Thursday, October 8, 2009

Travel Thursday: National Parks

Crater Lake
Crater Lake National Park, designated 1902 (taken August 2005)

Yes, of course ('of course' to anyone who knows me) I've been watching the Ken Burns series (still making my way through it on DVR). It's perfect for me, not just because of my love of wildness and natural beauty, but because we were raised on the National Parks.

But it's bittersweet, because the happy memories I relive as I watch it are inextricably tied to our parents. I absorbed from them the idea that National Parks were special, that the magic phrase 'National Park' meant we were in store for something amazing. At home I would browse the big book with the pictures of the National Parks and dream of visiting Crater Lake or Mammoth Hot Springs in Yellowstone or Bryce Canyon or Carlsbad Caverns.

In 1969 we did an epic family trip from New Jersey to Wisconsin to Wyoming to New Mexico to Colorado and back--visiting Devil's Tower, Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Flaming Gorge, Dinosaur, Carlsbad , Rocky Mountain, and probably some I don't recall right now.

In 1975, I first visited Yosemite on a drizzly weekend with my father and my best friend; at Glacier Point we watched patiently as the clouds parted a little at a time, revealing bits and pieces of the grandeur. In 1978, we spent a week visiting Sequoia-Kings Canyon. In 1993, all of us grown and some with children, we all got together in Yosemite. Again in Yosemite in 2003, the last time we were all together--parents, kids, and grandkids. And other trips in between.

Personal history aside, it's a great story, and Burns gives it its due. "America's best idea" might be hyperbole, but only just. The execution hasn't been perfect, but despite all the compromises, the well-intentioned mistakes, the philosophical confusion, and the often unclean hands, the National Parks idea is extraordinary and admirable.

Mesa Verde 02
Mesa Verde National Park, designated 1906 (taken August 1969)

Half Dome and the Clark Range
Half Dome and the Clark Range from the top of Yosemite Falls, Yosemite National Park, designated 1890 (taken January 1991)

Manzanar 07
Manzanar National Historic Site, designated 1985 (taken March 2008)

Point Reyes Beach
Point Reyes Beach in Point Reyes National Seashore, designated 1962 (taken in 2000)

Redfish Lake
Redfish Lake, Sawtooth National Recreation Area, designated 1972 (taken June 2004)

Moro Rock 06
View from Moro Rock, Sequoia National Park, designated 1890 (taken August 2009)

Chasm Lake
At Chasm Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park, designated 1915 (taken August 1969)

Zabriskie Point 05
Zabriskie Point in Death Valley National Park, designated National Monument in 1933 and National Park in 1994 (taken March 2008)

Bridge and City
Marin Headlands, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, designated 1972

Above Grouse Meadow
Grouse Meadow, Kings Canyon National Park, designated 1940 (taken August 1999)


ahab said...

Some gorgeous shots here. And a great story. Good for your folks in teaching you to love those places.

Tom Hilton said...

Thanks, Ahab. Yeah, we were definitely lucky that way.

Generik said...

Great idea, good commentary, fabulous pics. You win!