Friday, October 2, 2009

america's best idea

Above: Mt. Rainier, from "The National Parks: America's Best Idea"
Below: a sampling of some of our park trips
Mesa Verde National Park, Colorado

Treman State Park, New York

Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming

Mt. Rainier National Park, Washington

Acadia National Park, Maine

Lately, we've given over some of our evenings to PBS, watching Ken Burns' documentary series on America's National Parks. There aren't too many things that make my husband emotional, though the man has been known to cry occasionally over a great sports victory, an excellent church talk, or even kids singing Primary songs. With that said, I think these national treasures have quietly been added to the list.

Talk about stunning. Last night's episode ended with both of us sitting on the couch, eyes filled with tears and unable to speak for a few moments about how these films (and our own experiences at state and national parks) have spoken to our souls. This documentary is so much more than the beautiful scenery and imagery, but of the stories, individuals, and vision behind the creation and evolution of these national treasures as well.

It's not difficult to believe that the individuals who helped create these parks were inspired, especially when you consider the United States a choice land, a land preserved by the hand of God. It's fascinating to see the way that different political and financial factors came together to set these lands aside. Even to see the brilliance of an idea like the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 30's is inspiring. Here's a nation, in the grips of the Great Depression, providing respectable jobs to thousands of homeless men seeking work. As they built trails, fought fires, and generally nurtured and made more accessible these infant lands, these men received the self-respect of gainful employment, educational and recreational opportunities, and the additional blessing of sending money to the families they left behind. The legacy of their work remains today, and one of our favorite examples of this is the extensive stonework in the state parks of upstate New York.

I'm grateful for these preserved places. As we've traveled, Tim and I have enjoyed the wonders of many metropolitan cities, architecture, art, and history, but there's just something different about the simple scenic road trips we've taken. When you leave the chaos of a complicated world, and go to quiet places, something peaceful enters in...not unlike being in the temple.

I'm the last person you'd ever call a tree-hugger, and I'm probably still figuring out my relationship to nature. I guess for me it comes down to something basic: nature is a gift; a continual witness that God lives and love us.


WendyJ said...

Our TV is not working and I'm so bummed we missed that. We love our parks too. Thanks for sharing.

Tiffany said...

Wendy, I think the full episodes are available online at

Pam said...

Those are some amazing pictures. Jared likes watching PBS shows too!
Thanks for sharing.

Kim said...

Beautiful post. Thanks for the pertinent reminder.

Heather Rigby said...

I agree! I love visiting state and national parks. Living in New York has grown my love even more. There are such great parks here. We are lucky to live in such a great country. I'll have to check that documentary out.

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Christina said...

Come back to blogger world!! miss ya---

Das and Suzanne said...

What an adorable family and blog you have!!!