#MonumentsForAll

Yesterday, on the anniversary of the Antiquities Act, lovers of our public lands used their voice via blog posts to express their feelings on President Trump’s Executive Order for Secretary of the Interior Zinke to review 27 of our National Monuments. These monuments protect one of a kind artifacts of human history, endangered species, and unique flora found nowhere else. Whether you’ve visited them or not, they have played a role in the shaping of our past and the country we are today. These lands are for EVERYONE, regardless of race, religion, sex, or economic standing.

I struggled to write my post and I still struggle to write now. I’m angry and I’m hurt. I’m stressed out that these monuments may be dramatically altered, if not worse, before I have had a chance to visit most of them. I’m terrified where this review could lead. Why stop with these 27? Does this open up ALL of our treasured public lands to scrutiny and peril?

Luckily, many of the thoughts and feelings that are jumbled around in my head and heart have been expressed more eloquently than I am currently capable of by my fellow public land loving bloggers. Please enjoy their perspectives by visiting their sites at the links below. Special Thank You to Scott of Just Get Out More for organizing this effort. We implore you all to make your voice heard. Monuments For All.

 

Just Get Out More http://justgetoutmore.com/deeply-personal-care-national-monuments/
Nightborn Travel https://nightborntravel.com/2017/06/08/love_national_monuments/
AZ Day Hiker http://jasoncleghorn.wixsite.com/azdayhiker/single-post/2017/06/07/A-Monumental-Fight
Nature Tech Family http://www.naturetechfam.com/2017/06/08/rio-grande-del-norte-national-monument/
Little Grunts http://www.littlegrunts.com/pro-tips-tommy-caldwell-talks-public-lands/
Mike Off The Map https://mikeoffthemap.com/2017/06/08/in-the-heart-of-the-creek/
Parks & Points http://www.parksandpoints.com/parksandpointsblog/monumentaldayofblogging
West Coast Hiker Girl https://www.westcoasthikergirl.com/a-monumental-day/
Campfire Guy http://www.campfireguy.com/national-monuments-for-all/
Val in Real Life http://valinreallife.com/2017/06/08/national-monuments/
InnerCompass http://innercompassblog.com/monumentsforall/
Sun Kissed Hiker http://www.sunkissedhiker.com/blog/national-monuments-the-bears-ears-debate-and-how-you-can-help/
Bearfoot Theory https://bearfoottheory.com/national-monument-review/
Terra Galleria http://www.terragalleria.com/blog/speak-out-for-our-national-monuments-under-review/
Wilderness Within Her https://wildernesswithinher.com/2017/05/26/dear-secretary-zinke/
Southwest Dude http://www.southwestdude.com/blog-and-trip-reviews/national-monuments-public-lands-wilderness
Modern Hiker https://modernhiker.com/public-comment-on-the-national-monument-review
Hikes Across America! http://fanclubdad.blogspot.com/2017/06/monumental-day-of-blogging.html
Backcountry Petite https://www.backcountrypetite.com/adventure/new-york-national-monuments/
G Who Travels https://gwhotravels.com/2017/06/08/monuments-for-all-help-save-our-national-monuments/
Explore With Heather http://www.explorewithheather.com/national-monuments-comments/
The Modern Outdoors https://www.modernoutdoors.net/blog/grand-staircase-bears-ears
Grayt Adventure https://graytadventure.com/2017/06/08/a-monumental-day-for-our-nation/
Illuminations from the Attic http://illuminationsfromtheattic.blogspot.com/2017/06/the-antiquities-act-monumental-success.html

Dear Mr. President

Dear Mr. President,

 

Recently you signed an executive order threatening the existence of several of our beloved public lands. My heart instantly broke. There is no place I love to be more than in our Parks. I don’t remember what my first National Parks site visit was but since I grew up in Ohio it was somewhere east of the Mississippi. Family vacations were not only a time to get away from daily life for a week, but they also frequently were educational experiences around parks, monuments, and other historical sites.

