I stepped off the plane and on to a South Pacific Island. Yet, I haven’t even left the United States. I am still ‘technically” in the United States. I had landed at the Pago Pago International Airport on the island of Tutuila in American Samoa. American Samoa is an unincorporated unorganized territory of the United States. Basically, the islands are owned by the US but operate under local rule and customs. The U.S. Federal Government has limited involvement in American Samoa politics and American Samoans are U.S. Nationals but not citizens. I have traveled to this far flung island chain south of the equator and halfway between New Zealand and Hawaii to spend four days exploring the National Park of American Samoa.
The 2017 United States solar eclipse has come and gone. Millions of Americans from all over the United States watched the solar eclipse pass over the United States. Even more, people watched it live on TV or over the internet or some who watched it on TV and then watched it live. I was lucky enough to be in Tennessee for work (deliberately planned that way). I got to experience 2 minutes and 10 seconds of totality with my parents.We enjoyed watching the world around us slowly darken. Suddenly, the world around me went dark for 2 minutes and 10 seconds. With the excitement of the 2017 eclipse dying down, it’s time to start planning for the 2024 North American Solar Eclipse.
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.
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.