Posts Tagged With: National Park Service Centennial

Preparing for future elections with America’s national parks

I visited Mount Rushmore National Monument on a 2009 road trip across the country, where I met up with two friends from Vietnam and one from Lithuania who had come to the U.S. for the summer. Our decisions as American voters have impacts on the rest of the world, and I hope we make choices that benefit those within our borders as well as on foreign shores.

I visited Mount Rushmore National Monument on a 2009 road trip across the country, where I met up with two friends from Vietnam and one from Lithuania who had come to the U.S. for the summer. Our decisions as American voters have impacts on the rest of the world, and I hope we make choices that benefit those within our borders as well as on foreign shores.

Over the past year, I’ve journeyed back and forth across the U.S., exploring big cities, small towns and some really obscure destinations, but primarily using America’s national parks as the anchor points for my travels. As this year’s election has approached, it’s become more and more apparent to me how relevant our parks are to many of the issues currently at stake, and after absorbing several dozens of parks’ worth of information on our country’s people and history, I felt much more equipped to vote with confidence and conviction today.

America’s national parks don’t just provide brilliant backdrops for our vacation photos; they tell the story of our nation and its place in the world, and they provide insight on how we became the country we are now. I’m not just talking about the big parks like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon, although those do have a lot to teach us. I’m talking about lesser-known but still monumentally significant parks like Little Rock Central High School National Historic Site in Arkansas, which reveals personal stories of the fight for integrated schools, and Manhattan Project National Historical Park in Tennessee, New Mexico and Washington, which dives into the difficult decisions and actions behind the development of the nuclear weapons that ended World War II, and Boston National Historical Park in Massachusetts, which gives insight on the reasons why America decided to separate from Britain and how much they were willing to sacrifice for freedom.

Our 413 national parks each share a different piece of our story, and they offer the benefit of hindsight on historical events and give us information so we can each determine how we might have acted under similar circumstances. They don’t tell us what to think; they tell us what to think about. And they give us context that can help us make better decisions for our world and its future. Continue reading

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Categories: Adventure, National Parks road trip, Outdoor Recreation, Parks, Personal | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Frustrating start

Very bad timing to get sick :(.

Here’s hoping this will get me back in hiking shape soon.

I guess it’s true what they say — life is what happens when you’re making other plans. I was looking forward to a spectacular kickoff for this national parks road trip with a sunrise hike in Acadia National Park, but the flu bug apparently had a different idea. The way I’m feeling now, I’m not up for a 13-hour drive in bad conditions to Maine, let alone a several-hour pre-dawn hike in sub-freezing temperatures through a foot of snow, so I’m going to plan to travel to Acadia later in the year when the park is more accessible and I’m in a condition to enjoy it.

If I’m up for it on Friday, though, I might schlep over to the North Country National Scenic Trail for a shorter New Year’s Day hike — it meanders through a few counties near me in western Pennsylvania on its seven-state path from New York to North Dakota. How will you spend the first day of 2016? On TV, this year’s Rose Parade celebrates the National Park Service’s Centennial celebration with the theme “Find Your Adventure,” so there’s something to do even if the weather doesn’t cooperate. However, there are tons of outdoor events happening at national, state and local parks all over the country, including a number of ranger-led First Day Hikes, so take advantage of the day away from the office and get a jump start on your New Year’s resolutions!

I may have to cheer you on from the couch this time, though :(. Send me your pics from your adventures!

 

Categories: National Parks road trip | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

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