Cherry Blossoms

What do you think about when you hear the words “Cherry Blossoms”? Many Americans picture the amazing trees set in the National Mall area of Washington DC and their beautiful blooms in the Spring.

These beautiful tress are in full bloom here in Northern California and I wanted to share a bit about how these trees ended up in a swampy Washington DC many years ago.

In 1901, Helen “Nellie” Herron Taft traveled to Manila, Philippines where she found a beautiful and inviting landscape along the river park area. In 1909, the First Lady saw potential to make our National Mall area more beautiful and started work on it.

In 1912, First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Iwa Chinda, the wife of the Japanese Ambassador, planted the first two cherry trees on the northern edge of the Tidal Basin in a simple ceremony and it ended up creating a lasting impact. In fact, the cherry trees as “landscape diplomacy” have symbolized positive Japanese-American relations repeatedly since that first planting.

You can thank a former First Lady the next time you visit Washington DC and see these beautiful trees. Also, this Cherry girl likes their name. 😉

Happy International Women’s Day

Happy International Women’s Day! Today celebrates the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women across the globe. I wanted highlight here a couple of the many women who have impacted our national park service. 

Clare Marie Hodges served as the first female park ranger in the national park service.  She worked as a teacher at the Yosemite Valley School and grew up visiting Yosemite National Park.  As World War I began, men were sent to serve and Yosemite needed park rangers. Clare applied to become a ranger in 1918 and wrote, “Probably, you’ll laugh at me. But, I want to be a ranger.” Park Superintendent Washington B. Lewis wrote back, “I beat you to it, young lady. It’s been on my mind for some time to put a woman on one of these patrols.”

Fran Mainella worked as the first female director of the national park service. President George W. Bush nominated her to this role in 2001 and the Senate confirmed. She worked in this job until 2006. Her first job in parks and recreation was as a playground counselor in Connecticut back in 1965.  She built her career around the parks and led the Florida State Parks before becoming the director of the national park service. From the start of her directorship, she stated “Our nation’s parks tell the story of America and the history of this country. National parks represent the soul of America and a gift to the world. They are places of great history, beautiful landscapes, protected ecosystems and endangered species.”

As we celebrate International Women’s Day, thank you to all the women who have played a role in our national park system, continue to do so today, and those coming in the future. 

“I believe that life should be lived so vividly and so intensely that thoughts of another life, or of a longer life, are not necessary.” ― Marjory Stoneman Douglas

149 Years!

Happy 149th birthday to America’s first national park, Yellowstone National Park!

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Check out some of my previous posts about Yellowstone by clicking here and here.  There are more blog posts about Yellowstone on here that you can find by just searching my blog by Yellowstone if you’re looking for more!

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Cheers to 149 years to this first and amazing national park!

Grand Canyon

Happy 102 years to the Grand Canyon National Park!

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President Teddy Roosevelt urged Americans to protect this great canyon, “What you can do is keep it for your children, your children’s children, and for all who come after you, as one of the great sights which every American should see.”

For more information on this amazing park, check out a previous blog by clicking here.

If you visit Las Vegas or Arizona, take the time and check out this grand national park! Definitely worth the time and journey!

Cheers to 102 years!

“Twenty & Odd”

Explore 400 years of African American experience through this short National Park Service (NPS) video, “Twenty & Odd”.

According to the NPS, this video serves as a visual tool to inform and highlight and to educate the nation as a whole about the trauma, resilience, and beauty of the African American experience in our country developed by the NPS staff and interns. This NPS film provides an opportunity to motivate, educate, inspire, and empower people.

Take about five minutes of your time and enjoy this important video.

Black History National Parks

Today’s post will highlight five national parks that honor black history during this month of Black History Month. Click on the links below to learn more about these important sites within our national park system and history.

Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site – This national historic site was the home to the “Father of Black History” located in Washington DC. Dr. Carter G. Woodson lived here from 1922 until his death in 1950. Before Dr. Woodson, very little accurate was written about the history about the lives and experiences of Americans of African descent. According to NPS, Dr. Woodson established Negro History Week here in 1926, which we celebrate today as Black History Month.

Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument – This national monument in Mississippi is one of the newer national park sites. Their home commemorates the legacies of two civil rights activists who devoted their lives to ending racial injustice against Black Americans through local and national activism.  According to NPS, the assassination of Medgar Evers in 1963 for his efforts to promote racial equality and social justice was one of the key catalysts for passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park – Located in Maryland, this national park honors Harriet Tubman’s bravery and leadership saving and guiding nearly 70 enslaved people to freedom. “When I found that I had crossed that line, I looked at my hands to see if I was the same person. There was such a glory over everything.”~ Harriet Tubman

Maggie L. Walker National Historic Site – This national site in Virginia honors Maggie Lena Walker who devoted her life to civil rights advancement, economic empowerment, and educational opportunities for Jim Crow-era African Americans and women. As a bank president, newspaper editor, and fraternal leader, Walker served as an inspiration of pride and progress.

Charles Young Buffalo Soldiers National Monument – Located in Ohio, this national monument honors the legendary all-Black U.S. Army units and their leader, Charles Young. Col. Young was a distinguished officer in the U.S. Army, the third African American to graduate from West Point, and the first to achieve the rank of colonel. In addition, he was the first African American to serve as a superintendent of a national park. Buffalo Soldiers were pretty much the first park rangers.

These are just a few national park sites honoring African Americans in the national park system. Check out these cool and important places!

Lincoln Memorial

Happy 110th anniversary to the Lincoln Memorial!  The Lincoln Memorial is a national monument built to honor our 16th President of the United States, Abraham Lincoln. You can find this grand structure in the National Mall opposite the Washington Monument in Washington, D.C.

This towering monument stands 190 feet long, 120 feet wide, 99 feet tall and constructed with a Colorado-Yule marble. The Lincoln Memorial interior is divided into three chambers (north, south, and central).  The north and south side chambers contain carved inscriptions of President Lincoln’s two most famous speeches, Second Inaugural Address and his Gettysburg Address.

Between the north and south chambers contains the statute of President Lincoln sitting in contemplation. The statue, originally intended to be only 10 feet tall, was on further consideration enlarged so that it finally stood 19 feet tall from head to foot.  The scale being such that if President Lincoln were standing he would be 28 feet tall. Above him, you can see another inscription.

If you visit D.C., I highly recommend checking out this majestic national monument. The size, history, and symbolism will stay with you long after your visit here.

Enjoy a couple of photos below from a visit to the Lincoln Memorial several years ago with my sister.

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“The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” ~ President Abraham Lincoln

Technology and Innovations

When you think about our national parks, you probably picture a grand canyon, geysers, mountains, tall trees, coral reefs, or vast open pieces of land. Did you know that the national park service also has a number of sites dedicated to technology and innovations? There’s about 15 of them.

The name of the Wright Brothers equates to an airplane not the national parks. But, they have a national memorial! You can find the Wright Brothers National Memorial in North Carolina.

On December 17, 1903, Orville and Wilbur Wright made history and achieved their first successful flight after four years of scientific experimentation. They chose this part of North Carolina for the wind, sand, and isolation – all needed to safely and secretly learn how to fly.

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At this national park site, you can check out their flight lines, see reconstructed 1903 camps, visit a monument and visitor’s center.

Be an inventor like the Wright Brothers and check out this video by Ranger Amiee to build a simple sled kite. Orville and Wilbur did their early scientific experiments with kites. Click here for the video.

Do your research like the Wright Brothers and check out books about them, click here or here for a children’s book.

Can’t wait to go and check out the Wright Brothers National Memorial sometime soon!

Let’s Go Again

I’m still dreaming about travel. We usually travel to Florida around this time of year. So, I decided to go there today. Come with me! I’m traveling to the Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida. Virtually!

Did you know that this national park sits about 70 miles west of Key West? You can only access it by boat or seaplane. This 100-square-mile national park contains Fort Jefferson (one of the largest 19th century forts), coral reefs, an assortment of bird life and marine life, and two light houses here.

Did you know that 99% of this national park is underwater?

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Click on this link and let’s check it out on this virtual tour! Enjoy your journey with me to the Dry Tortugas National Park in Florida. Hope it gave you a moment of escape, wonder, and travel for a few minutes!