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Something to add to your Bucket List

Denali National Park, Alaska

I am a National Park fan.  My love of these great parks has grown however since viewing the Ken Burns documentary, “National Parks: America’s Best Idea.”  Ken, and his co-collaborator Dayton Duncan, bring you not only a cinematic and pictorial collage of these magnificent sights, they also bring to you the story of the heart and soul of America the Beautiful, as manifested through the lands that have been set aside for our enjoyment.  You are introduced to the individuals who made the National Parks a reality, and who today carry on the tradition of preserving these important areas of our nation.

Burns’ and Dayton’s masterpiece of both historical storytelling and breathtaking cinematography take the viewer on a trip from the first moment the idea was conceived to the present, all the while transferring through their mastery the intoxicating and spiritual experience of being in those wonderful places. Take a moment and enjoy park ranger Shelton Johnson’s reflection on one of his own spiritual awakenings in the heart of Yellowstone (actually the full clip is worth a watch):

The entire documentary is as enchanting as this clip and once you’ve begun the journey with Burns and Dayton you will find it difficult to turn back.  You will be hooked.  Don’t miss the bears of Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska at around 17:10 on the above clip.

As part of this journey you will meet several very pivotal figures in the establishment and progress of the National Park system.  Burns describes the story of the National Parks as

“…A bottom up story, of people who just happened to have fallen in love with a place and were willing to devote in some cases their lives and their fortune, their sacred honor, to creating a wonderful place that we now get to enjoy.”

While most people credit Teddy Roosevelt with creating the bulk of the park system, our citizen-owned majestic vistas would not have come about without the individual efforts of such people as John Muir, who traveled through and wrote extensively of Yosemite.  He found his own spiritual awakening in this “tabernacle” as he often described it, and shared that idea with anyone who came across him in the park or who may have read his books and papers on the subject. Muir also visited and fought for preservation of many other areas and became the first president of the Sierra Club.

There are countless others who have impacted our lives through the establishment of the park system and, but for Burns and Dayton’s film, we may never have come to appreciate their efforts.  Steven Mather, the first Director of the National Park Service who dedicated his life and fortune to seeing that the parks would always have an official government system to protect their beauty; George Dorr, who expended a life’s fortune to purchase the land that is now Acadia National Park in Maine;  Lancelot Jones, who refused to sell his land to developers but instead to the National Park Service so that it would be protected for all time as the Key Biscayne National Monument.  There are so many more, and you will be introduced to most of them for the first time through this film.

As a spiritual experience, I too have discovered by visiting these parks what John Muir wrote of on many occasions:

We are now in the mountains, and they are in us. Kindling enthusiasm; making every nerve quiver; filling every pore and cell of us. Our flesh and bone tabernacle seems transparent as glass to the beauty about us. Neither old nor young; sick nor well; but immortal.

But even more unexpectedly, I’ve experienced a reinvigoration of my love for our Democracy.  This film revealed how our National Park system stands as one of the greatest examples of democracy, illustrating what our government can do when it establishes a program that is truly “of the people, by the people” and most importantly “for the people.”  All Americans, regardless of race, creed, economic status, gender, age, or religious belief, own these places of natural splendour and can enter them and be amazed.  Everyone is equal there; it is the land that reigns supreme.

As Dayton notes, the National Park system is “an American invention” and Juanita Greene, a journalist profiled in the film, observes how the parks represent “a symbol of democracy when it works well, at it’s best.”  Shelton captures this feeling in a recollection of his first moment in Yellowstone as he approached the stone arch that bears the words: “For the benefit of enjoyment of the people.”

The documentary “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” lays out a history of these sacred spaces; places that are right in our backyards.  It also tells the story of great people who sacrificed much to bestow this priceless gift upon us and our children.  They are the people who fought back against those seeking to exploit these areas for profit and cared not that destruction of these lands would be a result.  Through this film you will meet these men and women who dedicated their lives and their fortunes so that we and our children, and our childrens’ children may enjoy the natural wonders of our nation.  This documentary is a must watch for all Americans.  I hope you take the opportunity.