 

I will never forget the trip we took to Gettysburg. My parents wanted to get on the road early. Early meant 4AM. I’m still not sure why so early! (I’m not a morning person by any stretch of the imagination) My room and my brother’s room were almost directly across the hall from each other, so my Dad opened both of our doors, turned on the hall light and began reciting the Gettysburg address. I can’t recall if he made it all the way through, pretty sure I put the pillow over my head and tried to go back to sleep. It certainly helped to cement the memory in my mind though! I do remember driving through the battlefield, imagining what it must have been like in those moments of North vs. South. There is speculation that the area is haunted by the many men who lost their lives. Whether or not that is true, I won’t debate here, but will say that there is a feeling that is inexplicably unsettling. In a time when the divide in our country seems to be growing again, I am glad we have places to remind us of the pain and hardships of civil war so that we hopefully can find amicable ways of coming back together.

 

We made several trips to Great Smoky Mountain National Park, including our most recent trip complete with a freak early season and unexpected snowstorm during peak fall leaf color! While most of the Park was closed for most of our visit, the unexpected lead to beautiful scenes and even more interesting hiking. We also went to Washington DC and since that first visit, I’ve returned countless times. The National Mall is one of my all-time favorite places to explore and reflect.

I remember the wonder and awe of walking into Mammoth Cave for the first time; amazement at the ceremonial creations of the Hopewell Culture; and hometown pride while visiting the William Howard Taft National Historic Site. Each vastly different from the other, and yet each plays a vital role in the fabric of our culture. These units of the National Park Service combine with the rest to show us where we have been as a country, creating a compass of where we need to go. Whether naturally made, manmade, or simply symbolic, each of the 417 units are vital to our health and happiness as a Nation.

 

As an adult, I am slowly churning my way through more and more National Park sites across the country. My boyfriend and I took our first vacation together as a road trip from Vegas. We ventured out first to Hoover Dam and Lake Mead National Recreation Area, spent a night exploring the southern rim of Grand Canyon National Park, drove through Kaibab National Forest, gawked at the Vermillion Cliffs, and fell in love with Zion National Park. Since then we’ve ventured to many more Parks, Monuments, and Historical Sites. We have no intention of stopping now.

I would love to elaborate on each of the National Park sites I have visited thus far, but that would turn into a book. That book would have blank pages for all the places I’ve yet to see. Maybe one day I will write that book. I know I’m not alone in my passion for our public lands, and hope you take the time to read what others have written about their experiences.

 

The addition of new monuments in the last 20 years has been thrilling. Witnessing the living history of the United States of America. I fear an action against the Antiquities Act of this nature will open the door to further pillage other beloved monuments in the future. If you truly want to “Make America Great Again” I implore you to halt any reduction of these sites. These are places that can bring us together no matter our upbringing and social standing. There are so many wonderful, unique places in this country of ours that deserve to be preserved for generations to come.

 

Respectfully,

 

Danielle

aka TheZestyTraveler

 

#MonumentsForAll

To those of you looking to have your voice heard, please write and call your Representatives. You can also head here to submit your comments for public review: http://monumentsforall.org/.

Farm Life, Then Now

It might seem a little strange to be writing about farms on a travel blog, but I did travel nearly an hour to get to them! How our food is raised, the traditions surrounding the raising of crops and livestock, and the bond of farmer to animal, crop, and consumer are also something I have a deep interest in and seek out to some degree on my travels near and far.

Our day started simply enough. We got up, took care of Meli, and headed out the door to pick up our final CSA share of the season. If you’re unfamiliar with what a CSA is, it stands for Community Supported Agriculture. In a nutshell, you pay a local farmer a number of months in advance for all of the produce they will provide you for the upcoming growing season. You are essentially investing in the farm and the return on your investment is fresh local food!

