It was raining today when I took Linda to Physical Therapy, so I wore my 'rain hat'. It's a soft crush hat that I boughtin 1999 at Walt Disney World. It was raining mice and ducks there that visit and I needed a hat, if only to help keep my glasses clear.
But, I digress. Like all tourists, I got a few souvenir pins there. My first was Figment, then the logo for the World of Imagination. I put that pin on my hat. Well, I've since added other pins from places that we've visited. But, I'm selective. No Grand Canyon or Statue of Liberty pins for my hat. This hat has been places that most of my readers will never visit. If you've done more than one of them, good on you. If you've done them all ... my hat's off to you. Hmmm, let's see. I see the pin for The Natchez Trace, the narrow park following the old pioneer trail from Mississippi back to Tennessee. That's 400 plus miles of slow driving through beautiful country. Ah, Denali National Park in Alaska. That summer Linda and I were among the honored few to be the last to see Mount McKinley. Oh, you know it's been given its original name back, right? Denali. Along with Denali are souvenirs of Kenai Fjords and Glacier Bay. I have a pin for Lake Itasca, headwaters of the Mississippi River. There's no pin for the other end of Old Man River in Louisiana, but we've been there, too. Pins to more available, but less visited parks are Mammoth Cave in Tennessee and Hawaii Volcanoes, along with the very popular Mesa Verde in Colorado.
That hat's got some miles on it. But, then, so do I. My parents thought seeing our country was one of the keys to loving our country. They were right. Have you ever seen the John Wayne movie She Wore a Yellow Ribbon? That two room shack that served as his quarters is a real building. I've seen it. It's a utility shed near the entrance to Monument Valley in Northeast Arizona. I can count 90-some National Parks that I've visited in our journey through the fifty states, including the International Peace Garden where you can wander from the U.S. to Canada and back within the confines of a beautiful and peaceful display of gardens.
Our country is blessed with a vast and ever changing natural beauty, a living historical record and a cultural diversity unmatched in the world. Let's keep it that way.
I know times are a bit strange right now and fear lurks in the darkness, but a clear dawn will break -- soon, I hope, and the road will beckon again. Get out there and see your country. The National Geographic Channel and the Travel Channel are no match for being caught in a thunderstorm on the South Rim of the Grand Canyon. Been there. Done that.