Tag Archives: Sequoia

February and March 2017 New Stamps

Antietam National Battlefield is one of the sites with a new cancellation this month. Photo from 2015.

There were only two new stamps in February 2017, so as I get caught up, I’m going to combine them with the much more extensive list for March 2017.

Antietam National Battlefield:
Antietam National Cemetery | 150th Anniversary 1867-2007

Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail | VA, TN, NC, SC

Katmai National Park & Preserve | Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes

Big Cypress National Preserve | Swamp Welcome Center

Sequoia National Park |

      • Foothills Visitor Center
      • Lodgepole Visitor Center
      • Giant Forest Museum

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park | Church Creek, MD

Civil War Defense of Washington | Fort Stevens

Rock Creek Park:
Rock Creek Nature Center & Planetarium | Washington, DC

MotorCities National Heritage Area | Greenfield Village

Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail |

      • Great Falls, MT
      • Travelers Rest
Antietam National Battlefield marks the 150th Anniversary of the dedication of its National Cemetery with a new cancellation this month. Photo credit: National Parks Service, 2013

The one-day battle of Antietam is famously the single-deadliest day in US history.  Total dead, wounded, and missing among both the Union and Confederate forces was nearly 23,000.  Of those, some 3,600 died on the day of the battle, and another 4,000 died of their wounds shortly thereafter or else were confirmed as dead after initially being listed as missing.   These casualties were out of a total US population of 31.4 million in the 1860 Census just before the Civil War.  By comparison,  the current US population of 318 million is some ten times larger, and average daily deaths in the United States are approximately 6,700.

In the immediate aftermath of the battle, many of the casualties were buried in mass graves, or in inadequately shallow graves.  President Andrew Johnson visited Antietam for the dedication of the cemetery on the 5th anniversary of the battle on September 17, 1867.  The cemetery commemorates its 150th Anniversary this year.

The Overmountain Victory National Historic Trail marks the journey of some several hundred “overmountain men” to confront a force of British-commanded loyalist militia in South Carolina in 1780.  The men gathered at Abingdon, Virginia on September 23, 1780, and a day later at Sycamore Shoals, Tennessee before marching to confront the British-loyalists at the Battle of Kings Mountain on October 7th, 1780.  This new stamp replaces an existing Overmountain Victory Trail at Cowpens National Battlefield.  The Battle of Cowpens was a coda to the Overmountain Campaign, being fought three months later on January 17, 1781.  In this battle, a force of American regular soldiers and militia defeated a force of largely British regulars.  Although a few of the overmountain men also participated in this battle, many had returned home after the Battle of Kings Mountain, and one contingent of them arrived a day after the decisive victory for the Americans.

Although Katmai National Park & Preserve in Alaska is world-famous for viewing grizzly bears catching salmon near the waterfalls at Brooks Camp, the park was actually originally established in 1918 to protect the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes.   The Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes was actually created only 6 years earlier during the simultaneous volcanic eruptions of the Mt. Katmai and Novarupta volcanoes.   When explorer Robert Griggs from the National Geographic Society reached the valley in 1916, it was still filled with fumaroles, or openings, in the volcanic ash releasing steam.  Although most of the fumaroles have stopped steaming, the volcanic landscape remains a popular attraction within the park; bus tours are offered regularly from Brooks Camp.

The Foothills Visitor Center for Sequoia National Park in Three Rivers, California is one of several locations with an updated cancellation. Photo credit: Bruce Johnson, 2009

The new stamp for Big Cypress National Preserve reflects the rebranding of the Ochopee Welcome Center, near the town of the same name on the west side of the park, to the Swamp Welcome Center.  Likewise, Sequoia National Park is simply replacing three of its existing stamps from being location-based to structure based.  Thus, the existing stamp for “Three Rivers, CA” is being replaced by one for the “Foothills Visitor Center.”   At Parkasaurus, we always prefer the location-based stamps to the structure-based stamps, so this is a disappointing move.

Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park is a relatively new addition to the National Park System, and is celebrating the grand opening of its new visitor center in partnership with the Maryland State Park Service.  The new facility is in the hamlet of Church Creek.

The Civil War Defenses of Washington is a partnership program that connects related sites around the greater Washington, DC area that are variously under the jurisdiction of the superintendents of National Capital Parks, Rock Creek Park, or the George Washington Memorial Parkway.  Fort Stevens Park is located just a half mile from Rock Creek Park in the northern portions of the District of Columbia, and so is managed by the Superintendent of Rock Creek Park.  Fort Stevens is notable because during Confederate General Jubal Early’s 1864 raid on Washington, it became the only time in history than an American President came under enemy fire while in his role as Commander-in-Chief.  This stamp will be kept at the Rock Creek Park Nature Center, along with the replacement stamp for the Nature Center, which includes the words “and Planetarium” for the first time.

Cotswold Cottage is one of the historic buildings at The Henry Ford Museum’s Greenfield Village.  Photo credit: Michael Barera [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0),  via Wikimedia Commons
The Motorcities National Heritage Area is centered around the history of the automobile industry in southeast Michigan.  Greenfield Village is a living history attraction that is part of The Henry Ford Museum in Dearborn, Michigan.

Finally, there are two replacement stamps for locations along the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail in Montana.   The Great Falls of the Missouri River were a major obstacle for Lewis & Clark and their Corps of Discovery.  Today, dams and development projects along the Missouri River have deprived the namesake of the town of Great Falls, Montana much of its grandeur, but there is still a good Lewis & Clark interpretive center in town.   Meanwhile,  Traveler’s Rest State Park near Lolo, Montana preserves the only known archeological remains of an actual encampment by the Corps of Discovery.   Lewis and Clark encamped here in September 1805 before embarking on the difficult crossing of the Lolo Pass.  They then camped here a second time in June 1806, before splitting into two separate exploration parties for the return route home.   The two parties would reunite some two and a half months later in North Dakota to take advantage of the swift currents of the Missouri River for the return trip back to civilization.

With these new additions, Parkasaurus calculates that there are now 2,148 active stamp cancellations to collect.  There are 2,039 of these if you exclude special stamps for anniversaries and special events.

The final shot this month is a present-day view of the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes in Katmai National Park & Preserve. Photo credit: National Park Service
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May Stamps – Lots More to Choose From

Eastern National has released its list of new cancellations for the month of May, and the list is quite a doozy!   A total of 25 new stamps are listed, although many of them are replacements for already-existant stamps.  Let’s take a look….

The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is marking its 50th Anniversary in 2015.
The Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area is marking its 50th Anniversary in 2015.  Photo from 2012.

Anniversary Stamps

  • Sequoia National Park | 125th Anniversary 1890 – 2015
  • Kings Canyon National Park | 75th Anniversary 1940 – 2015
  • Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area | 50th Anniversary 1965-2015

Its starting to look like Parks Passsport enthusiasts may well remember 2015 as being the “Year of the Anniversary Stamps.”   At least one new anniversary stamp has been issued each month in 2015, and the trend shows no sign of letting up.  I’m still not sure that it makes sense to be making Passport Stamps with adjustable dates that are good for seven years with a single year permanently etched in the bottom text of the circle, but they seem to be popular for the moment!

Its interesting to note the Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park share more than just a a new Passport stamp this month.   The two parks share a common superintendent, have a single joint brochure for both of them, and even share the same website (just click the links if you don’t believe me!)   In fact, it sometimes appears that the only think keeping Sequoia National Park and Kings Canyon National Park from being listed as a single Sequoia-Kings Canyon National Park that counts twice is the force of tradition.   Still, until these stamps were issued, I’m not sure if I had ever realized that these two national parks were created 50 years apart, almost to the day.  Sequoia National Park was established on September 25, 1890 and Kings Canyon National Park was established fifty years and six days later on October 1,  1940.   If you are in to anniversary celebrations, it sounds like a trip to Sequoia & Kings Canyon National Parks the last week of September could be a lot of fun!

Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area wouldn’t come along until 1965, and so celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. Delaware Water Gap NRA preserves a particularly beautiful section of the Delaware River as it flows past the Pocono Mountains on the border between Pennsylvania and New Jersey.   The “water gap” refers to the southern end of this park where the river literally cuts through one of the mountains, creating a “gap” in the mountain.  Today, this park is within an easy day’s drive of both the Philadelphia and New York metropolitan areas, making it a great place for residents of those urban areas to get out into the parks.

 

landscape-dig
Of the four new national parks established in December 2014, Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument outside of Las Vegas, NV is the second to get its own Passport stamp.  Photo credit: National Park Service

 Stamps for New National Parks

  • Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument | Nevada
  • Pullman National Monument
    • Historic Pullman Foundation
    • Illinois Historic Preservation Agency
    • National Pullman Porter Museum
  • First State National Historical Park
    • Beaver Valley – Woodlawn Tract
    • Fort Christina – Wilmington
    • Old Swede’s Church – Wilmington
    • The Green – Dover
    • John Dickinson Plantation
    • Ryves Holt House – Lewes

Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument was one of four new parks established by Congress in December 2014.   Located outside of Las Vegas, NV it preserves the desert landscape as well as fossils of mammoths and other creatures from the last ice age.   Right now it doesn’t have any visitor facilities, so its passport stamp is being kept at the Alan Bible Visitor Center for Lake Mead National Recreation Area in nearby Boulder City, Nevada, just to the south of Las Vegas.

Pullman National Monument is an even newer national park than Tule Springs Fossil Beds, having been established by Presidential proclamation in February 2015.  I’ve written about Pullman twice already, here and here.  Similar to the way in which Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Monument / National Historical Park in Maryland was established by relying upon other preservation parterns in the area, it appears that Pullman National Monument is following a similar model  Pullman NM actually already had its first Passport stamp, reading Chicago, IL on the bottom available at its dedication ceremony, in which President Obama signed his proclamation establishing the new national park right on site.  That cancellation is available at the Historic Pullman Foundation’s Visitor Center, which will surely now also have the stamp recognizing the role the Foundation is continuing to play in preserving and interpreting this site.  The Foundation is curently offering tours of the site on the first Sunday of the month, and will continue to own and manage some of the historic buildings on the site, including the Market Hall.   Likewise, the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency will also continue to own and manage some of the historic properties at this site, including the architecturally-significant (and beautiful) Hotel Florence.  Finally, until the National Park Service is able to open its own visitor center at the site, one of the best ways to learn about the history of the Pullman company town,  which is now a national monument, will be a visit to the National A. Philip Randolph Pullman Porter Museum, which is also located on-site.

First State National Monument was originally proclaimed by President Obama in March 2013 with three sub-units, Dover Green in the State Capitol, the old New Castle Courthouse in New Castle, and the Brandywine Preserve in Wilmington.  In December 2014, Congress renamed this parkFirst State National Historical Park, and also authorized expanding its boundaries to include a few additional sites.  In February 2015, new stamps were issued for the original three sites with the new name, First State National Historical Park, as well as for two of the new sites.  This month, it appears that new stamps have been issued with new bottom text for four of those first five sites (only the New Castle Courthouse site is not listed), as well as for two new sites, both in Wilmington.   One is for the Old Swedes Church, which claims to be the oldest continuously-used house of worship as originally built in the United States, with a history stretching back to 1698.  The other is for nearby Fort Christina, the site of the colony of New Sweden way back in 1638.  The story of Swedish settlement in the United States is not one that is often told, so these should be very interesting additions to the National Park System.

 

The author and his junior T. Rex at the Blue Heron historical coal mining community in Big South Fork NRRA wearing a T-Shirt from St. Croix NSR.  Both Parks have new stamps this month.  Photo from 2013.
The author and his junior T. Rex at the Blue Heron historical coal mining community in Big South Fork NRRA wearing a T-Shirt from St. Croix NSR. Both Parks have new stamps this month. Photo from 2013.