Beginning this Wednesday, January 27, 2009, PBS will be running this great series once again.  You can watch it on TV, or online — Information on when and how can be found HERE.  I highly recommend it. (For more information about the National Parks visit http://www.nps.gov.)

Traveling to Acadia National Park this summer, and we hope to soon visit Glacier National Park and gaze across the magnificence of Crater Lake.  We also long to see the majestic mountains of Zion and Rocky Mountain National parks, the brilliant colored “hoodoos” of Bryce Canyon and the layers of water-cut earth that is the Grand Canyon in the next several years.  These are wonderful places — and always remember that they belong to all of us.  They are both our heritage and our legacy.

So, “Which National Park(s) will you add to *your* Bucket List?”  Here is a video montage of all 58 parks to help you decide; and please share your own fond memories of visits to National Parks.  It is only in a National Park that you can experience…

The view from Glacier Point, Yosemite National Park
The breathtaking falls of Yosemite
Yellowstone Falls
One of Yellowstone’s many prismatic pool springs
The big beautiful sky of Yellowstone
Imagine the experience of being this close to such a magnificent animal — and then actually live it at Yellowstone
And captivating views of the Madison River that greet you as you enter Yellowstone

136 Responses

  1. Gods!!

    That is so beautiful… Thank you for sharing.

  2. I must say what a beautiful tribute! I’m listening to the video now…have to go back and watch.

    • I think I’ve watched that clip of Shelton Johnson and the winter in Yellowstone a hundred times. It’s actually the beginning of Episode 2. (there are 6 total)

  3. My mom’s goal was to make to every single one before she died. We spent nearly every august of my life in a pick up truck with a camper on top trying to get the goal. This country has some amazing geography. We started rehitting them too when my oldest was born until my mom couldn’t make the trips any more.

    • I remember you said you’ve been to several, including Zion and Bryce Canyon, right?

    • How wonderful! Even though your mom didn’t reach her goal, you all had great experiences together.

  4. Wow, you got me all interested so I went to the PBS website only to find out that the times posted for my area are crazy…like 1:00 am and 3:00 am. I think they want people to buy the DVD or dvr it…but I don’t have one!

    • You can watch them online. — no dvd or times needed.

    • Check back at PBS after Wednesday — they usually put the videos up for online viewing after the day it airs.

      • I’m going to see. There site said they don’t post the whole film.

        • I watched the whole segments back in September when it first ran. You may also be able to get it at your library.

  5. Very pretty indeed and very calming among all the aggro around!

    • Yes…whenever I’m stressed — as I’ve been lately — I seek refuge in the beauty of these parks. The DVD of this documentary was a great gift for my mental health.

      • Was just going to say going to these parks would be a great stress relief.

  6. BTW, when I was around 12 my parents took us out west to Yellow Stone and Mount Rushmore. I loved Mount Rushmore and I always wanted to go back but I thought the awe I felt as a kid wouldn’t be there as an adult. When my son was around 12, fourteen years or so ago, I made the journey back and I have to say I was thrilled. It was everything I remembered. Standing there, it’s just amazing when you think about how it was created and the outstanding natural beauty of the area. For me it is an amazing site of the combination of nature and man but it makes me feel overwhelmingly patriotic. I guess that is why I fell in love with the place. However, I didn’t know about Sturgis motorcycle rally. You can’t get a motel during that time for hundreds of miles, so make your plans in advance. That was in August!

  7. Wow, SoD, great pics. Yosemite is one of my favorite places on Earth. I haven’t been to Yellowstone, but your photos make me want to see both parks.


    • Yes, Yellowstone is an awesome place. You can’t go 5 minutes without encountering something amazing, be it scenery, a geothermal feature, or wildlife. Bison tend to cross the roads by the hundreds at times. It’s really cool.

  8. Beautiful. Are you going to drive around to different parks like The Moon By Night? I loved that book. Other kids liked the love story, I kept rereading the descriptions of the topography and scenery. 😉

    • We’re planning one trip to Utah, (St George) which will allow us to be positioned in a place centered between Bryce Canyon, the Grand Canyon, and Zion National Park.

      For Acadia, we’re driving; and for Glacier National Park we’re considering taking the Amtrack train which takes you right there.

