A welcome cool breeze blows over the raised platform overlooking the mountains of northwest New Jersey just before sunrise on a Tuesday morning. The clouds dance in the sun’s pastel painting, illuminating the rolling hills in a soft glow. It doesn’t feel like the state known for farmland and suburban sprawl. It feels lonesome in a good way. The morning has given me energy that seems to only come with the joy of nature’s beauty and its unique scenery. At this point it feels like I could do anything.
Providence is a beautiful, small city with water everywhere, making the sunrise quite picturesque from wherever you see it. I was lucky enough to be working about 100 feet from this view at dawn so I was able to sneak off and watch the light arrive and start reflecting off of everything. A lone kayaker paddled down the river in the morning calm. Sadly I had to pull myself away to go back to work, but the views from all around the nearby park were fantastic. This is certainly a city I haven’t spent enough time in for how close it is to where I’ve lived most of my life.
After waking in the dark and driving the sinuous roads that lead through the mountains of the Olympic Range I found myself walking quickly up a steep path in the early morning light. The sun had yet to cross the peaks, and it was chilly for August. After some switchbacks and open trail walking I made it to my destination. The top of Hurricane Ridge is expansive and majestic. Jagged mountains surrounded me while rolling meadows lay at my feet. Olympic marmots whistled to each other while everything else was silent above the clouds as the sun showed its face and washed over me as I sat in awe for an hour or more taking in the incredible power of nature.
Seeing views like this in New Jersey is something unexpected but always welcome. The beautiful views from High Point State Park are unmatched in the state in my opinion. They call it Skylands for a reason. Hiking up the steep ridge in the morning fog to find a view of the sun coming up over the smoky mountains northwest New Jersey was an amazing feeling. I could have stayed there all day, but as the sun got higher I moved on. The views persisted, but never rivaled those few moments of peaceful, silent beauty at this overlook.
One morning last year I woke up in an AT shelter in North Jersey before sunrise and then had a transcendent morning of hiking through High Point State Park as the sky changed colors all around me. From the vantage point higher than anything in New Jersey I could see rolling mountains all around and a sky bigger than I knew New Jersey ever had. Watching from the overlook tower while the cool morning breeze dried the sweat on my face, I was involuntarily smiling the whole time. It was one of my favorite moments.
Morning in the midwest had such epic beginnings when the sunrise began nearly an hour before our star crossed the horizon. The pillowy clouds stretched on for miles in the sky, carrying the soft morning glow from around the curve of the earth and lighting our pre-dawn drives. The great expanses that make up the middle of the country are quiet except for the occasional roar of tractor trailers on the interstate and the thoughts in our heads as we watch the day unfold.
Being up before sunrise has an energy that is invigorating. There is potential to the day while you wait for the sun to break the horizon. Staring at snow-covered mountains towering in every direction around you in the blue tones of early morning is magical. And when the first warm glow hits the peak of the tallest point, it radiates with life-affirming color while it slowly swallows up the darkness and ushers in the morning.
Some people enjoy familiar surroundings and the comfort of home, but for me, waking up to a new sunrise in a different place every day is perfect. Opening the tent and seeing a colorful sky over Lake Powell was a great surprise since I didn’t set an alarm or plan to wake up. The colors briefly streaked before the sun came over the tops of the canyons and began to shimmer in the lake water.
One of the challenges to being on the road is finding a place to sleep every night. Places like Wyoming, which we drove through yesterday, don’t have a lot of places to stop. We set up camp at a rest stop inside a picnic shelter with our tent and it was windy but good. The morning brought this incredible sunrise just outside our tent food. Sometimes you get lucky.
Couch surfing has been a big part of our trips for the past few years. Once we discovered the network of likeminded people who offered their homes for travelers to stay we have been getting more into it ever since. I’ve met some great people that I keep in touch with from all around the country and internationally. This shot is from the deck of last night’s host at sunrise near Lyons, Colorado. Cheri was a great host, and her house was beautifully located high up in the hills with views in all directions. I’ve really enjoyed all of my experience so far with couch surfing, and I can’t wait for more.