I’ve been sick with the flu for the past day or so, and it hasn’t been fun. I hate getting sick, which doesn’t happen too often. When it does, I’m down for the count. On the bright side, staying home has given me the chance to watch the last of Ken Burns’ series on the National Parks.
I’ve learned so much about the history of the Park Service, and one of the things that’s most impressed me is the number of citizens who were involved. In the early days, they donated the land, sometimes begging the government to take it. They had to fight special interests, people who put money ahead of beauty and preservation.
There are 392 national [arks today, and nearly 300,000,00 people visit them each year. Since their inception, the NPS estimates that 11,700,000,000 people have visited. Woven throughout Burns’ series are the stories of many people who have either helped shape the parks, or who have visited and kept a record of their experiences.
Author Wallace Stegner called the National Parks “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than at our worst.”
In my memory, I can see a photo in one of my mother’s many albums. It is of my niece Shannon when she was a toddler, taken on a visit to Yosemite. My mom instilled in me a desire to get up and go, to experience something new, to delight in the world around us. Together, we’ve explored several of the national parks.
As I wrote in an earlier blog, one of my favorite trips was to the West, from the Badlands to Yellowstone and the Grand Tetons. It was just a magnificent vacation, and I will always be grateful for it.
Happy Mother’s Day!