Archive for the ‘US/Canada national parks’ Category

She can’t believe it’s accessible

June 30, 2009

I share my blog today with Candy B. Harrington, a fellow member in the Society of American Travel Writers, who is an expert on accessible travel, from people using wheelchairs to slow walkers. Her slogan: Have Disability, Will Travel, and she’s giving us a Top-10 list of little-known accessible places. I haven’t met Candy, who writes from California, but for years I’ve been impressed with her work and uncompromising dedication to her topic. In the world of travel, staying uncompromised is a major feat. She recently released the third edition of her classic book “Barrier Free Travel: A Nuts And Bolts Guide For Wheelers And Slow Walkers.” From the book site, you can check out Candy’s own blog. Photos (except Lake Powell)  are by Mr. Candy, aka Charles Pannell.

Heeeeeere’s, Candy:

Candy Harrington with her favorite chicken Agnes

Candy Harrington with her favorite chicken, Agnes

During the past 16 years I’ve traveled the world in search of appropriate vacation choices for my readers. Although they have a wide range of tastes, preferences and budgets, my readers all have one thing in common; for the most part they are physically disabled — slow walkers to wheelchair-users.

Over the course of my travels I’ve seen a good number of accessible hotels, attractions, resorts, spas and even bus tours, but I’ve also discovered some unconventional accessible finds along the way. These are the things, that really made me step back and say “Wow, I can’t believe they made that accessible.” And although I keep adding to my wow list, here’s my current Top 10.

View of Yaquina Head Tidepools

Walkways lead to Yaquina Head tide pools

Yaquina Head tide pools

Located just three miles north of Newport, Ore., this Bureau of Reclamation project features barrier-free access on paved walkways down into the Quarry Cove tidepool area.


Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens

These gardens in Richmond, Va.,  feature a cool treehouse with ramped access to all areas. Think Swiss Family Robinson on steroids.

White Water Rafting

In Northern California, everyone can enjoy white water rafting on the American River, thanks to the folks at Environmental Traveling Companions. This San Francisco based company can accommodate wheelchair-users (even folks who use a power wheelchair) and slow walkers on their exciting white water rating trips.

Aerial view from Lake Powell (photo Wikipedia)

Lake Powell (photo Wikipedia)

Houseboating on Lake Powell

Forever Resorts  offers a wheelchair-accessible houseboat on Lake Powell, in Utah. You can rent the houseboat for a few days or a week. The accessible model features level boarding, a bathroom with a roll-in shower, an oversized master suite complete with a portable hoyer lift, elevator access to the top deck and a beach wheelchair.

C&O Canal Boat

Docked at the Great Falls Tavern, near Potomac, Md., the replica Charles F. Mercer canal boat features incline lift access to both decks and an accessible restroom on the lower deck. The canal boat is pulled along by mules and offers passengers a colorful look at 1870s canal life.

Baja Sport Fishing

Larry Cooper designed his En Caliente  sport fishing boat with access in mind. Docked in Los Barriles, Mexico, it features removable lockdowns, hoist access to the flying bridge and custom tackle designed for anglers of all abilities.

Wheelchair-accessible back country lean-tos at John Dillon Park

Accessible lean-tos at John Dillon Park

Adirondack Camping

John Dillon Park , near Tupper Lake in upstate New York, features wheelchair-accessible back country lean-tos.

African Safari

Endeavour Safaris  offers wheelchair-accessible safaris in a ramped Toyota Landcruiser, through Botswana, Namibia, Zambia, Mozambique and South Africa.

In a Cavern

Billed as America’s only ride through caverns, Fantastic Caverns  features ramped access to their tour vehicles. Just roll-on and enjoy this cool site near Springfield, Mo.

Bungy Jumping

If you want a little adventure, the folks at Taupo Bungy  in New Zealand can accommodate you. It takes very little adaptive equipment, but a whole lot of guts!

