From the rocky spires of the Grand Tetons to the craggy shores of Acadia, the United States’ 59 national parks are as diverse as the nation itself. Where Death Valley holds a world record for the highest air temperature ever recorded (134 degrees), the slopes of Mt. Rainier saw an astounding 93.5 feet of snow in the winter of 1971. So what makes Olympic National Park stand out among these millions of acres of natural wonder?
A few weeks ago, The New Yorker scared the living daylights out of those of us lucky enough to reside in the Pacific Northwest. In gripping fashion, writer Kathryn Schulz told of a devastating earthquake and tsunami that are doomed to destroy the coastal communities of Oregon and Washington while wreaking havoc in Portland and Seattle—possibly in the next 50 years.
As we approach one of the most desperately needed long weekends of the year, I’ve been thinking about where I would ideally like to spend Presidents’ Day. It turns out that the answer was right in front of me—or rather, just a few years behind me. After giving recent billing to my adopted home of Portland, Oregon, I turn this week’s focus to my first home, the natural wonderland of Marin County, California.
Oh, the joys of beginning a new year. Joining a gym, filing taxes, and realizing just how much you overspent on Christmas. But with the new year also comes a refreshingly blank slate—the promise of 12 new months that could be filled with life-changing opportunities, new faces and friends, and exhilarating travels near and far. As for me, I begin 2015 in a very different place—quite literally—than I was this time last year.
In mountain years, they are the picture of youth. Some ten million years ago, as the Rocky Mountains approached their 60 millionth birthday, the Earth’s crust began to stretch along the Teton fault in modern-day Wyoming. As the crust quaked and ruptured, the land east of the fault collapsed to form the valley of Jackson Hole. But west of the fault the land rose skyward, eventually forming a new range of mountains to tower over the sunken basin.