Since I voiced my dream to visit every National Park in the U.S. before I die, my wise child said, “You may die today or tomorrow, so you’d better get started.”
I learned not only have I been blessed to visit many more national parks than I remembered, but there are also vastly more forms of preserved natural areas in the United States that do not carry the national designation. Out of the 59 apparently designated national parks, I have only 50 more to go. That means I need to live to 100 and visit one each year or get crackin’ on brainstorming a way to spend half of each year traveling. I’m fortunate I do have a way to earn a living that is mobile. I only need to invest in a bit more technology to make it truly road-worthy.
Living this dream represents to me honoring and celebrating the basic interdependences of life, a sort of antidote to consumerism where my energies go toward celebrating the glory of the natural world in all its diverse manifestations, rather than what I can buy or consume.
At the moment, I do not know whether I’ll have a car or a home within the next three years. Thankfully, what seems worst nightmare to many folks (sleeping in woods) I do not fear and I have experienced a tiny moment of homelessness. But I do know what living paycheck to paycheck for 20 years and having a brief experience of losing every material thing has taught me: I can be extremely anxious about paying my next bill or I don’t need to be. Money will flow when I work for it. Opportunities will arrive as long as I focus on living where I am now.
Of course anything can happen at any time to derail a person’s plans, but part of being human (when we are living beyond the first rungs of Maslow’s hierarchy) is becoming clear about what we want to experience in life and then move toward those experiences.
Oregon has the fewest national parks of any place I’ve been and I thought, how can that be? The entire state feels like it should be a national park. Turns out its abundance is managed via the State Park system. In addition, there are many more nature preserves and alternate historic designations within the national park system than I knew.
For now, I intend to live the dream more inside Washington and hike every minute I can spare of my non-money-earning moments of being.
Where I’ve been:
Petrified Forest NP
Death Valley NP
Mesa Verde NP
Hawaii Volcanoes NP
Valor in the Pacific NM
Cape Cod National Seashore
Chaco Culture NHP
White Sands NM
Glen Canyon NRA
Lewis & Clark NHP
Mt. Rainier NP
North Cascades NP (teeny bit)