Thursday, March 21, 2013

A Visit From Family = A Tour of History and National Parks!

For the past four years I have spent much of my life and energy investing in helping people to better understand and appreciate the resources preserved by the National Park Service. I began by giving tours of (what was then) the fourth longest gave in the world and campfire programs about the mission and purpose of the Park Service. I then transitioned into interpreting the memorials and history of our nation's capitol in Washington, DC. I spent eight months living in the Blue Ridge Mountains and helping visitors better appreciate the resources contained therein. For the last year I have worked on a variety of projects all centered on widening opportunities for understanding and finding meaning in the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.

I have led a myriad of tours, given a wide variety of programs, answered a slew of questions, written articles, designed magazines and banners, and posted hundreds of pictures on NPS facebook pages.  I have greatly enjoyed each of these opportunities to help visitors understand the importance and value of our national parks and I have connected with a lot of people through these capacities in the last four years. Yet, of all of the thousands of people I have interacted with in our national parks, my absolute favorite audiences have indisputably been my family.

I have been blessed with the opportunity to interpret each of the parks I have worked at for at least one member of my family. At the beginning of march my Dad and stepmother came to visit and I had the chance to share stories about several different parks I know and have worked at in Washington, DC and Virginia.

The first was Ford's Theater, where Alison and I met each other for the first time on April 19, 2010. We went to Ford's to see a production of "Our Town," but also got to enjoy the theater and education center before the show started.

The next day began at Manassas with a quick tour of the key points of the first battle and an explanation of where I work and what I do on a daily basis.

We continued on to Shenandoah National Park. Unfortunately a recent snowstorm had closed Skyline Drive and only the center section was accessible, which limited our options. We still found our way to some beautiful overlooks and got a sense of the beauty of the park though. 

Old Rags and Old Rag

It was especially fun to visit the park on February 15, because it was on that very day that I proposed to Alison on the Rose River Loop Trail two years earlier.

When we got to the visitor center it was closed (as was to be expected since it had not yet opened for the season) but Alison found an easy way to change the status for us!

None Shall Pass!!

We didn't have much time for hiking, but we were able to enjoy at least a little of what the park has to offer.

Hiking in Shenandoah National Park

Continuing the Civil War thread, the next day we went up to Gettysburg and I shared an abridged version of what transpired there. This was signifcant for me since it was my study of Gettysburg that helped to first spark an interest in the Civil War, and I am currently working on projects related to the sesquicentennial at the park this summer.

Standing next to the marker of the 20th Maine, where one of my heroes became the "Lion of Little Round Top"
The sun sets over the battlefield
Our final adventure was a trip to George Washington's home on President's Day. It was not only an appropriate day to visit, but also free!

We had no problem finding random things to entertain us like cows and a spot to sit in a tree!

Or costumed interpreters to pose with in pictures!

Not to mention the necessary!

My Dad and Alison had already sat down on Washington's porch for this picture, but before I could, this kid came running out of nowhere and took my spot!

This was our second try at looking... presidential??
It was a fun visit filled with lots of good winter exploration! For more pictures check out This Album
on facebook.

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