Tag Archives: National Parks

Weekly Photo Challenge: Unfocused

Þingvellir National Park, Iceland

It was getting late when we arrived Þingvellir and although the sun was poking through again the light was beginning to fade on the site of the historic Icelandic National Assembly that was set up in 930 and remains the spiritual home of Iceland.  There were few visitors and the site had an eerie beauty, ringed by mountains with deep lava chasms, cobalt rocks and water falls with impatient water cascading down the black boulders and shattering into a thousand droplets of fine mist as it collided with the unforgiving rocks.

On 17th June 1944 thousands of Icelanders flocked to this place for the historic foundation of the modern independent republic of Iceland.  We walked past great fissures in the landscape, the famous Almannagjá is the biggest of them, and is evidence that here the tectonic plates of Europe and America meet and are in continual conflict as they are drifting slowly apart.

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Coach Trip – USA National Parks, Zion National Park and a Nuclear Test Site

Zion

We left Kanab this morning and drove northwards again along Kanab Creek until we turned west at a junction of the road and joined West State Highway 9 on the route to Zion National Park.  We were climbing again and there were some twists and turns in the road that gave good views over the mountainous plateau that we were ascending.  We followed Pine Creek, which gave a welcome slash of verdant green slicing through the rocks and mountains that was otherwise al

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Coach Trip – USA National Parks, Bryce Canyon a Horse Ride and a Wild West Show

Bryce Canyon

A late start again today because the day ahead was not that demanding in respect of travel and we were visiting the Bryce Canyon National Park, which wasn’t too far away.  After breakfast we joined the coach and we pulled out of Kanab and headed due north.  For a few miles we followed Kanab Creek before we branched off and the road followed the East Fork Virgin River, which was in a narrow lush green valley that was in total contrast to the arid wilderness on either side of it.

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Coach Trip – USA National Parks, Lake Powell and Kanab

Lake Powell

After breakfast and check out we returned to the South Rim Visitor Centre to spend some more time at the Canyon to see it in the daylight.  It was a bit of a disappointment therefore that the weather was slightly overcast and without the stimulating sunlight to create shadows and contrasts this seemed to leech the colours and the life from the rocks.

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Coach Trip – USA National Parks, Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon

Monument Valley

It was another early start today and so early that it was still dark when we checked out and boarded the coach because there was a lot of travelling ahead as we headed west to Arizona and the Grand Canyon.  Our first stop today was at the Four Corners monument where four States meet at one intersection and it is possible to be in all of them at the same time by standing in two and reaching down and touching the others.  To get there we drove across a featureless landscape where distant mountains stood like islands in an ocean of desert and through a landscape scoured by erosion, a skeletal land stripped of all but the most minimal vegetation.

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Coach Trip – USA National Parks, Arches

Arches National Park

Today at the start of the second week of our holiday we were driving towards Southeast Utah which is part of the arid rocky expanse of the Colorado Plateau and is an area of land that is dissected by the immense canyons of the Colorado River and a high desert region that can experience wide temperature fluctuations, sometimes over forty degrees in a single day.  Summer temperatures often exceed one hundred Fahrenheit, making the region a bit uncomfortable I imagine, so we were pleased to be here in October on a very pleasant sunny day with a big blue sky and a perfect temperature.

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Coach Trip – USA National Parks, Yellowstone Park and Good Advice on Meeting a Grizzly Bear

Yellowstone Grizzly

There was only a one-night stay in Cody so we didn’t get too comfortable or completely unpack our bags because after breakfast this morning we were quickly back on the coach for the eighty-kilometre journey into Yellowstone Park.

Yellowstone was designated as a National Park in 1872 when President Ulysses S Grant signed a new law ordering ‘the tract of land lying near the headwaters of the Yellowstone River to be set apart as a public park’ and in so doing Yellowstone became the first National Park in the USA and indeed the world.

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Coach Trip – USA National Parks, Mount Rushmore

Mount Rushmore

We didn’t get to see the best of the Quality Inn, to enjoy the swimming pool or the bars because there simply wasn’t enough time and in the morning after our first generous American breakfast in the dining room we met our tour guide and were pretty quickly loaded back on to the bus and sped away from the city on Interstate 90 and then Highway 16 towards the famous Black Hills of Dakota.

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Coach Trip – USA National Parks, Minneapolis and Rapid City

Minnesota

I visited the National Parks of the United States of America (not all of them of course) on a coach trip holiday with my parents and brother Richard in 1995.

Mum and Dad liked to travel and generously invited us to accompany them on a Travelsphere coach trip holiday to the mid-west mountain states of the USA on a journey that would start more or less at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming and finish at the Grand Canyon in Colorado. That is the sort of invitation that his hard to turn down so we explained things to our families, packed our cowboy gear and our denims, changed some sterling for dollars and set off in search of the old Wild West.

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