Thanks, Candy. The world of travel (and beyond) needs you and your advocacy work!

Sunsets: solar energy for the eyes

March 6, 2009

There are fans and critics of daylight saving time, which starts THIS weekend in the United States (go here to see DST rules worldwide), but I think we can agree that pretty much everyone loves a good sunset.  Here are a few of our favorites, all taken by Wessel:

The sky is on fire over Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Sky is on fire over the lesser-known side of Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Midnight sun as seen on the Lofoten, Norway

The ever-blazing midnight sun as seen on Norway's Lofoten islands in June

Sunset over marshy area connecten with Lake Gaston, VA

Diane's favorite colors combine in this stunning show near Lake Gaston, Va.

Heron during a PS sunset experience in Florida

A heron poses in the afterglow of a sunset over Cayo Costa State Park, Fla.

Roxy outshines her celestial competitor

Roxy outshines her celestial backdrop at Indian Rocks Beach, Fla.

Visiting where the eagles have landed

March 3, 2009

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published Feb. 1, 2009, in the Boston Globe)

Betty Gilman (right) and her daughter, Julianne, and son, Lou, at the Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.

From left, Julianne, Lou, and Betty Gilman at Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve.

WHO: Betty Gilman, 56, her son, Lou, 23, and daughter, Julianne, 17, of Burlington, Mass.

WHERE: Alaska.

WHEN: 10 days in July.

WHY: Years ago Gilman learned about the Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve, which protects the world’s largest concentration of bald eagles. “I promised myself I would see those beautiful creatures in person.”

FROM THE INSIDE: “I started learning a lot about the state,” said Gilman, who had never been on a cruise but realized that traveling the Inside Passage would be the best way to see the sights. She chose a Celebrity Millennium tour because it allowed plenty of time off the boat and included a trip to the preserve. While Gilman was fulfilling one of her dreams, it was with a touch of sadness. “My husband died two years ago and I realized that life is too short,” she said. “So we went to Italy last year and Alaska this year, two of the places I’ve always wanted to go. And I wanted to show my children, the world is at your feet.”

Julianne, Betty center, and Lou with the the Mendenhall Glacier in the background

Julianne, Betty, and Lou pose in front of the Mendenhall Glacier

CATCH, YOU CAN: They left from Vancouver, B.C., and first docked in Ketchikan. “It was a nice little place, and they all fish up there. The guide took us to spots where the salmon were jumping right out of water and eagles were just looking at them.” Just outside of Juneau, where they docked the second night, they visited Mendenhall Glacier. “You can just walk right up to it.” They were even more impressed by the Hubbard Glacier on the Inside Passage. “You cruise right up to it, and it’s making snap, crackle, and pop noises and pieces were constantly popping off.”

Bald eagles in the Chilkat Valley

Bald eagles in the Chilkat Valley

A THREE-HOUR TOUR: From their stop in Skagway, the Gilmans caught a boat to Haines, where the preserve has a visitors center, and then hopped a bus to the Chilkat Valley. “The skies just opened up and it was gorgeous. We had a three-hour tour with a Tlingit native on a boat along the Chilkat River. The eagles were flying and swooping and gazing at you from onshore. The natural beauty of this valley is just indescribable.”

The Ruth Glacier is like a huge river of ice

The Ruth Glacier is like a huge river of ice

PEAK EXPERIENCE: After traveling by boat for a week, the family took a three-day bus tour of Denali National Park. A highlight was taking a single-prop airplane tour out of Talkeetna to Mount McKinley, at 20,320 feet, the tallest mountain in North America. “We flew among all these peaks, alongside cliffs, through the clouds, and 400 feet above the Ruth Glacier, which is like a huge river of ice, with all these crevasses. We were dipping in and out, having a ball.”

Nova Scotia: big in beauty and size

February 5, 2009

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published Jan. 4, 2009, in the Boston Globe)

I haven’t been to Nova Scotia since my parents took me as a kid. This piece reminded me how it’s time to return, preferably on a bicycle!

