Great American Outdoors Act

Yay!!! Great news!

Yesterday, the President signed the Great American Outdoors Act into law. This measure guarantees maximum annual funding for a federal program to acquire and preserve land for public use.

This will drastically improve access to trails and public lands to conserve the places we all love to hike and address the long overdue maintenance needs that have resulted in trail closures at our National Parks, Forests, Refuges, and other public lands.

Two examples of many high priority deferred maintenance projects include:
– The Grand Loop and entrance roads at Yellowstone National Park are inadequate for current visitor needs. More than half of the park’s $586 million maintenance backlog is needed for long-overdue road repairs.
– The aging buildings at Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historical Park in Georgia have $12 million in maintenance needs, including repair work at the Ebenezer Baptist Church where the late civil rights leader preached and where his funeral was held.

Two examples of many high priority conservation needs include:
– 470 acres of scenic, culturally significant lands at Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska, including two parcels sacred to the Huna Tlingit people and one island parcel surrounded by marine wilderness with potential for camping, fishing, wildlife watching and other recreational pursuits.
– 153 acres at Big South Fork National Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee that represent the most threatened tracts of land within the park. These lands provide refuge for a variety of threatened and endangered species and are especially vulnerable to development if not acquired through the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

This new law will definitely help our public lands here!

Enjoy a moment of some pretty great news!
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Happy 111th to Zion!

Happy 111th anniversary to Zion National Park!

Utah’s first national park showcases some pretty unique things here. You can follow the paths where ancient native people and pioneers walked. You can gaze up at massive sandstone cliffs of cream, pink, and red that soar into a brilliant blue sky. You can experience the wilderness in a narrow slot canyon. 

Zion’s elevations range from 3,666 to 8,726 feet creating this diverse topography and habitats and species here. This park also has geological features over 250 million years old.

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Zion is a pretty national park to check out sometime! If you head out there now, make sure to check out the website for shuttle information and any changes due to the pandemic.

Happy anniversary, Zion!

National Mall Anniversary

Happy 230th anniversary to the National Mall.  The National Mall is centrally located in Washington, DC.

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The National Mall is America’s most visited national park and nicknamed “America’s front yard”.

The Mall area preserves the Washington Monument, Thomas Jefferson Memorial, Lincoln Memorial, Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial, D.C. War Memorial, World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Vietnam Veterans Memorial, George Mason Memorial, Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to the White House, the National Mall, East and West Potomac Parks, Constitution Gardens, 60 statues, and numerous other historic sites, memorials, and parklands.

I remember seeing the National Mall for the first time. I had traveled to DC for an internship after graduating college. In my free time, I walked over to check out a few sights and knew this area would be an ideal place to see some iconic memorials.

I grew up seeing the skyscrapers in Chicago. I’ve seen really, really tall buildings. I’ve seen open areas and parks. Yet, this place wowed me. The beauty, the history, the size, the importance of it all truly awed me.

I can’t wait to back to this part of our national park system. It brings together our country in unique ways. It also provides a peaceful place to encourage change in our country.

According to the National Park Service, “The open spaces and parklands envisioned by Pierre L’Enfant’s plan, which was commissioned by President George Washington, created an ideal stage for national expressions of remembrance, observance, celebration, and expression of First Amendment rights.”

If you’re in the DC area, definitely make some time and check out the National Mall area.

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Happy 230th!

Happy 109th to Devils Postpile!

Happy 109th anniversary to Devils Postpile National Monument established back 1911! This national monument is located in the heart of the Sierra Nevada Mountains in California and cover about 800 acres.

The Postpile serves as the main attraction here and is pretty cool to see in person! Current studies suggest that the Postpile was formed less than 100,000 years ago when a cooling lava flow cracked into multi-sided columns. This formation is a rare sight and towers about 60 feet high!

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You can also check the 101 foot high Rainbow Falls here along with many mountain trails.

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While it’s lesser known than the nearby Yosemite National Park, this national monument is definitely worth a visit!

Make sure to check for information online about it before visiting due to the current pandemic.

Happy anniversary to Devils Postpile National Monument!

Hiking Stick

Since March, we have spent lots of time at home. And spent plenty of time dreaming of hiking and traveling again. To help get excited for future hikes, I made this fun hiking stick.  I have some real hiking poles, but thought it would be a fun activity to paint my own hiking stick.

My kids found this stick in our yard and discarded it for being too big for their project at the time.  I checked out the stick and it was a perfect size for hiking.

This stick was pretty smooth and didn’t need sanding, but some others might need to be sanded. I painted the sections and later sprayed it with a sealer. I opted with a colorful, rainbow look, but you could do any colors and patterns. You could even add stickers, ribbons, or other decorations to make it your own style.

Just thought I’d share a fun (and easy) hiking activity to do at home!

Happy Father’s Day

“Sometimes I think my papa is an accordion. When he looks at me and smiles and breathes, I hear the notes.” ~ Markus Zusak, The Book Thief 

Fathers exist all over children’s literature as well quotes about them. Enjoy this one particular quote above from the international bestseller, The Book Thief.

Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there (and all the fictional ones too)!

Educate and Act

Racism, violence, and hate have no place in our world.  Black lives do matter. And silence is not an option.

Take the opportunity to learn more and get a better understanding of the institutionalized and systematic racism in our country.  Here are a few books listed below to check out.

Books:

  • Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah
  • How To Be An Antiracist by Ibram X. Kendi
  • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo
  • Biased by Dr. Jennifer Eberhardt
  • Wilmington’s Lie: The Murderous Coup of 1898 and the Rise of White Supremacy by David Zucchino
  • Raising White Kids: Bringing Up Children In A Racially Unjust America by Jennifer Harvey
  • Waking Up White by Debby Irving
  • Citizen: An American Lyric by Claudia Rankine
  • Brutal Imagination by Cornelius Eady
  • The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration by Isabel Wilkerson
  • A Spectacular Secret: Lynching in American Life and Literature by Jacqueline Goldsby
  • The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander
  • So You Want to Talk About Race by Ijeoma Oluo
  • Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi
  • Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

We can also support those organizations who are working to end social injustice. Click on their names to learn more about several organizations working hard on this front. Consider supporting them both financially and with your voice.  Many other organizations exist as I just listed a few here and not in any order.

Organizations:

You can do many things such as sign petitions, text and call legislators, donate to these organizations, educate yourself, donate supplies, protest in person or virtually, and more.  And vote.

“The defining question is whether the discrimination is creating equity or inequity. If discrimination is creating equity, then it is antiracist. If discrimination is creating inequity, then it is racist.”
Ibram X. Kendi, How to Be an Antiracist

 

Memorial Day

Today, we remember and honor all the brave men and women who gave their life for our country.

This federal holiday was originally known as Decoration Day, an occasion to decorate the graves of the war dead.

Take a moment and honor those who died while serving our country. Happy Memorial Day! 🇺🇸

Happy Mother’s Day!

“It is the custom of every good mother after her children are asleep to rummage in their minds and put things straight for next morning, repacking into their proper places the many articles that have wandered during the day. If you could keep awake (but of course you can’t) you would see your own mother doing this, and you would find it very interesting to watch her. It is quite like tidying up drawers. You would see her on her knees, I expect, lingering humorously over some of your contents, wondering where on earth you had picked this thing up, making discoveries sweet and not so sweet, pressing this to her cheek as if it were as nice as a kitten, and hurriedly stowing that out of sight. When you wake in the morning, the naughtinesses and evil passions with which you went to bed have been folded up small and placed at the bottom of your mind; and on the top, beautifully aired, are spread out prettier thoughts, ready for you to put on.”
― J. M. Barrie, The Adventures of Peter Pan

Mothers exist all over children’s literature as well quotes about them. Enjoy this one particular quote above from The Adventures of Peter Pan to celebrate this Scottish author’s birthday yesterday.

Happy Mother’s Day to all the mothers out there (and even to the fictional ones)!

National Park Movies

While we wait until we can go and visit a national park, check out a few movies here to enjoy some scenes from a variety of national parks.

  • Star Wars, A New Hope (1977) – Death Valley National in California – filmed some scenes on Tatooine here as well as some other scenes in the movie
  • Dances with Wolves (1990) – Badlands National Park in South Dakota- has a variety of scenes there including a pretty, mixed grass prairie landscape scene
  • The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997) – Redwoods National and State Parks in California – filmed some scenes here
  • Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969) – Zion National Park in Utah – Robert Redford and Paul Newman filmed some scenes here
  • Star Trek V, The Final Frontier (1989) – Yosemite National Park  in California – Captain Kirk decides to climb El Capitan in this film
  • Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) – Devils Tower National Monument in Wyoming – featured the tower as the aliens landing site
  • The Shining (1980) – Glacier National Monument in Montana – filmed the Going-to-the-Sun Road and a few other scenes here and the Overlook Hotel lounge set in the film was modeled after the Ahwahnee Hotel in Yosemite National Park
  • Into the Wild (2007) – Denali National Park and Preserve in Alaska – Sean Penn’s movie based on Jon Krakauer’s book set here
  • Rocky IV (1985) – Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming – filmed the Tetons as a stand in for scenes with his training in Siberia
  • Planet of the Apes (1968) – Glen Canyon National Recreation Area in Arizona and Utah – filmed the landing site for the astronaut crew there
  • Forrest Gump (1994) – National Mall in Washington DC – Forrest Gump described this scene as the happiest time of his life takes place here and Forrest also journeyed through Glacier National Park in his adventures
  • North by Northwest (1959) – Mount Rushmore National Memorial in South Dakota – Alfred Hitchcock movie with Cary Grant filmed some scenes here, but the final scene was filmed on a set which looked just like the memorial
  • E.T. (1982) – Redwoods National and State Parks in California – filmed some scenes here in the forest
  • Free Solo (2018) – Yosemite National Park in California – filmed the nonfiction movie here about a rock climber’s attempt to climb El Capitan

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Enjoy some movies while pretending to be in a national park!