Wow! It has been over a year since we’ve updated this webpage, and I honestly can only #BlameCovid…THANKS COVID.
Seriously, the past year seems like a blur. I have a new job (yay!), we’re trying to #GetOutdoors as much as possible, all while still navigating through this ever changing Pandemic. As I am sure all of your know through your own various experiences, this can be a challenge! Because we have not had the ability to travel as far and wide as we usually do, and because we have found ourselves in a few interestingly unique experiences while camping and driving recently, my future posts won’t necessarily be about places we’ve been that are new. To tell you the truth, we’ve been visiting a lot of the same places over and over because of the many closures in our area. Navajo Nation Parks just recently opened, but only in a small capacity. Glen Canyon National Recreation Area has unprecedented visitation…and as great as that is for the city, for Clinton and I we’re trying to find the place where we can be alone in nature! Many of the parks around us have timed or limited entry. Backcountry travels like us (and you!) know that this is more frustrating than anything. But we can work through it to see our beautiful public lands!
Our adventures have led us into situations where we had to tow our vehicle out of a forest road (shredded tire), replace the glass in our truck canopy (UTAH), and weekly travels between multiple states for work (and avoid the crazy sand storms!). I am excited to invite your attention back to our blog where I will hopefully continue to entertain you with our experiences – and the results!
We’ve learned a lot this past year and I hope our experience will only influence you to continue to SAFELY enjoy the Great Outdoors. Thanks for keeping with us!
-Nicci and Clinton
Back in 2012 Clinton and I lived in Spokane, Washington with new puppy, Kyzer. I have always wanted to visit Glacier National Park. Clinton grew up in Spokane so he was able to visit Glacier often. I was just getting experience camping, which I had never done in my life myself (my mom mentions one time maybe in Florida but I don’t remember), and with a new dog I wanted to expose him to our lifestyle. We decided to take a week and drive to Glacier, camping along the way in remote sections of the National Forest where we could take hikes with Kyzer and introduce him to camping. I think this ended up shaping his life more than he thought!
Glacier National Park is located in northwestern Montana on the Canada-United State border. Considered the “Crown of the Continent Ecosystem” and with over 1 million acres the park protects mountain ranges, lakes, over 1,000 species of plants and hundreds of animal species. What of the glaciers, you ask? Today there are 25 active glaciers. Step back in time to the mid 19th century and an estimated 150 glaciers existed in the park. With current climate patterns many scientists have predicted that by 2030 the park will have no active glaciers. What did these glaciers do while they existed? They shaped, positioned, and dictated the size of the Lewis and Livington’s mountains and created the lakes and valleys that are abundant throughout the park. While climate change is a bigger discussion than they blog wants to tackle, don’t think that the marvelous beauty and the evidence of millions of years of work by glaciers will disappear. It is evident everywhere you look at Glacier National Park. If all you do is drive through the park for a scenic tour, make sure to pick one view point to pull over, get out of your car, take a deep breath, and really view the landscape. Don’t forget to breathe!
Like most of our adventures, we always like to take the path less traveled so most of our trip involved back roads and pull outs for Kyzer to run and play. At the time he was maybe a year old and already enjoyed hiking and Clinton and up on Mt. Spokane and in a field next to our apartment complex. Camping, being outdoors and learning how to cope, knowing what to do when encountering wildlife…all of these are important things to teach your dog. Ignorance is not an excuse! Kyzer has learned through so many different life experiences how to cope with this “dog pack”, make sure if you are bringing your dog out with you that you do the same. We were able to find camping in Flathead National Forest and the area was beautiful! Kyzer was easily able to learn “boundaries”. One of your greatest companions when being outdoors can be your dog – never underestimate their willingness to learn. Because Glacier is a National Park we were unable to walk too far from the established trails or view point lots since we had Kyzer, but we always make those types of things work. Kyzer may not like that we step two feet away (and he lets you know) but the park is surrounded by forests and other land where dogs are able to roam a bit more freely. Take care at your national parks!
