Every Thursday, I will be posting a photo from my travels and a spotlight on the location. Today’s Spotlight Thursday is from my very first solo road trip across the United States. As part of that road trip, I made several stops along the way. One of my favorite stops was a two-day visit to Grand Tetons National Park. Grand Tetons National Park is 10 short miles south of Yellowstone National Park. Unlike Yellowstone which became a national park on March 1, 1872, it took another 57 years for Grand Tetons to become a national park. Grand Tetons protects the Teton Range and part of the Jackson Hole valley.
I am a national park junkie in every sense of the word. I have been to 41 National Parks and over 150 of the other National Park units. My love of the national park system came at an early age. I was to my first national park before I was a year old. It is no secret that I love our national parks. I am forever thankful for the efforts of early environmentalists. Their tireless work saved many of these magnificent places from destruction. The U.S. National Park system is often called ‘America’s Best Idea.’ I firmly believe this statement. Over the last couple of years, I have realized out park system is under attack.
My quest to visit all 59 National Parks has taken many twists and turns. I didn’t know I was going to get a chance to visit the Virgin Islands National Park in St. John this year. I had a last minute opportunity to go so I jumped on the chance and took a flight over to St. Thomas then the ferry to St. John. The Virgin Islands National Park takes up the majority of St. John. This has limited the number of hotels and tourists on the island.
Kayla and I emerge from the forest and arrive at my car. We look at each other. Joe still hadn’t caught up with us. I unlock my car and pull out my phone. Kayla keeps glancing at the trailhead as I turn my phone on. Finally, it turns on. No signal, that isn’t a surprise given we are in the North Cascades Mountains in North Cascade National Park in northern Washington. Kayla looks at her watch. “It’s 5:30,” she states. “Sunset isn’t until at least 9,” I respond. We have over three hours of sunlight. “He should have realized we were going to make it to the top by now, right,” her voice wobbles. I hesitate for a moment, but respond, “Yea, he should have caught us on the way down.” With that statement, the nagging feeling that I have had the whole way down comes back.
I sat near a 1,500 foot vertical drop and admired the view. It had taken me almost 8 years of plotting and planning to make this trip a reality. The view from Angel’s Landing exceeded expectations and was worth the wait. The early explorers were right.