⛺ National Park Notes

I’ve been to 18 national parks and counting. Here are my thoughts on each:

  • Arches
    • The hike to Partition Arch is a fun little scramble with an amazing view at the end.
    • Double Arch is a short stroll from a parking lot and just incredible.
    • The hike to Delicate Arch is probably the most popular in the park. The most difficult part of the hike is over sun-exposed rock, so bring plenty of water.
  • Black Canyon of the Gunnison
    • Small park. You need a wilderness permit to hike below the rim.
    • If you don’t get a wilderness permit. Hike to Warner Point and enjoy the view and quiet.
  • Bryce Canyon
    • The red hoodoos look especially beautiful in the snow.
    • Of all the parks I’ve been to, this one most feels like walking on a foreign planet.
  • Canyonlands
    • The name is appropriate. The canyons are wide and vast.
    • Next time I would like to check out the Needles District, particularly Chesler Park.
  • Congaree
    • I found Congaree underwhelming, though I was there for only half a day. It might be worth a revisit to go kayaking.
  • Denali
    • I didn’t go far into the park, but Denali Mountain is incredible from a distance.
  • Glacier
    • You will have to wake up super early in the morning if you want to hike the Highline Trail. Parking fills up quickly.
    • Hike to Grinnell Glacier. See marmots and bighorn sheep. Bring a Gatorade Glacier Freeze for color comparison (spoiler: they are identical).
  • Grand Canyon
    • Hiking down to the canyon on an icy morning without clamp-ons is reckless and not recommended. We went carefully, but saw several people slip and fall.
    • Bucket list items: Rim-to-Rim Trail and kayaking the Colorado River.
  • Grand Teton
    • Like Yellowstone, the wildlife is incredible.
  • Joshua Tree
    • Yucca trees, boulders, and influencers.
  • Mount Rainier
    • I did not anticipate liking Mount Rainier as much as I did. It is a stunning mountain.
    • Hike to a fire lookout tower for amazing views.
  • North Cascades
    • It’s difficult to get to, so I would recommend on planning an overnighter.
  • Pinnacles
    • It’s a small park, a bit out of the way from anything interesting.
    • Sometimes the caves are open, sometimes they aren’t.
    • The park has a pool. You’ll have to share it with bees looking to cool down.
  • Redwoods
    • The park stretches over a huge area. Make sure to visit the coast while you are there.
    • The hike to Fern Waterfall is busy even in shoulder season. The waterfall was more impressive than I expected, thanks to recent rainfalls.
  • Sequoia
    • Big trees.
    • The High Sierra Trail is gorgeous.
  • Yellowstone
    • Yellowstone feels a bit like the Disneyland of national parks. You go from attraction to attraction, taking a stroll along a boardwalk at each stop.
    • It’s huge and there is so much to see.
    • The wildlife is stunning. Everywhere you look, you’ll find something — bison, bears, deer, marmots, foxes.
  • Yosemite
    • Half Dome looks incredibly intimidating from below the cables, but isn’t so bad, and is absolutely worth it.
    • In the summer it is hot, dry, and packed with tourists. Bring a mask or handkerchief to cover your face so you aren’t inhaling too much of the kicked up dirt.
    • Don’t keep to the valley. At least hike to a waterfall.
  • Zion
    • Absolutely stunning, maybe my favorite national park.
    • I went in December several years ago. We woke up early enough in the morning that there weren’t a ton of people hiking Angel’s Landing. I highly recommend going in the downseason.

Not a national park but still in the system:

  • Alcatraz
    • Great audio tour.
    • I hear the night tour is the way to go.
  • Cabrillo NM
    • Near San Diego and very busy.
  • Carrizo Plain National Monument
    • During wildflower season it’s packed with tourists behaving abominably as they take their Instagram selfies.
  • Colorado NM
    • More worthy of national park status than many national parks.
  • Edgar Allan Poe NHS
    • Cool gift shop.
  • Independence Hall
    • Reserve a tour before your visit.
  • Manzanar National Historic Site
    • Such a tragic, desolate place.
  • Marin Headlands National Recreation Area
    • Cool lighthouse.
    • Gorgeous views of San Francisco.
    • Say hi to Karl.
  • Montezuma
    • It’s a brief walk, but cool to see these cliffside dwellings, even from afar.
  • Muir Wood National Monument
    • Redwoods!
    • As an alternative, consider visiting Big Basin State Park with equally amazing redwoods and far fewer tourists.
  • Point Reyes National Seashore
    • Really cool lighthouse.
    • Stop for oysters on your way home.
  • Presidio of San Francisco
    • Go for a picnic when you’re in The City.

