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Dear Bob and Sue: A National Parks Podcast
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Dear Bob and Sue: A National Parks Podcast

Author: Matt and Karen Smith

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In Dear Bob and Sue, authors Matt and Karen Smith share stories of their travels to all of the U.S. National Park as well as other spectacular public lands. From adventures gone awry to memorable moments and Q&As from readers, get to know the couple behind the books and get inspired to go on some adventures of your own.
24 Episodes
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No state in the Union has more public space than Alaska; nearly 90% of the land is owned by the state or federal government, and amongst the vast, untamed lands are eight national parks. Lake Clark National Park, about 120 miles southwest of Anchorage, is one of the most remote. It’s also where one man spent three-plus decades living as one with the wilderness in a small log cabin he built himself on the shore of a magnificent mountain lake. In this episode we talk about our experience in the park and visiting Dick Proenneke’s cabin; the man who documented his wilderness experience and became an advocate for preserving Alaska’s pristine natural places. Some of the topics we discuss in this episode: Where Lake Clark National Park is located How to get to the park Where we stayed when we visited the park How we got to Twin Lakes, the site of Dick’s cabin What it was like to see the cabin in its restored condition Meeting the volunteer rangers who now care for Dick’s cabin Links to more information: One Man's Wilderness: An Alaskan Odyssey book on Amazon Alone in the Wilderness video on Amazon Click here to see photos from our visit to Lake Clark NP and Dick’s cabin NPS site about Dick Proenneke One Man’s Alaska documentary No Place Like Twin Lakes video Sign hanging in Dick’s cabin Where to learn more about our books and travels Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Check out our Instagram account Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The holidays are fast approaching, and if you have trouble finding the perfect gift for the outdoor enthusiast on your list, you’ll want to check out our bonus holiday gift episode. We discuss many of our favorite travel, hiking, and camping items that make perfect gifts for family, friends, or even for yourself. Enjoy! For links to all of the items we mention in this episode, visit our online 2020 Holiday Gift Guide on our blog www.mattandkaren.com.  Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Brilliant, breathtaking, and magnificent are just some of the words we would use to describe the scenic drives we discuss in this episode. That is if we had consulted a thesaurus before recording our discussion about these spectacular drives. But spectacular they are, regardless of how many times we used the word. One of the great things about visiting our public lands is the roads to and through them make the journey worth the trip even if you don’t get out of your vehicle. Here, we talk about a few of our favorite drives that we’ve discovered during our travels and give some tips and history for each. The drives we cover in this episode: Going-to-the-Sun-Road (Glacier NP) Beartooth Highway (Northeast of Yellowstone NP) Lamar Valley (Yellowstone NP) Needles Highway (Custer State Park) Badlands Loop (Badlands NP) Trail Ridge Road (Rocky Mountain NP) Million Dollar Highway (between Ouray and Silverton Colorado) Highway 24 through Capitol Reef NP Capitol Reef Scenic Drive The Burr Trail (Escalante NM, Capitol Reef NP, and Glen Canyon NRA) Skyline Drive (Shenandoah NP) Links to more information: Click here to see our photos from these drives Video of engineers clearing snow from Going-to-the-Sun-Road Info about the Beartooth Highway Info about roads in Capitol Reef National Park More about the Scenic Drive in Capitol Reef National Park Info about the Burr Trail in Utah Info about the Needles Highway Info about the Badlands Loop Scenic Byway Info about Skyline Drive Where to learn more about our books and travels Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Check out our Instagram account Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Featuring a park in our home state of Washington on this episode, we discuss some of the highlights and must-sees at Olympic National Park. From the rugged coastline of the Pacific Ocean to the blue glaciers hanging off steep alpine cliffs, Olympic NP has something for everyone. Only a short day trip from the Seattle metro area, you can drive to many of the most spectacular sites within the park in a few hours. If you are a little more adventurous, backpacking through the park gives you a less-crowded perspective on the wild beauty of this “magical” place. We even give you a small peek into what it’s like traveling with us by playing an audio recording we made during one of our more challenging adventures.  