#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/.

Rose Parade 2016 Find Your Adventure

So, Mommy Zesty turned 60 this year! One thing that always sticks in my mind about my Mom is that she loves the Rose Parade. It is the one thing she makes sure she sits down to watch every year, and she isn’t big on TV. You have to understand that my Mom is one of the most selfless people I know. She rarely, if ever, asks for anything, and always puts everyone’s needs and wants before her own. Therefore, when she mentions there is something she would like to do, I do my best to listen.

As long as I can remember, my Mom talked about wanting to one day see the Rose Parade in person and help to decorate a float. About two years before her 60th, the nugget of an idea started to form in my head to make her wish come true. Lots and lots and lots of planning, budgeting, and reservations later, we were off to LA to celebrate my Moms 60th birthday a little early (her bday is in February). Day 1 was float decorating!

The timing was extra perfect since my family loves our National Parks and the parade theme was honoring the National Park Service Centennial. Find Your Adventure.

It turns out that it is relatively easy to get onto a float to decorate. There are a couple of groups who open up to volunteers. If you don’t already have an in with someone decorating a specific float, you can volunteer with one of these groups by signing up online. They do fill up fast and you have to keep checking their website to sign up. We went through Petal Pushers for our float volunteering, and I recommend you check them out if you are interested.

We had no idea what we were walking into! The warehouse is HUGE and housed about 10 or so of the floats for the parade. There are jobs available for everyone’s ability. If you are confined to a wheel chair or cant stand for extended periods, there are jobs for you! If you are a daredevil and like to climb scaffolding, there are jobs for you! And everyone in between. We were assigned to work on the Sikhs float. Not only was it a stunning float, but as an added bonus, the family sponsoring the float fed everyone delicious Indian food for lunch. It was sooo good!

The level of detail that goes into each float is mind boggling. I had no idea and have an immense amount of newfound respect for anyone who has ever had any part in creating a Rose Parade float. My Mom and I were assigned to cut out random shapes from nori paper (seaweed, like what you use in a sushi roll) and glue them onto peacock wings. There were four peacocks on the float, and two wings per bird. Two birds were already finished, we just had to do the other two. It took us the almost entire 8 hour shift!

Towards the very end of our shift, they finally started putting flowers on the float. Somehow my Dad ended up the supervisors temporary assistant so he was able to ensure my Mom was able to apply a few of the actual flowers! My aunt and boyfriend were also with us doing an assortment of other equally detailed and painstaking tasks. 🙂

You have to be a contortionist to get to some parts of the float! It was completely worth every muscle pinch and strain, lol, to see how happy my Mom was and to see the fruits of our labor progress throughout the day. I can’t put into words how amazing the experience was. I hope to do it again at least once more in my lifetime.

If you would like to learn more about a day in the life of a Rose Parade float decorating volunteer, send me a note! I am happy to elaborate and provide more detail.

 

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…)