back to everything that has occurred in the years that have past since it was a primordial ooze in a world that is now very different.

    The sun is now setting on our day with the soft glow of the last remaining light filtering through the dense clouds. The yellow pine needles which were once green and perched high on the trees that surround us now blanket the ground we walk on and this is just one of the many signs of the quickly changing seasons. The ground squirrels which scurried about our campsite just days ago seem to have disappeared into the shelter of the fallen trees and we have even begun to see snow fall which had been previously just a view on the mountain tops far off in the distance. The change of seasons has brought along with it some challenges such as falling rain and temperatures, but these are merely reminders that we are alive. Give me mountain trail with cool, crisp air and the patter of raindrops falling on a glacial lake and I would walk it for months if possible.
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-18-2008 at 06:28 PM. Reason: removed the weird spacing fomat

  10. Default

    Here are a few picture videos we have on youtube:

    Denali, Alaska:
    Alaska Cabins:

    We also have about 25 hours of video that we are working on putting together and will post when we have some clips ready. Thanks for the input and hope the pictures encourage others to get out there as well!
    Last edited by Mark Sedenquist; 01-18-2008 at 06:29 PM. Reason: Preferred URL format herein

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