      • My partner and I did a 400 mile bicycle ride that started in St. George. We didn’t go to the Grand Canyon, but we did go to Zion and Bryce and climbed a 10,000 foot pass in a thunderstorm. That was pretty intense, but the storm cleared and we had a 26 mile downhill run in clear weather. I got engaged that trip, in the Queen’s Garden in Bryce. Great memories, and great landscape. You and your camera will have a field day out there.

        • Wow! that sounds so amazing!

          • It was, SoD. That day on the mountain I will never forget. And Bryce! It’s one of the darkest places on Earth at night. I saw the Milky Way there one night, standing outside my tent, like it was water colored across the night sky. Very beautiful.

          • wonderful…just wonderful. Thanks for sharing that.

      • That’s so cool. I looked at some of the pictures on the National Parks websites–you won’t be disappointed. 🙂

  9. Maybe the US needs also an expense scandal like the UK

    Congress went to Denmark, you got the bill!


  10. Thanks for this post. I have heard wonderful things about this series – which I misses the first time, but won’t miss the second time around!

  11. And BTW, we could all use something (else) to watch tomorrow. 😉

  12. Great Smokey Mountain Nat’l Park is driving distance for most East Coasters and is gorgeous. We’ll be revisiting Yellowstone this summer and adding Grand Teton Nat’l Park this time. I can’t wait.

    • We’re definitely going back to Yellowstone at some point. There is so much to see and do — and the Tetons are right there, just south of the West Thumb junction.

    • We were definitely thinking about the Great Smokey Nat’l Park for this year, but opted for Acadia to add in some whale watching. I’m sure we’ll go there at some point.

    • I love the smokies. It’s not too far, so we’ve gone lots of times. Highly recommended.

  13. I too love that series as well as the parks themselves. Most incredible mind blowing things going.

  14. Less traveled than the big time, grand parks, but a few in my region I like a lot are the Appalachian National Scenic Trail/Blue Ridge Parkway area, Shenandoah National Park, and a really special place, the Assateague Island National Seashore.

  15. What a beautiful essay, SoD. I just hope one day you make it to the badlands of North Dakota to see Theodore Roosevelt National Park. It is gorgeous–and so wild.

    • I just looked it up on the NPS site — it does look great. One more on the list!

    • I just needed a break from the depressing news and saw that they were showing the series again on PBS — I still get tears in my eyes when I watch the documentary. I’m so glad my family bought it for me for Christmas. The parks seem to touch my soul.

      • Those photos are absolutely breathtaking! Everytime I drive across country I find myself marveling at the beauty of our country. There are still so many places that are unspoiled. We are really lucky.

        • What really struck me about the video is how many people we’ve never even heard of (Steven Mather, Horace Albright, George Dorr, Lancelot Jones, etc.) who dedicated their lives to preserving that beauty and fighting the corporate interests that saw the land as nothing more than a source of profit.

          Yes, we are truly lucky. The story of John Muir is so inspiring. It was heartbreaking to see his utter distress over the flooding of the Hetch-Hetchy Valley in Yosemite to build a dam for San Francisco’s water system. He died soon after the decision was made but thankfully never lived to see his beloved valley destroyed.

          • I live near Mt. Rainier National Park – well near enough for a day trip.

            I still had no idea what an incredible contribution Mather, Muir and others had made to the entire system until I watched the series on PBS. Their names show up on roads and landmarks all over in the park.

          • whoa. What’s my “separated at birth twin” sister doing so far away from me in PA? 🙂

          • Too funny! I was thinking the same thing – it just figures this would be the refuge for you as well.

      • I know what you mean. The parks touch my soul. I have been to several national parks, including Crater Lake, Olympia Forest, Yosemite, Canyonlands, Monument Valley, Bryce, Zion, Cedar Breaks (don’t miss that one on your trip. it is further north, but worth the trip), the Grand Canyon (North and South Rims, and I have rafted down it twice), Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier. Your postings have given me an inspiration to visit more of them

        They are healing for the soul. 🙂

        • Oh birdgal, how lucky you are to have seen so many! I hope to have a list like yours someday.

