Grand Sand Dunes National Park
Fall on the Blue Ridge Parkway
Welcome to Travels with Nessie.
This site covers many of the places we've visited in the past several years. You'll find information and photos on the places we've paddles with Nessie and Clem our two tandem kayaks and places we've explored without our kayaks. It's hard to fit an 16' or 13'kayak in the overhead bin on an airplane. I've briefly described a few of the trips below, but there are many not covered here. For a complete idea of what's here, click on the menu for a specific regions, for example exploring NC and then explore the menu for the pages there. And be sure to check out the National Parks pages. I'm updating information on our trip to the South West and the National Parks. Be sure to check What's new for information on new pages and pages that have been updated.
I've been updating the Resources section. I've removed places that no longer exist and added several books and web sites that I've found useful. I plan to continue working on the this section.
I hope you enjoy your visit here and that you'll come back often. I'm
updating some of the pages and adding new material so be sure to check
Joy of road trips:Interesting sights found while driving
In our trips we've found many interesting sights that are worth a short stop to explore. Some of them we've been able to find information about, but others look like they have a story to tell, but we haven't been able to uncover it. This section highlights some of our finds.
Big Cypress National Preserve:Protecting the Everglades
Big Cypress National Preserve protects the large Big Cypress swamp. The freshwater of the swamp are essential to the health of the nearby Everglades and the marine environment of southwest Florida coast. It is the first national preserve in the US.Keep reading
D Day Memorial
Memorial for Bedford Boys
The D Day Memorial in Bedford Virginia has been on our must see list for several years. We finally got around to going and were glad we did. Keep reading
I've been working on the pages for our 6,000 plus mile trip to the Southwest US. I've expanded the Southwest trip overview to give you some idea of what a long road trip across the US is like. Check it out. And be sure to check out the pages for the many national and state parks we visited.
Sunset along the road
Driving Across the US
We've made several 6,000 plus mile driving trips exploring the US. Although these trips often involved long hours driving to where we eventually wanted to be, they also provide a unique opportunity to appreciate how big, varied, and beautiful the US is. Driving across the country also allowed us to visit a few places that we would have missed otherwise. Every time we make a major trip, we say next time we'll stop and read every historical marker and visit every interesting city or town we come across. But of course we don't; because it would take months or years to do this. So we have to be content with stopping at a few interesting places along the way.
A few places in Olympic National Park have been added
Paddling Lake Santeetlah
Lake Santeetlah is often called one of the most beautiful lakes in the country. We decided to rent a cabin on the lake and load our Kayak Clem on top of the minivan and do some paddling on the lake. We also thought we would attack the Tail of The Dragon while we were there.
Redwoods National Park
Redwoods National Park
As part of our 2019 trip west we visited Redwood State and National Parks in northern California. This is a unique partnership between the State of California and the United States National Park service to save and preserve some of the last old growth redwoods in the US. The redwoods are the tallest trees on earth. It is a great experience to walk in the forest of these giant trees.
Fall on the Eno River
Eno River State Park NC
When we moved to Durham in 1971, there was no Eno River State Park. The mill at West Point was falling down and someone had stolen the mill wheel. Durham had proposed building a reservoir in the river valley. A group of concerned citizens led a campaign to save the Eno and formed the Association for the Preservation of the Eno River Valley. The association proposed a state park be established and, in May of 1972, the state of North Carolina approved the idea. The city of Durham withdrew its efforts to construct the reservoir and in 1975 the state, with help from the Eno River Association and the Nature Conservancy, opened the park with more than one thousand acres of land.
Several of the places we've visited are not as heavily visited as more famous places. Some of these special places,such a Cedar Breaks National Monument are as beautiful as more visited places Others, such as Aztec Ruins are of historical or other interest. I'll add to this list in future updates. Consider visiting them.
Lassen National Park
Lassen Volcanic National Park
Our mid-September 2019 visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park as shorter than we planned. Our first day was planned as a drive from Crater Lake National Park to Lassen with stops for hikes and picture taking. The second day we planed to drive across the park in the opposite direction headed to Redwoods National Park. Two things were wrong with our plan.