Jane Killeen (left) and Robin Killeen at the colorful Tin Fish restaurant in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Jane Killeen (standing) and Robin Killeen at Tin Fish restaurant in Lunenburg

WHO: Sisters Jane Killeen, 60, of Lynnfield, Mass. and Robin Killeen, 54, of Kirkwood, Mo.

WHERE: Nova Scotia

WHEN: One week in July

WHY: “Robin and I live halfway across the country from each other so we try to connect once or twice a year,” Jane Killeen said. “We were both on a budget and wanted to stay closer to home, and everybody said Nova Scotia was so beautiful. At first I thought it was going to be pretty small, but we ended up driving 1,100 miles.”

Robin (left) and Jane loving the lobster at The Fish Factory in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia

Robin (left) and Jane loving the lobster at the Old Fish Factory in Lunenburg

LOBSTER LAND: From Killeen’s home north of Boston they drove to Portland and put her car on “The Cat,” the high-speed ferry to the southern tip of Nova Scotia. From there they drove north to Lunenburg, where Killeen had her “best lobster dinner ever” at the Old Fish Factory Restaurant. “Lunenburg is on a lovely harbor and is a World Heritage Site,” Killeen said.

Robin is ready for bicycle ride in Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia

Robin is geared up for the sisters' bicycle ride to Mahone Bay

PAINFULLY PICTURESQUE: From Lunenburg, they visited nearby Mahone Bay, where Killeen wanted to photograph the town’s row of three historic churches. “Robin is a big cyclist so we decided to rent bikes and ride the 10 miles there,” Killeen said. “Although I quickly got my bike legs going there, the way back was like pushing against concrete. Afterward I learned I was in the wrong gear.”

Jane (left) and Robin kayaking with guides Gordon and Mike Crimp (center) of Cape Breton Seacoast Adventures in Ingonish, Nova Scotia.

Jane (left) and Robin with kayaking guides Gordon and Mike Crimp of Cape Breton Seacoast Adventures in Ingonish

TO THE CAPE: An all-day drive got them to Ingonish on the lower side of Cape Breton and the Cabot Trail, the highway that hugs the coast. “The trail is a long, hilly, winding road that encircles the national park,” Killeen said. “It’s not as scary as they make it sound, but there were a few white-knuckle moments as we drove in thick fog. Without fog, it’s truly one of the most spectacular drives in the world. The whole time you’re on Cape Breton, you’re on the water. It’s very isolated, very pristine.”

OLD-TIME CHARM: They stayed at the Keltic Lodge Resort, on a cliff overlooking the sea. “It’s from the 1940s and just charming,” Killeen said. “The carpet is plaid and the staff wear kilts. At night there’s wonderful music. You could do things in the day, or just hang out in a lawn chair.” They took a three-hour kayak tour with a guide. “We started in shallow water and glided over oyster and clam beds. At night, it’s an activity just to look at the stars. We didn’t want to leave Cape Breton. On the way home, we were already talking about a return trip.”

A quintessential Western journey

January 28, 2009

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published Dec. 21, 2008, in the Boston Globe)

I went on an almost identical trip with my parents when I was around 11, but driving west from North Carolina. The grand Western scenery made a lasting impression.

Jeanne (left) and Harvey Hansen at the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon in Yellowstone National Park

Jeanne and Harvey Hansen at the Lower Falls of the Grand Canyon in Yellowstone National Park

WHO: Jeanne, 58, and Harvey Hansen, 61, of Arlington, Mass.

WHERE: Western United States.

WHEN: 11 days in June and July.

WHY: “We love seeing new states, and we’ve always wanted to see Yellowstone and Rushmore,” Jeanne Hansen said.