          • I used to do a lot of white water rafting and visited many of these places during our travels. We also rafted down the Green River through Dinosaur National Monument. Spectacular!

  16. I would love to go to Katmai, but it seems like a trip for the more “rugged” types — small planes and boats needed for access. I don’t know if there are strong enough sedatives to get me there.

    • There is a National Park on Cape Cod too. It isn’t that big, but the sand dunes are amazing.

      • Yes, I’ve been there. I loved Cape Cod National Seashore. My daughter and her fiance are going there this summer.

  17. The best “deal” in the US is the National Park “Golden Age Passport”..the senior park pass. Age 62, $10 and you get a lifetime pass the US park system.

    • That is a great deal, and I just turned 62.

    • I have that pass and it is very useful. When my daughter came out last year we went to Death Valley. That is an awesome place.



  18. I’m waiting for Yellowstone to erupt and come to me.

    • My first reaction was “No, no, no, no, you don’t want that.” But upon reflection, it is more likely that it will come to me before I get to it.

      • Purplefinn, I hope that you get the opportunity. Yellowstone is a truly amazing place. It really brought home to me the sense that our Earth is a living, breathing, heaving object. You come to realize how small we really are in the big picture of time and space.

        • Thanks SoD. I’m not ruling it out, but I’ve taken a local turn lately. I’ve been to a few national parks and would go back to any one or a new one. I’ve been hitting local state parks as an economical low consumption alternative. Caledonia and Cowans Gap are close and offer good interpretive programs.

          I can’t wait until the April and May bird walks start in our local park. Anyone else here keep a bird list?

  19. Great thing to put on your bucket list! I’ve got “Visit every national park” on mine. So far I’ve only been to Zion and Bryce. I hope to visit more in the near future. They are probably one of the best things that the United States has to offer. What’s everyone’s favorite national park? Just curious.

  20. Beautiful photos!

    When I was in 10th grade, a very, very long time ago, I spent the year with Trailside Country School, which morphed into Audubon Expedition Institute, and is now a graduate program at Lesley University. But back then, we spent a year traveling to most states, and visited many National and state parks, even St. Johns in the USVI. The best part was sleeping outside every night. The motto was, “Our Classroom is Wild America.” We also studied with the Amish, Native Americans, and incorporated traditional music, etc. It was pretty incredible.

    A couple of years ago we went to the top of Cadillac Mtn. in Acadia to see the sunrise. Highly recommended. You’ll have a wonderful time in Acadia.

    • Sarah
      how lucky you are to have had that experience. What great memories you must have.

      I have been to Bryce Canyon and Zion and Monument Valley and the Grand Canyon. For those who go to the Grand Canyon make sure you see the North rim as well as the South rim.
      We sometimes forget what a beautiful and diversified country we have.



  21. St. John, oops.

  22. Mt. Rainier National Park.

    Link .

    Of course, clicking on the image makes it huger.

    • I love Mount Rainier National Park.

    • Beautiful!

      • I’ve been to the Grand Canyon, but I didn’t get to stay very long. It was amazing to see. I’ve been to the Petrified Forest also. I spent a week at the Indiana Dunes when I was a kid.

        I’ve been to Cape Cod National Seashore and Acadia. Actually, the entire town of Lowell, MA is a National Park. I went to school there, so I’ve seen all the Mill exibits, etc. There is actually a national park right near me, but it’s nothing special–Minuteman National Park.

        I’d love to go to Yellowstone.

        • Any tips on Acadia?

          • Not really, I went camping there years ago, but we ended up getting caught in a terrible nor’easter while we were there, so we didn’t see much. Actually it was terrible. I’ve always wanted to go back there. The drive up through ME was wonderful. Vermont is gorgeous too. You should try to spend some time there if you can.

          • I think we’re going to stay just outside of Boston for a night on the way. Hubby is working on the itinerary now. I’m really looking forwards to it.

        • A few years ago I went to the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park. I didn’t remember that it was a National Park. I love to visit mounds. They are all over the Midwest. I stopped there in Chillocothe, Ohio and stayed two nights in a cheap motel so I could spend some time looking at all the mounds in the area. I would love to go to Cahokia.