Some topics we discuss include: Yes? No? Maybe? Whether or not we plan to write another book Four seasons of fun up at Hurricane Ridge Where to go to see what’s left from the largest dam removal project in history, where you can peer into the canyon below at the newly-freed, rushing Elwha River The myriad of activities at beautiful Lake Crescent: in the water, on the beach and on the nearby trails. Our three-day adventure hiking the High Divide / Seven Lakes Basin Trail which started out with some wild weather The magic of the Hoh Rain Forest What we found--and didn’t find—during our backpacking trip along Shi Shi Beach on the coast of the Pacific Ocean And more... In the mail bag segment, we discuss some of our scariest hikes while traveling to all of the national parks. Links to more information: Click here to see photos from our trips to Olympic NP Click here for updated information and park map Where to learn more about our books and travels Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Check out our Instagram account Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
While visiting Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks in the winter can feel like stepping into a Christmas card photo, staying in a nearby Forest Service cabin with no electricity or indoor plumbing isn’t always so picture perfect. In this episode, we talk about many of our experiences in these two parks during the magical winter season, as well as the thrills and challenges of staying in rustic Forest Service cabins when the temperature dips well below freezing. Spoiler alert: walking through the snow to a pit toilet in the middle of the night with only a headlamp to scare away the bears is both a thrill and a challenge.  Some topics we discuss include: Matt’s latest obsession with organizing all of our travel gear Our experiences snowmobiling in Yellowstone National Park during the winter How Karen’s desire to get into the holiday spirit created our new tradition of visiting national parks every December How to find and rent a Forest Service cabin What it was like staying in a Forest Service cabin near Yellowstone with no heat, electricity or indoor plumbing, in December What activities are available in Glacier National Park in the winter Spending a few days in a Forest Service cabin near Glacier National Park Our snowshoe experiences in and around Glacier Would we rent a Forest Service cabin in the winter again? And in our mail bag segment, we answer a question about whether we ever practiced shooting our expired bear spray, and if so, what did we learn. Links to more information: Click here to see photos from our winter trips to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks Recreation.gov listing for Big Creek Cabin Recreation.gov listing for Zips Place Cabin Where to learn more about our books and travels Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Check out our Instagram account Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It was a close call for sure. Had the government not stepped in to protect the land that today makes up these magnificent parks, the Giant Sequoias may have been lost forever. These amazing trees are a natural wonder everyone should see at least once in their lifetime. And the trees in the parks are not the only natural wonder. As John Muir observed over 100 years ago, the valley of Kings Canyon, surrounded by its towering cliffs, is as equally breathtaking as Yosemite. Yet today, only a small fraction of the number of people who visit Yosemite make it to Kings. In this episode, we talk about our visits to these parks and what it’s like to spend a few days walking amongst giants. Some topics we discuss include: When our Photo of the Day Contest began and how Karen ended up becoming the sole judge of our travel photos How we found out that Sequoia and Kings Canyon are managed as one unit Matt’s filing system for all of our park literature Hiking to the largest tree in the world in The Giant Forest in Sequoia NP Other must-see sites close to The Giant Forest like Moro Rock and a tree you can drive through Staying at the Wuksachi Lodge in Sequoia and what Matt tried to buy in the gift shop Visiting Grant Grove in Kings Canyon NP and the 2nd-largest tree in the world Camping and hiking deep in Kings Canyon And in our mail bag segment, we answer a question about which is better for hiking The Narrows in Zion National Park, trekking poles or one of those long, wooden poles you rent from a local outfitter. Links to more information: Click here to see photos from our trips to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks Sequoia and Kings Canyon official website. Where to learn more about our books and travels Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Check out our Instagram account Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
