My first traveling experience was a cross-country family road trip in a motor home. Along the way we hit national parks from Pennsylvania to California. As you may know, this year is the centennial for the national park system (NPS), which I am dedicating my first post to!
As a ten year old girl in 2003, I had no idea what the trip would instill in me in the future. My grandparents, mother, younger sister and I boarded our traveling home excited for the next 3 weeks of memories to be made.
My fondest memory was becoming a junior ranger at Yellowstone National Park NP and Grand Tetons NP. What an awesome way to get a child active around the park, exploring and learning about the history of the park and the animals that inhabit it as well. To this day I still have the badges I had received 13 years ago from these parks. Steaming geysers and snowy cliffs in the middle of July were just the beginning of intrigue. As the youngsters we were, my sister and I ran and jumped along the sedimentary rock layers enjoying every minute of it.
Road trips allow time for bonding whether between family or friends, even when there is nothing but silence. Coffee brewed for the adults and hot chocolate for the kids. Every sunrise my grandparents would take a morning stroll. One morning I tagged along on a path that ran parallel to a nearby river. We stopped and sat on a large rock cemented in the river. Enjoying the warmth down our throats, fresh breeze across our faces and the sound of a flowing river trickling over everything
in its path all while admiring the sun rise in the east. Sunrises and camping along the way gave a satisfaction of embracing nature.
I turned 11 during this trip. My birthday was a wonderful day spent surrounded by loving family and the beauty of nature. What more could I ask for? Our final destination arrived too quickly. We were all excited to see my uncle and explore some of California with him. Enormous trees were everywhere, especially at Sequoia NP. I couldn’t believe my eyes! As I curiously observed much more than I will ever remember it will still be one of my fondest memories.
Unforgettable sites were seen as well as memories made along the thousands of miles travelled. I give credit for my love of traveling to this first crazy adventure I shared with my family. The National Parks we explored gave me insight to the NPS. I knew from then on I needed to see more. As many as I could.
I would not hold back from seeing the wonders of our great country. They are spread coast to coast, north to south and I hope everyone gets to experience them at least once in their lifetime.
I can now say on the 100th birthday of the NPS that I have been to a combined 35 national parks, monuments and seashores. I never expected this family road trip to be the beginning of a lifelong love.