🔗 Link Dump #56

Resources on running for office https://wherecanirun.org/

A list of software without VC funding https://built.organic/

Book summaries http://bookpecker.com/

Free, plain-text bookmarking https://webtag.io/

Webpage to markdown conversion tool https://markdowndown.vercel.app/

How to actually use the notes you take https://dannb.org/blog/2024/obsidian-use-your-notes/

A list of 5 ways to write in books https://jillianhess.substack.com/p/renoted-marginalia-5-ways-to-write

🔗 Link Dump #55

The gender dysphoria bible https://genderdysphoria.fyi/

A digital poem-writing notebook https://book3.pokeghost.org/

A club for supporters of online creators, starting at $1 per month https://oneamonth.club/

A list of things that don’t work https://dynomight.substack.com/p/things

A list of 101 things I would tell myself from ten years ago https://www.approachwithalacrity.com/101-things-for-my-past-self/

A list of the most overrated things in personal finance https://ofdollarsanddata.com/the-most-overrated-things-in-personal-finance/

A video on the cult of the Criterion Collection https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=05XfGmH2zG4

💭 Some Thoughts, 2024-03-12

Reddit, Tumblr, and WordPress.com are selling user data for AI training. Take the requisite steps to opt-out. Or better yet, wipe your accounts and start a blog.

Spain is banning short-haul flights. Please do private jets next.

Medellín has drastically reduced city temperatures by building green corridors. Hopefully, American cities will adopt the practice as global temperatures rise.

Conservation efforts in Europe are leading to the reemergence of wild mammals. There is hope for near-extinct species when change is enacted.

Hoboken, New Jersey hasn’t seen a pedestrian death in 7 years. Daylighting and pedestrian-friendly street design should be a priority everywhere.

There are an ungodly number of golf courses in the United States. Thankfully, some organizations are dedicated to rewilding defunct courses.

Botanical gardens can cool city air by an average of 5 degrees Celsius. Botanical gardens are great for cities and a wonder to behold. Support your local botanical garden by becoming a member.

Oklahoma is opting out of a federal summer food program for children. Shockingly, a politician can be openly against feeding children and not have his career ruined.

A bookstore in Fort Collins has a reader-in-residence program that pays a 50-dollar book stipend and a cup of coffee. What a cool idea. Where can I sign up?

Pittsburgh is again expanding its already top-notch bike share program. Good stuff.

🔗 Link Dump #54

A list of paywall removers https://www.archivebuttons.com/

705 links to useful websites https://whatthe.link/

Free books available online https://freeinternetlibrary.com/

A paper zine of web articles chosen by you https://waldenpond.press/

A community of bread enthusiasts https://www.thefreshloaf.com/

Fun seating from around the world https://everydaytourist.ca/globe-trekking-international-travel/fun-seating-finds-from-around-the-world

Logic lessons with Spock https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLMpofmkxKHBJfta_JzekLbWGHUSLUJoLt

📚 Books Read, Feb 2024

My thoughts on the books I read in February 2024:

Doughnut Economics by Kate Raworth

⭐⭐⭐1/2

I appreciate the ideas in this book, I just wish they weren’t so broad and vague. Not enough detail. And not enough data. I want actionable and specific policies, written in plain language.


The Man in the Brown Suit by Agatha Christie

⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is a standalone novel (no Poirot or Marple). The book crosses genres. It’s a little adventure, thriller, mystery, and romance. I found the plucky protagonist endearing. It’s not difficult to figure out who the Colonel is, but the journey is fun. Unfortunately, the ending was too “happily-ever-after.”


