I think the influence of the National Parks is far greater than that. I know that my life was greatly influenced by the parks.
It is with many wonderful memories that I recall my three cross country trips. All those trips revolved around National Parks in one way or the other.
My first trip I was most impressed with Crater Lake and Death Valley. My second trip which took me all the way to Alaska was when I began a life long love affair with the Grand Tetons. The third trip was with my children and wife and was one of those grand circuits lasting three weeks and covering 9,000 miles.
I think the most important moment in that third trip came on our way home. We had already been to the Grand Canyon, San Diego, and the California coast In San Diego, we had visited the zoo and see some buffaloes trying hard to be buffaloes in a small, dusty compound.
This was the middle of July 1991, and we were spending three days in the Tetons. Our first morning we were driving to breakfast at an open air "restaurant" that I had enjoyed over twenty years earlier as a college student on my way to Alaska. It was a cold morning with temperatures in the thirties. Just before we got to the chuck wagon restaurant, we came upon a meadow. In the meadow were two buffaloes fighting for supremacy.
It was a primeval scene in a pristine valley. There was steam rising from the stream in the valley as the buffaloes butted heads. There was steam also coming from them as they fought. It was a majestic scene emblematic of the wilderness represented by our national parks. Our children were spellbound.
At that moment, I knew they had figured it out. They understood that buffaloes have to have a place where they can be buffaloes because if they do not, we will never understand what buffaloes really are. And understanding what buffaloes are and were helps us to understand where we have come from and maybe where we should go as individuals and as a country.
The love of the wild took me all the way to the Canadian wilderness and almost saw me homesteading in the Newfoundland bush. I traded the "relative" civilization of central New Brunswick for Newfoundland, but it was still so wild that we did not need fences for our cattle at the back of the property.
Now I live in one of the most beautiful spots in North America, on the shores of the White Oak River sandwiched between Croatan National Forest and Cape Lookout National Sea Shore. It is also in this land that the beach belongs to the people.
The first picture in the post was taken from the ocean just off Hammocks Beach State Park yesterday. It is a land of lots of sand and sea. It is hard to tell what is more impressive the sand, sea, or the sky. That particular spot is very reminiscent of Cape Lookout National Seashore.
The second picture is coming in from the White Oak River after watching the evening's sunset. The White Oak itself is pretty wild with a reputation of oyster rocks and shoals that can entrap the unwary boater. Yet is a wonderful place for us to enjoy the beauty around us.
The White Oak is a lot like the wild areas around our farm in Canada. You can get away with being careless a few times, but eventually it will catch up with you.
National Parks touched my life and probably had something to do with my years in Canada searching for a life in the wilderness.
I suspect the many summers of camping on the National Seashore on Ocracoke might be the reason why I now live on the Crystal Coast.
So I wonder, did the parks change your life?