RODEO ROMANCE: The couple flew into Billings, Mont., and rented a car, which they put 1,300 miles on. In Cody, Wyo., where they stayed with friends, they had a pleasant surprise. “They took us to the rodeo, and at first we thought, whatever, we’ll go because it’s there. It’s every night in the summer. But it was really fun and it was quite interesting to experience another way of life. They involve children, and the riders showed a lot of skill and courage.”

BUSES, BISON, BEAR … : Only an hour away was Yellowstone National Park, where they stayed at the historic Lake Yellowstone Hotel. “There was a lovely dining room, but you have to make a reservation months in advance,” she said, and they missed out. They took two park tours, one exploring geysers and hot springs, including Old Faithful, and the other wildlife. “Last year they started using 1936-37 vintage buses for the tours, which was very cool. They draw a lot of attention.” The couple saw bison, bear, coyote, elk, and big horn sheep.

Panoramic view of the Grand Tetons

Panoramic view of the Grand Tetons

TWISTS AND TURNS: From Yellowstone they drove toward the Teton Mountains. “We went to Moose, [Wyo.], and had dinner at Dornan’s, a restaurant with a lot of windows where the Tetons are right in your face. They’re magnificent.” Snow left from last winter and miles of hairpin turns greeted them on Beartooth Highway heading out of Yellowstone. “You definitely need to be a good driver,” said Hansen, who let her husband take the wheel. “It’s exhausting. I think he even took an Excedrin afterward.” They stopped in Red Lodge, Mont., “a funky little town with lots of shops and restaurants. The flower baskets were magnificent.”

BADLANDS EFFECT: In Rapid City, S.D., they stayed at the historic Alex Johnson Hotel. “It was very pretty and reasonable.” The town near Mount Rushmore is erecting statues of all the US presidents. It’s also near Badlands National Park, which they visited. “The Badlands is so massive, and you feel like you’re on the moon. It was different from anything we’ve seen.”

RUSHMORE HIGHLIGHTS: The most thrilling point of the trip was watching fireworks explode over Mount Rushmore on July 3. “It’s a really big deal there. They have events all day. They drop the fireworks in by helicopter and they go off by a computerized system. We took a bus because there’s no parking. There were about 35,000 people up there. It was just spectacular, a real highlight, and a great way to end the trip.”


Capturing the spirit of the Wild West

November 28, 2008

Just before posting this year-old (but wonderful!) Where they Went column, Wessel looked up the traveling sisters online. We were shocked and saddened to see that Cynthia Soroos, the sister I interviewed, died on Sept. 29, 2008. From speaking with her and reading comments posted to a remembrance site, it’s clear to see that Cynthia led a full life and inspired others. May her loved ones find peace.

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(Published Nov. 18, 2007, in the Boston Globe)

This horseback trip is about as close to the American Wild West as you can get — except it was in Canada. While this was published in 2007 BB (before my blog), it’s a classic and one of my all-time favorites.

Cynthia Soroos rides a horse in the Yukon territory

Cynthia Soroos atop her trusty steed during camping trip in Yukon Territory

WHO: Cynthia Soroos, 32, of Cambridge, Mass., and her sister Sarah Soroos, 31, of Seattle.

WHERE: Yukon Territory, Canada.

WHEN: Two weeks in July.

WHY: “We usually go on a trip every year,” Cynthia Soroos said. “We like to do something different and some sort of outdoors or athletic activity. Sometimes you need to be scared and you need adventure.” The year before, they had been on a rafting and hiking trip in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. “This one was my idea. I found it by Googling around. I starting seeing horseback trips, then saw one in the Yukon. There’s where we have to go, I thought. It seemed so remote.”

Cynthia (left) and sister Sarah Soroos on top of a mountain in the Yukon Territory

Cynthia (left) and sister Sarah Soroos on top of a mountain in the Yukon Territory

JUMPING IN: Although neither sister had done much horseback riding, they chose the 13-day trip with Northern Wildlife Safaris over the six-day option. “My thought was, if we took the shorter one, by the time we figured it all out, we’d be finished,” Soroos said. “And the longer one allowed us to take days off. It’s a small outfitter, and we told them we didn’t have a lot of riding experience, but we’re OK with camping, and that was fine.”

