So, you've got big plans for the Fourth of July, which, falling on a Tuesday this year, makes for a truly long weekend. But where should you head if you want to enjoy water but not the whine of personal watercraft?
You're in luck. I know of a few places, thanks to the Bluewater Network, the folks who think there are some places in this world -- such as national parks -- where PWCs should be banned.
Here are ten great places you can enjoy the Fourth without dodging PWCs:
1. Padre Island National Seashore:
This patch of Texas waterfront contains one of the country's largest
undeveloped barrier islands and is popular with wind surfers. As a
bonus for nature lovers, it's also big with migratory birds and
contains nesting grounds for endangered Kemp's Ridley sea turtles. PWCs are verboten.
2. Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area: I passed through the gap a time or two as a young backpacker on the AT. These days you can head there to hike, swim, boat, fish, kayak, tube, or just admire the scenery. Without PWCs.
3. San Juan Islands, Washington: My wife and I had a glorious vacation here, sea kayaking for part of the time, hunkering down in a cabin on Orcas Island part of the time. There's great road biking, as well as hiking, fishing, swimming, kayaking...and no Jet Skis thanks to the foresight of community leaders.
4. Biscayne National Park: Along Florida's coast, this park so far has managed to fend off the PWC community. Don't know how long that will be the case, but for now you can enjoy the sun, sand and surf without the stench of fumes or oil slicks.
5. San Francisco Bay Area: OK, I've never been there, so I'll just take Bluewater's recommendation for what it offers -- great sea life and beauty and no PWCs.
6. Kachemak Bay: Don't know how to pronounce it, but this slice of Alaska also manages to survive without the drone of Jet Skis. It's home to Alaska's first state park where you can pitch your tent or rent a cabin. Downside? You can't drive there, as it's only accessible by boat or float plane from nearby Homer.
7. Upper Missouri Breaks National Monument: Yeah, the name contains Missouri, but this place is in Montana. And it's a beaut, complete with a portion of the Upper Missouri National Wild and Scenic River and plenty of room for hiking, fishing, paddling and camping...and no PWCs.
8. Cape Hatteras National Seashore: Here you'll find some great surf-fishing, not to mention swimming, surfing and birding. And no PWCs.
9. Lake Willoughby, Vermont: Sandy beaches, great scenery, and pretty good fishing all are part of the package here. PWCs are not. They're banned.
10. Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore: Carved out of the Lake Michigan shoreline, this NPS unit offers swimming, cool breezes, fishing, camping and quiet. It does not offer Jet Skis.
There you have it. Have a great Fourth!