Category: Natural Beauty


National Geographic Traveler–a seriously great magazine–has an awesome blog, which I read very regularly. I’ve mentioned as much before and even before that. (I even participated in their first Peeps photo contest! My photo did not stand a chance against the fabulous competition. ‘Twas only a slightly tragic defeat.)

A few weeks ago, they launched a new magazine feature, “Ask a Park Ranger,” and invited questions on the blog.

Because (1) my husband and I had just eked out some time in September to finally have a real “summer” vacation, and because (2) Acadia National Park in Mount Desert, Maine was first on our planned route, and because (3) I love getting advice from experts, locals, and all-manner of opinionated souls, I shot off a question about a two-day itinerary.

And, today, Park Ranger Wanda Moran answered me.

Which is perfect, because we leave on Sunday. (So, we won’t be there for her suggested Night Sky Festival, but will stick that on the “sometime in the future” radar.) And, to express a worry that’s on my mind presently, I hope that Hurricane Earl won’t cause us (or them, mostly!) any trouble.

I am thrilled to have had my question answered. Thrilled to have such great and knowledgeable advice. And thrilled to get to see the first National Park east of the Mississippi!

Having my question answered on their official blog might just have been the added boost I needed to get my real work done, then get my camping preparations in gear. Yes, I think it was. 🙂

Expect to hear more about this and the other e-x-c-i-t-i-n-g stops on our trip.

Here’s a hint: There might be some of this beauty in our post-Acadia/pre-return future!

Don't knock it 'til you've tried it!

Orchids at the National Botanic Garden

Within eyeshot of the Capitol Building in Washington, D.C., lies a gem that <<I suspect>> is overlooked by its illustrious next door neighbors, Smithsonian’s Air and Space Museum, as well as the American Indian Museum. But for a rejuvenating break from the race to see it all the U.S. capital, I highly recommend the United States Botanic Garden.

White orchids

For the museum lovers like me, everything is helpfully labeled.

It's kind of like how I used to label every person in my drawings.

The center room with a in-the-trees walkway is rainforesty and humid. But all of the climates in this big country of ours are represented in the garden.

Cactus with built-in bling

It’s a great, picturesque place to visit.

Spotted orchid and its friend

Bleeding Heart Vine

There's so much to see, take time to soak it all in.

This was definitely one of my most favorite sites in Washington, D.C.

I am married to a New Mexican.

And in the interest of family harmony, I’ll just say, not all areas of New Mexico were created equal.

Parts are awesome: Santa Fe, Carlsbad Caverns, Ruidoso.

Other parts are not: ________. (I’ll keep the location names to myself! The same, of course, is true of just about anywhere. I’ll be the first to admit that I’m from one of the homelier parts of Idaho!)

Being in-law to New Mexicans, I’ve learned that not only do they serve some delicious food (Green Chiles!), but there are some dramatically beautiful sights. At the end of June, we took a last minute trip to New Mexico for a family funeral. It was a sad occasion, but a blessing to be with Charlie’s family.

The drives from Albuquerque to Ruidoso (a mountain town) and back, which bookended our trip, were a delightful bonus in a journey like this one. We saw thousands of blooming yucca plants on our way down to Ruidoso. It is awe-inspiring that beautiful stalks of delicate white blossoms have found a way to thrive in the desert.

In New Mexico, however, it’s not only the land–mountains, valleys, vegetation, and plains–that make for lovely scenery. The star attraction is the sky, which is wide and open.

Having lived on the East Coast for four full years now, I don’t see this kind of sky often. There are a lot of trees, a lot of buildings, and most of the land (around here in NJ) is relatively flat.

So, even though all of the above pictures were taken with an iPhone 3G (not the best photo quality) they represent the kind of awesome openness that a place like New Mexico provides.

Land of Enchantment, yes.