Horses Atlan and Arkell are patiently waiting outside the tent.

Horses Atlan and Arkell are patiently waiting outside the tent.

PRIVATE TOUR: “We lucked out that there could have been three other people, but it was just us and the guide,” she said. With three saddle horses, two pack horses, and a dog, they traveled about 18 miles a day over mountain ranges between Whitehorse, the territory’s capital and largest city, and Kluane National Park. “It was very overwhelming in the beginning,” Soroos said. “We were both a little hesitant about what we were getting ourselves into.”

OPEN LAND: “Sometimes there were no trails; we’d go through rivers and bogs, and up and over mountains. Sometimes the grade was really steep and you’re just holding on for dear life.” Soroos wasn’t worried about grizzly bears because “when you have a big enough herd size, the grizzlies won’t attack, and we were a herd,” she said. “We saw some, but they were pretty far away.” They also saw a wolf, two foxes, caribou, and “lots and lots of Dall sheep. We were in mostly open space surrounded by rocky peaks. It was really quite spectacular.”

Horse Cody liked to nuzzle the tent. Throwing grass at him was effective for shooing him away, but he still managed to tear it.

Horse Cody liked to nuzzle the tent. The women would shoo him away, but he still managed to tear it.

RIDE, EAT, SLEEP: The trio would ride, usually at a brisk walking pace, about four or five hours a day before pitching tents for the evening. The women weren’t as sore as they’d expected to be. “Our shoulders hurt, but it was nothing compared to what everyone said it would be,” Soroos said. “We became much better riders by the end.” They would camp and cook their meals over an open fire. The meals started out fresh and went to dried and canned by the end of the trip. “Chris, the guide and owner, knew spots for camping, flat spots that had a water supply and grass for the horses.”

TRUE WILDERNESS: “It didn’t get dark until about 11, and the sunsets, the angle of the sun, were really beautiful. It was just golden and reflected off all the mountains,” Soroos said. “It was unnervingly quiet. It made you feel like you were finally away, away, away. There were no traces of people. That was the coolest.”

Where silence is seen and heard

July 22, 2008

Below is a profile I wrote about Gordon Hempton, the creator of One Square Inch of Silence in the Hoh Rain Forest at Olympic National Park in northwest Washington state.  It appears in the July/August of Ode Magazine, with photos by Wessel. The entire issue  is dedicated to silence and is well worth a read.

By Diane Daniel

Surrounded by towering Sitka spruce trees dripping with rain and bearded lichen, Gordon Hempton comes to a sudden halt, mud oozing out from the bottom of his tall rubber boots. He raises his right hand, points a gloved finger toward the gray sky and squints in the universal sign for “Listen!”

Gordon points up to listen

Gordon Hempton (left) points up to listen while Diane takes notes (Click to ENLARGE)

Hearing the chirp of a bird in the distance, I expect our unofficial park guide to identify another animal resident here in Olympic National Park, as he had earlier with the call of a Roosevelt elk.

“An intruder,” he whispers in a serious tone.

Gordon holds his sound meter

Gordon holds his sound meter

As Hempton whips out a hand-held sound meter from his bike messenger bag, I realize it’s not a birdsong but the drone of an airplane in the far distance that has brought him to attention.

“1:19,” he notes in an official voice, reporting the time while opening up the instrument that charts noise level on the decibel A scale, the easiest way to measure the weight of sound.

“Overpass duration: two minutes. 51 dBA, with a base of 42. That base is from birdsong and the river in the distance.”

The intrusion, he reports, is twice as loud as the natural sound, based on the logarithmic formula of decibels.

“I’m not going to do anything about it because it’s not in One Square Inch,” he adds.