          Really my favorite so far has been Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The badlands are so gorgeous, and we saw lots of wild animals–and birds. North Dakota has so many birds!

  23. This post is very inspiring. And well-timed–I’ve been feeling burnt out and over the SOTU before it even gets here. Thanks, SoD.

    I can’t wait to take my family to some of these parks; time to start planning….I think we’ll start with Crater Lake with Granny this Spring.

  24. We are taking the kids to see Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii this March, can’t wait. I have seen many others, from the Statue of Liberty to the National Mall, Canyonlands to St John, they are all treasures. They are all in such need of maintenance I hope Obama does not declare their upkeep to be ‘discretionary spending’.

    • There are some beautiful scenes of Volcanoes Park in the Burns’ documentary. They flew over some active volcanoes and you could see the lava oozing out in great detail.

      • My husband and I did that before children and it was incredible and terrifying. I am afraid that I will not be able to do that with my children on the plane and their grandparents would kill me if I did.

        • I could never do that for real, but I live vicariously though Burns and Dayton’s film. 🙂

  25. OT: looks like the new PR push isn’t going so well…

    Pols: Tri-Staters Not In Love With ‘New’ Obama
    President In Deep Trouble With Middle Class; Many Think His Attempt To ‘Reconnect’ Shows Serious Desperation


  26. The one good thing about growing up in Kansas is that you are in the middle of the country and everything is pretty much equal distance away.

    As a kid we traveled all (and I do mean all) of the time and all over the country – and mostly in cars without air conditioning. It was the 50s.

    As a result I was in most of the lower 48 before I graduated high school with one exception – Nebraska. Nebraska is directly north of Kansas and the border was only 120 miles away but it became a family joke that we would not cross into the state. My parents would take an extra day to drive around it and not through it – just for the hell of it.

    My mother died in November of 2008 and my dad in November of 2009. We (myself and my siblings) have decided to meet back in Kansas next summer and drive to Nebraska. Both of my parents had a great sense of humor so we have decided to take a small portion of their ashes and scatter them in Nebraska -just for the hell of it. We will then drink a bottle (or two) of champagne in their memory and talk about our family travels.

    • How touching. Thanks for sharing this.

    • I envy you! There are so many places in our country I want to visit. In a few weeks I’m heading to Denver but I’m afraid the weather will keep me from traveling to Rocky Mt. Nat’l Park.

      • I lived in Denver for a couple of years back in the 60s. I moved there to ski and I was able to get a job where I worked four days and was off three allowing me to get in a lot of time on the slopes.

        I don’t ever remember any of the passes being closed for more than a few hours because access to the ski areas is everything. So, I doubt that you will have any trouble getting to Estes Park. Have a great time.

        Will you be driving yourself?

        • Yes…I’ll be all by myself — is it a terrifying drive? (I’ve got some phobias about mountain roads that have sharp curves, no guardrails, and steep drop offs.) Usually the hubby drives, but he won’t be with me this trip.

          • You probably won’t want to drive yourself – Berthoud Pass can be a little scary for all the reasons you mentioned.

            I think you can probably find some sort of limo service or private tour bus – its only about 60 miles from Denver. Enjoy.

            I lived across the street from Denver University and worked downtown near the mint. Where will you be staying? I haven’t been in Denver since 1982.

          • I will definitely look into a tour then. I’m a skeerrdee cat on those mountain roads. I’m not sure exactly where the hotel is. I’m still waiting for more logistical info. But it’s supposedly about 45 minutes from the airport.

    • Really beautiful post, thanks.

    • I lived in Lawrence, KS when I was a kid–till I was 8. I still have many fond memories of kansas. We went camping in some park in Colorado when I was a kid. I remember it was amazing.

      • That was supposed to nest under Dee’s comment about growing up in Kansas.

        • Isn’t KB in Kansas?

          • Yes – I think she lives in Lawrence.

          • She lives in somewhere around Kansas City, but she used ot live in Lawrence. My dad got his Ph.D. at the University of Kansas, so we lived there about five years.

