Wednesday, May 1, 2013

America's Best Idea

I have a very addictive personality. It's a good thing I'm Mormon, because it limits my potential vices. The naughtiest thing we Mormons allow ourselves is sugar, but I really wish we would add it to the list of illicit substances because I think it would be so much easier to resist the stuff if I had a religious imperative to abstain. Anyway, we can now add the national parks to my list of socially acceptable, yet completely out-of-control obsessions.

If we have spoken within the last two years, I've probably talked your ear off about my national parks passport, and I also might have chided you for not having one yourself on all of the trips you've taken to or through national parks. Sorry about that. I'm trying not to be so pushy and judgmental. (But really, go get a passport already. What's wrong with you people? Why do you hate America?)

I bought my passport when I visited Chicago with my friends Carrie, C Nash (real name: Cari), and Shanon in 2009. Shanon has been a national parks freak for many years, and he always scouts out the national parks situation before any trip he takes. Unfortunately, he doesn't always scout out the directions to said parks, which is how we ended up here:

instead of here:

The Indiana Sand Dunes, in case you were wondering. It's a long story that is still steeped in controversy to this day.

We drove down to Springfield to visit Abraham Lincoln's home and pick up three stamps:

It's always exhilarating when one site yields multiple stamps! We picked the right year to go to Illinois, it being the bicentennial of Lincoln's birth and all. I guess we really should have gone to Kentucky since that's where he was born, but hey--it's a cool stamp and I'll take it. As for the Underground Railroad stamp, one house in Lincoln's 'hood was a stop on the UR, which turned out to be convenient for both me and fugitive slaves. (Did I just cross a line?)

Aaaanyway, that's how this whole obsession started and it's still going strong. I only regret not starting sooner, because now I have to revisit all of the national parks I've already been to in order to get a stamp. Right now I'm focused on wrapping up the parks in Washington state. I need to get Mt. Rainier NP, which is practically in my back yard, but I want to go in the summertime when the wildflowers are in bloom and it looks like this:

Isn't Washington beautiful??? That's an active volcano, by the way. Yikes! Don't forget your running shoes when you come visit!

Every time I get a stamp in the ol' passport I have to text a picture of it to Shanon, even if he already has the stamp himself. He's a good cheerleader and an expert stamper. He has tried to show me the ropes, but I'm a slow learner, as you can tell by the following stamping faux pas:

1) Forgot to bring my passport, so I had to stamp a random piece of paper and glue it in later.

2) Stamped off the damn page.

3) Took up too much space and now I can't fit any other stamps on the page.

4) Didn't check to make sure the date was right before I stamped.

That last one really burns my biscuits. Rookie mistake.

So yeah. Suffice it to say, I love the national parks. Too bad so many of them involve hiking, because I do not love wheezing and sweating and getting dirty. I would like to be a hiker, though. I like the idea of it; I just hate the reality of it. If only I could get a helicopter to drop me off at the summit... I could meet the rest of you there with juice and sandwiches... 

And now I leave you with a thought from the great American writer Wallace Stegner:
"Ever since I was old enough to be cynical, I have been visiting national parks, and they are a cure for cynicism, an exhilarating rest from the competitive avarice we call the American Way... National parks are the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst."
No get out there and get to stampin'!


Timo said...

Randeedo, this is an inspiring post! I loved the line about the underground railroad, too. You have got me thinking about seeing all of the national parks, of which just 1 is in New England; and all of the areas in other groups, like the national forests and MA's trustees of reservations system. Mount Rainier looks incredible. Great work!

Jeni said...

I am really going to get on this and get us all one. We do so much back and forth across the country with David's career, we would be STOOPID not too! :) It would be a great keepsake for the kids from their childhoods of gypsy-ness as well!

Rebecca McAllister said...

I am totally going to get passports for us all when we go to Yellowstone in June!

Kelly said...

Not even lying, I was just thinking about the National Park passport yesterday! We're going to NoCal in August and are spending a day or two in Yosemite and I was thinking how I need to get Jason and me passports before we go.

Of course, that means I now have to go back to Volcanoes, Acadia, Arches and Everglades...

Do all national forests and monuments have the stamps too? Because then I have a LOT of repeat trips to make.

Randi said...

Timmy, Acadia? Is that it? Weird. I do think it's cool that the entire city of Boston is a National Historic Park. I don't think many other cities in the US can say that. And it KILLS me that the Longfellow House is a stamp! All those years I was just steps away from a stamp and I didn't even know it... grrr!

Jeni and Rebecca, YES! Love it!

Kelly, no stamps for forests, but yes for national monuments. And don't forget to bring your passport to St. John, you lucky girl! I am consumed with jealousy! There are two stamps on St. John and three on St. Croix. Someday... someday...

Camie said...

Love this idea! And, I love your obssesion. It reminds me of my obsseion with postage stamps. That one started on my mission and I haven't been able to kick it. I have three stamp books full of foreign and state side stamps along with a small shoe box full of duplicates. You could call it a hobby, but let's be's an addiction :)

Sydnee said...

When you make it to Southern Utah to visit Zion National Park or even the Grand Canyon (please let them still unstamped!), LET ME KNOW! I would love to see you!!!