Lord Edgware Dies by Agatha Christie

⭐⭐⭐

Not the best Poirot mystery. Good Poirot-Hastings-Japp interplay.

(minor spoiler 👇)

Death by corn knife is an embarrassing way to go.

⭐ My Rating System

Every month I recap the things I watched and read while assigning a rating to each title. Scoring is out of five stars using a half-star scale.

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ = masterpiece
⭐⭐⭐⭐1/2 = near perfect
⭐⭐⭐⭐ = excellent
⭐⭐⭐1/2 = worth watching/reading
⭐⭐⭐ = good, but not worth going out of your way for
⭐⭐1/2 = okay
⭐⭐ = bad
⭐1/2 = bad bad
⭐ and under = burn it at the stake bad

🍔 Food Cooked, Feb 2024

I did some cooking this past month. Here are some new recipes I tried:

Frosted Flake Chicken Tenders

I ran out of breadcrumbs and read somewhere you can use Frosted Flakes.
I substituted honey for maple syrup and made honey mustard for dipping. Turned out way better than I thought it would.

Recipe: delish.com


Chocolate Chip Scones

This is an America’s Test Kitchen recipe (my go-to source for baking recipes). I used chocolate chips instead of blueberries. I needed way more flour than the recipe suggested.

Recipe: madeinmykitchen.com


Mark Bittman’s Tacos

There is nothing particularly special about this recipe. It’s just fun to make
hard taco shells.

Recipe: How to Cook Everything: The Basics


Oklahoma-Style Onion Burger

The onions take the burger to another level. A step up from your typical smash burger.

Recipe: seriouseats.com


Walnut Banana Bread

I didn’t have enough sugar so I added honey to compensate. Worked wonderfully.

Recipe: breaddad.com

📺 Movies/TV Watched, Feb 2024

Some of the movies and TV I watched in February of 2024:

Mr. & Mrs. Smith (2024)

⭐⭐⭐

Two idiot spies fall in love, stubbornly refuse to communicate, then fall out of love. Funny moments. Great guest appearances. It would have rated much higher but it failed to stick the landing.


M (1931)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

It’s remarkable how well-made this movie is for something from 1931. Love me some Peter Lorre.


Scream 4 (2011)

⭐⭐

The movie completely falls apart in the third act. Emma Roberts deserved a Razzie nomination for her performance.


The Larry Sanders Show (1992–1998)

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Funny, vulgar, cringe, and mighty influential. The Larry Sanders Show paved the way for shows like Curb Your Enthusiasm, The Office, and The West Wing (see: the walk-and-talk). I think it gets overlooked because it truly was before its time and none of the characters are particularly good people (which is part of its genius).


True Detective: Night Country (2024)

⭐⭐

For a minute, I thought they might be going somewhere interesting. The more you think about the ending, the less sense it makes. Oh well.


Aliens (1986)

⭐⭐⭐1/2

I think it’s a rule in Alien movies that characters have to make the dumbest decisions possible. I hope real Marines aren’t so annoying and terrible at following orders. The film fails to match the twists and iconic moments that made its prequel great. However, Sigourney Weaver is as amazing as ever.


Apocalypto (2006)

⭐⭐⭐⭐

Apocalypto is a bit underrated (being overshadowed by the anti-Semitic comments of its creator). It’s not historically accurate, which is too bad, but give the film credit for its casting decisions and use of indigenous languages.

🔗 Link Dump #53

Personal website ideas https://jamesg.blog/2024/02/19/personal-website-ideas/

Become a Wikipedian in 30 minutes https://blog.mollywhite.net/become-a-wikipedian-transcript/

Debunking cycling fallacies https://cyclingfallacies.com/

Search personal websites for collaborators https://aboutideasnow.com/

A square-flipping game https://unflipgame.com/

Interactive origami folding https://foldmation.com/

Learn about unfair ebook pricing https://www.ebooksforus.com/

The best food movies https://www.eater.com/24071727/best-food-movies-tampopo-the-taste-of-things-ratatouille

How to buy a car online https://github.com/kutinden/buyingacar/blob/main/README.md