Thursday, October 1, 2009

Worth the Price of Admission

Like many others, I’m glued to Ken Burns’ The National Parks, America’s Best Idea and am enjoying it immensely. Knowing the histories and back stories gives me a greater sense of appreciation for the locations and the preservation efforts… as if having a greater appreciation for them is possible for me.

I’ve been lucky enough in my life to visit many of them and some of them more than once. My experiences there have never failed to exponentially exceed the price of admission. Never. Some of my most favorite vacations involved trekking through a National Park. And I’ve got the photos to prove it….

I recently learned that the U.S. Mint is going to launch another quarter series based on our fabulous landscapes. To my dismay, they’re not simply minting a coin for each of the 58 parks. Apparently, someone decided it would be unfair not to include each state and territory. Well sorry, Delaware and Rhode Island that you have no land managed by the Department of the Interior and that California and Alaska would each be represented eight times based on my idea. I’d still prefer to see each park rather than each state represented in the “America the Beautiful” quarter series… but hey, that’s just me.

I’ve often wondered if I could pick a favorite National Park, and I can’t. There’s something special about each, and each has a certain feel to it. While the grandeur of the Big Ditch (aka The Grand Canyon) can’t be captured in words or photos (at least not by me… I’ve tried), I can’t say I’m more awed by it than by its spectacular neighbor, Zion, or by the whimsy of the geology found in Bryce. Yellowstone is beyond compare both in its unique thermal features and abundant wildlife, and I’ve got this incredible memory and photo of a wall of flowers at Glacier. Nope… no favorite except that if I've got one, it's simply the next one on my “to see” list.

Do yourself a favor. Visit a National Park if you haven’t, and don’t dismiss the idea because you’re not into camping and roughing it. Some of the most fabulous lodges I’ve stayed in and some of the best meals I’ve enjoyed… accompanied by a fine bottle of wine… have been in the National Parks. Hey, I’ll hike all day, but at the end of it, I’m one for a hot shower, cold beer and soft bed. So plan to go, but remember, thanks to Ken Burns, so are a lot of other people.

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