Silver Falls State Park

Earlier this month we drove down to Salem, Oregon to visit my friend Erin (a classmate at the LSE) and her husband, David. We took a break from eating delicious food and drinking beer to visit Silver Falls State Park. As you might have guessed from the name, this park has a lot of waterfalls. If you are ever in the area, it is definitely worth stopping here. Just make sure you bring some rain gear!

More photos here.

Snowshoeing at the Snoqualmie Summit Nordic Center

A few weekends ago we went snowshoeing at the Summit at Snoqualmie Nordic Center located about an hour’s drive from Seattle. It was our first time snowshoeing and we loved it; the snow-covered Cascades were incredibly beautiful and it was nice to get out and exercise despite the sub-optimal weather. In fact we enjoyed it so much that we ordered snowshoes shortly after returning from our trip.

Here are a few photos from that trip…

At the start of the black diamond section of the trail. It was pretty tiring.

The snow was a bit deep 🙂

Keechelus Lake

After snowshoeing for six miles we were pretty tired and hungry, despite consuming a bunch of Clif bars, so we stopped at Snoqualmie Falls Brewing to replace all those burned calories with beer and “super” nachos:

The rest of the photos are here.

Yellowstone National Park, Part I

During our 3,000 mile drive from Washington, DC to Seattle, we stopped in Yellowstone National Park for several days. It was my first visit to Yellowstone, and yes, it truly is deserving of its reputation – an incredibly beautiful area of our country.

Prior to arriving in Yellowstone, however, we purchased some bear deterrent. I had no idea this stuff existed, but I received an email from my mom insisting that we purchase some because a hiker had recently been killed by a grizzly bear in the park. While we were in Denver we stopped at REI and picked up a can of “Counter Assault Bear Deterrent”. At $46 it was a bit pricey, but better safe than sorry, I suppose.

Counter Assault Bear Deterrent Spray

On our way to Yellowstone from Rock Springs, Wyoming (about a 5 hour drive) we drove through Grand Teton National Park:

Beautiful, no? And this is just the beginning…

Our first stop in Yellowstone was the Grant Village Campground, where we would be staying for two nights. After quickly setting up our tent, we set out to explore the park. We only had a little over a day and a half in Yellowstone (not nearly enough time if you want to do any substantial sightseeing), so we tried to see as much as possible. Our first stop was the Upper Geyser Basin, where Old Faithful is located.

The park built these wooden walkways so you can walk around the basin and view the geysers up close. These visitors were caught by surprise when the geyser closest to them started erupting.

And, of course, the main attraction, Old Faithful. Instead of fighting the rest of the tourists for a spot on the benches in front of Old Faithful, we opted to watch it from a viewpoint in the middle of the Geyser Basin:

We continued onward to the Midway Geyser Basin. This basin’s Excelsior Geyser pool discharges 4,000 to 4,500 gallons of 199°F water per minute into the Firehole River.

There are over 3,000 bison in Yellowstone National Park. Here is one we spotted off in the distance:

Geothermal activity is everywhere:

We were also lucky enough to spot a grizzly bear from the safety of our car. Unfortunately, the photo isn’t that good, but it was still cool to see one in the wild:

Yes, I took a photo of every bison we came across:

Our final stop during our first day at Yellowstone was Mammoth Hot Springs:

And one last bison spotting before nightfall:

That night we arrived back at our campsite around 10pm (Yellowstone is HUGE!). The temperature dropped to 39°F which I definitely was not prepared for, so I didn’t sleep very well. Lesson learned: I need to purchase a much, much warmer sleeping bag…or just stick to camping at the beach in the summertime. 😉

Shenandoah National Park & Skyline Drive

Every fall, thousands of Washingtonians hop in their cars and drive the two hours to Shenandoah National Park to view the colorful trees that envelope Skyline Drive, the 105 mile road that runs the entire length of the park. Most of these visitors rarely venture out of their cars, only stopping to snap the occasional photo, so the park’s trails remain relatively quiet. We arrived at the park one Saturday afternoon in October, and since we only had a few hours left until sunset, we settled on hiking the Snead Farm Trail, an easy 3.2 miles that loops through the forest and abandoned farmland. Below are some photos from the hike as well as Skyline Drive.

American pose 😉

The barn on Snead farm

More photos of Skyline Drive.

North Korea: The Streets of Kaesong

Random photos taken while driving through Kaesong. Compared to the showcase city of Pyongyang, Kaesong has rougher roads and much poorer infrastructure.

No traffic girls like Pyongyang. All the officers were men.

Obligatory Kim Il-Sung statue

More Kim Il-Sung

And more…

Even more…

Outside Kaesong

More photos here.