Hempton is referring to our destination and his mission, a tiny spot in northwest Washington state that he has deemed One Square Inch of Silence. It is marked with a reddish rock and a “Jar of Quiet Thoughts” — visitors’ musings on what Hempton has declared to be “the quietest place in the United States.”

Although the claim is arguable, it is certainly plausible.

Hempton, a 55-year-old Washington-based natural sound documentarian and audio ecologist, is one of the world’s top sound recordists. He’s measured sound in hundreds of spots across the country and the world, and has witnessed, painfully, a sharp decline of spaces devoid of mechanized sounds.

Gordon's Emmy Award

Gordon's Emmy Award

“I don’t want the absence of sound, I want the absence of noise,” he says.
Hempton’s professional credits include radio and television documentaries, a collection of 53 natural-sound recordings, and an Emmy award for the 1992 PBS documentary “Vanishing Dawn Chorus.” Next spring Simon and Schuster’s Free Press will publish “One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Quest to Save Silence in a Noisy World,” a book Hempton is co-writing with journalist John Grossmann.

“The logic is simple,” explains Hempton, who lives in the tiny town of Joyce, two hours northwest of the park. “If noise can impact many square miles, then a natural place, if maintained in a noise-free condition, will also impact many square miles. When you defend one square inch, in today’s world you help manage, to some degree, thousands of miles.

Entrance of Olympic National Park

Entrance of Olympic National Park

“Olympic National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, an International Biosphere Reserve and a wilderness area. If we can’t save quiet here, don’t tell me we’re going to save it anywhere else.”

While Hempton keeps One Square Inch focused on Olympic National Park, he hopes others will pick up the mantle across the country and beyond.

Had today’s offender been heard at One Square Inch, some three miles east of the visitor’s center and about 50 yards off the Hoh River Trail, Hempton would have checked flight paths and airline schedules for the day and written a note asking the intruder to circumvent the park. (Only Alaska Airlines flies over regularly.)


On the road in Canada’s cowboy/girl country

February 22, 2008

I heart Calgary and Canmore. So far anyway. I’m in Canada for a travel-writing meeting in Banff (yes, it’s a tough life) and have several stories lined up, because that’s the way it’s done. Go one place and milk it for all its worth. (I really do work hard.)

Peaks of the Rocky Mountains as seen from Banff centerWednesday I landed in Calgary and headed for Canmore, with a quick detour to Banff. The drive was gorgeous.

Here are some first impressions.

A Welcome to Calgary host greeted us when we got off the plane. She was in her 70s, with a red and white understated cowgirl get-up and white cowgirl hat. I loved that! (In the US, I’m sure she’d be under 30 and showing cleavage.)

I felt left out because I was toting a skis in a bag.

The man at the Dollar rental car didn’t try to “upgrade” my economy car. This is a first!!! He did offer me extra insurance coverage and tank-fill-up option, but didn’t push either. This is a first!!!

Calgary has bicycle paths leading to the airport. Woo-hoo!

My little Toyota Yaris (like it a lot) comes with an ice scraper (of course) and an electrical plug-in to keep the battery heated (how heck do you use it?).

People here (including moi) are thrilled that the weather is in the 40s for a couple days after a frightening cold spell. Of course I saw a dude in shorts. The bad side of the warmth is it brings avalanches. Which makes me think of my seatmate on the plane from upstate New York. He’s with three buddies from Vermont and they’re off to ski downhill and backcountry for two weeks.

Road leading to Banff, AB, CanadaThe view driving from Calgary reminded me of Denver. Modern city with majestic mountain views in the distance.

You know how in places with harsh winters, cars get very, very dirty? Here, I’ve seen cars that are almost black with grime, so much so that I wonder how they can see out their windows.

Alberta has a great community radio station CKUA (93.7 FM), which was established in 1927.

On Highway 1A, the TransCanada Highway, I saw a fully loaded cyclist. (Not drunk, but laden with panniers.) Saw a couple racer dudes too. In February! Passed “Elk Crossing” signs but no elk in sight.

