I woke up in the middle of the night in Tofino with an “oh sh*t” moment.
What has felt like two weeks has truly been two months and much to my dismay, time flew by while I was giggling like a child and flirting with cute boys. So after one of my play days at the beach I was rudely awakened to my looming deadline that will mark the end of my road trip (and solitude) of this adventure. I was on Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada and needed to be in Dallas, Texas, USA within 10 days.
The last U.S. National Park I’ll see on my adventure is a drastic change of pace from the mountains and requires me to take flight in order to see it. It’s the Virgin Islands National Park located on the island of St. John. The park has a campground where you can literally sleep on the beach, just feet away from the crashing waves of the ocean. It will be the first time in two months I’ll have a traveling companion, too.
While catching a flight from Houston I’ll be joined by my mom on this adventure. We’ll celebrate her birthday and spend our time doing fun (and free) activities that I’m used to, namely hiking, and something newer to me, snorkeling. While I’m looking forward to the change of scenery and companionship, I do miss the mountains and wonder about the next time I’ll visit them.
After visiting my sister’s property in Oregon I made my way to the first of the three final U.S. National Parks I’d visit on the mainland before my departure to the island of St. John.
Yosemite National Park is one of those bucket list parks. I’ve been hearing about it for months and leading up to this adventure a common question from people would be, “Will you see Yosemite?” They’d ask me with such a look of eager envy, that it piqued my interest to see what all the fuss was about.
I now see what all the fuss is about. The mountains are made of white, gray granite and the glaciers that passed through them made incredibly unique configurations of the stone. It reminded me of the dear-to-my-heart-park, Zion National Park. As the stone wasn’t red sandstone, the formations of the rock are similar, and the park has an energy that many of the other parks lack. It’s clear the tourists there are checking off one of their bucket list items. With iconic mountains such as Half Dome and El Capitan looming over the Visitor Center located in Yosemite Valley, it’s easy to take great photos of them, even from the parking lot. There isn’t countless signage warning campers and hikers of bears (my bear spray was actually banned in the park) thus giving it a safe feeling.
I hit the hiking trail up to Glacier Point later than planned, and made it to my car at the trailhead just as the sun was setting behind the valley. At one point I stopped my car to attempt some sunset photos in the valley and to watch the water fall over a mountain top, when I heard rustling in the leaves. That’s when I looked to my right to find a herd of deer grazing in the field, so I averted my attention to watching them with equal fascination and relaxation. Feeling their calm nature standing only feet away from me put me in a sort of relaxed trance.
My final stretch of drive to make my way out of the valley brought me to a Park Ranger vehicle, parked to the side of the road. It was clear there were two individuals inside and they were parked with their headlights beaming into an open field. With my curiosity piqued I pulled over on the road to look in their direction, hoping for another raw encounter with wildlife. It wasn’t a scene of wildlife; it was a scene of nature and time. It was sunset and one of the most beautiful pictures I’ve ever seen in my life. The sun set with brilliant shades of orange and it was as if someone was drawing a shade slowly above it. The moon shone brightly above the white halo remaining from the sun, and brought with it varying shades of blue and navy.
At that moment I envied the Park Rangers to be able to see such a beautiful showcase of Mother Nature’s way of progressing time. Often when we’re given something great in large doses it diminishes the perceived value. It was clear these Park Rangers, even with their easy access to beautiful views still cherished the moments. Thinking of that made me smile.
Seeing the Park Rangers also made me realize, I’m like them. While I’ve been on the road for nearly two months, seeing some of the most beautiful destinations of North America, it still feels new to me each time. Every instance I encounter deer or a waterfall I’m stopped in my tracks, nature begging me to savor the moment. With all the variables Mother Nature gives me, no two moments witnessing her are the same.