There have been many topics posted that go something like “Your five favorite campgrounds” but I wanted to go about this a little differently. We plan our trips around things to do rather than places to stay. So I’d like you to list your three best days of vacation you’ve ever had here in the US (or maybe North America). You know the kind – your spine tingles when you’re there and as soon as you’re done, you want to do it all over again the next day!
We’ve had so many great adventures that it’s hard to pick three, so here are three really good days of different types of activities:
1. Kayaking and whale watching in the Icy Straight west of Juneau. We spent several hours kayaking in the area and saw the usual assortment of seals and such, but the exciting part was the proximity (sometimes just a few hundred yard away) of humpback whales while we were just in 2-man kayaks. We really seemed small. Later on the support ship, we watched a mother breach time after time, followed immediately by her calf. Just amazing. We also had several very close encounters including a trio of humpbacks that swam right across the bow of the ship, blowing whale snot all over us! While we were on a multiday expedition, one can do day trips out of Juneau. This was in early August. Even if you don't kayak, the trip is worth the time and cost.
2. Hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon. While the rim viewpoints give a great overview, there’s nothing like hiking down to the river to really appreciate the GC. Soaking one’s feet in Bright Angel Creek at the bottom is soooo refreshing. Yes, hiking back up is daunting, but if you come back up the Bright Angel Trail, just keep in mind the ice cream stand right at the top. You’ve earned that triple dip of whatever flavor you like.
3. Mountain biking the Thunder Mountain trail outside of Bryce Canyon. We not into big technical rides but love to ride where the scenery is great. We’ve biked the north rim of the GC, through the Redwoods, and many trails around Moab, Fruita, Bend, etc. But on the Thunder Mountain trail I had to stop so frequently to view the scenery or I would fall off my bike. First you ride up the paved Red Canyon Trail then turn onto a dirt road leading to the Thunder Mountain Trail itself. This is like riding through Bryce Canyon NP, but it’s on NFS lands and totally legal.
One more day that sticks in my mind was on a backpacking trip on the Chilkoot Trail – the one used by the miners heading into Canada during the Klondike gold rush. One the day we summited and headed into Canada, we had crystal clear skies (very unusual). Just before the steepest part of the pass, one hikes through an area where the miners were dropping possession they didn’t want to haul up the pass. There were skillets, shoes, etc. just laying around the whole area. It was really a spine tingling experience, but since it was on a backpack trip, I didn’t include it as one of my three!
So what were your three most exciting days? We’d like some ideas on other things to experience and new places to go.
Dry camping on Lake Michigan. This was number one on my bucket list that was the first thing I did the day after the house sold.
By chance finding a CG 'right smack on' the Mississippi. I didn't know that the US still used barges in those numbers to move product. Ended up staying there for a week watching those huge barges run all day and all night. Just long enough to have a tornado touch down and take my awning! That day was memorable on so many different levels!
Driving around the valley floor of Yosemite at night during a full moon. Beautiful experience.
Watching a pod of 20 dolphins play in the waves off of Rincon Parkway near Ventura, CA. They stayed within eyesight for nearly an hour. There were several kids in the pod. The kids really were having a ball alongside of the adults.
Again at Rincon during a very light rain in the summer. We had cooked dinner on the BBQ and wer enjoying dinner under our awning with a campfire nearby and the soothing sound of the ocean waves 20 feet below us. The stars were twinkling out over the ocean and just as we were finishing our meals, a fireworks show started from the nearby fairgrounds. It was very romantic.
Here's another rincon memory... during a severe lightning storm. We watched from the safety of our 5th wheel as it came in from the ocean. Saw lightning strikes on the islands and oil rigs located a few miles off shore. Nearest lightning strike hit the railroad tracks about 100 feet from our rig....tremendous flash and thunder clap. Very beautiful and scary at the same time.
Man-O-man thats a hard one, out of all the places we have been ( i kinda hate to admit it ) but my eyes have welled up many times at the beauty that the good Lord has permited me to see.
hiking in the smokies (been there 19 times )
hiking in the Rockies
hiking to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
walking along the beach on Sanibel Island, not a sole in site.
Blue ridge Parkway
Kayaking down the Buffalo River in Ark.
theres know way i can pin point 3 days.
i know the worst day thought, our last day of a 32 day 11,000 mile trip to the BIG ones with our kids, my wife cried for an hour on the way home ( she knew it was a once in a life time trip with us all together).
1993 Dodge cummins crankin out some torque,
2003 Lance 1071 loaded to the hilt
#1. Sailing aboard USS Constitution during her July 4th, 2002 turn around in Boston Harbor.
#2. Philadelphia, PA. 1975. Being able to actually touch the Liberty Bell. Can't do that now.
#3. Viewing the Grand Canyon for the first time in 1978.
Wow - that's tough! I'll give it a go although I will probably think of some more of these later.......
1) Watching July 4th fireworks at Williamsburg, VA, which took place right after the fife & drum corps entered the green by torch light procession. As the "grand finale" fireworks was winding down our DD turned to DW & I and said "Thanks for bringing us here!"
2) Being overwhelmed at the unbelievable scale of the Grand Canyon when we saw it for the first time. Jaw-dropping. Crater Lake was a close 2nd.
3) The realization that a life-long dream of mine came true the day we set up camp in Yellowstone National Park. It was both a thrilling moment and also a bit scary in a way because that's when we began to comprehend how FAR away from home we were.
We also have fond memories of really great people from all walks of life and wonderful cuisine from every corner of the nation. Priceless!
#1 was a whale watch off Rye Harbor where we stumbled upon a pod of 15 Gray Whales that took a liking to the boat. The skipper shut down the boat and we spent 3 hours drifting with the whales. He radioed in and let them know we we OK but would not make the dock schedule. He said he had been doing the trip for over 15 years and had never had such an experience.
#2 was standing at the top of Angels Landing in Zion NP. and wondering if I had the guts to go back down!
#3 sleeping 40 feet from the rim of the Grand Canyon. Many aspects of that trip would make the top ten.
3. Camping at Lake Powell and seeing the Glen Canyon dam from above (lake boat ride), from inside (wonderful dam tour) and from below (rafting down the Colorado River to Lees Ferry).
2. Camping at the top of Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia and going on a $20 whale watching expedition late afternoon until sunset, with pilot whales spouting and jumping everywhere we looked.
1. Arriving today at Long Key, FL and setting up our camp site a few feet from the Atlantic Ocean, listening to the waves hit the shore, watching a pink and gold sunset in one direction as an almost-full moon began to rise in the other.