Back to our day:  Today was our CSAs customer appreciation day at their farm. We arrived to a warm welcome from the owners of Paige’s Produce, were provided a shopping list, and a wheelbarrow. Based on our list we were able to roam around and hand select our produce. Different CSAs provide different options. For the two of us, we pay for a half share of vegetables and as an add on, a half share of fruit. There was a great variety this year and the growing season rewarded all of us nicely! We have tons of butternut squash which is one of my favorite foods, particularly when Ed turns it into soup. Drool.

After working up a small appetite collecting our produce, roaming the farm, and checking out two impressive orb weavers on the side of a barn, we ventured over to their house for soup, mac & cheese, homemade cookies, and fresh apple cider. Such a great treat! Not every CSA holds an event at their farm for their customers, but in my opinion they should. CSAs encourage you to not only support local, but to really see where your food is coming from and get to know the people who make it possible.

As we were making our way back home, we passed one of our metro parks and made a u-turn. We haven’t been to this park before. Part of the reason we hadn’t made the journey is because there are only three short pet friendly trails and they aren’t allowed at the Living Historic Farm at all. I feel guilty having fun in nature while Meli sits at home. Today was serendipitous though as we were already in the area. I made it up to her by taking her for a walk at the park closer to home after dinner. 🙂

Slate Run Living Historical Farm is really cool. It must have been wonderful living there as an original home owner. The setting is idyllic. Lovely trees, wide open pastures, fields, a pond. I will say the lack of indoor plumbing would be the tough one for me. I could survive without electricity, I think, but am incredibly attached to a flushing toilet. The main barn is huge and beautifully maintained. The property is complete with the summer kitchen, root cellar, smoke house, outhouse, and a number of other out buildings. Around the farm we met the employees and volunteers who work the farm as if it were in a time capsule from the late 1800’s; as well as chickens, sheep, geese, ducks, cows, hogs, turkeys, guinea hens, and of course draft horses!

Having just come from a modern working farm, it was interesting to see the differences of small working farms then and now. The biggest difference, aside from indoor plumbing, is horse power. Literally. While some of the plows and other machinery are similar, now they are pulled by tractors instead of draft horses. Materials for many storage structures have shifted from wood to metal. If a part was needed, they needed to craft it themselves instead of going to the local hardware store or mechanic. Aside from that, it is remarkable how little has changed. I think that is a testament to how well the system works and the pride achieved in those who work the land.

I encourage you to learn more about the history where you live and anywhere you travel. If it doesn’t give you a deeper appreciation for the place you’re in and the people who live there, you’re doing it wrong.

I also would like to encourage you to look up your local farmers to see if they offer a CSA or similar program. If not, maybe reach out to ask if they would start one. Almost everyone used to raise at least some of their own produce. It is only in recent human history that we’ve begun to deviate farther away from our food sources. When we lose touch with our local farmers, we lose touch with ourselves.

Staycation in Ohio

As much as I love to travel the country and the world (and long to move to a warmer climate) there are so many different things to enjoy in Ohio. It is beyond time for the flyover mentality to be extinguished. Ohio has everything from lakes and rivers to mountains and prairie land to the 15th largest city in the country and tiny towns of less than 1000. (more…)

Redemption!

What better day to take steps towards redeeming myself for neglecting my nearest National Park than the National Park Services’ 100th Birthday?! On our last trip to Cuyahoga National Park, if I’m honest, I felt like we had hit all of the high points and there wasn’t any rush to get back. As nice as the idea was to revisit and explore, I just didn’t have a sense of urgency. That was horribly wrong of me! (more…)

Neglect

We have a tendency to neglect those people and places closest to us. I am embarrassed to admit I have long-neglected to get to know my nearest National Park, Cuyahoga Valley. I’ll in part blame growing up about as far away as you can get within the State of Ohio, Cincinnati to Cleveland, but the park also doesn’t receive the recognition or notoriety that many of the other 59 Parks receive. It doesn’t have the vibrant rock and vaulted walls of Zion or see the sunrise first like Acadia or have unique Joshua Trees as you’ll find in, well…Joshua Tree. Cuyahoga Valley National Park is also worthy of your visit! I promise. (more…)