MOMMYHOOD: How our National Parks Served our Family Well this Week and How I Can Return the Favor





This is a story of how our beautiful country with our national, natural treasures can mean so much more than beautiful views and a vacation. It can do something magical for you and your family-and in my case, my daughter.

I needed to write this today-the day after returning from a trip visiting 5 of our national forests and parks. Last night on the flight home I saw a post in my news feed about how Congress is voting on a scheme that will allow selling off pieces of our national parks and forests by giving them over to the states. This was dismaying news. I do not use this blog for any political conversation. Yes, I have spoken up against the FDA about the supplement, Anatabloc. But I leave the general political conversation to the pundits. Lord knows there are plenty out there no matter what side you are on. This blog is about home, hearth, food and parenting. To that end, I have the national parks to thank for helping me with my parenting job this week. So yes, I am going to speak up to protect our national parks and forests. I owe them a lot.

We recently came back from a short, ambitious trip to see the Grand Canyon State Park in Arizona with hopes of also seeing the surrounding forests, canyons and parks. The idea was to break down some walls and barriers growing in our tween daughter by blowing her mind by something so spectacular, so jaw dropping amazing that it might just help her think about things a little differently. We hoped it would open her soul up a little, and realize that some of her tween troubles and tribulations, in the grand scheme of things, have a smaller place in her heart and mind. And nothing can blow your mind more that the grandeur of the Grand Canyon.

I am not going to sugar coat this, my daughter did NOT want to go. My precocious, force-of-nature, dive-head-first-into-anything child has become an introspective, introverted, sedentary adolescent.  She wanted to stay home, and had been grumbling about this trip for months. But I put the fear of God (and loss of electronic devices) in her and made her promise to be respectful, keep an open mind and go with the flow. My husband and I are voracious travelers. When we visit somewhere, we don’t stop. So I knew our pace would be a lot for my daughter to keep up with at her current quiet pace. We were going to push her outside of her comfort zone. And I really believed she needed it.

One thing we didn’t mention to our daughter was a secret plan we were brewing up. My husband and I vowed to indulge in a helicopter ride over the canyon if we could save for it. It’s something we both always wanted to do, but it seemed expensive. We saved for it since January and told her a couple weeks before leaving that we were going to do it.

She was a little freaked out. “Isn’t that dangerous?!” she exclaimed.
Yes, darling. Yes. It. Is. But let's live a little!

And guess what happened upon seeing the canyon?
(Well, once she got used to being next to it, because she was pretty freaked out and held my hand standing next to it like when she was 5. I loved that.)





We got a smile.
You may not have a 12 year old daughter yet-or 13, 14, 15 year old?
Well, suffice it to say smiles while hanging with parents don’t come easy these days.
Then she stood next to me and as she smiled again, looking out over all that crazy, awe inspiring beauty, she said she was amazed and that it almost didn’t look real. Then asked when the helicopter ride was starting, excitement in her voice.



And the helicopter ride? It was worth every penny. I cannot even explain to you how jaw-dropping-poop-your-pants-awe-striking-amazing-sauce it was. If you can swing it, please do it. There are rumors they are going to stop allowing the helicopters to go over it eventually. I am so glad we got the chance to do it. (But of course if they do harm the ecosystem then that surely is an issue that needs resolving.)

My daughter got to sit up front and next to the window. Our cute pilot had a spectacular indie rock playlist piping through our headphones as we were stunned into silence by the views. We could see my daughter’s smile from the back where we were sitting, and saw her taking tons of pictures with her camera. When we hopped off, we got what we were hoping for since we planned out the trip in January-the sought after “That was pretty cool!”

It put her in such an open mood she agreed to go up to Lowell Observatory late that night to look through telescopes with me. Any other day would have been met with groaning and eye rolling.

What a day-a magical, amazing day.

And what if one day, my daughter’s daughter or granddaughter could never smile, be amazed or enjoy the Grand Canyon like she did? What if my daughter will never know the contentment that I felt watching her soaking in all that beauty, and know that we helped make an impact in her life by bringing her there?

Our national parks and resources should not be for sale by the highest bidder. Only the federal government can and should protect these lands. The states will want to sell it for money. We can all argue over what our federal taxes should or shouldn’t cover. But for me, owning and caring for our national parks is a no brainer. It’s our home, our property and we can’t make more of them. We should treasure them like the unique jewels they are.

Please join me in signing this petition to make our voices heard. Sign it for my daughter. Sign it for your daughters and sons. Sign it for all the future generations that will need these lands to open their minds and hearts to what really matters in life.

The song "America, the Beautiful!" is one of my favorites. It was written originally as a poem by Kathleen Bates in 1893, inspired by the majestic beauty she saw outside her train window on the way to Colorado Springs. I hope Congress remembers this song, and keeps safe our purple mountain majesties, the fruited plains and all the national treasures found between one sea and the other.

O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
America! America!
God shed his grace on thee
And crown thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!





Thank you, and I promise my next post will be a cupcake or something...we'll get back to our regular programming!


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