We had all but given up on ever getting a permit to hike to one of the most sought-after sites in the American Southwest: The Wave in Northern Arizona. But in the fall of 2019, an email from a kind and generous stranger changed all of that. The adventure to this spectacular rock formation was as awe-inspiring as we’d heard it would be, and in this episode, we describe our experience at The Wave in January 2020. And if you think the excitement was over at the end of the hike, it wasn't. The drive back to civilization on the half-frozen dirt road was an adventure all its own. Some topics we discuss include: What it’s like to participate in the walk-in lottery for permits in Kanab, UT The process for applying for a permit online, and a few tips on how to increase your chances of winning How to prepare for hiking to The Wave in different seasons of the year—spoiler alert: it can be dangerously warm in the summer with no shade Advice on navigating the sometimes-dicey House Rock Valley Road on the 8-mile drive to the trailhead What to expect if/when you finally make it to The Wave And in our mail bag segment, we share some tips about how we’ve reduced the weight in our backpacks on overnight trips, including some of the gear that goes into our packs and what we leave at home. Links to more information: Bureau of Land Management site for The Wave where you can learn more about the site and find information about how to apply for a permit To see our photos from this adventure, click here. Where to learn more about our books and travels Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Check out our Instagram account Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
It is by far the most frequent question we get from readers and listeners: How much did it cost you to visit all 62 national parks? This bonus episode is essentially a detailed mail bag response to this very question. While we know everyone’s expenses will be different based on where they live, where they stay in and around the parks, how they get there, and how long they spend in each park, in this episode we discuss what it cost us to visit them. We also provide some tips on how to plan a journey to all the national parks and a few ways to save money along the way. Some topics we discuss include: Brief overview on the categories of costs incurred when visiting the parks How we planned our journey to all the parks How much it cost us to visit all of them A discussion of another couple’s accounting of their costs when visiting all of the parks (see link below) Some ideas about how to group parks together into a single trip to save on travel costs How we find lodging, hikes, and hidden gems along the way And more! Links to more information: Map showing the order in which we visited the 59 national parks (We completed our tour in 2012 when there were 59 parks; today there are 62.) NPS map of all the National Park units Link to the NPS map site with further links to many of the NPS publications Blog post where Lauren and Steven provide details of how much it cost them to visit all 62 national parks in 2019 Where to learn more about our books and travels Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Check out our Instagram account Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Few places, if any, in the lower 48 states have remained as wild and undisturbed as Yellowstone National Park. Sure, there are roads and boardwalks throughout the park to accommodate the millions of annual visitors, but its wildlife and unique landscape remind you that this part of our great country has never been tamed. Out of all the 62 national parks that we’ve visited, there is no place like Yellowstone. Because of its size and the many points of interest, to really see and experience all the wonders of this park will require more than a visit or two, preferably in different seasons. In this episode of The Dear Bob and Sue Podcast, we discuss our favorite places to visit inside the park and share a few tips we’ve learned from our trips. Some topics and places we discuss include: A brief history of the world’s first national park Why there are so many geysers in Yellowstone (That’s geysers, the things that shoot hot water into the air, not geezers.) Best times to visit the park A bit about the large mammals you’ll likely see Our favorite places in the different areas of the park: North, Central West, Central East, and more A few hiking tips and suggestions And, in our mail bag segment, we discuss why we didn’t narrate our Dear Bob and Sue audiobooks Links to more information: Yellowstone National Park’s website Map of the park Link to the free National Park Service interactive mobile app To see our photos from this adventure, click here. Where to learn more about our books and travels Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Check out our Instagram account Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
14 Outdoorsy in Vegas

