Falling in Love with the NPS
In 1997, when I was just 16, my family took a trip out to the West Coast. We flew into Seattle, OR and headed south on a road trip towards San Francisco, CA. On this drive we stopped at many sites along the way - to climb to the top of the space needle in Seattle, to tour vineyards in Napa Valley, to gaze up at the incredible height of the trees in Redwood National Park, and to stand in awe at the edge of Crater Lake.
We traveled a lot as a family (thanks mom & dad!) and had even visited National Parks before like Yellowstone and Bryce Canyon but it wasn't until this trip that my eyes really opened to the landscapes around me. While we were only in the park for a few hours, we still made time to stop at a few overlooks and for my Dad and I to take a short hike. Our short visit to Crater Lake National Park was a life changing moment for me.
This trip was in the summer before my junior year of high school and shaped the next few years of my life. I enrolled in a summer program the following year where I was able to learn more about the environmental science field and took classes on soil sampling and geology. I started to volunteer at the Lowell National Historical Park so I could be a part of the National Park Service. When searching for colleges, I looked for schools with environmental science programs. I had made a decision that I wanted to be at Park Ranger when I grew up.
Fast forward to 20 years later and things did not pan out the way I thought they would back when I was 16. I did not graduate with an environmental science degree and I did not become a Park Ranger (yet), but my love for the parks has not changed. My passion to get outside and enjoy "America's best idea" is still ingrained in me and the best part of it all is that I have introduced my husband and son to these incredible places and taught them to love them too!
I have been reading a lot of other travel blogs and listening to podcast of people who love the NPS like we do, and one thing they all talk about is having an AHA! moment in life where they fell in love with the parks. For me, it was along the shoreline of Crater Lake where I fell in love and I have not looked back since.