West Coast of the United States

Activities in the Pacific Coast states, including California, Washington, and Oregon, as well as Alaska and Hawaii

Santa Monica Pier for a Distance

Dodging Rollerbladers on the Venice Beach Boardwalk—Los Angeles, California

Crazy people, right out there in public, or better put, making up the “public”—that is what the Venice Beach Boardwalk is famous for. My first memory of Venice Beach is Val Kilmer embodying Jim Morrison as he sings “Moonlight Drive” in the opening Read More

Driving Through the Chandelier Tree

Driving Through a Redwood in Northern California

It seemed mythical when I was a child: There were actually trees in California that people could drive a car through. I couldn’t help but envision a busy freeway running through the forest, occasionally sending commuters tunneling through the trunks Read More

Beautiful tufa towers of Mono Lake. Photo by Yvette Cardozo.

Wandering The Tufa Towers Of Mono Lake

Years ago, I stopped at California’s Mono Lake on a bike trip. I was hot, tired and ready for the day to end. I briefly looked at the lake’s famous tufa mounds, felt the greasy, salt-laden water and left. I’ve always wanted to go back. And Read More

Sacred Hawaian wall at Ritz Carlton, Kapalua, Maui

Finding Your Inner Artist at Ritz Carlton’s Annual Arts Festival in Kapalua, Maui

First, there is the chanting, accompanied by shouts and drumming and the sharp slap of a walking staff against the floor. Then a procession of native Hawaiians, dressed in traditional clothing and garlanded with leis of greenery, enters the marble Read More

Entrance-to-the-Oakland-Zoo-

Visiting the Oakland Zoo in the San Francisco Bay Area

The elephants remind me of a story about a female pachyderm that lived at the then-downtown Oakland Zoo. "Effie" was so used to seeing the owner's family stroll on the grounds that one day she did what family members do: Help push the baby's Read More

Lush, green vines turn golden as fall enters Sonoma County's Valley of the Moon. l

Exploring Wine Country’s Fall Color in Sonoma County’s Valley of the Moon

  Never a day passes that I don’t marvel at the beauty of where I live, but never more so than when the early fall frenzy of grape-pickers at work, crushers and pressers in motion is over. With the last cluster removed, I watch the Read More

Sonoma Zipline

Ziplining in the Sonoma Canopy, California

Redwoods shouldn’t sway. At least not in my mind, anyway. These enormous, ramrod straight trees grow for centuries, stretching hundreds of feet skyward, while widening and thickening their trunks. Heck, here in northern California you can even drive Read More

Kayaking on the Russian River is fun in an inflatable water craft. (Melanie Radzicki McManus)

Kayaking Northern California’s Russian River

The river is totally quiet today, except for the occasional sound of our paddles dipping into the water to steer us around a branch or rock. The weather probably has something to do with it — it’s cloudy and a bit nippy out. But I don’t mind. We were Read More

Children experience the force of nature with Pheena the fin whale (Credit: MCArnott)

Visiting the Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science with Children in California

Watching a turtle chomping on a strawberry is a far cry from inventing the idea of a cyclotron smashing particles. But they are both aspects of science, and as such, have a place at the Lawrence Hall of Science in Berkeley, California, located in the Read More

Fall Bishop Creek c. Jim Kellett

Finding Fall Foliage on the Eastern Slope of California’s Sierra Nevada

Those in love with wide-open spaces and scenic vistas are mightily pleased when they cross over to the backside of California’s Sierra Nevada. True at any time of the year, this becomes overwhelmingly so when autumn adds a riot of color to the Read More

Glacier hiking in Alaska

Glacier Hiking in Alaska’s Wrangell-St. Elias National Park

I’m no stranger to ice and snow. I’ve lived all my life in the Upper Midwest. But walking up a 60-degree slope of sheer ice? Well, that’s just something we don’t do in Michigan. Yet here I was, strapping crampons on my feet and making my way Read More

Aurora Borealis, photo courtesy of Jill Browne

Chasing the Aurora Borealis in Bettles, Alaska

Deep in a sound sleep, I am awakened by footsteps running through the corridors outside and the urgent sound of doors slamming open. “Get up everyone! Everyone, outside!” Groggily, I look at my watch: 3 a.m. I roll over, not quite in the land of Read More

An entry in the multi-block competition

Ice Sculpting at Alaska’s World Ice Art Competition

They told us to start simple, but nothing seems quite simple enough. Along with a fellow journalist, I am participating in the non-competitive, open, amateur division of the World Ice Art competition in Fairbanks, Alaska. This is as close I've ever Read More

Green Sea Turtles at Maui's Ocean Center

Up Close with the Pacific at Maui’s Ocean Center

I am walking through the middle of a 750,000 gallon fish tank. Sharks and rays and some 2,000 other fish swarm around me as I make my way through a completely clear acrylic tunnel that offers a 360-degree view of the ocean. Under my feet, a reef Read More

Brook's Range

Flight-seeing Over Gates of the Arctic National Park, Alaska

The bush plane is tiny, just two rows of seats, sized for people who like each other a lot. It's equipped with winter survival equipment, and before we take off, we get instructions on using the emergency radio and the survival gear. I know that Read More

Hiking the High Sierra

Hiking the High Sierra Trail in California

My eyes are searching in the wrong place for a trail. They are searching in the wrong place because I simply refuse to believe that the obvious route -- up THERE and over THAT -- is the route we will actually have to climb. Two days into a hike of Read More

Sequoia

Hiking Among the Redwoods in California’s Muir Woods

I am standing in front of a redwood tree California's Muir Woods, swaying from side to side. If there was anyone else on the trail, they might think I was performing some arcane New Age ritual. Either that, or being charmed by a hypnotic snake. What Read More