Stamps for Existing National Parks

  • Big South Fork National River & Recreation Area | Helenwood, TN
  • Gateway National Recreation Area | Ryan VC – Floyd Bennett Field
  • Yellowstone National Park | Wyoming
  • St. Croix National Scenic River
    • St. Croix River
    • St. Croix Visitor Center
    • Namekagon Visitor Center

Big South Fork National River and Recreation Area in northeastern Tennessee and southeastern Kentucky has recently been adding Passport cancellations for visitor facilities in its gateway communities.  In addition to the long-standing three stamps for the Park’s three visitor contact stations at Oneida, TN; Stearns, KY; and Blue Heron (a historic coal mininng community near Stearns, KY) the Park added stamps for Crossville, TN and Historic Rugby, TN in August 2014.   Helenwood, TN is also a gateway community, and is the latest addition to this program.  You can check out a Parkasuaurs Trip Report from this Park here.

Gateway National Recreation Area includes a number sites in the immediate vicinity of New York City in Brooklyn, Staten Island, and northern New Jersey.     Floyd Bennett Field was New York City’s first municipal airport, and now provides urban recreational opportunities, including campaing.  The Ryan Visitor Center is the National Park Service’s main visitor facility there, and this stamp replaces a previously-existant stamp.

Its not clear what to make of a new stamp for Yellowstone National Park that simply says “Wyoming” on the bottom.  Yellowstone currently offers 13 different Passport cancellations throughout the Park, and it appears that this would be the 14th.

The St. Croix National Scenic Riverway includes the St. Croix River and its main tributary, the Namekagon River.  Its hard to tell what to make of the stamp that simply reads “St. Croix River,” but the “St. Croix Visitor Center” will likely replace the existing stamp at the visitor center in St. Croix Falls, Wisconsin on the Minnesota-Wisconsin border; and the the “Namekagon Visitor Center” stamp will likely replace the existing stamp at the visitor center in  Trego, Wisconsin in the northern part of the state.  This park also includes older stamps for the “Marshland District” and for “Minnesota-Wisconsin” that are kept under the counter at the Namekagon Visitor Center.  There is also one other stamp at Prescott, WI at the Great River Road Visitor & Learning Center in Prescott, Wisconsin where the St. Croix National Scenic Riverway meets the Mississippi National River & Recreation Area.

 

Canyons of the Anicents National Monument includes many pueblo ruins, as well as a portion of the Old Spanish Trail National Historic Trail
Canyons of the Anicents National Monument includes many pueblo ruins, including Lowry Pueblo pictured above, as well as a portion of the Old Spanish Trail National Historic Trail. Photo from 2010.

Stamps for Park Partners

  • Old Spanish National Historic Trail | Canyons of the Ancients NM
  • The Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor
    • Old Sturbridge Village
    • Prudence Crandall Museum
    • Lebanon Historical Society Museum
    • Roseland Cottage
    • Norwich Heritage & Regional Visitor Center

The Old Spanish National Historic Trail marks the old trading route between Spanish Santa Fe, New Mexico and Spanish Los Angeles, California.   There are currently 50 different Passport stamps along the various routes of the trail.   Canyons of the Ancients National Monument was proclaimed by President Clinton in January 2000, but it is not a national park because he assigned it to the Bureau of Land Management for management, rather than to the National Park Service.  Canyons of the Anicents is located in southwestern Colorado and is basically contiguous with the much smaller (and much-earlier designated) Hovenweep National Monument operated by the Naitonal Park Service.  It preserves numerous historic pueblo ruins in a largely natural and unexcavated state.  This stamp for the Old Spanish NHT will be housed at the excellent Anasazi Heritage Center in Dolores, Colorado, which is the BLM’s main visitor center for the National Monument.

