Here I am at what will probably be the high point — both geographically and aesthetically — of my “trip of a lifetime”:
That’s Mt. Rainier in the background. The drive up to the mountain top was spectacular since the wildflowers were at their peak. We agreed that what nature has created surpasses most of the gardens planted by humans.
The meadows at the mountain top were in full bloom:
But Mt. Rainier was just one of the many National Parks that have made this adventure the trip of a lifetime, which had me reflecting on the history of these parks. Our first national park, Yellowstone, was established in 1872. Teddy Roosevelt’s adventures in “the strenuous life” outdoors led him to become a major promoter of national parks during his presidency. Our trip was filled with constant reminders of the improvements made to our parks during the Great Depression by President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC), which brought together camps of young people who undertook a variety of conservation projects. They rescued public lands by planting trees and helped return the wilderness to its pristine condition. Millions of Americans worked for the CCC at one time or another.
Here’s an example of the CCC’s contribution: a bridge along US101 on the Olympia Peninsula. It has made a big difference to the communities on both sides of the ravine, and to travelers like us, just passing through:
With all the driving involved on this trip, I’ve also thought about how we all have benefited from President Eisenhower’s launch of the interstate highway building program. Now of course, I may have had this thought right about here:
Three presidents — two Republicans and one Democrat — enhanced and promoted our unique national resources, and our ability to enjoy them. Those accomplishments occurred back in the days when Republicans and Democrats actually worked together for the benefit of the American people, and not solely on their own re-election campaigns… our sad reality today.