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Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Going "home" again with Ken Burn's National Parks series

A tree clings to the rim at one of the Bryce C...Image via Wikipedia

I am enjoying Ken Burn's National Parks: America's Best Idea this week. On Twitter I find myself describing it as "visiting old friends again." This is so true. While I have visited only a fraction of the National Parks I hold great memories of each visit. My wife is "done" with Grand Canyon, but each time I sit on the porch of Hermit's Rest and look out over the canyon, I feel as if I am home, Not home in some sense of a roof over my head, but "home" in the sense of a primordial feeling of belonging. Something in the canyon speaks to a very deep part of our psyche, the "lizard brain" that remains at the deep center of our evolved human minds. We all come from the earth and to the earth we shall return and the Grand Canyon reminds of the tie with great force.

Over the years we have visited many parks, including the large one in are own backyard, the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. We have also been to Yosemite multiple times, including an amazing trip with some Italian relatives who braved the 6 hour drive for one night and two days in the park, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, Grand Canyon, Joshua Tree, Timpanagos Cave in Utah, along with all too short trips to Zion and Bryce Canyon. We made a special trip to Dinosaur National Monument, braving sub-zero temperatures to get there. Our latest National Park was the newly formed Cuyahoga Valley National Park on our recent trip back to our hometowns in Ohio.

One of the most interesting aspects of visiting US National Parks is how many international citizens visit. On a visit to Lassen Volcanic National Park in Northern California we spent several hours hiking along the trial to Bumpass Hell without hearing a word of English. If only we could appreciate our own National Parks as much as people from other countries.

As my son, Joseph, grows, I sense it is time to return to our National Parks and other state and local parks, National Forests, National Moments and more. He has been added to our more recent visits and I am mapping out a whole new series of trips with him in mind. I have always wanted to visit to Yellowstone National Park and as I grow older it become more imperative that I make that trip regardless of the cost of time involved.

This Saturday, as the summer heat begins to ebb, I will get back out into the mountains by visiting Charmlee Regional Park near Malibu for a Full Moon Hike. We have visited there often to hike, hunt the St. Patrick's Day butterflies, see how fire and man have effected the property and look out into the Pacific from its high bluffs. You can join this hike, too. You'll find complete information on the web site at http://www.nps.gov/samo/planyourvisit/events.htm.

As the Fall begins, take some time to get out into nature -- out into the woods, the mountains and streams and re-engage with the world that surrounds you. I can guarantee that you will find your life lightened, your mood elevated and your world just a little more beautiful.

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At 12:05 AM, Anonymous Duke said...

Nice posting Doug. The Ken Burns series has inspired us as well, with plans for better times to visit and camp as much as possible.
One short story - My dad worked as a customs officer at the LAX and one day in the late 1970's he brought home two German tourists - two guys in their early 20's. They came here with a couple of thousand dollars and a plan the to see as many National Parks as possible. They were going to buy a car for less than a $1000 and drive out across the desert. We talked them into renting a car - more dependable, and so off they went. They had about 20 days and made a big loop heading East to the Grand Canyon, Bridges, White Sands, Carlsbad Caverns, Death Valley, Yosemite, Sequoia and Kings Canyon, and eventually back here. I was amazed and envious of their trek. They came from a distant land to see the natural wonders in my back yard. Time to hit the road.

At 12:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nice post Doug. It's easy to overlook the beauty we have in our own backyard. Time to hit the road


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