In addition to establishing four new parks in December 2014, the Defense Authorization Act for 2015 also made a number of administative changes.  Among these changes was rebranding the clumsily-named Quinebaug-Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor to the much-catchier sounding Last Green Valley National Heritage Corridor.  The Last Green Valley NHC includes numerous sites in Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.  The first three sites listed above all previously had stamps under the old name, whereas the last two are new additions to the Passport Program.  The Old Sturbridge Village is a 19th Century living history villate in Sturbridge, Massachusetts.  The Prudence Crandall Museum  in Canterbury, Connecticut preserves the home of the woman of the same name, who was named Connecticut’s “state heroine” (ever wonder how many states have a state heroine?) for her role in providing education to African-Americans.  The Lebanon Historical Society Museum preserves the history of the Connecticut town of the same name, and back in 1998, it was featured in the New York Times.  Roseland Cottage Gardens and Carriage House is a historic property in Woodstock, Connecticut.  Finally, the Norwich Heritage & Regional Visitor Center is located in the Connecticut town of the same name.

With these new additions, Parkasaurus now counts 1,900 active Passport cancellations currently available, or 1,818 stamps excluding anniversary stamps and other special event or special program stamps.

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30 for 300 – Part II

In continuing celebration of having reached my milestone 300th U.S. National Park visited, I’m posting about 30 of my favorite memories from my national park visits thus far.

Click here for Part I – #21-#30.

#20) Hiking to Mt. Olympus Viewpoint at Olympic National Park – August 2003
National parks are often places for testing our limits.  On a visit to the vast Olympic National Park in Washington, my friend and I naturally hoped to catch a glimpse of Mount Olympus.  The only problem was that reaching any of the viewpoints for Mount Olympus required an extensive hike in to the interior of the Park.  My friend and I compounded the problem by insisting upon going for a loop trail – in this case, one that was a whopping 20 miles.  Suffice to say, we were neither suffiicently prepared nor properly conditioned for a hike of that length.  By the time we dragged ourselves back to the car, a couple hours after sunset, we were both completely and utterly exhausted.  Still, we did catch that glimpse of Mount Olympus!  Well, just barely, as we had to look for it between breaks in the clouds.

The author, catching a fleeting glimpse of the glaciers on Mount Olympus, midway through a massive 20-mile hike.
The author, catching a fleeting glimpse of the glaciers on Mount Olympus, midway through a massive 20-mile hike.

 

#19) Landing at Portsmouth Village on Cape Lookout National Seashore – July 2002
By coincidence, I have two hikes in a row that were both a little more than I had bargained for.  As mentioned in this Parkasaurus post,  Portsmouth Village is one of the best-preserved ghost towns and one of the most-difficult to reach Passport cancellations on the East Coast.  Just to get to the site, you need to take a ferry from the mainland to Ocracoke Island in Cape Hatteras National Seashore,  and then from there hire another boat to take you over to Portsmouth Island.   The ghost town of Portsmouth Village was interesting enough, but what my friend and I were completely unprepared for were the absolute clouds of mosquitoes!   I remember applying multiple layers of high-strength Deet, and still seeing the mosquitoes line up on my blue jeans trying to find a way in!   Fortunately, the kind Park Rangers on the island took mercy on my friend and I gave us a ride on their Gator to help speed along our visit!  No, they didn’t actually let us drive it – but they did let us pose for this photograph!

The author and his friend, escaping the mosquitoes any way they can – with the help of some kind Park Rangers.

 

#18) Hiking the Savage River Trail in Denali National Park & Preserve – September 2008
By contrast, I have nothing but fond memories of this hike in Alaska’s Denali National Park & Preserve.  Our first day in Denali, my wife and I took an all-day bus tour out to Wonder Lake, which of course has been made famous by the photography of Ansel Adams.  Although we weren’t lucky enough to catch a glimpse of Mount McKinley on that day, we had enough exciting encounters with Alaskan wildlife to fill a scrapbook full of memories.  For our second day, we decided to head out on our own to enjoy some of the Alaskan solitude.  The Savage River Trailhead is the furthest point into the Park that you can drive your own vehicle without a special permit, and this late in the season, we seemingly had this part of the park all to ourselves.   Even though it was only Labor Day weekend, this was already pretty late in the visitaiton season for Denali – indeed, the plants on the tundra were already beautiful fall colors of red and gold.   The image that sticks with me from this trip, however, is reaching the end of the marked trail and seeing the Savage River valley stretch off into the seemingly infinite Alaska wilderness.

