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.