• Adventures,  California,  Featured,  National Parks,  U.S.A.

    Mojave National Preserve: Terra & the Tarantula

    It’s National Park Week! The U.S. National Park Service oversees nearly 425 sites. This includes not just our fabled national parks, but national monuments, preserves, battlefields and historic sites, too. So far, I’ve explored 110 of those sites. I’ve hit a few of the big ones, like Yellowstone, Denali and the Grand Canyon, and lots and lots of little sites in between. Since I can’t get out and explore the parks this week, I’m sharing stories instead, like this one from a visit to Mojave National Preserve back in 2019. Terra & the Tarantula The first time I visited Mojave National Preserve, I was just passing through. It was at…

  • Adventures,  National Parks,  Texas,  U.S.A.

    Big Bend National Park in 4 Snarky Parts

    PART I: The Arrival When I pulled into the designated parking spot for my campsite at Big Bend, I became immediately concerned it was, in fact, just a pile of rocks. I couldn’t see any semblance of a campsite from the car. The website said the sites weren’t level, sure, but this seemed excessive. Where was my picnic table? Where was my critter-proof food storage container? Where was any small patch of ground on which to pitch a tent? I sat in the car staring at the rock pile, willing it to make sense. I pulled up the campsite reservation email again, the one I’d already six or seven times…

  • Adventures,  National Parks,  U.S.A.,  Wyoming

    Yellowstone, Part III: Where the Wild Things Are

    Driving toward Hayden Valley, legendary land of Yellowstone’s wildlife, I decided to temper my hope. I would, I thought, release my expectations. I wanted to see critters. That’s why I was awake before the sun, why I was already on the road by six something, but I knew better than to hope. Mercury was in retrograde. It had been a bad year and a worse month. I’d see critters or I wouldn’t. By that point, I’d spent two days wandering around the park hearing sticky children and their snot-nosed parents screech about wanting more, more, more from the park’s wild inhabitants and I refused to count myself among them. I…

  • Adventures,  National Parks,  U.S.A.,  Wyoming

    Yellowstone, Part II: Pillow Fights, Horde Evasion & Camping Cats

    In the immediate aftermath of a loss, you may find that you wake without remembering. Maybe it hits you within seconds, maybe it takes whole minutes. Either way, grief will strike. It might hit you like a wayward wave, bowling you over, ripping the air from your lungs. Maybe it’s a quick strike, less cinematic, more like a gut punch, a face slap, a snake bite. Or maybe it’s a slow swell, starting with a distant thunderclap of remembering, a realization that incites your hair follicles and slowly, relentlessly floods your consciousness. Maybe it’s not like any of that. Maybe it just fucking hurts. That first morning at Yellowstone, I…

  • Adventures,  National Parks,  U.S.A.,  Wyoming

    Yellowstone, Part I: Grief, Gurgling Geysers & Wolf Songs

    I was fresh off the loss of her, hadn’t made it more than 10 hours without a full-body cry and I was probably running from the devastating emptiness of a single-dog house. But, I was there, in Montana. Work sent me there, and I, being an opportunist, added an adventure to the backend of the work. It was a decision I’d made before I lost her, one I kept in the immediate wake of the loss. An escape, I thought, might help with the healing. Work completed, bags packed, grief riding shotgun, I headed south to Yellowstone National Park, a place I’d never been before.