The Savage River heads off into the Alaskan wilderness, and the untapped possibilities ahead.

 

#17) Patriot Day at Minute Man National Historical Park – April 2005
The American Revolution began with the “shots heard ’round the world” in the villages of Lexington and Concord, an event now marked every year as Patriots’ Day in the State of Massachusetts.  Normally, visiting a national park in the morning is a good way to beat the crowds – but not on Patriots’ Day in and around Minute Man National Historical Park.  A reenactment is held each year on Lexington Green (technically not part of the National Park Service’s property), followed by commeorative ceremonies at Old North Bridge in Concord.  The event begins  in Lexington at 5:30am – and literally every parking lot in the village of Lexington is packed.  Savvy locals get there even earlier than that with step ladders to provide viewing points for their young children.  The reenactment event itself, true to history, only lasts a few minutes; the Americans fire a few shots, the British fire back, and the Americans run,   Afterwards, it seems that almost everyone heads over to the local Catholic Church, located just off the Green, to enjoy a pancake breakfast sponsored by the local Boy Scout Troop.  Smart thinking by those Scouts!

The statue of the Minute Man, located just off Lexington Green, in the soft glow of sunrise on Patriots’ Day.

 

#16) Sequoia National Park, Home of the Big Trees – August 2009
In 2009, I attended my first Convention of the National Park Traveler’s Club, held that year at Sequoia National Park.  It was great to spend the weekend with so many people who were dedicated to visiting the U.S. National Park System, especially in such a stunning setting.  Although I had previously seen the world’s tallest trees at Redwood National Park, it was little preparation for seeing the true giants of the Kingdom of Life growing on the edges of alpine meadows.  Looking up, it can be somewhat hard to comprehend the soaring heights of the Redwood.  On the other hand, when you stand at the base of sequoia that is many times the circumference of any other tree you have ever seen, there is no mistaking that you are in the land of giants.

Sequoias often grow best on the edges alpine meadows, which create particularly picutresque settings.
Sequoias often grow best on the edges alpine meadows, which create particularly picutresque settings.

Perhaps nothing illustrates the sheer size of these trees quite like this picture of a toppled sequoia.  Even laid flat on its side, the sequoia still towers over the trees around it.

Sequoias remain larger than life, even in death.
Sequoias remain larger than life, even in death.  Yes, that is young sequoia from the next generation in the distance.

 

#15) Waking up to Bison at Breakfast at Theodore Roosevelt National Park – July 2004
If you talk to enough travelers in the U.S. National Parks, many of them are likely to agree: Theodore Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota (of all places!) is one of the true hidden gems of the whole U.S. National Park System.   I previously blogged a little bit about this Park back in December 2014. and highlighted the spectacular scenary, the history of Theodore Roosevelt’s days as a rancher in this area, and the unusual rock concretions in the shape of mushrooms.  On my trip in 2004, however, the biggest surprise was waking up in the morning in the Juniper Campground in the Park’s North Unit to the sounds and smells of herd of bison wandering their way through the campground!   I guess that when you are bison, you go where you please, and in this case, that was right past our tent!   Normally, Park Rangers wisely advise everyone to keep a very respectful distance from bison – but in this case that wasn’t an option!  Suffice to say that I got as close to the snorting and grunting bison as I will ever want to be.   Fortunately, nobody was hurt, and the memories were unforgettable!

With a site like this right outside your tent, you don't even need to wait for your coffee in the morning!
With a site like this right outside your tent, you don’t even need to wait for your coffee in the morning!