Sacred Heart Catholic Church
When we were driving across the Montana Plains on our way to Waterton National Park (Canada), we came across this abandoned church and stopped to investigate. The church is abandoned, but the cemetery is still in use. We found a monument in the cemetery with the inscription
Kenai Fjords National Park, Alaska
Kenai Fjords National Park is one of the jewels found in Alaska. Except for a small section just out of Seward it is only accessible by boat. The boats provide a wonderful day long trip through the park featuring great scenery and opportunities to view wildlife up close and personal.
Capital Reef National Park
Capital Reef National Park
Capital Reef is one of the less well known of Utah's many wonderful national parks. We visited there in our 2010 visit to the Southwest United States. We enjoyed our visit and would like to return sometime. Read more about Capital Reef National Park.
Colorado National Monument
When I was growing up in Colorado, we often drove through Colorado National Monument on the way to visit relatives living in Fruita, Colorado. I always enjoyed the drive and the views of canyons and rock formations. We couldn't pass the opportunity to visit the monument a few years ago on our trip to Utah. Read more
As we were leaving the Devil's Tower National Monument, we noticed a sign to the Aladdin Tipple. We had plenty of time, so we stopped to see what the Aladdin Tipple was.
The Aladdin Tipple is in the town of Aladdin, Wyoming population 15 according to the sign. The tipple is located in a historical interpretive park. There is an easy path to the top of tipple. There are several signs explaining the history of the coal mine and explaining the tipple.
Aztec National Monument, New Mexico
Aztec Ruins National Monument
Aztec Ruins National Monument in New Mexico. is a large complex of an Ancestral Pueblo. The site has nothing to to with the Aztecs in Mexico, but was misnamed by the first explorers to see the site who assumed that the ruins were from the Aztecs in Mexico.
The Aztec Ruins complex was built around 1100 by the Ancestral Pueblo and abandoned around 1300. It is an amazing place. The portion open to visitors, called the West Ruins, once had more than 500 rooms centered on an open plaza. It is about 2 miles long and 1 mile wide. There are four separate archaeological sites to the east that are unexcavated.
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park
Mesa Verde National Park is more well known than Aztec Ruins or Great Sand Dunes National Park. It was the home of Ancestral Pueblo from about A.D. 550 to 1300. For more than 700 years they and their descendants lived and flourished here. Then they abandoned the site and moved south into present-day New Mexico and Arizona.
Great Sand Dunes National Park
Great Sand Dunes National Park
I have always wanted to visit Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, but never had the chance until August 2018 when we took a road trip west. We've visited Jockey's Ridge State Park in NC, the tallest active sand dunes in the Eastern US, and we were expecting something similar in Colorado. We were not expecting the shear size of the sand dunes in the park. Jockey's Ridge covers 426 acres, whereas the Great Sand Dunes cover about 30 square miles and the tallest is about 750 feet high--they are big.
Kings Canyon National Park
Kings River flowing through Kings Canyon National Park
Kings Canyon National Park is not as well known as many of the other national parks in California. It is small and has a single short road inside the park. When we were there in June 2016 some places were still closed due to damage from the 2015 fire. Even so we really enjoyed our visit.
Bear Paw Battlefield
Although the Bear Paw Battlefield is not as well known as the Little Bighorn Battlefield, the Bear Paw Battlefield is just as significant. This is the site of the last battle in the 1877 Nez Perce War. This was a 5 day battle and siege between the Nez Perce led by Looking Glass and other chiefs and the US Army. Continue Reading
Paddling Beaver Dam Lake, NC
Beaver Dam Lake is about 25 miles from us, so it's a good place for an evening paddles in the summer. The lake is also large enough to provide an interesting all day paddle when we have time. There are several picnic area around the lake. The area around the boat ramp has a swimming beach, bath house, and restrooms. The swimming beach is popular in the summer but not crowded.