14 Outdoorsy in Vegas

2020-07-0901:00:04

Come on seven! Mama needs a new pair of shoes! Yep, you’re in the right place, this is still The Dear Bob and Sue Podcast. Except, this episode has a bit of a twist. In it we explore many of the great public lands that are within day-tripping-distance from—that’s right—Las Vegas. During our many visits to Sin City over the years, we’ve managed to take a few breaks from the general debauchery of The Strip to explore some of the magnificent outdoor attractions in the area. And there are many. So leave the sequined dress and sharkskin suit in your hotel room closet and join us as we get outdoorsy in the desert just beyond the glare of the neon signs. Some topics and places we discuss include: How and why we got started collecting National Park passport stamps Red Rock Canyon - a desert beauty with towering red cliffs offers an escape for hikers, bikers, horseback riders, and even drivers who just want to cruise along the 13-mile scenic drive Valley of Fire State Park - this amazing park has a little bit of everything: petroglyphs, petrified wood, amazing rock formations, a slot canyon, and even an “elephant” arch Lake Mead National Recreation Area - America’s first and largest national recreation area boasts two lakes and nine wilderness areas with miles of hiking trails, showcasing its spectacular scenery whether you’re on the water or on a trail  Mojave National Preserve - Covering a whopping million and a half acres, this preserve has sand dunes, cinder cone volcanoes, and the world’s largest Joshua tree forest And, of course, at the end of the episode we answer a question from the mail bag Links to more information: Link to our blog post Outdoorsy in Vegas Red Rock Canyon homepage Valley of Fire State Park homepage Lake Mead NRA homepage Mojave NP homepage To see our photos from this adventure, click here. Where to learn more about our books and travels Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Check out our Instagram account Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Who doesn’t love an end-of-summer road trip? Few activities compare to the joy of packing a duffel bag full of stuff, filling the snack bag with Cheez-Its and animal crackers, and heading down the open road with all of your cares in the rearview mirror. It’s even better when you have a theme. In this episode, we talk about a buffalo-themed road trip we took across the northern plains states to some national and state parks where we visited as many public bison herds as we could fit into two weeks. You’ll also hear about some of the trails we hiked and places we visited along the way.  Some topics and places we discuss include: Fun facts about bison (or “buffalo” if you prefer) National Bison Range, Montana Theodore Roosevelt National Park, N. Dakota Bear Butte State Park, S. Dakota Custer State Park and the Black Hills, S. Dakota Badlands NP, S. Dakota Devil’s Tower, Wyoming Yellowstone NP Grand Teton NP And more Links to more information: National Bison Range homepage Learn about Custer State Park’s annual buffalo roundup festival To see our photos from this adventure, click here. Where to learn more about our books and travels Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Check out our Instagram account Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Over 120 years ago, the Klondike Gold Rush attracted more than 100,000 people from around the world with the lure of wealth and adventure. All that stood in the way of the prospectors’ dream of finding gold was a year-long journey to a remote area in the Yukon Territory, which included a treacherous 33-mile trail over a steep mountain pass in Alaska. Today, that trail—the Chilkoot Trail—lies within a national park; half in the U.S. and half in Canada. In this episode, we talk about our 2018 attempt to trace the gold rushers' footsteps and backpack the famous trail with our friends, John and Lolly. We share the story of an epic hike in the wilderness of Alaska that turned out to be one of our biggest adventures to date.   Some highlights from this episode include: How we got the idea in the first place to hike the Chilkoot Trail A brief history of the Klondike Gold Rush and what it was like for the prospectors who braved the journey Planning our trip and the logistics involved What it was like hiking the trail in August during one of the most torrential rainstorms in decades What went very wrong on the third day, as we attempted to summit Chilkoot Pass How we made it through our ordeal with the help of three excellent NPS rangers And hear from our special guests, John and Lolly, who join us on this episode    Links to more information: NPS site for the Klondike Gold Rush National Historical Park Seattle Unit and Skagway Unit To see our photos from this adventure, click here. Where to learn more about our books and travels Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Check out our Instagram account Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
The five national parks in Utah are spectacular and draw millions of visitors each year for a good reason. But the public lands surrounding these parks are also packed with natural wonders worth experiencing. You could spend countless days visiting the national monuments, state parks, and tribal parks in southern Utah, gazing at their one-of-a-kind rock formations, hunting for ancient Puebloan ruins, and hiking through pristine landscapes. In this episode, we talk about some of the sites you should consider adding to your itinerary on your next road trip to the Southwest. Some of the places we discuss include: Monument Valley Goosenecks State Park (SP) Valley of the Gods Hovenweep National Monument (NM) Natural Bridges NM Bear Ears NM Goblin Valley SP Dead Horse Point SP Grand Staircase Escalante NM Cedar Breaks NM And more... Links: Photos from our top ten spots beyond Utah’s Mighty Five Link to our Youtube video about hiking Zebra Canyon in Escalante National Monument Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Our books Our 20 Amazing Places PDF about Southern Utah in which we discuss the places covered in this episode and several more Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Teardrop trailers sure look cute and romantic, but what’s it like actually sleeping in one? Today we’re sharing what we learned as we camped in a teardrop trailer in three parks in southern California. Find out what additional equipment you may need to bring with you, the best situations to use a teardrop, and whether we liked it in the end. We also talk about the best seasons for visiting different parks in our mail bag section.  In this episode we discuss: Picking up the trailer Why winter may not be the best season for teardrop camping The camping sites and hikes we enjoyed in the Mojave Preserve, Joshua Tree, and Death Valley NPs Finding romance on Valentine’s Day in the national parks The importance of researching what season is best in what park Links: Photos from our trip with the teardrop Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Our books Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
