Review: The Pacific Crest Trail

March 19, 1998

The Pacific Crest Trail

“Wherever we go in the mountains, we find more than we seek,” said John Muir, an avid naturalist who fought for the preservation of the western wilderness because of their beauty and the relaxation he found in them.  The Pacific Crest Trail was a delight to read as I followed the author from Southern California to Northern Washington.  It took me from the roadside view I have seen blur past my eyes into the wilds and rugged topographic beauty of the Sierra Nevada range across the Mojave desert, into the bowl of Crater Lake and the icy peaks of Mount Rainier to the Canadian border.

Author and adventurer, William R. Gray, wrote this book in such a way that I felt I was experiencing along with him the wet, boulder-strewn trails, the breathtaking uplifted peaks, and the flora of the trail.  Never before have I taken much interest in extensive backpacking/hiking but being able to see the rugged mountains and serene valleys while actually experiencing the world God created has grabbed my attention.  Perhaps I shall attempt the hike myself sometime.

Gray met 87-year-old geologist, Dr. Rene Engel, who described subterranean forces of mountain building and offered this advice, “Be alert as you walk through the mountains.  You will learn much more geology from them than you will from me.”

I think Dr. Engel said it well.  For myself it is one thing to read, study, or even see pictures of the structures of the earth.  But it is a whole new dimension to feel the rough ancient volcanic rock under my feet and understand the gigantic forces God used to make the beautiful ranges Gray described.

Through the variety of ecological environments he passed, Gray, brought the pages of this book to life with descriptions of the land, the creatures and the people who have made these areas their home.  The flora which struggles to survive in the scorching heat of the Mojave Desert draws life-giving water from the porous stone which seems to soak up any moister as quickly as it falls.  This book, with its photographs and descriptive phrases, has given me a guided tour through the deserts and mountains of the Pacific Coast.  Gray described the contrasts of nature as he saw them change with each mile he passed.  The heat of the desert gradually became the freezing wind at the cap of Mount Whitney at 14,494.164 feet.

Just as John Muir said, I found more than I expected in mountains and valleys described in this book.  Not only did I learn about the topography of the Pacific Crest Trail; I learned about the forces which made the numerous ridges and volcanic cones.  I learned to take a second look at the world around me and find the natural beauty of God’s creation.  Someday, perhaps, I will follow the Pacific Crest Trail, but for now I will let this remind me to take a closer look at nature around me and remember the natural geologic stories beneath my own feet.

Grand Rapids Michigan Entertainment

I like to keep up with what’s going on in my community and enjoy the local entertainment. Here’s a list of entertaining venues, events, museums available in the Grand Rapids, Michigan area. Get out there and enjoy the community!

Museums and Art Venues

The Grand Rapids Art Museum is located near the center of downtown Grand Rapids and provides a modern venue of classic as well as new art. The GRAM includes traveling displays and an extensive collection of it’s own.

Grand Rapids Art Museum
101 Monroe Center
Grand Rapids, MI 49503
(616) 831-1000 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (616) 831-1000 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

The Grand Rapids Public Museum provides a variety of exhibits for the whole family. This museum is a great place to catch up on the history of Grand Rapids and learn from the ever changing seasonal exhibits available at this beautiful museum located on the west bank of the Grand River in downtown Grand Rapids.

Grand Rapids Public Museum
272 Pearl Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504
616.929.1700 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 616.929.1700 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
616.456.3977 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 616.456.3977 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
Map

The Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum is located on the western bank of the Grand River and provides an excellent look at the presidency of Gerald R. Ford. This museum hosts a variety of related exhibits throughout the year and  is the location of Gerald R. Ford’s tomb. It is located next to Ah-Nab-Awen Park.

Gerald R. Ford Museum
303 Pearl Street NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504-5353
(616) 254-0400 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (616) 254-0400 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park is a unique oasis of art and nature. This experience in art, sculpture and nature is located on 132 acres of grounds featuring art by Rodin, Oldenburg, Moore, Bourgeois and Plensa, and others. Indoor galleries hold changing exhibits by sculptors such as Picasso, Degas, di Suvero, Borofsky, Calder and Chadwick. Not just for the art lovers, the gardens and park provides interactive experiences for the whole family with one of the largest children’s gardens in the country.

Frederik Meijer Gardens & Sculpture Park
1000 East Beltline NE
Grand Rapids, MI 49525

(616) 957-1580 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (616) 957-1580 end_of_the_skype_highlighting
888-957-1580 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting 888-957-1580 end_of_the_skype_highlighting

Arenas

The DeltaPlex Arena offers live entertainment in the form of concerts, family shows, sporting and motor events. The DeltaPlex Conference Center provides up to 85,000 square feet of space for trade shows, corporate meetings, charity functions, small concerts, banquets, exhibitions, and more. Past shows have included the Home and Builders Association Show, Gun and Knife Show, West Michigan Harvest Dog Cluster Show and more.

Van Andel Arena hosts the Grand Rapids Griffins hockey team and many other events including circuses, rodeos, live shows, concerts and more. This 12,000-plus seat arena is located near the heart of downtown Grand Rapids. See the upcoming schedule here.

Outdoors

West Michigan Trails & Greenway Coalition is a great source for trail maps, updates on trail expansions and all sorts of information about trails in West Michigan.

Besides a great number of beautiful trails, an extensive park system is available in the Grand Rapids area including parks, biking trails, river walks, ice skating, and more. Here are some highlights:

Downtown:

303 Pearl St.
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

Once the site of a Native American village, this 6.5-acre park is adjacent to the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Museum and includes a portion of a river walk trail and hosts many community festivals and the annual Independence Day Fireworks.

300 Ottawa Ave. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

The open plaza adjoins the City and County buildings and is host to many community events including many musical performances during Festival. The names comes from the artwork of Alexander Calder,  “La Grand Vitesse,” which symbolizes the City of Grand Rapids. If you are adventurous, head to the northwest corner of the Calder Plaza and visit the giant tire swing. The swing is tucked behind a building on the north end of the plaza beyond the raised tree groves. This hidden ride is a great find. Besides, it’s just fun to ride a tire swing!

560 Front Ave. NW
Grand Rapids, MI 49504

The Grand Rapids Fish Ladder provides a practical function — access to upriver spawning grounds for lake salmon — and a public function providing up close views of the fish in motion. This functional artwork was designed by Joseph Kinebrew and is located on the Grand River on the northern end of downtown Grand Rapids.

Maynard Ave. SW & Butterworth Dr.
Grand Rapids, MI 49509

Millennium Park is an ongoing project to turn about 1500 acres from former industrial use into green spaces in an urban setting.  As of 2011, the park included a beach house, playground, picnic areas and fishing ponds.

Rosa Parks Circle
Monroe Center and Monroe Ave.
Grand Rapids, MI 49503

Rosa Parks Circle was designed by Maya Lin and provides an area for summer concerts and winter ice skating. The winter ice park provides free ice skate rentals generally November through March.

Festivals

ARTPRIZE is a unique art exhibit and viewer judged art show that is open to anyone who can find a venue within the prescribed art zone. Art varies from live art to sculpture to just about anything you can imagine including a Lock Ness Monster on the Grand River (2009).

“Festival” as it is often called by locals includes art, music, dance and lots of food. With multiple venues across the downtown area, this festival draws crowds by the thousands the first weekend of June.