Quiet Water Paddling in Western North Carolina
Western North Carolina is best known for waterfall, mountains, and white water paddling. We've found numerous wonderful places for quiet water paddling with our kayaks Nessie and Clem. These paddles are peaceful alternatives to white water paddling and the hikes to waterfalls. Read More
As part of our 2013 journey from Durham, NC to Jasper Alberta Canada and back to Durham, we decided to drive from Great Falls, MT to the northeast entrance to Yellowstone National Park via the Beartooth Parkway. The Beartooth Parkway is not the quickest way to get from Great Falls to Yellowstone, but it is the most beautiful and scenic.
Beartooth Parkway Continued.
Wind Cave National Park
Wind Cave National Park in South Dakota is one of the less visited National Parks. The park is rather isolated and overshadowed by Badlands National Park and Mount Rushmore National Monument. However, it is well worth visiting for two major attractions--then Wind Cave and the largest remaining natural mixed-grass prairie in the United States.
Wind Cave Continued
Sunset over Frozen Currituck Sound
Frozen Currituck Sound January 2014
Because of much colder than normal temperatures in early January 2014 much of Currituck Sound was covered with a layer of ice. The whole sound did not freeze just the areas near the shore. Currituck Sound Continued
Sunset along the road
Driving Across the US
We've made several 6,000 plus mile driving trips exploring the US. Although these trips often involved long hours driving to where we eventually wanted to be, they also provide a unique opportunity to appreciate how big, varied, and beauty of the US. Driving across the country also allowed us to visit a few places that we would miss otherwise. We didn't stop and smell the roses as often as we would have liked, but we did stop occasionally.
driving across US Continued.
Mammoth Cave National Park contains the Mammoth Cave which is said to be the largest cave system in the world. The beauty of this national park is the shear size of the cave.Mammoth Cave Continued
When I first visited the Blue Ridge Parkway in 1972, I figured that my wife and I could drive the entire 469 miles from Cherokee, NC to the Skyline Drive in Virginia in two days (45 MPH speed limit means roughly 10 hours total drive leaving plenty of time for sightseeing). Well I was mistaken. It took us several years of trips to the Parkway before we had driven all of it.
Blue Ridge Parkway.Continued.
Our paddling interest is limited to quiet water--lakes, ponds, slow moving rivers, and coastal water. We seek out pretty and interesting quiet water and provide photos and descriptions of these paddles. We don't do whitewater. Lakes on windy days are rough enough for So if you're interested in quiet water paddling, check the Quiet Water Section .
Canyonlands National Park
If you're interested in the wonderful National Parks in the US, check out the National Parks Pages. Or just pick a page at random from the menus. The most recent additions to the National Parks pages are Great Sand Dunes National Park, Aztec Ruins National Monument and Mesa Verde National Park
We've been on many trips where we've had to leave the kayaks home. Many of these trips have been in North Carolina and you'll find information on them in the Exploring NC section.
We've also undertaken several major trips to visit national parks and other sights in the US. Descriptions of these trips can be found at Trip West for our trip west in 2008 and Southwest trip for our 2010 trip to the Southwest US. Both trips were over 6,000 miles long and took us to National Parks and many other interesting places. The trip pages provide photos and descriptions of some of the sights we encountered along the way, such as the Corn Palace in Michel SD, as well as the national parks and other major attractions.
We have several pages of photographs to help us remember the beauty of the places we've visited and to share with others. We have photos on all the trip pages and we have photo galleries with more photos. You can find a list of galleries at Photo Galleries.
There are several books and web sites that we have discovered over the years that have been very useful to us.
Favorite Paddles Merchant's Mill Pond and Bear Creek Lake
If we had to choose our favorite paddling spots in North Carolina, we'd pick Merchant's Mill Pond in Eastern North Carolina and Bear Creek Lake in Western North Carolina.
We haven't paddled Bear Creek Lake for quite awhile.
Sea Gull and Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska
Waterfalls from melting glacier College Fjord, Alaska
Linville Falls, North Carolina
Green River Overlook Canyonlands National Park
Reflection at Lower Yellowstone Prong Falls, Graveyard Fields Blue Ridge Parkway
Please note that all photos on this site are copyright by us. If you wish to use any of our photos, please contact us for permission.
Thanks for visiting.
You can contact us using e-mail to webmaster at ncsparks.com.