My dream vacation would be very similar to one I took when I was a child of five, and my family toured the National Parks and Monuments of the Western United States. There are good reasons for this.
When many people think of great vacations, they think about exotic lands and countries they haven’t seen yet. Yet, as a child I was taught to appreciate and enjoy the beauty around me, no matter where I was at. I grew up in a National Park, which I still think of as home, and which will always remain beautiful to me in my memories. I return there when I am able to do so.
Still, as a child I didn’t truly appreciate growing up where I did, and it wasn’t until I no longer lived in the park that I began to realize just how lucky I was to have lived there, and how many kids and other people would love to have the privilege.
I got an inkling of that appreciation though when my father took the entire family on a tour of the western National Parks. True as my mother and father told my siblings, and me every area had beauties to behold and appreciate. Each was beautiful in its own way.
Our vacation was taken in a pickup and camper. My brother and I often rode in the camper where we could look out and see the areas we were passing through. We kids had sleeping bags we could use to sleep in, and along the way we often stayed with families we’d known at the national park of my childhood, who had transferred to other parks.
Along the way, we saw the rugged beauty of Lassen, the pristine reaches of Yosemite, the overwhelming loveliness of Sequoia, and the desolate wonders of Death Valley. Painted Desert astonished us all with the colors revealed at sunset, as did Grand Canyon because of its immensity. The fumaroles and mud pots of Yellowstone, with the backdrop of mountains and an abundance of wildlife was hard not to be impressed by.
Arches was a different kind of wonder, with so many rocks sculpted by wind and rain. Dinosaur held a different enchantment. Yet, the Bad Lands were unique in different ways.
Each area held different beauties and different secrets. Each hinted at more than the average person will ever see. There is vitality in each that is hard to explain, but it is there. It can be felt. At times, it is breathtaking.
At the time, our vacation lasted 3 months. But really, even discounting travel time, it isn’t enough. Each National Park holds wonders that can only be truly found and appreciated by exploring, walking, and hiking. The maps and the literature simply don’t tell the whole story.
I will indeed say that I’d love to see distant lands too. But if I had my one perfect, ideal vacation, it would be to once again see the wonders of the National Parks, but this time with enough time to actually look around the Park, to get a sense of what most people miss.
National Parks exist all over the world. The first was in the US, but there are few people that aren’t within at least a day’s journey to a Park now. I can’t think of a better place to go on vacation, nor a better way to give our kids a sense of true appreciation of our world.