See you on the other side, Dad.

My Dad taught me to love our public lands. When I was preschool age, gasoline was ten cents a gallon. So two summers in a row, Dad drove me, Mom and my grandparents across the country, stopping at many national parks along the way.

I don’t remember much about those trips. I remember:

  • I ate an ice cream cone in a parking lot with a view of Mount Rushmore.
  • I climbed down a ladder into an ancient dwelling at Mesa Verde, with help. The rungs were too far apart for my little legs.
  • I filled an entire tablet with drawings of mountains as we approached the Rockies
  • I got pecked by a jay in the Arizona desert
  • I fed Oreos to the burros in Yellowstone (disclaimer: don’t feed the wildlife, that’s bad)
  • I watched hummingbirds sip nectar as my dad rode off on a trail ride into the mountains, leaving me to keep my pregnant mother company until he returned.

But more than anything, I remember Dad. Dad helping me down the ladder, Dad soothing my boo-boo from that nasty birdy, Dad teaching me to see the beauty all around us.

After my sister came along, we’d all take walks along the beach near our home at Gateway National Recreation Area. Dad, who had a doctorate in Biology and was a college professor, taught us to identify razor clams, limpets and such. He showed us how to turn over horseshoe crabs so they could get back to the ocean. He taught us that the stinky seaweed washing up was a good sign that NY harbor was recovering from its polluted state.

When I started this blog, Dad became my biggest fan. He sent me e-mails after he read each post. He offered encouragement and little tidbits of information about some of the flora and fauna I’d photographed. He gave me ideas for other places to visit.

Sadly, Dad passed away at the end of July. I miss him dearly and will be forever grateful for all he taught me.

Hope you’re having an epic road trip, wherever you are. See you on the other side, Dad.

64 thoughts on “See you on the other side, Dad.

    1. Thanks Mr. P. My heart is heavy and I’ve had to take a step back from my job to help Mom for the time being. I’d thought to let the blog expire, but you’re right, Dad wouldn’t want me to give it up. I’ll find a way to continue it. I appreciate your kind words.

      1. Take your time, wait until it feels right. Your Dad loved you for who you are, and your blog is part of who you are. I’m sure he’d be pleased for you to carry on when you feel able. Take care, my friend.

    2. Sarah Gutierrez

      Hi T! I love your tribute to your dad in this blog. I can appreciate your mutual love for our national parks. I consider them our inheritance. I came of age at Gateway National Recreation Area, hence my screen name Riis Waters. Much love to you during this season of profoundly missing your dad. He taught you well.

  1. What a wonderful tribute to your dad. I am sorry for your loss. You were lucky to have such a dad and to have so many great memories. It sounds like so much of him is still alive in you!

  2. Oh what great memories of those feelings and places! Even if you didn’t remember all the details you got those feelings there. That’s so great he did all that with you guys road trips have the best mementoes and polaroids 🙂 I’m sorry about your loss though, it is super tough, the missing part is hard, but your National Park memories sound amazing and glad he was able to see some of your posts, sharing in the love of National Parks. Sending you good vibes.

  3. What a wonderful tribute to your Dad. It’s great that you had a Dad that introduced you to nature and had such knowledge to share with you, along with him fully supporting your interests and letting you know he admired what you do. I’m sorry for your loss and grateful for your precious memories.

  4. Ruth Wright

    Your dad sounds like a wonderful father, and your account of him reminds me of my father. My dad was a geologist, and retired when I was 6. This left him free to take me exploring in the nearby mountains any time I wasn’t booked up with school or other activities. He loved the outdoors and loved teaching me about what he could see in the rocks. I’m sorry for your loss.

  5. My condolences, Theresa. You are your dad’s legacy, and through your blog you are passing along his love for our public lands to a wider audience and keeping his memory alive. It’s no wonder he was proud of you!

  6. Though I haven’t met him, they say the fruit doesn’t fall far from the tree. So, in a way, I’ve come to know him through you. I pray you will have enough strength during this transitional time.

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