          • (waving) Sadly, yes — I’m in Kansas this very minute. Just south of Kansas City, Kansas these days. But, I lived in Lawrence for 12 years and one of my sisters still lives there.

      • You probably camped at Estes Park (Rocky Mountain National Forest). It was/is a big family destination. We didn’t ever camp – my mother didn’t like bugs and snakes. We stayed in the small cabins at Estes.

        Lawrence is in the pretty part of the state. I am from the middle – nothing there but grain elevators and wheat fields. That is why we traveled so much.

        • I like the wheat fields. I really miss the wide open spaces and long straight flat roads. Isn’t that weird. But that’s what I grew up with. I was born in ND and lived all over the Midwest as a kid. I hope to move back to Indiana soon. I can’t stand the city anymore. I love New England, but all the trees make me feel claustrophobic.

          • I agree – trees make me claustrophobic also. I live in North Carolina and if I can’t get to Kansas (or Oklahoma where I lived before moving here) and I need a fix, I get in my car and drive to the beach. Its only 2 hours away and standing on a barrier island and looking out at the ocean I feel at home. The colors, the tide (like waving wheat fields), watching the sun actually drop below the horizon and seeing the stars without all the light clutter totally smooths me out.

            Later this year I will be moving back to Oklahoma – I am done with the east coast,

  27. This is OT but somewhat related. I received a Consumer Reports mailer that touted a “music machine” that plays nature sounds or white noise. It has a sleep timer and can be adjusted to fade in and out. They said that tests showed that it was equally or more effective as a sleep inducer than some medications.

    I dug out my “Gentle Rain” CD and tried it with my stereo. It was much more relaxing than listening to the radio (BBC news usually). I’ve ordered an Ocean Waves CD, because I think that will be even more effective.

    Even piped in nature can be healing.

    • I agree 100%. I have several of those CDs and they are very meditative and peace-bringing.

    • I like those CD’s too. I used to have a thunderstorm one that I loved. I do have to listen to the radio to fall asleep sometimes. I guess I should try that again.

  28. BTW, thanks to all for indulging me in this wonderful “anti-news” discussion distraction. I was really burnt out by current events and needed something inspirational to perk me up.

    • It has done me a world of good!

      • Also, does anyone else find park ranger Shelton Johnson amazing? I just love him! and he’s a real ranger — they really picked someone who could convey the sense of the parks.

        • I agree. He’s outstanding. PBS keeps repeating the short film on filming the National Parks. He’s featured in it, and I can listen to his heartfelt words over and over.

  29. Another interesting place is White Sands. Different from many of the national parks.


    • when I went to NM, I was trying to see what parks were there but I totally missed that one.

      • It has been many years since I lived in NM and visited White Sands and Carlsbad Caverns. I enjoyed both but don’t know how things may have changed.

        • I love New Mexico. I spent a few months in Abuquerque in 1970. I got to go back there for a psychology conference a few years ago. I rented a car and drove all over and went up to Santa Fe. I didn’t want to leave.

          Another place I’d really like to go and spend some time is North Carolina.

          • Have you ever been to Tuscon? Saguaro National Park is breathtaking, although I was there in April and allergic to something in bloom. It was so bad my eyes swelled shut as we drove through the canyon desert looking for javelinas.

          • I lived in Los Alamos in the early ’70s. Fantastic part of the country and a great climate to me.

  30. If anyone is touring the Zion, Bryce area, a worthwhile stop is the ‘Best Friends Animal Society” facility in Angle Canyon near Kanab Ut. This is the animal rescue/rehab facility where Vick’s dogs were sent.

  31. I haven’t been to very many. But the first time I saw Yosemite Valley was one of the greatest experiences of my life.

    • Episode 1 of the documentary series spends a great deal of time on Yosemite and John Muir. You’ll get goosebumps all over again.

  32. Thanks for a post on something so renewing and soothing.

    I’m fortunate to live in a state with 3 nat’l parks: Mount Rainier NP, Olympic NP, and North Cascades NP. Check out the webcam for the NCNP http://www.nature.nps.gov/air/webcams/parks/nocacam/nocacam.cfm on a clear day. I’ve climbed 3 of the peaks in the distance.

