We cannot think of a better excuse to break out photos from some great trips we've taken in recent years and months than to celebrate 97 years of the National Park Service (more at http://www.nps.gov/aboutus/npsbirthday.htm and http://www.nationalparks.org/founders-day). To date this calendar year, we've visited six national parks, and we have two more parks on the docket for September... but, more about that in a later post.
The national parks encompass some of the United States' greatest treasures. In our experiences, these parks offer places for reflecting quietly, taking in fascinating wonders, engaging with incredible scenery, gathering with friends and family, observing animals in their natural habitats, and appreciating the diverse world in which we humans are a small part. Thanks to the creation of the National Park Service nearly a hundred years ago, some of the most amazing places in our country still belong to all of us.
To the right is an amazing image from Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah. We journeyed to Bryce this past March for our first ever visit. The hoodoos - the name of the unique natural rock formations found at Bryce - greeted us with their lovely snow caps. The hoodoos have been created over time by the wearing away of weak limestone as a result of the continuous freezing and thawing of ice and water. The morning we shot this photo, we ventured out before 6am to greet the sunrise near Thor's Hammer (the name of the hoodoo you see in the foreground). It was -1 degrees when we left the cozy seats of our rental car to trek a short way down the icy Sunrise Point trail. In the cold shadows of the hoodoos, Sean set up his camera and we awaited the winter sun's rays. Cold? Abso-freaking-lutely. Worth it? Double [numb] thumbs up!
The photo to the left is of the wild and wooly ponies of Assateague Island National Seashore. Yes! Who doesn't love ponies? The Assateague ponies roam the national seashore - frolicking along the Atlantic Ocean, delighting sight-seeing visitors, and eating in the marshy bay. Their presence on the island hearkens back to the 1600s when colonists once grazed livestock there; today's ponies are wild descendants of those domesticated horses. Sean and Marybeth's first camping trip together was to Assateague Island, and these photos are from an earlier trip Sean took.
Wishing you a happy birthday, National Park Service! Thanks for the memories, and we're looking forward to making many more...