Favorite Destinations: Lakes Edition

For the second installment of my Favorite Destinations series, I present to you my favorite lakes. This ended up being a pretty varied list; these lakes are located all over the US and are all different colors, shapes, and sizes. Some are in National Parks and some are not. Some require hiking and some are easily viewed from the road. But all of them stand out to me in some way.

Crater Lake, Oregon
As the deepest lake in the US and one of the clearest in the world, I don’t see how I could make this list without including Crater Lake. It addition, it’s gorgeous, located in the crater of a volcano, and when I visited we hiked down to the lake, took a boat ride around it, and climbed the island in the center of it.

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Exploring Connecticut’s State Parks

My first summer in CT, I learned an important lesson: grad students don’t really get a summer. Sure, we aren’t taking classes…but there’s still plenty of work to be done. Science doesn’t do itself.

Fortunately, I was still very early on in my grad school career so I did at least manage to have some free time most weekends. And my advisor gave us each a couple weeks of vacation time.

With weekend sunshine and my family 2,300 miles away, I assembled a new hiking crew: the fellow grad students in my lab. Over the course of the summer, we visited quite a few local state parks. Here is a little bit of information about each one.

1. Devil’s Hopyard State Park – East Haddam, CT
This park has a somewhat ominous name that perhaps paints a misleading picture. In reality, the main attraction here is Chapman Falls, located on the Eightmile River. The falls used to power an old mill, and a former landowner used to grow hops in the area, hence the hopyard part of the name. There are multiple theories as to the origin of the devil portion of the name.

Chapman Falls tumbles about 60 feet and can be seen with just a short hike. We continued on the orange-blazed trail out to Vista Point Cliff for some views. Continue reading

Happy 150th Anniversary to Canada!

July 1st marks the 150th anniversary of the Confederation of Canada. To celebrate, among other things, admission to all Canadian National Parks is free for 2017. And to celebrate here on Handstands Around the World, I’ve put together a list of my favorite Parks Canada sites.

This is also conveniently my 100th post! I’m always happy for an excuse to make a list, and this seems a very appropriate time to do so.

Banff National Park, Alberta
My very first memories of visiting Canada are from Banff. We actually went to Waterton Lakes first, but aside from the fact that the wind bent our tent poles, I don’t remember anything. However, the rugged beauty of Banff was definitely imprinted in my mind. I’ve been back once since then and I can’t wait to return someday soon. The scenery is just so incredible and there’s so much of the park that I haven’t had a chance to explore. Continue reading

How To: not be a jerk while camping

I’ve been thinking for a while now that I should mix things up a bit on here. While I never tire of talking about my adventures, I’m sure you all tire of reading about them at times. And over the years, I’ve gained more than just photos from my outdoor experiences. I’ve gained knowledge.

So I’ve decided to start a “How To” series of posts and intersperse them amongst my regular writings. Each will focus on a specific outdoors-related topic.

I started to write up a whole thing about avoiding bear encounters, but in light of my recent weekend camping experience I’ve decided to save that one for a later date.

Pat and I just got back from enjoying our 3-day weekend, and though by no means a horrible camping experience, the people camped next to us were idiots and it got me thinking about some of the other annoying idiots I’ve encountered at campgrounds in recent years. I don’t know if it’s a regional thing or just the sign of changing times, but I went camping all throughout my childhood and I really don’t remember people being so inconsiderate.

So for my first “How To” post, I’ve put together a list of things that should be common sense – but apparently aren’t – and that will make everyone’s camping experiences more enjoyable. Continue reading

Places I Never Thought I’d Go

Does this ever happen to you? You’re traveling and you end up somewhere you never in a million years thought you’d go? I’m not talking about planned destinations. Like Prince Edward Island, for example. Or Nova Scotia. Those were definitely places that weren’t even on our radar before I moved out east, but when we did visit them, it was entirely planned. (More on those at a later date.)

What I’m talking about is when you end up in random places that you never planned to visit. It definitely happens to my family and me from time to time. We usually pause, look at each other, and say something along the lines of, “who’d have thought we’d ever be in [this location]?”

For example: Roswell, New Mexico. We didn’t stop here; we merely drove through on our way from Four Corners to Carlsbad Caverns. Nevertheless, it’s a place I never thought I’d see.  Continue reading

Diana’s Best of 2016

2016 was a rough year. I think we can all pretty much agree on that. Nasty politics, violence, and the deaths of our favorite celebrities ruled the news. But rather than focus on the bad, I thought I’d finish off the year with a list of my favorite 2016 adventures. Here are this year’s top five:

1. Seeing the most adorable pandas ever at the San Diego Zoo

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Happy Birthday to the National Park Service!

In honor of the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service, I’ve put together a list of my favorite National Park Service sites:


#1: Glacier National Park, MTdscn7824.jpgI’m probably always going to be biased towards my home state, but I think just about anyone would agree with me that Glacier is one of the most beautiful places in the country. How can you top big blue skies, crystal clear waters, rugged mountains, and powerful glaciers? Not to mention the thousands of wildflowers, hundreds of miles of hiking trails, and the largest grizzly bear population in the Lower 48. Glacier has been dubbed the Crown of the Continent, due to both its ecological importance and its natural beauty, and I can’t think of a more accurate nickname for such a special place.

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