 

#14) Father’s Day Riding the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad at Cuyahoga Valley National Park – June 2013
Like many young boys, my now-four-year-old Juniot T-Rex has long had a love affair with trains.  So when travels to visit family took us through northeast Ohio on Father’s Day weekend in 2013, there was an obvious way to combine daddy’s love of national parks and son’s love of trains – a trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad.   Suffice to say my little T. Rex was beside himself with joy to be riding the train.  The conductors even let him help punch the tickets while on board.   The train  railroad provides service from nearby Canton to various stops throughout the Park, and runs frequently enough that it can even be used to support a short visit or hike within the Park before being boarded for a return trip.

A trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is a joy for kids both big and small.  Photo from 2005.
A trip on the Cuyahoga Valley Scenic Railroad is a joy for kids both big and small. Photo from 2005.

 

#13) Backpacking with Friends at Death Valley National Park – January 2009
On my first visit to Death Valley National Park, in January 2005, I remember feeling profoundly small.  That shouldn’t be much of a surprise, considering that Death Valley has one of the largest vertical elevation gains in the country, from 282 feet below sea level at Badwater Basin to more than 11,000 feet in elevation on nearby Telescope Peak.

In January 2009, I returned with two of my friends from college for an overnight trip in the Death Valley backcountry.   Backpacking is itself a humbling experience, especially in a desert park like Death Valley, as everything you need for survival in the loneliness of the backcountry must be carried in with you.  After our excursion, we did take some time to take in the salt flats in Badwater Basin and enjoy the otherworldly landscape of the lowest point in the United States.

Three friends celebrating a successful hike to the back-country
Three friends celebrating a successful hike in the Death Valley back-country with some sight-seeing at the lowest point in North America.

 

#12) New Year’s Eve at the Lincoln Memorial – December 2007
I’ve previously blogged about my love for the Lincoln Memorial.   I’ve actually twice spent New Year’s Eve at the Lincoln Memorial.  The first time, in 1999, was for Washington’s commemoration of the turning of the Millenium.  That event was nice enough, with the highlight being when they shot fireworks off the scaffolding that was then-surrounding the Washington Monument.  The down-side is that it was very much a made-for-TV event.  So, when the TV Network went to a commercial break, everything stopped and you were reminded that you were standing in the cold and in the mud, with nothing to do until the commercial break ended.   So that event doesn’t make my Top 30.

However, eight years later I returned to the Lincoln Memorial on New Year’s Eve, with my then-fiancee, the future Mrs. Parkasaurus.  Many people may not realize, but Washington actually does not normally have an outdoor New Year’s Eve event.  So on December 31st, 2007 it almost felt like my fiancee had the illuminated Memorials on the National Mall to ourselves.   As we climbed the steps of the Lincoln Memorial just before midnight, we shared that special moment  transitioning from one year to the next with just the security guard and two other couples who had similar ideas.  It was a fantastic New Year’s Eve like no other.

The view from the top of the Lincoln Memorial at night is one to be savored. Photo from July 2011.

 

#11) The 150th Anniversary of the Civil War at Harpers Ferry National Historical Park – September 2012
For the past four years, the National Park Service has put on a number of events marking the Civil War Sesquicentennial.  Although as a family with two young children, we have attended fewer of these events than I might otherwise have liked, we definitely made it a special point to go to some of the events marking the 150th Anniversary of the Battle of Harper’s Ferry, given our special connection to this Park.   We’re glad that we did.

On the night of September 12, 2012 costumed interpreters from the National Park Service helped recreate several scenes from the night of September 12, 1862.   That was the night that Union troops,  recognizing that their position was indefensible, abandoned the town of Harpers Ferry to be captured by the Confederates the next day.  Visitors were led by lantern light to various locations around the historic downtown where the costumed interpreters using material from actual letters and diary entries from 1862 really helped recreate some of the thoughts and emotions that various townspeople in Harpers Ferry must have been feeling on that night – both those who would be leaving, as well as those who would be left behind.   Quite simply it was not a night that I will not soon forget.

Harper’s Ferry National Historical Park is where history happens. Photo from April 2015.

I hope you enjoyed Part II of my 30 for 300 retrospective.

In case you missed it, here is a link to Part I with #’s 21-30, here is Part III with #’s 1-10, and here are the Honorable Mentions.

Part II Pictures

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