Saturday, March 8, 2014

Winter: Done?

I love the snow.  I do.  More than anyone else I know, probably.  I'm not a huge fan of the cold - anything under 20-degrees can take a hike.  We had far too many sub-zero days.

I've come to the conclusion... I'm actually kind of ready for winter to be over now.  Kinda.

We've had what I would call a 'full winter' this year - it started late in November, and still lingers. Typically, January through early-March is when we see snow that sticks to the ground... but not a lot of it.  In the past many years, we've been conditioned to a comparably mild season... I even recall a March two years ago where the temps even hit 80-degrees.  I had to MOW MY LAWN!  In March!  I know!

Now I have plans this summer that require me to do more than purchase an airline ticket and pack my bags.  I have a vehicle to prep.  There is repair work to be done.  Maintenance work to be completed.  In addition to that, there are things I want to create to make the journey more comfortable - screens for the rear windows of the Jeep, for one.  All of these things require work to be done outside.  I'm all gung-ho to get going... and I am not especially happy about having to sit on my hands and wait around for Mother Nature to decide which phase of her hot flash she's in.  I know there's not much I can do to change that, however.

So while I wait, there is an ever-growing to-do list... which sees additions daily.  I'm looking forward to checking some of those things off the list.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

NPS Savings

Intermittent planning stages for the upcoming Oregon/Washington trip has me looking at National Parks.

This is a point of interest, particularly in on my travels west on US Route 20 where the road travels through Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming.  The road is called something entirely different while within the park, but it's essentially the same road - Route 20 on the east and west sides of the park.































So I've been researching other parks in and around the areas I'll be traveling and staying.  Mostly, to research whether or not the NPS's Interagency Annual Pass - essentially, the 'all-parks, all the time' pass - would be the way to go vs. paying the entry fee on a per park basis.  At first, I looked into the fees at a few of the western US parks I was interested.  Most fees for week-long access are $10/vehicle.  Perfectly doable.  I couldn't see spending the $80 on the year pass...

Until I researched the fee for coming through Yellowstone on the way west, and Glacier on the way home - each are $25 per vehicle.  Now I'm up to $50 for just those two parks alone... not to mention all the other smaller parks along the way that I might like to check out while I'm hanging out on the left-hand side of the country.  We're talking Grand Tetons (WY),  Craters of the Moon (ID), Crater Lake (OR),  Lewis & Clark (OR), Olympic (WA), and North Cascades (WA).

So, now I'm thinking the yearly, all-parks pass might just be the way to go.

That, and if I play my cards right, I could mail the pass home to Aaron before he leaves the Chicago area on his bike to come west... and he could get through Glacier at no additional cost (giving him back 175ish miles worth of extra fuel money).

I guess it makes more sense now.