The National Parks: A 46 year journey linking generation to generation

In 1971 my wife and I, both teachers, traveled across this country for our summer vacation from Brooklyn, NY. Our journey was 13,000 miles visiting as many National Parks and Monuments as we could. Our first National Monument was Bandelier and our first National Park, Rocky Mountain. We were hooked. This began a journey that has lasted 46 years. In December 1974 my first son was born. In July 1975 we where off again tenting and car camping all the way. In August 1976 my second son was born and in, July 1977 we loaded up the Chevrolet Suburban and headed out again. This continued for my family until the first son went off to college in 1992. We were not sure if the younger boy would come wihout his brother, but to our amazement he did.

In 2002 they both finished medical school and are now practioning physicians. Also, in 2002 my wife and I retired from our teaching professions. We used to collect patches and pins at all the national sites. Once we retired we started stamping “the book” and repeating all the places that we had gone to. In 2012 my younger son, who has 2 children and is a robotic surgeon, approached us and said “I WANT MY CHILDREN TO HAVE THE SAME EXPERIENCE I HAD, TRAVELING AROUND THE COUNTRY. The trip will be a great experience for the kids to really enjoy their grandparents.” We headed out from Newtown PA to Yellowstone National Park where we would meet their parents in 2 weeks. Their vacation was one week. The parents flew home and we traveled east with our grandkids for another 2 weeks. We visited and became Junior Rangers at 27 national sites. The next year the trip was aimed at the Grand Canyon visiting 26 national sites. For the past 5 years now, we have been traveling with David, our grandson, to national sites. He has become a Junior Ranger at about 115 sites. His father’s first Junior Ranger was in 1982 at Bandelier. We had that certificate framed. We love sending pictures home of David in the same parks, climbing the same ladders, hiking the same trails and loving cooking at the campsite just as his father did. Our trips are now being planned by David. We were invited up to his 5th grade class to do a program on the National Parks. We had a slide show prepared and David moderated instead of us. As he studies history and learns about important places he adds these places to his list, This year in school he was required to write a journal of “My Life As A Slave” and that took us to Atlanta, Mississippi and Louisiana, visiting slave plantations.

My wife and I are 69 years old and thoroughly enjoy the company of our 11 year old grandson. Hiking with him climbing and backpacking helps my wife and I stay young and enjoy America’s best idea. He loves the junior ranger programs and we do it along with him, Some parks now have started what they call senior ranger program(Arcadia, Cayahouga Valley, Petroglyghs) at this point in our parks career we have visited 382 national sites, hoping to complete the 411 in the near future. Our plans for 2017 include a road trip to Alaska to get many of the remote passport stamps and enjoy again the beauty of this country The reason he wants to drive to Alaska is because his father and uncle did it twice in the 1980s.

We asked David to draw or write about our travels for the cover of my travel ledger. The following is his poem:

Enjoying the small moments
Planning ahead
Always having company
Traveling the un-traveled
Learning is an adventure that never ends
Expecting the unexpected
Using Trip-Advisor
Thrive in the beauty of nature
Mountains are meant to be climbed
Rivers are meant to be crossed
Trails are meant to be traveled
Nature is meant to be explored
Don’t let age define you
Learning some National parks are good, the rest are great
Eating your way through
Camp - camping, it’s a no brainier
Never having a mind set
Surpassing your limits
Thinking the unthinkable
Always being prepared
Enjoying the journey
Going with the flow
Always having Plan B
Shooting for the moon, if you miss you will be among the stars
Never stop at good, always travel towards great
With risk comes great reward
Cooking on the campfire

Learn all the rules, and then break some – Mark Twain

Sincerely,
Saul and Carol

Bandelier National Monument

On the slopes of the Jemez Mountains in New Mexico, this monument commemorates the rich cultural history of the American Southwest. Humans have inhabited the canyons and mesas of the Bandelier area for more than 10,000 years. The Ancestral Puebloan people inhabited the region for more than 400 years, and their homes, carved from the rock walls of the Frijoles Canyon, are the primary attraction of the monument. The Bandelier Museum exhibits Ancestral Puebloan artifacts and tells the story of the evolution of the culture. The park also offers 70 miles of rugged trails for hikers of different abilities.

State(s): New Mexico

Established: 1916

“It has linked our family together. We loved the parks, but didn't realize the impact it had on our sons until we were given the opportunity to take the grandchildren with us to the parks. Some parks are very good, the rest are amazing. We have since got my brother and his wife "stamping the book". This is the first year that they have visited Glacier NP, Yellowstone NP, Tetons NP and the Badlands area. They said it was one of their best trips.”

National parks represent the best of America. Why do you care about protecting and preserving them? Tell us why parks matter to you!

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