#MyNationalParksMonth is my centennial celebration of the National Parks

My National Parks Month
If I could, I’d mark off every single national park (red pins only) left on my quest. Instead, I’ll spend a month hitting as many as I can. [update: OR DO THEM ALL!]

UPDATE: jump to a listing of what I’ve seen thus far.
BIG NEWS: hear about the epic encore I’m currently!

One hundred years ago this year, the National Park System was established.

Sure, there were already quite a few national parks and monuments, but it was this moment in which they were brought together under a single management philosophy, a single land managing agency, and became a system of protected lands.

National Parks have played an incredibly important role in my life. I’ve only taken a handful of vacations to places other than national parks. And they contain my most favorite places and are home to some of my most cherished memories. I got engaged and married (even, one might argue, divorced) in national parks; needless to say, I care deeply about them.

Last week, the National Park Service concluded its National Park Week. I’ve decided to take that celebration one step further—and embark on what I’m calling #MyNationalParksMonth.

So #MyNationalParksMonth is an attempt to celebrate this anniversary, while visiting as many of the remaining national park units as possible in my quest to visit all 411.

Basecamping out of the Washington, DC area—and with weekend trips to Boston, New York City, and Philadelphia—I’m planning to visit more than two dozen thirty forty (!!) units of the National Parks System over the next few weeks. It’s a month-long personal celebration of the national parks, spent doing what I enjoy most: visiting new national park units.

Follow along on:

 

What I’ve seen so far

Here are the national parks I’ve visited thus far on #MyNationalParksMonth (updated May 23). Green pins are parks I’ve marked off; gray dots are national parks I’m visiting as part of my encore, and blue diamonds are the ones I will have left in the Northeast. As you’ll see, I’ve already far exceeded my goal for the project.

Pearl Jam – Live in Concert

It had been 4,777 days since I had seen Pearl Jam in concert. The only time I had seen them live was October 21, 2000—one day shy of the ten year anniversary of the band’s first performance. pearljamticket I’m not a big concert guy—I’ve only been to a couple of PJ concerts and two other Flogging Molly ones—but that original concert was special. Pearl Jam has been my favorite band for two decades now. Not only to do I love the music, but I’ve really appreciated their politics and social outlooks. Hell, they even devoted a song to one of my favorite books. Unfortunately, the band hasn’t included Phoenix in any of its tours for more than a decade. So when the band announced that they would be visiting Phoenix on November 19 on their Lightning Bolt tour, there was no way I was going to miss it.

Continue reading Pearl Jam – Live in Concert

Words of Wilderness

The Wilderness Act turns 50 this year and this short video is a visually stunning way to celebrate some of our most treasured landscapes. We’re truly indebted to John Muir, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Edward Abbey, Wallace Stegner, Also Leopold, and the countless other unsung advocates who fought tirelessly to preserve Wilderness for us all. What an amazing legacy to leave.

…on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam—our pale blue dot.

It’s hard to find a more eloquent, humbling, and ultimately empowering statement than the inspired words of Carl Sagan. If you’ve had a bad day recently or need some perspective on your life, here it is. Watch. Listen.

In the vastness of space and the immensity of time, revel in the joy of sharing a planet and an epoch with your friends and family, with neighbors and strangers. With wistful clouds and chirping birds; with streams and rock and dirt.

Because with great fortune, you have the serendipitous opportunity of inhabiting, for a brief moment, a tiny fraction of a speck on our insignificant pale blue dot—a faint pinprick of reflected light suspended in an incalculable vastness. Cherish it. Hold dear the only home we’ve ever known, that solitary mote of dust.

Continue reading …on a mote of dust, suspended in a sunbeam—our pale blue dot.

PhxBrewQuest: Visiting the Breweries of Metro Phoenix

My friend Jenny and I have embarked on a quest to visit all of Metro Phoenix’s breweries before the end of this year—we call it #phxbrewquest. Here’s the list we’re working off of—which appears to be the most complete and accurate one on the internet—which includes only home-grown breweries that brew on-site and include a public tasting room.

We’ve currently visited all 28 of the (current) 28!

Still left to visit:

  • (none at the moment)

Continue reading PhxBrewQuest: Visiting the Breweries of Metro Phoenix

Leaving the Conservation Lands Foundation

Yesterday was my last day at the Conservation Lands Foundation.

NCSF
Our board and staff on my second day on the job.

In my nearly six years on staff, we quickly built an effective national organization, developed and supported a vibrant network of grassroots advocates across the West, helped set a strong policy vision for system, and elevated the profile of the National Conservation Lands, among many other hard-fought achievements. And while it required a lot of hard work, it’s impossible not to smile deeply when I think back over how far we’ve come; it’s truly been a remarkable ride. I’ve had the privilege of working with some amazing colleagues and partners—most all of whom I now consider friends—on this century’s greatest public lands conservation opportunity…all while having some good fun along the way, too.

Moving on is always bittersweet, but an exciting opportunity also lies ahead that will let me harness and better focus my passion for the Conservation Lands here in Arizona. I’ll have more to announce in the near future.

In the meanwhile, I’m on sabbatical through mid-April, so if you have some free time and want to get together, go for a hike, or take a daytrip, send me a note and get on my calendar.