Recent comments

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Different strokes for different folks. Writer Keith Goetzman is a snob. A snob is a type of elitist. Therefore, this legend in his own mind is an elitist. Who died and put him in charge of determining how people should visit the National Parks?

    Park collecting is not for me. I like to spend at least a few days to a couple of weeks at each park that I visit. I believe that this allows me to see a national park more in depth than windshield tourist do. By seeing the national parks in this manner, I have left the crowds behind me and see things not possible to be seen from the road. However, I realize that what satisfies me is not what satisfies many other people and that not everyone has the time and/or money to take as long as I have taken for some of my vacations in the past.

    The important thing is that people go out and enjoy the national parks in the ways which most suit them. The national parks are for everyone, not just some self-appointed experts.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I've been to 46. Elitist and Proud!

  • Jon Jarvis Supports More Official Wilderness in National Park System   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I agree, some of have had to work all of our life and didn't have the time to take to explore wilderness. We all don't work for uncle sam or have a trust fund.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    This is the NPS website that breaks down all of the current 391 units by category:
    http://www.nps.gov/pub_aff/refdesk/classlst.pdf [Ed: If you click on this link, it will take you directly to the list and ask if you want to save the pdf. It's a small file, only around 110 kb.]

    I am a member of the NPTC and am attempting to get to all 391 units of the National Park Service. I think that it's up to each individual to decide what they get out of a visit. I've been lucky enough to get to 309 of the units (42 of the 58 National Parks), and will continue my quest.

    I'm retired and this is what I do instead of going to a job everyday.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    If Keith wants to get me a job working in Wrangell-St. Elias NP, I'd be guaranteed to get a good "wilderness" experience too.
    Sounds to me like he's compensating.

  • Creature Feature: Meet the Asian Swamp Eel, "the Animal Equivalent of the Kudzu Vine?"   5 years 28 weeks ago

    A few years ago while catching crayfish in a creek we also caught what we thought was a salamander. We put it in our fish tank alone with some other small fish and the crayfish, it was approx 6 inches long at that time. Now it has grown to approx 2 1/2 feet long and eats everthing else in the tank. Now that it is bigger and after doing research we have discovered that it is the swamp eel. It looks identical to what you have in this video. A couple of times he got out of the tank and we found him under the couch in the living room. We live in Florida southwest of Jacksonville. Can you give me an idea of what to do with him (not really sure if it a male or female?). I'm also wondering how he got in the creek this far north of the everglades?
    We don't want to put him back in the creek so any ideas would be helpful.

  • At New River Gorge National River, an Iconic Bridge Attracts Suicide Jumpers   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Putting up barricades on these landmarks might be a good idea but like the New River Gorge Bridge most "scenic" areas have more than one location to leap from. On each side of the bridge, is walkways and overlooks that are as easily to access as the span itself...I live about 2 hours from there and have visited it several times.. As I walk across it this weekend on Bridge Day, my family and I will condone a moment of silence to those who has lost their lives here... GODSPEED..

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Brad,
    Upon Googling U.S. National Parks List, Wikipedia gave what looks like a very thorough list by state. There are 61 entries but as it explained some are mentioned twice if the park overlaps two states. For example, Yellowstone is mentioned in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming. Great Smoky Mountains are in Tennessee and North Carolina. The two territories, Am. Samoa and U.S. Virgin Islands, are also included.

    Subtracting the "three" duplicates, I think the math will come out correct for your count of 58. Please double check the calculation!

  • Is It Too Early To Plan A Winter Trip to Rocky Mountain National Park? Naaaahhhh.   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Agreed; that's a beautiful place in winter. The book "Snowshoeing Colorado" by Claire Walter describes several snowshoeing trails in Rocky Mountain in fairly good detail.

    Another consideration in the backcountry in winter: avalanche safety. I took a course in it through Colorado Mtn. School in Estes Park a couple years ago and learned a lot.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I've been to 191 units (29 NP's by my rough count) and my 13-year-old son has seen 113 units. Every site is important to me. We've made it a part of our kids' homeschooling. Horseback riding in Teddy Roosevelt NP. Digging for fossils near Fossil Butte. Next year, now that my son is older, I hope to hike across the Grand Canyon with him, and yeah, we'll spend a few hours at Wupatki and a few a Sunset Crater. Book history is fine, but if you can visit the birthplaces of Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, and George Washington you're more likely to INSPIRE kids rather than just educate them. I've made this a priority in my life. We sold the huge house and downsized. Now we're selling our land adjacent to the C&O Canal NHP so we can afford to see the rest. Only an elitist would be insulted by the elitist label. I couldn't care less what someone else thinks.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Kirby is right on. I've visited most of the national parks of the eastern part of the US, but never thought of "collecting" them. What a super idea. You don't have to be wealthy either. You go, Roxanne! I can't think of a better use for your time. Mr. Goetzman needs to get out more.

