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Top 10 sites of my summer road trip

In the order in which I visited them:

1.) Vulcan, Alberta: Located in southern Alberta, Vulcan was originally named by a Canadian Pacific Railway surveyor in 1915 after the Roman god of fire. Upon the popularity of the “Star Trek” franchise, the town built a “Star Trek”-themed tourist station and a replica of the starship Enterprise, as well as space-themed murals and signs.

2.) Banff National Park, Alberta: Canada’s oldest national park is famous for its frigid, turquoise-colored waters, most famously Lake Louise. Icefields Parkway and various trails offer breathtaking views of this geological gem.

3.) North Cascade National Park, Wash.: Established in 1968, this park is accessed during the spring and summer via the rustic, winding Cascade River Road. It is not as overrun with tourists as some national parks, making the trails between the high-jagged peaks all the more meaningful.

4.) San Juan Islands, Wash.: An archipelago between Washington and British Columbia, the San Juan Islands were the site of The Pig War, the last border dispute between the United States and the British Empire in 1859. Today the islands have quaint shops and quiet campgrounds.

5.) Forks, Wash.: This formerly sleepy town became a tourist destination upon the popularity of Stephenie Meyer’s, “Twilight” saga. Forks has several “Twilight”-themed landmarks and is a fun destination for anyone mildly familiar with the books and films. It is also a perfect stop for camping and hiking enthusiasts on their way to Olympic National Park.

6.) Portland, Ore.: Among the countless incredible things a person could see in this city, the Saturday Market is a must, as well as Powell’s Books and the Royal Rosarian Garden. The View Point Inn and various waterfalls are located just outside the city and are worth the scenic drive.

7.) Redwood National Park, Calif.: Ancient coastal redwoods and giant ferns grow in this national park. To see the Tall Trees Grove, a person needs to obtain a permit. These permits, however, are free, though not advertised. Obtain one. It is worth it. These trees are wider than some apartments in which I’ve lived.

8.) San Francisco, Calif.: Alamo Square is among many locations where the city’s architecture may be admired. Be sure to visit Jack Kerouac Alley, named after Beat (“beatniks”) and hippie movement co-founder Jack Kerouac, and nearby City Lights Bookstore and Vesuvio.

9.) Lake Tahoe, Calif.: This incredibly clear lake earned world-wide fame after hosting the 1960 Winter Olympics’ cross-country ski course. The water is frigid, so swim with caution. The pinecones are the size of softballs and Sugar Pine Point State Park offers an easy, 6 ½-mile loop (“General Creek Trail”) that allows hikers to admire the Tahoe and Eldorado national forests.

10.) Mount Rushmore, S.D.: Sacred to the Sioux, the Black Hills are not only beautiful, but famous, since four U.S. presidents’ likenesses are carved into it. Horsethief Campground is a quiet place to enjoy the jagged hills and dark forests. Be sure to order a pizza at Eno’s Pizza in nearby Keystone.

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