Some things I look back and realize doing these #ThrowBackThursday posts are how much we have evolved outdoor recreation-wise. The tent we used back then was very small and barely fit the three of us – now we have a tent that is perfect for the FOUR of us. I had been camping before with Clinton, but this was the first time we went with a dog. We stayed a few nights in the same camping area of Idaho and for those nights a lightning storm entertained us in our tent though in hindsight maybe we should have gone into our vehicle. That same campsite had a river flowing behind it and as a water dog, Kyzer absolutely loved waking up and playing in the flowing water. He learned how to cross properly and where NOT to pee. 🙂
Overall our trip to Montana was amazing. Stop along the way for huckleberry ice cream (you won’t regret) and always take that extra moment to stop and see the scenery. It is truly a marvelous place. It gets very busy over the summer and extremely snowy during the winter so if you are looking for a time to go and attempt to avoid the crowds schedule closer to the end or beginning of the season. We went in August and had a great time! Schedule a trip for the future, be a good steward of the land, and always enjoy the view!
When I was initially planning my Europe trip my main focus was history and while Berlin is obviously an excellent choice for this history lesson there are so many other reasons to visit Berlin. Keep tuned to this blog as I focus the next set of blog entries on our travels around Germany and the amazing cultural and historical places we visited!
A trip to Berlin is not complete without walking shoes and the ability to laugh at oneself. Clinton and I got lost one of the nights we were walking around town and tried in vain for many hours to find our hotel. We had been almost walking in circles when we discovered the hotel. All of our time in Berlin was part of the bus tour we took our first two weeks in Europe, but we were able to jump ship when they announced they were heading back to the hotel and visit a few places we wanted to spend more time than they originally allotted. One place was a discovered Gestapo Headquarters laid beneath the ground. When we first arrived we only had a few minutes, but between the waysides and informational structures there was no way we had enough time to really delve into the topic. We did find our way back to this place before attempting to find our hotel!
Our bus tour actually started that day bringing us to the Brandenburg Gate and Checkpoint Charlie. The Brandenburg Gate is a magnificent structure that was constructed originally between 1788 and 1791 by architect Carl Gotthard Langhans. It is pretty obvious at even a first glance that the inspiration was Greek revival, but what you may not know is that the inspiration was specifically the entrance to Acropolis in Athens. While this is a beautiful structure it is located in a busy and congested part of town so just be aware how popular this will be! We went via a bus tour so I am also not really sure how to access the place beyond a bus tour but there were plenty of hotels and restaurants around so I can’t imagine this would be too difficult. A big reason behind the popularity is the modern history of the Brandenburg Gate. Part of the exclusion zone during the Cold War, many locals and all visitors were unable to visit this history landmark. Such a stunning divide was crushed when the Wall fell in 1989 and thousands of people gathered to celebrate the first joined New Years Eve.
Another iconic place to visit while in Berlin is Checkpoint Charlie, the third checkpoint opened by the Allies in Berlin which later became the most famous crossing between East and West Germany. Named after the phonetic alphabet (C = Charlie, the third letter), it witnessed numerous attempts to escape from East Berlin. Make sure to pay attention as you walk around – there is an open air exhibition that tells the story of failures and successes in the attempt to escape from East Berlin during the Cold War. We did not spend an extensive amount of time in this location because it was very busy and rainy! Plus, it literally is an intersection in busy Berlin…today. Amazing the difference when you take a minute and realize the difference time and technology imparts.
During our walks we had the fortune of seeing so many historical buildings I had read about in my history studies. Berlin has an abundant amount of memorials, museum displays, and outdoor open air exhibits; not to mention historical places! I’ve really only had the same feeling when visiting places as old as Jamestown or St. Augustine, though they are much older than many of the places we actually visited while in Germany. Spend more than just one night in Berlin if you can, it will be worth it and you will be able to visit places not mentioned on this trip. We walked by buildings where Hitler gave misguided, passionate speeches, and right by where Kings of the past made important decisions. I can’t really explain it, but definitely go for a long walk when possible!
Speaking of walks, on one of them we were able to cross off another memorial from my list – the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. The memorial opened in 2005, and was designed by Peter Eisenman. Covering 19,000 sq meters and 2711 concrete slabs at different heights the memorial can create a moment of uncertainty to start. The uneven concrete floor, the wave like form, and the size of the memorial is a conventional concept of a memorial. It was interesting when we visited and walked through the first time. Surrounded by so many people, when you walk through part of it you really almost become lost, like in a maze, and don’t even realize how quiet and alone you are…even surrounded by people. Very interesting!
While in Berlin we were able to eat delicious food, pretend we knew more German than we really did, enjoyed many different tours and walks around the town, and realized how much the Soviet Union really influenced the architecture of the city. Don’t skip this town if you are visiting Germany – it is worth the trip!