Enjoying Our National Parks

Stephen Podowitz

We just returned from a trip with my mother to Muir Woods National Monument, while she was visiting us from New Jersey. Muir Woods houses a number of old-growth redwood groves, all situated just a 30-minute drive from San Francisco over the Golden Gate Bridge.

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Adam’s and my experiences with national park lands started young. Although I have no memories of it, I’ve been told that I spent the day before my first birthday watching a Revolutionary War-era reenactment of American troops crossing the Delaware River at Washington Crossing Historic Park. Over the years, my family visited Independence Hall and the Liberty Bell in Independence National Historic Park, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island in the Statue of Liberty National Monument, and the Grand Canyon on a trip to Arizona for a cousin’s bar mitzvah, to name a few. Adam spent many summers camping with his Boy Scout troop in Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and has fond memories of a family road trip to D.C. and Pennsylvania, where he stopped by Gettysburg, Valley Forge, and monuments in Washington.

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When we moved away from home for college, our interest in visiting national parks waned. I was busy exploring New York City as a student there, and Adam was immersed in the college experience while on campus in Georgia and traveling abroad. When we moved to California, with its diverse natural landscapes and easily accessible parks, we got bit by the national park bug once again.

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Our first road trip together was out to Yosemite, and we have been visiting national parks together regularly ever since. After a friend’s wedding in Park City, Utah, we took advantage of the high density of parks in the state, and drove through southwestern Utah, stopping at Capitol Reef, Bryce Canyon and Zion along the way. A highlight of our graduation trip to Hawaii was seeing the thermal glow from the active volcanoes on a night hike in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park on the Big Island.

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Exploring national parks and the outdoors was an important part of our childhoods and has continued to be a part of our life together. We remember our first view of Yosemite Valley when we emerged from the tunnel on Wawona Road, our first look to the bottom of the Grand Canyon from the edge of the glass skywalk, and our first site of the fall colors as the leaves changed in the Great Smokies, and are excited to share these experiences with our future kids.

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