You’ll often see the same handful of National Parks topping the “best of” lists, but there are some real hidden gems out there too that are worth visiting. In this episode, we’re sharing our top five parks that have lower visitation numbers. We discuss how we got to these parks, what there is to do in each one, and what we loved about them. From island hopping at Dry Tortugas to hiking along a border river in Big Bend, join us as we venture through some of these lesser known parks. In this episode we discuss: Taking a boat to Dry Tortugas NP Big Bend NP along the Rio Grande River Karen sneaks Carlsbad Caverns onto the list The archeological sites at Mesa Verde NP Taking in the beautiful landscapes at Great Basin NP Why Lassen Volcanic NP is like a mini Yellowstone Links: Photos from our trips to Dry Tortugas, Big Bend, and more Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Our books Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Of all the experiences we had while traveling to the U.S. national parks, bear watching in Katmai National Park is at the top of the list. Tucked away in a remote part of southwest Alaska, Katmai is truly a unique and exciting place to visit. During certain weeks each summer, visitors are pretty much guaranteed some phenomenal bear watching. Join us on this episode to hear stories about our incredible bear encounters and our recommendations for planning your own trip to Katmai. In this episode we discuss: Why Katmai became a national park in the first place Where it is and how to get to there What to do (and not do) if you have a close encounter with a bear Tips for the best places to view the brown bears in the park, and Our “interesting” bear encounters while visiting the park Links: Photos from our trips to Katmai Katmai National Park website Camping at Katmai Katmai Lodge website (replace this link with Brooks Camp at www.katmailand.com) Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Our books Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Join Matt and Karen as they descend 750 feet underground to explore what Karen thinks is one of the most magical places in the entire U.S. national park system: Carlsbad Caverns. Matt’s not a huge fan of dark, scary holes, but he puts on a brave face during the couple’s multiple visits to this enchanted part of the Chihuahuan Desert in southern New Mexico. You might want to have a flashlight or two close by when you listen to this episode, just in case the lights go out and you need to self-rescue your way back to daylight. That’s one of the lasting effect these cave visits had on Matt: he never goes anywhere now without at least a couple light sources with him. In this episode we discuss: The variety of cave tours offered at Carlsbad Caverns Which caves Matt and Karen visited Why Matt’s not a fan of caves What to know if you’re planning to attend the bat flight program The ranger speech that made Karen tear up Why Karen is thinking about becoming a scientist Links: Photos from our trips to Carlsbad Caverns Carlsbad Caverns NPS website Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Our books Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Standing in waist-deep water while looking up at the towering canyon walls, the scene was breath-taking. Or, maybe it was the cold water splashing our midsections that was taking our breath away. Join us as we hike The Narrows, one of the most magnificent areas of Zion National Park. On today's episode, we talk about our experiences while hiking up the Virgin River through The Narrows, what to bring if you’re thinking of doing it yourself, and other how-to tips. In this episode we discuss: Why we’re wearing the same clothes in all of our National Park sign pictures The best time of year to hike The Narrows What to bring and what not to bring Why you might need a permit What we did for work before quitting our jobs to visit the National Parks Links: Photos from our trips to The Narrows The Narrows NPS website Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Our books Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
Have you ever wanted to take an RV on an adventure into the National Parks? So did we, so we rented one in Arizona and toured the southern part of the state for a week. Join us as we explore Chiricahua National Monument and other National Park units from the comfort of a 19-foot recreational vehicle. Along the way, we learn about the dos and don'ts of RV life, meet the nicest people in the RV community, and lament the untimely demise of Matt's tennis shoes. In this episode we discuss: Renting an RV from Cruise America Going to a gigantic RV show in Kansas City Hiking in Chiricahua National Monument How to use the dump station at an RV park RVing versus tent camping Links: Photos from our RV trip Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Our books Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
What's it like to wake up with a view of Crater Lake from your bedroom window? In this episode, we gleefully revisit some of our favorite National Park lodges and the adventures we had staying in them. We discuss the "parkitechture" and fascinating history to each of the lodges. We regale some hilarious stories from our stays at Crater Lake Lodge and El Tovar lodge at the Grand Canyon. We also talk about how to get reservations and some fantastic places for sunset viewing, In this episode we discuss: Staying in the largest log structure in the world in Yellowstone NP Watching bears from the deck in Glacier NP Wintertime stay at Zion lodge Ranger programs at Bryce Canyon lodge Twin beds at Paradise Inn in Mt. Rainier NP President Roosevelt's stay in Olympic NP on Lake Crescent An unexpected surprise at Crater Lake Lodge The mule-train journey taken by Matt's shorts in the Grand Canyon The public space at the Ahwahnee Lodge in Yosemite NP Links: Photos from our trips to Yosemite, Yellowstone, and more Join the conversation on Facebook - we want to hear from you! Our books Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices
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Comments (2)

Jenny Danek

Love everyone of the episodes! You have become my walking companions. Sadly, I am all caught up. Need more soon.

Jun 11th
Reply

Lisa Tranter

loved it! great hosts and so enjoyable. you can tell they are having a great time with the pod cast.

Feb 1st
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