More on Banff and Canmore later. I gotta hit the slopes! (Nordic, that is.)

In the ‘other’ Rockies: snow and scones

January 21, 2008

“Where they Went” by Diane Daniel
(published Jan. 20, 2008, in the Boston Globe)

From Di’s eyes: I loved hearing about this trip to a place that’s been on my wish list for years. I am going to Calgary, Banff and Lake Louise next month, but I’d rather go in the summer, and attempt to cycle up Going-to-the-Sun Road! My favorite parts: Plain of Six Glaciers Teahouse (I’ve heard raves for years), Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump (because it’s fascinating and you can’t beat the name), the backwoods immigration border at Goat Haunt ranger station (amazing!), and the Prince of Wales Hotel (you gotta look at the photo). The other thing that is so cool is that finally newspapers, like my Boston Globe, will run a photo of a gay couple. This warms my heart!!

WHO: Ken Paulsen, 45, and David Valentine, 42, of Malden, Mass.

WHERE: Canada.

WHEN: 10 days in September.

WHY: “We’d both always wanted to go to the Canadian Rockies,” Paulsen said. “I love history. I’ve got a PhD in Canadian history, but my specialty is in Nova Scotia.”

the haystackMANY MILES: Although the couple doesn’t do a lot of hiking at home, they did plenty in Canada. “When I figured it all out, it was about 55 miles of hiking. I was surprised we didn’t feel more tired.” Paulsen mapped out the itinerary and made the reservations for five days in Banff National Park and two days at Waterton Lakes National Park, both in Alberta, followed by two days at Glacier National Park in Montana.

ROOM WITH A VIEW: They stayed at the historic Storm Mountain Lodge in Banff. “It’s an absolutely wonderful place, with 12 cabins from the 1920s and a wonderful restaurant,” Paulsen said. “All the food is organic, and the chef is absolutely fantastic. We were quite up high in a canyon, but overlooking it, between 5,000 and 6,000 feet up.”

HIKING HEAVEN: “We did a hike called the Johnston Canyon Trail, which turned out to be a classic hike, but I didn’t know that,” Paulsen said. Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House“You’re going up through a narrow gorge at the beginning and once you get out you’re in this absolutely beautiful mountain meadow with bubbling cold springs.” They also hiked to the famed Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House. “We had tea and scones and homemade bread made that morning. It was a great little break before we reached the glacier, at about 6,500 feet.”

BUFFALO SOLDIERS: On the way to Waterton, they stopped at Kootenay National Park and for a soak at the spring-fed pool in Radium Hot Springs as well as Head-Smashed-In Buffalo Jump, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. “They have a great interpretive center,” Paulsen said. “The First Nations, as they call Indians in Canada, would use that as a place to drive buffalo over the cliff. So there’s thousands of years worth of buffalo bones in the soil.”

BACKWOODS BORDER: In Waterton, part of the Waterton-Glacier International Peace Park, they stayed at the majestic Prince of Wales Hotel, dating from the 1920s. A 12-mile hike took the pair from Canada into the United States. “At the Goat Haunt ranger station, in the middle of the woods, we had to bring our passport. They can’t scan your passport; all they can do is look at it.” Most visitors to Goat Haunt arrive by ferry across Waterton Lake, which is how Paulsen and Valentine returned. They were always aware of bears. “There were campgrounds along the lake closed because of bears, and we saw fresh bear scat and clawed logs,” Paulsen said.

SUN TO SNOW: Going-to-the-Sun Road through Glacier National Park impressed Paulsen. “You’re starting out at the lake about 3,200 feet [up] and in 10 miles you’re at the top at 6,500 feet. Once you get to the part where it’s steep, there are cliffs above you, and cliffs below you, and it’s very narrow.” One hiking trail they took looked down on the road, “and with mountains soaring a couple thousand feet above. We were there for the first snow of the year, so when we were hiking, there was an inch or two of snow on the ground.”