When I was growing up on the East Coast in the 1950s, I was fortunate enough to have parents who wanted to show their children that something existed other than the hills and shores of New England. When I was 12, my father, a Congregational minister, swapped pulpits for the summer with a colleague whose church was in Great Falls, Montana. For five weeks, we traveled around the northern Rockies, taking in one national park after another -- Yellowstone, Grand Teton, Glacier, and Badlands to name a few, not to mention national monuments, national forests, and several Canadian national parks. In a subsequent trip west we visited Colorado and enjoyed Rocky Mountain and Mesa Verde national parks there.

My memories of these trips are quite strong, and have led me to visit more than fifteen additional national parks all over the western U.S. since my wife and I moved to California in the late 1970s, putting my current total of National Park-designated NPS units visited (and revisited) at 27. In my retirement I've backpacked in Channel Islands, Grand Canyon, Mt. Rainier, Yosemite, Kings Canyon, Sequoia, and Redwood national parks. Point Reyes is practically in my back yard, so I'm there frequently for day hikes and overnights. And I still have all the Southeast, Hawaiian, and Alaskan national parks to look forward to.


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