    Since it usually rains so much up here, you may have to try that link a few different times to see anything but grey foreground 😉

  33. OT: Thought you might want be interested in Hillary’s response to criticisms of US efforts in Haiti. Her one-year anniversary townhall at State was also good. Stacy at Secretary Clinton blog — http://secretaryclinton.wordpress.com/ — has two recent posts on both, as well as video of the town hall.

    I’m glad Hillary decided to join the Yemen meeting in London instead of suffering thru the SOTU. I’m sure she cannot imagine having to applaud a Republican president masking as a populist Democrat. And I bet she doesn’t want to be photographed having to kiss the air with Chuck Schumer and all these backstabbing Democrats.

    Oh, and for all the Obots’ criticisms of Bill Clinton’s centrist, “small-bore” policies and budget cutting when he balanced the budget, one thing no one can deny is that he also substantially cut defense spending for most of his two terms. Only towards the end of his 2nd term did military spending begin to rise, primarily on the development of high-tech planes (http://tpzoo.wordpress.com/2008/11/22/defense-spending-reaganbush-i-vs-clinton-vs-bush-ii/).

  34. Thanks for posting! I always took my kids camping- starting in New England and things like “The Old Man of the Mountain.” Took my oldest to the Grand Canyon for his tenth birthday. He is the one in the military- we have since built family vacations around his postings. When he was in Alaska we went to Denali- with my Mom- the mountain was visible the whole three days we got to spend in the park. Then down to the Kenai Peninsula.
    Last trip was to Yellowstone- drove from their posting in Idaho through the Grand Tetons- my screen saver is one of the photos we took out there on my birthday.
    Son and family will be returning to the States (please God- safety for all our troops at home and abroad) this August- wherever they land there is sure to be a National Park family vacation nearby!
    Hubby and I want to buy an RV when we retire and spend the rest of our lives touring the National Parks. By then we will qualify for the Senior Pass and the Park Service has a campground host program we are looking into!
    Thanks for posting- I look forward to watching the show again!

    • Wow. You’ve been to Denali. That is my hubby’s dream — Alaska.

      Enjoy your RV travels. I think that’s what we’ll be doing when we retire also.

    • I have a Senior Pass—$10 and free admission for the rest of your life. It is the American Dream Delivered.

  35. My favorite quote from John Muir: I discovered that to go out, was to go in.

    SOD: I highly recommend hiking the John Muir Trail—it is the most spectacular landscape in the world I think. I am planning to revisit it this year to celebrate my 70th birthday. What a treat.

  36. Thanks SoD- I forgot to mention that my daughter just mailed back her employment papers- she is going to work in Yellowstone as a wrangler this summer- I am jealous! She will be working for the resort comapny that has the concession there and hoping to get winter work at one of the other parks they serve! So my youngest has the bug too!

  37. Thanks SOD. My best friend and I are taking a road trip this summer, maybe Yosemite will be one of our stops. :p

    • Hey isis!! where ya been? Yes — if you get the chance to see Yosemite, please do. You will not regret it. And don’t forget to travel down to Mariposa Grove and see the giant Redwoods. If you come in from the Merced/El Portal Entrance or even from San Fran for that matter, you can go straight towards Glacier Point and then back and south to Mariposa Grove.
      Here is a park map: http://www.nps.gov/yose/planyourvisit/upload/parkmap508.gif

      Also, Shelton Johnson, from the above videos, is a ranger in Yosemite that does interpretive talks in the park on “the role of the Buffalo Soldiers, the 9th Cavalry and the 24th Mounted Infantry, in protecting the national parks.”

      You can access current programs at this nps.gov link:

      You may also want to read some of John Muir’s writings ahead of time to get an enhanced appreciation of the valley.


  38. Wonderful post — fabulous pictures! Thank you!


  39. Thanks for this post! I’ve been to some parks in the western states – Yosemite, Grand Canyon, Bryce, Zion, Crater Lake – all incredibly beautiful (no words to describe), but I’d love to see the Smokey Mts. and others, esp. Yellowstone and Glacier. Geez. It’s way past time for a journey. Beautiful photos SOD, and a much appreciated break from all things political.

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