I love planning trips. My wonderful husband, Andy, gets a giant kick out of teasing me that I enjoy the process of planning more than the actual trip (which might be just a tiny, itty bit true). We love to move, to see, to do, to visit, to explore. It's something of a ritual of ours to make a point to get out of town at least every three months on tiny vacays, and we usually try to take a big road haul of a vacation once a year. In February of last year, that big trip was Yellowstone, and I was fortunate enough to revisit my beloved España a couple of months later. Fall is our favorite season, and in September 2009 we drove fourteen hours from Portland to Alberta, Canada to visit Banff, Jasper and Yoho National Parks. We spent a week backpacking in Olympic National Park in 2008. Five years ago (2007 if you're counting), Andy proposed to me on the last day of a ten day driving tour of Alaska. And scattered in between and before those years were random ski and hiking trips to Powder Mountain in Utah and Grand Targhee in Wyoming. 

Jackson Lake, Grand Teton NP (photo courtesy of Andrew J. Park)
2009 Targhee ski car (what my car looks like all winter)

Among our most memorable incidents include a torturous, 35-45 mph crawl back from Arches National Park to Eden, Utah, courtesy of a freak snow storm [insert unexpected blizzard here]. 

Watching Andy ski/soar into the parking lot at Pow Mow, just barely missing another person's car on his way to greeting pavement (<= this was NOT a planned stunt/event). According to the shuttle bus guy, happens every year there. So, park your car accordingly. 

Bighorn rams grazing not ten feet away on Wilcox Pass in Jasper. 

(photo courtesy of Andrew J. Park)

A twenty-six inch powder dump and cat skiing at Pow Mow. Wasatch powder is simply epic

skiing the sugar at Pow Mow (photo by AJP)

Yellowstone & Spain belong in categories to themselves. 

The Denali wildlife, the gold and red of the tundra in fall, the wide-open vast expanse that is Alaska.  

The Alaska Range from Polychrome Pass, Denali NP (photo courtesy of Andrew J. Park)

Denali griz

The sheer, unique beauty of the temperate rainforest in the Olympics, and the bones of old growth giants bleached and raw on its wilderness coastline. 

giant cedar near Pyrites Creek, Olympic NP (photo by AJP)

the trail to Enchanted Valley

Hole-in-the-Wall at low tide

Hiking the Continental Divide in Banff's Sunshine Meadows

Rockpile Lake in Sunshine Meadows

I noticed the other day that I've been biking more lately (meaning training for Reach the Beach sucked down my available hiking/blow off school homework hours), and I haven't been on the trail since April Fool's. It's been a hell quarter; I want to believe I've made it over the hump of this fifteen month program, but I'm not so sure that is actually true. So, it makes sense, that withdrawal for setting out away from Portland, for any sense of exploration, for the wild world, is rearing its ugly head.

One week until finals.