Posted by: Kirsten | Sunday, 30 December 2007

2007 in Review

Well, I’m really glad I started this website back in July.  If you’ve been following along all this time, you may get the feeling that I’ve been permanently parked in my swivel chair typing away and surfing the web for ideas to share with everyone.  However, I have managed to get out with the kids to see a few parks this year, and have taken a few trips on my own here and there. For what it’s worth, here’s my “Year in Review”…

On the last weekend in April, my son and I took our bicycles up to Gettysburg for our first Boy Scout camping weekend. We go to Gettysburg at least once a year it seems, but this year we got to see it from behind the handlebars with the wind in our helmets.  We also waited at the top of Little Round Top on Saturday morning to wave a giant American flag and cheer on dozens of American soldiers who had returned from overseas and were participating in a two-day bike ride from Gettysburg to Bethesda Naval Hospital near Washington, DC. The organization that sponsors this ride is World Team Sports and if you ever get the chance to volunteer for or participate in one of these rides, I HIGHLY recommend it (ask me about my 3-day ride from NYC to the Pentagon in 2002). To the right is a photo of one of the soldiers who participated in the ride.  Yes, that’s his new leg leaning against the wall while he takes a break.

In May, my daughter and I dashed off on our second annual Daddy-Daughter trip — this year to Kentucky.  We stopped at the Kentucky Horse Park and learned a lot about the world of horses.  The Parade of Breeds was one of my favorite moments and I think my daughter would say getting to ride the pony was hers. On the way to and returning from visiting friends in western Kentucky, we also saw Mammoth Cave Nat’l Park (Kentucky), Land Between the Lakes Nat’l Recreation Area (KY/TN), Fort Donelson Nat’l Battlefield (Tennessee), Lincoln Boyhood Nat’l Memorial (Indiana), and Hopewell Culture Nat’l Historic Site (Ohio). Aysgarth/Yorkshire Dales -- Foto by Jon T. MerrymanThe bald eagle in the picture was at Fort Donelson — another one of those unexpected and unforgettable memories that just happen every once in a while if you just get yourself out of the house often enough. 😉

In early August, I got the chance to visit Yorkshire Dales National Park in England.  What a great experience to visit historical sites, see how other countries manage their parks, and drive on the wrong side of the road!

Grand Teton National Park -- Foto by Jon T. MerrymanIn August, the 6th annual Father-Son trip headed west to Rapid City, South Dakota where we arrived a day later than we hoped because the runway lights stopped working while we made our first approach.  Can you believe it? The next day we finally got to our destination but had to miss our tour of Minuteman Missile Nat’l Historic Site since they’re only open on weekdays. We still managed to have a good time though (!) with stops at Mount Rushmore, Jewel Cave, the Crazy Horse monument under construction, Devils Tower (now one of my favorite parks), Grand Teton Nat’l Park, and of course Yellowstone Nat’l Park. 

The drives across Wyoming were long, but thankfully there are many road cuts with the rocks already identified for you, so we made plenty of stops and worked on perfecting our collection techniques. We also took in two full days of digging for fossils at the Wyoming Dinosaur Center in Thermopolis.  A final stop at Badlands Nat’l Park on our return to South Dakota capped off a great trip. We returned with bags and bags of rock samples, fossils, and a deer antler and a few cow vertebrae as well.

FDR memorial -- Foto by Jon T. MerrymanIn September, my daughter and I spent a lazy Friday strolling around the tidal basin in Washington, DC, taking in the FDR and Thomas Jefferson Memorials, which I chronicled in an earlier story. On another day that month, we also visited the Department of the Interior Museum, Constitution Gardens, and the Lincoln Memorial.

In October, the whole family hit the dusty trail to New Mexico where we saw the Valles Caldera Nat’l Preserve with a LOT of elk roaming around… a trip to Bandelier Nat’l Monument, Pecos Nat’l Historic Site, and Petroglyph Nat’l Monument.  However, the absolute highlight was probably my son’s impromptu offer of a free balloon ride during the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta (without me!).  Wow…  Later in the month I had another business trip to Europe and I took the time to hike another national park — this time it was Tyresta Nationalpark in Sweden.  Did a LOT of hiking — another great day!

Brocken Summit, Harz National Park, Germany -- Foto by Jon T. MerrymanIn November, I had my third business trip of the year to Europe — this time to Germany where I visited Burg Frankenstein and hiked to the Brocken Mountain summit in near white-out conditions at Harz National Park.  Most of the “white” was just fog, but I found it very strange that on a cold and windy day, the fog never seemed to blow away. This is a story I promise to write up sometime for everyone — very bizarre, very challenging, and a very funny story.

December is usually the time where I regret not having used our National Parks pass often enough during the year. However this year, after having seen over 20 National Parks and Monuments, December was rather uneventful.  Lots of projects around the house to catch up on. Lots of swim meets, Christmas plays, concerts, tickets to the Nutcracker at the Warner Theatre in DC, and those wonderful “holidays” we all look forward to.  But hey, it’s only December 30th.  We have two more days to use that parks pass. 🙂

 Tomorrow I hope to look forward to 2008 and share my park and field trip plans for next year with you. 

Parke Diem!
— Jon

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