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Death Valley in Summer – crazy or awesome? Stay tuned!

Death Valley in Summer – crazy or awesome? Stay tuned!

At 8pm as I type this, the temperature at Furnace Creek in Death Valley is 100F with 5% humidity. The overnight low is 80, and the high tomorrow is 113. So why then, would we want to visit mid-August?

1. Timing – off season there are less crowds. cheaper rooms, and more vast desert to yourself. The night is also warm for exploring – just be aware of wildlife you may encounter!
2. High elevations – won’t be as hot, so you can explore there during the day!
3. The hottest place in the US. Who wouldn’t want to experience it, for a minute or two?

Check back next week as we review our whirlwind weekend trip from Vegas to Los Angeles, visiting 4 NPS sites along the way!

National Mall and Memorial Parks – so many stamps!

National Mall and Memorial Parks – so many stamps!

Last week I had the chance to visit DC, 11 years after I first lived in the area, and 9 after I left. It was the week leading up to Memorial Day, so the city was bustling with school field trips, tourists, and of course, workers in suits. The stage was set for the annual PBS Memorial Day concert on the Capitol Lawn (filmed Sunday evening, dress rehearsal Saturday). The summer heat suddenly appeared after weeks of cold rain, with daytime temperatures in the mid 80’s, but thankfully – no humidity. Summer gets pretty muggy, which is why the spring and fall seasons are so popular. Winter can be beautiful, especially the peace and calm right after a snow storm, but it’s really only accessible if you are staying downtown. Roads and the metro are a nightmare for a while after snow.

Korean War Memorial
The Korean War Memorial
Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Wall
Vietnam Veterans War Memorial Wall

 

 

 

 

 

 

Walking along the National Mall was one of my favorite activities on a day off.  It is such a peaceful green space in the midst of a busy city, with so many monuments to visit. Back in 2005/2006, the Washington Monument was closed for renovations. It reopened in 2007 just before I moved away. It’s a wonderful, extremely popular, view of the National Mall and monuments. Timed entry tickets are FREE the day of so get to the visitor center by 8:30am daily to try to get one, or you can pay a fee to reserve online in advance (limited supply here).

Washington Monument western view
The view from the west windows of the Washington Monument

Many of the National Mall and Memorial Parks passport stamps can be found at the Washington Monument bookstore, which is not attached to the actual monument but on the east side. Other bigger memorials (Jefferson, Lincoln) that have gift shops will also have a passport cancellation on site. For me, I was thankful for the trove of stamps at the Washington Monument bookstore. I had visited all of these sites in DC well before I bought my first passport book, and due to my limited time this visit, I knew I wouldn’t be able to get to each monument for the stamps.

Getting to the National Mall is easy by metro, if you are willing to walk a little bit. Take the red line to Farragut North or Metro Center and walk in from the White House, take the Orange/Silver/Blue Line to Smithsonian, Federal Triangle or even Foggy Bottom, or the Green/Yellow line to L’Enfant Plaza.

Summer events at Cabrillo National Monument!

Summer events at Cabrillo National Monument!

In celebration of the NPS centennial, Cabrillo National Monument in San Diego is hosting special events all summer, in partnership with the Cabrillo National Monument Foundation (CNMF) and Cabrillo National Monument Conservancy (CNMC).  Many of these events are after-hours and extremely special, since the park normally closes at 5pm.  Visitors have a chance to experience sunset from the park, one of the best vantage points of San Diego (in my opinion).

  • Extended hours on Memorial Day, Monday May 30th.  12pm-8pm.  Check out the Open Bunker Day and a special Ranger guided sunset walk!
  • Sunset Yoga in the Park, sponsored by the Cabrillo National Monument Conservancy. Join Cabrillo’s resident yoga instructor for an all-levels sunset yoga classes overlooking the beautiful Pacific Ocean.
    • When:  Saturday June 18th and August 20th, from 6pm-8pm.
    • Please bring: Mat, Towel, Water, & Ticket for Entry.
    • Cost: $30. A portion of event proceeds will be donated back to the park to further expand programs that foster unique visitor connections with the natural environment.
  • Celebrate the 4th of July at Above the Fireworks at Cabrillo National Monument 2016.
    • Cost is $50 per vehicle (with up to 10 occupants).  Tickets are limited so get yours today!
    • What to bring:  Low-profile chairs, Flashlights, Sweatshirt or Blanket
    • Check-in 6pm – 8pm, no late check-ins will be admitted
    • Tickets are non-refundable
    • Picnics are encouraged, but alcohol is not allowed. Cabrillo National Monument policy is a smoke-free and trash-free park (whatever you pack in, you pack out) and no dogs are allowed.
Fireworks over the San Diego bay from Point Loma
This is during the winter boat parade, but the view will be similar with two more areas of fireworks.
  • Full Moon walks, available free to members and guests of Cabrillo National Monument Foundation (June 20) and Cabrillo National Monument Conservancy (August 18, September 16, November 14).  There are perks to joining the organizations – first and foremost, helping support San Diego’s only National Park!

    Taken in January 2012, this rare view of the moon rising over downtown is visible from Cabrillo National Monument during special events.
    Taken in January 2012 from Point Loma, this rare view of the moon rising over downtown is visible from Cabrillo National Monument during special events.
  • Fee free days – August 25-28, in celebration of NPS 100th birthday!
  • August 25th is also Lighthouse open tower day – the 2nd of the 3 days per year where guests can explore the Old Point Loma Lighthouse all the way to the top!

    View inside the Old Point Loma lighthouse tower at sunset
    The tower is only completely open 3 days per year

Hope to see you at an event!