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Would it be OK to put quotas on the trade routes, but not on the more challenging routes?

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Who cares what the environazis at Utne think. They always think they know what the rest of us should be doing. I've been to about 15 or so NPs and NMs and will continue to visit as I see fit.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I'm up to 19 although it would have been 20 if a certain tropical storm didn't mess with my plans to visit Key West and then Dry Tortugas NP. I rescheduled the trip to Key West but didn't have enough time to take the ferry to Fort Jeffeson in Dry Tortugas NP.

    There are places where the economy is heavily based on people visiting from far distances. The visitor economy in Hawaii or Florida is heavily dependent on visitors from all over the US and the world. I have no pangs of guilt about visiting Hawai'i Volcanoes NP or venturing to Everglades NP. These were wonderful experiences that I'll remember for the rest of my life. Visiting Alaska one of these days is a distinct goal, although I have the feeling I'll never visit Kobuk Valley NP or Gates of the Arctic NP. I've seen visitors in Yosemite from all over the world. I'd hate there to be some sort of limit (perhaps a lottery) on visitors that depends on how far they've traveled.

    The sentiment about "carbon footprint" may be a valid one but the reality is that people live in the modern world. I don't know if it's more "elitist" to actually make a goal of visiting all these units or if it's more "elitist" to decry that other people choose to visit places that they consider wonderful.

  • Climbing is Capped at Mount McKinley and Climbers are Left to Wonder What’s Next   5 years 28 weeks ago

    The ONLY reason that so many climbers are on the big mountain is because they can be flown halfway up it and be dropped off at 7,200 feet on the kahiltna glacier. Take away that one hour flight, and you have to walk for a week up the Granite, Pika, And Kahiltna glaciers..to get to that part of the park. Take away the commercial landing strip up there, and you'd see the number of climbing parties plummet to less than 1/3 of what it is today. Sure, more parties would go up the muldrow....but, after climbing up there over the last 20 years, I'd say that only 1/3 of the parties I see up on the west buttress would even have the small amount of gumption required to walk the "whopping" 20 miles in to get to the Muldrow glacier...carrying those 100+ lb packs.
    This is the only solution to separating the wheat from the chaff on that mountain, and reducing the alleged "overuse" of the mountain resources.

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Brad - looks like others have already answered you, but since I had been having the same problem, I thought that I would post the website I'd found that lists the different units in the system, actually grouped per type:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_areas_in_the_United_States_National_Park_System

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I'm up to 23 NPs, with 6 of the new ones being added this year. I've had the time - I've been unemployed, living on unemployment pay, with no jobs available to even apply for, since mid-January. I have a small SUV (Ford Escape) that gets decent gas mileage (gas that would normally be spent on getting me to & from work) that I've been primitive tent camping out of across the west (live in Colorado), taking a week or so per trip, one trip per month. I've also done return visits to 3 parks, all of which I've been to a number of times before. And I have 2 more new ones I plan to mark off my list of all 58 in the next couple months (assuming continued unemployment). I'm not driving around the parks or hanging out at the lodges (or campground) either - I've hiked literally hundreds of miles in the parks this year (& taken thousands of pictures :-). I've tried to get to know each park as much as possible in the time I've had. I've also been to a lot of the other units of the National Park system over the years - I grew up in northern Indiana, lived in the northeast, Florida, & Alaska, before moving to Colorado, & I've taken advantage of proximity to these great places. And always on a low budget (for instance, went to college in AK, giving me low budget access to its wonders). And I have had an amazingly fortunate life - one that I've worked to make just that, nothing given to me, & by no means rich or elitist. Just very determined to find (creative when necessary) means to accomplish my goals, one of which is to make it to all 58 unique NPs, no matter how that sounds to someone else. :-) So while I do understand the point that (I think) Mr. Goetzman was making & agree to some extent, it was far too narrow a sentiment, & once again, I think Kurt's hit it right...

  • Pruning the Parks: Castle Pinckney National Monument (1933-1956)   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Trying to put enough money together for such a project is a sobering thought, Anon, and any proposed use of the site would have to deal with the fact that it's a National Register listed property. I'm not at all surprised that Castle Pinckney is languishing out there in the harbor. It just doesn't get any love.

  • French Flyover is Prelude to the Upcoming Yorktown Victory Celebration   5 years 28 weeks ago

    As far as I can determine, the earliest celebrations were very small and very low key. The first formal Yorktown victory celebration, with thousands participating, was in 1824. Yorktown Day has been celebrated for over a century now, and the Yorktown Day Association has been in charge of organizing the event for the past 60 years. I have no idea what became of the victory celebration during the Civil War. Maybe a Civil War buff could help us there.

