I’ve written about my love for this country’s national parks before. Travel is my reason for being, and I adore all things natural and historical, so national parks are right in my wheelhouse. I wish I could see every single one of them at least once.
In light of that, I purchased a National Parks Passport years ago, and have filled it with stamps every time I visit a park. It looks like a thick passport, but it also includes a National Park System Map and Guide, as well as spaces for stamps and stickers divided up by region, and pictures and descriptions of the various parks. I could gaze at this passport for hours.
Each stamp, with its unique design and the date I acquired it, brings me right back in my mind to the park I visited. They remind me of things I’ve learned, and the many stories I have to tell. Because of that, these stamps are more precious to me than any overpriced souvenir.
I remember weaving through the autumn leaves on the Blue Ridge Parkway, where I’m still convinced my soul resides. I have traveled back in time in the many national monuments that preserve the buildings of the ancient Anasazi in New Mexico. I have been places where one single word evokes imagery that’s nearly impossible to describe. Yellowstone. Badlands. Canyonlands. Arches. Rushmore. I’ve gloried at the colors of the Painted Desert, cried with joy while gazing at the Grand Canyon, been inspired by the human determination exhibited in both Gold Rush National Parks. I’ve admired the interior of the White House in much less complicated times.
If you love the parks as much as I do, I urge you to get a National Parks Passport and fill it with stamps. They also make great gifts! I gave one to my sister, and now we have a hot and heavy competition going on. (Guess what, Sis! I got a stamp from Glacier Bay, a national park that you can only reach by boat or plane! Neener, neener, neener!)
A word of caution though. NEVER stamp your regular passport with these stamps. It invalidates it. Apparently people have done this to their everlasting regret, so now when you go to the stamp table, which is usually found in the park’s gift shop, you’ll see a big sign warning people not to do that. Sad that that is necessary, but there you have it.
These books are not real passports, but they will transport you to magical places in your mind. That, as far as I’m concerned, is something well worth having in my life.