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Portugal, 2017: Lost on a Layover in Lisbon

It's a strange feeling stepping off a plane into a place you have no knowledge of and even less of an idea of where to go.  I had not planned for Lisbon, though I knew I would be having an eight hour layover in the Portuguese capitol, I was woefully under-researched on where to go or what to see.  I often prefer this method of wandering, walking into a new place and figuring it out as I go, but Lisbon presented an entirely new challenge for me, in that I didn't even know the language or understand anything beyond the fact that it was a city and that I had time.

Upstate New York, 2017: You Can’t Always Go Home

I grew up all over the place.  As the son of a University Professor, I've often likened my experience growing up to that of a so-called army-brat.  From 5th grade through 9th grade, I was in a different school each year.  Friends came and went, and the only constant was my family.  It drew us together, but it made it hard for me to think of a specific place as home.  Home became the place where I was surrounded by my loved ones, not a single location, or a house where I grew up, and it was this feeling that instilled in me the wanderlust that has permeated my life ever since.  I've become accustomed to movement, grow restless with stasis, and chase change wherever I can find it.

New York City, 2017: Sleep Deprived in the City That Never Sleeps

When I first set out in April of 2017 on my pilgrimage through Europe, I didn't really know where the journey would lead me.  I had planned minimally, knowing barely more than my general route and a smattering of language learned through an app on my phone, enough, in my mind, to get me by for three months in a foreign land.  I left my home in Washington state with a series of targets, more than any specific goal, but before I could go forward into that unknown world, I first had to go back, to the home I'd once known, the great city of New York.

100 Days of National Parks: Day 63 – Storm Shadow – Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Rising up above the valley floor outside of Cortez Colorado onto the towering bluff of Mesa Verde, it's easy to get distracted by the view of the southern Rockies to the northeast. The towering snow-covered peaks beckon, trying to pull wanderers like myself deeper into their midst. Climbing up the winding road into Mesa Verde at sunrise, I found my gaze continuously drawn to the amazing sunrise, and the looming shadow of a late spring storm descending on the mountains. It was one of the most spectacular vistas I've ever come across, and as a result, I arrived at my intended destination far later than I'd planned.

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100 Days of National Parks: Day 62 – On Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park

On Moro Rock

Sitting on top of Moro Rock, in Sequoia National Park, it's impossible not to let your mind drift as you enjoy one of the best views in the park, and one of the best overlooks of the Sierra Nevada Mountains that I've ever come across. Unimpeded by trees or ground cover, the view from Moro Rock offers an expansive clear view of the peaks of the High Sierra to the east, crowned by Mt. Whitney, the highest mountain in the continental U.S., all the way to to the rolling foothills and expansive farmlands of the central valley. It's rare that you can find such a pristine overlook, such a clear view of some of the most amazing landscapes the country has to offer. It's even rarer to have the experience to yourself.

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100 Days of National Parks: Day 61 – Morning Beneath the Patriarchs, Zion National Park

Morning beneath the Patriarchs

One of the benefits in becoming as familiar with Zion National Park as I have become over the past half decade is the fact that I can go to the park and not feel the need to constantly chase new sights or places I haven't seen. On my last real trip to the park in November of 2014, I spent two weeks hiking familiar and unfamiliar trails and generally wandering the park freely, as the winter chill had emptied the park of most of its crowds, allowing me the peace of exploring at my own pace in my own manner.

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100 Days of National Parks: Day 60 – Upper Royal Basin, Olympic National Park

Upper Royal Lake Basin

One of the things I love the most about Olympic National Park is the remoteness of its most stunning attractions. With the vast majority of the park designated as a wilderness area, with no roads or easy access routes into the interior, the park courts exploration and wandering, and doesn't make it easy on intrepid hikers to get back and find the amazing places hidden in the depths of its forests and mountains.

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100 Days of National Parks: Day 59 – Wandering Stones, Death Valley National Park

Wandering Stones

Racetrack Playa in Death Valley is one of those places that make you realize how strange and mysterious the world can actually be. Walking along the cracked and dry lake bed, miles and miles from the nearest civilization, you come across strange, serpentine tracks left in the dry mud. Following these tracks bring you to the infamous "Wandering Stones" of the Racetrack, and the reason the playa received its name. These stones, some too heavy to lift, slide along the valley floor for reasons that, until recently, were a complete mystery to scientists and casual visitors to the area. While it's now known that these strange tracks are created by periods of freezing and thawing of winter water cover, which buoys the stones along, dragging long furrows in the muddy ground, walking through this desolate and remote section of Death Valley is still one of the stranger experiences you can find in any National Park.

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100 Days of National Parks: Day 58 – Deer Beneath Lembert Dome, Yosemite National Park

Deer Beneath Lembert Dome

Sometimes it's as much the places you stop that are as important as the places you go. When traveling, I cherish finding those campgrounds that reward you for staying there, where the beauty that greets you in the morning as you crawl out of your tent sets the stage for the explorations to come. There are a few that are consistent g0-to places for me whenever I travel, the Fruita Campground in Capitol Reef, South Campground in Zion, and the Lodgepole Campground in Sequoia, for example, each of which offer amazing access to the best their parks have to offer combined with awesome natural beauty in camp itself. However, in all my travels, I've never found a campground that offers a better morning wakeup than the Tuolumne Meadows Campground in Yosemite National Park.

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100 Days of National Parks: Day 57 – Delicate Arch, Arches National Park

There are many reasons in my time as a photographer that I've had to sit and wait for a shot to materialize. It could be waiting for the right lighting, or for an animal to turn its head, or snapping away at a particularly large panorama, aligning each shot over the course of an hour to make sure it all lines up in the edit. Then there are those times when you simply know that you're in a special place, one that is so popular that the people flock to it en masse, and all you can do is sit and wait patiently for the shot to clear so you can get that one clean exposure.

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100 Days of National Parks: Day 56 – Sunrise Point, Bryce Canyon National Park

The view over Bryce Canyon at sunrise is truly a special sight, as the first light of the day shines across the distant plateaus of the Grand Staircase and illuminates the high walls and towering hoodoos of the Faerieland Amphitheater. Crowds in the hundreds are known to assemble at the accurately named Sunrise point to watch the spectacle, and with good reason. Of all the places I've watched sunrises, Bryce Canyon is one of the best.

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100 Days of National Parks: Day 55 – One Does Not Simply Walk into Chinook Pass, Mt. Rainier National Park

Located on the easter edge of Mt. Rainier National Park in Washington, where State Highway 410 crosses the Cascades before dropping down toward the town of Yakima, Chinook Pass is one of the major road crossings for the Pacific Crest Trail in Washington. I passed through the area in the summer of 2015 while section hiking portions of the trail through the state, amid the smoke from fires throughout the Cascade mountains that summer. As massive wildfires engulfed areas around Mt. Adams and elsewhere, thick smoke blanketed the sky throughout Washington, lending itself to amazingly apocalyptic light displays like the one above.

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