  • Maine North Woods National Park: Has The Time Arrived?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Hi Joan-If you followed Ken Burns on his television series on National Parks and how they came about--it is not too late to stop what LURC has allowed to happen with Plum Creek and its destruction of Lilly Bay and the rest of the lower end of Moosehead Lake---RESTORE and The Forest Ecology Network are pursuing a plan for a Maine North Woods National Park--I think that it should have its nexus Moosehead as well-I am not giving up and we are trying to awake others to help in the cause--I liked your note and as a former park ranger I know the care we need to take of them-Thanks John Oser

  • What to Do With the "Dune Shacks" At Cape Cod National Seashore?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    the author of this article needs to correct his facts before writing a column of this importance.

    1) Kurt Repanshek says the shacks were 'Built more than a century ago to house members of the U.S. Life-Saving Service'.

    Wrong Mr Repanshek. None of the existing shacks are 100 years old. And of the 18 remaining dune shacks there are perhaps 2 that can be linked to housing members of the Life-Saving Service. And even that is unlikely.

    2) Kurt Repanshek says 'these board structures hidden amid the dunes of Cape Cod National Seashore have taken on a second, or third, life as artists' roosts.'

    This again is not the truth. There are only 3 dune shacks which have current connections to non-profits who offer 'their' shacks to artists. And even these three shacks are not exclusively used by artists. The traditional use of these shacks was not in any way limited to artists. Yes there are many artists who were and are inspired by time in the dunes. However there were - and currently are - many electricians, plumbers, insurance agents, carpenters, teachers, fisherman, families, and scientists who love and need the 'way of life' the Seashore was intended to protect in its 1961 creation.

    3) Kurt Repanshek asks, 'what should the National Seashore do with them?'

    We are now the Peaked Hill Bars Historic District. The Seashore and the NPS fought against that designation for years. They were determined to bulldoze all but one of the shacks and in fact did destroy at least four and as many as ten. Those were among the most historic of the dune shacks. I want to point out that one of the the remaining dune shacks is not the property of the Seashore. It is that shack that should be the model for how the Seashore deals with future use of these properties.
    If the past 50 years is any indication of how the Seashore treats these structures there is little reason to be optimistic about the future. Owners protected and maintained these dune shacks. Most of the shacks are still standing because owners spent thousands of dollars in legal fees to keep the Seashore from destroying these traditional dwellings which are now considered national treasures. Our current CCNS Superintendent has even said that he is not interested in the history of the dune shacks. That isn't a promising indication of how the Seashore will treat these shacks in the future.

  • Creature Feature: Yellowstone National Park, Home to Wolves, Grizzlies, Elk, Moose, and ... Crystal Salamanders   5 years 28 weeks ago

    "But what about Crystal salamanders?

    Nope. For those you have to visit Yellowstone."

    To Kurt Repanshek: Please do not make a statement like this without at least looking into the topic. There is nothing novel about this "discovery."

    Look at the range of Ambystoma tigrinum (not just A. t. melanostictum, but the rest of the subspecies as well) on a range map. Either get a permit or contact someone that has a permit within the range. Go into the field and net up a few larval Ambystoma in cattle ponds that appear to be very murky. Voila! Crystal. Salamanders.

    Sarah, I'm sure you know about this but I have to mention it so that people don't get the wrong idea. Did you try putting them in ponds with clearer water? Or maybe in containers with clearer water for just a day or two? Drab. Salamanders. It's magic!

    You see the same thing in other species of Ambystoma.

  • Traveler's Checklist: Biscayne National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    I believe there's only a fee for Biscayne NP if you go on a boat ride from a licensed concessionaire. It's not particularly expensive although it costs to take tours. I don't recall the price to be out of line. I think the glass bottomed boat tour was maybe $12?

  • Is It "Elitist" To Try to Visit All 58 National Parks?   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Everyone should enjoy the Parks, and as many of them, as THEY see fit; it is no one else's business, let alone Goetzman's.

  • Exploring Yosemite National Park   5 years 28 weeks ago

    Yosemite Valley is less than one percent of Yosemite National Park. There is so much more to see. The valley is best from about mid-May until the end of June because that's when the waterfalls are at their best. Yosemite Falls usually dries up in August. My favorite place in the park is Tuolumne Meadows, which is nearly 9,000 feet elevation (about 5,000 feet higher than the valley), so it usually still has snow until July. Tuolumne Meadows is at its best from mid-July until late-September (when the temperature can drop below freezing). My wife and I spent six wonderful days of camping at the Tuolumne Meadows campground mid-August. Some of the best stargazing anywhere can be enjoyed out on the meadow on moonless nights.