I’m so excited to share this interview with you all! Talk about an inspiring family with an inspiring mission….to see all 59 American National Parks as a family before their kids turn 18! Their journey began in 2009, and now they have only 8 parks remaining in Alaska to visit. Their final quest begins next week with a trip to “cancel” off the last parks of an amazing journey. Is this cool or what? Read on…
How did this quest begin? During the summer of 2009, we flew to California to visit with some friends and went to Yosemite National Park. It was our first NP hiking experience. Being in isolation as a family within the Sequoia trees was magnificent. Moreover, knowing that us Americans owned this land was overwhelming. We decided to make our 2010 summer vacation all about the national parks. We drove from our hometown of Charlotte, North Carolina west across the United States and visited eleven new national parks. When the vacation was over, we were addicted to exploring our national parks and the quest to visit all of them began.
Yosemite National Park
What is your family’s longest road trip? We drove over 6,700 miles over 17 days during our 2013 summer vacation. We needed to see four new national parks as part of our quest (from North Carolina to North Dakota…to northern Minnesota and Michigan…east to Maine and south back home).
Acadia National Park
How do you keep busy during those long road trips? With card games, map reading, site seeing and most all of the wonderful down time to just talk and spend quality family time together. We seem to laugh the most during our road trips. There is something amazing about experiencing something special together. Pure joy is felt and silliness turns into memories of more happiness.
Tell us about your final quest. We have been to all of the 50 United States except for Alaska. Furthermore, we have visited 51 American national parks. The remaining eight are all in Alaska. Our final quest will take us three weeks in a complicated and strategic journey. We hope and pray that all goes well. It is God’s good will that has taken us this far.
What has been your most memorable experience so far? There are so many memorable experiences. The best feeling is that we have ALL of them together as a family. That is the best part of this adventure…from almost stepping on a Western Diamondback Rattlesnake in Saguaro National Park to Alisa almost drowning in the National Park of American Samoa…whether it’s a dangerous issue or a sunset over Crater Lake, we have these experiences forever!
Saguaro National Park
Words of wisdom for other families? No cell phones or music allowed in a National Park. The park is the entertainment! Take enough time preparing BEFORE you get to the park. This does not mean researching the park, this means filling the cooler with food and having enough water and other items (proper clothing, backpacks, hiking shoes, etc.). Select a long hike (a loop if possible) or several for the entire day. Do not be dependent on anyone. That is the magic within the wilderness! Enjoy the exploration and adventure of America…Get into the WILDLIFE.
Rocky Mountain National Park
Feeling inspired yet? I am! Let’s go :) Special thanks to 59 before 18 for taking time to share these memories before their final quest. Happy trails y’all!
The Passport To Your National Parks program was implemented in 1986 to help everyone discover the beauty and history that can be found in American National Parks. For each park you visit, you cancel that park out with a stamp that shows the park name and date of your visit.
Peace and safe travels!