Category Nature

GSMNP Little River - photo by Julie Dodd

River views in Great Smoky Mountains National Park

The sun was shining as we hiked the Little River Trail in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park on a cool fall day in a time before Covid-19. We carried tripods so we could try some slow motion water photos. Stepping from rock to rock, we walked out into the river. We set up our […]

National Public Lands Day logo

National Public Lands Day and every day — hike safely

National Public Lands Day, on Sept. 26, is one of the five days when admission to national parks is free. Thousands of people will be in the parks on National Public Lands Day and millions will be in the parks this year to enjoy nature and perhaps look for a boost in spirit in the […]

Portland Japanese Garden Peace Lantern - photo by Julie Dodd

Tranquility of Portland Japanese Garden

Join me in a peaceful stroll through the Portland Japanese Garden, located in the hilltops overlooking Portland, Oregon. I toured the Garden last summer and thought you might enjoy the calmness of these garden views that I photographed. The Portland Japanese Garden is 12 acres and contains eight different styles of gardens. The idea for […]

Clingsman Dome in GSMNP

Enjoy and support our national parks

The Fourth of July is a time for those of us living in the United States to think about what makes this country special. The 62 national parks certainly are one of the country’s greatest treasures. I was fortunate to grow up less than an hour’s drive to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Hiking […]

Alum Cave At-Home Adventure finisher medal

Virtual hike to Mt. Le Conte in 2020 due to Covid-19

I’m taking a different approach to hiking to Mt. Le Conte this year because of Covid-19. Usually, I drive more than 500 miles to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, spend a few days in Gatlinburg, and then put on my hiking boots and hike to Mt. Le Conte, the third highest peak in the […]

View from Sant Jeroni - photo by Julie Dodd

Hike to Sant Jeroni at Montserrat, Catalonia, Spain

A year ago almost to the day, friends and I hiked to Sant Jeroni – the highest peak (4,055 feet) in the Montserrat Natural Park in Catalonia, Spain. The park surrounds Montserrat Monastery, which is built into a mountain-side about an hour train ride from Barcelona. The monastery was founded in the 11th century, and […]

Timberline Lodge - photo by Julie Dodd

Timberline Lodge — National Historic Landmark

Hiking at Mt. Hood, the highest mountain in Oregon, was an exciting adventure, with the varied beauty of hiking on a sunny blue day with the snow-capped peak visible and of hiking on another day in the clouds, when Mt. Hood couldn’t be seen. Experiencing Timberline Lodge, at the base of Mt. Hood, was intriguing, […]

Mount Hood and Magic Mile ski lift

Hiking at Mt. Hood

If you’ve spent time involved in activities in nature, like hiking or boating, you know how the “same” nature experience can be so different from one day to the next and even from one minute to the next. The wind shifts, a storm front passes through, the day goes from sunlight to dusk to darkness. […]

lavender bike and lavender

Willamette Valley Lavender Festival

The Willamette Valley Lavender Festival was a treat for the senses with fields of purples and a range of fragrances. The two-day event (the second weekend in July each year) included more than a dozen lavender farms near Portland that were open to the public. At Mountainside Lavender Farm, the fields of lavender stretched for […]

hikers at Alum Cave

National Park hiking tips

A recent trip to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park was a wonderful time of hiking and enjoying nature. I first started hiking in the Smokies with my parents and had my first camping experiences and backpacking trip with my Girl Scout troop. My time on the trails and in the Sugarlands Visitor Center on […]