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The 59 National Parks Itinerary, Sort Of….

With 99 days remaining until we arrive at Hot Springs National Park, we have mapped our itinerary through December 23rd, 2014. One year from the date of this writing, I know. This time next year, we plan to have visited 53 of the 59 US National Parks. We fully expect to finish before 59 weeks passes. We built in a little extra time for bad weather, illness, and road fatigue. The earliest we plan to end our journey will be March 31st, 2015. The latest will be July 4th, 2015. We know exactly where park 59 will be, but are not willing to disclose that just yet. Let me explain. Continue reading

Careful What You Wish For

I really had no idea how much of a challenge it would be to hold down a full time job while simultaneously planning a sprint through the fifty-nine National Parks.  When we decided that we were committed to the idea we had six months to prepare.  No sweat, right?  Today April 1st is just 102 days away.  Deadlines are rushing at us like a freight train.  Here is a recap: Continue reading

Twitter Jitters

I have been so slow to  adopt Social Media–heard too many horror stories.  My previous two employers routinely scanned employee’s social media activity and banned social media on work computers. I thought (and still do) that Facebook was a haven for drama, profanity, and silliness.  I received my first text only about four years ago so Twitter wasn’t on my radar.  Who would want to follow my mundane life? I opened a personal Twitter account about two years ago, primarily as a way to get past the pay wall at KCStar.com. I am a huge baseball fan and wanted to read the daily Royals stories from Bob Dutton for free.  I learned pretty quickly that their was lots of give and take on Twitter–much of it pretty funny. Still, I did not participate.  My current statistics are 24 Tweets, 11 follows, and 1 follower on my personal account.  Dutton has moved on to Seattle so I get my daily baseball fix from @jazayerli and @Buster_ESPN.  I follow just one MLB player ErvinSantana_54.  If you love baseball as I do, check them out.

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When we made the decision to open 59nationalparks.com we knew that social  media would be a key driver of website traffic. What to do? I had very little experience (or interest) in social media. I had the jitters. We began with the help of our website developer Phil Singleton @kcwebsite. He suggested that Twitter was a good place to start and to create accounts on Pinterest, YouTube, Goggle+, and Facebook. We are reluctant to move forward with Facebook but have links for the others.

On Twitter, we became fully engaged quickly. We developed a social  media business plan– not sure how good it was since since we had little experience.  Although Twitter was a mystery to me, I found it surprisingly easy to use.  One benefit of Twitter is that the system requires that I be able to express ideas in 140 characters.  Brevity makes me a better writer when I work at it. Twitter is a good teacher.

After two months on Twitter, @59nationalparks has made 838 Tweets, followed 212 Tweeps, and has 190 followers.  We are thrilled with the content of our timeline.  Here is how we did I it:

*First, we determined that we wanted to be social on Twitter.  I take the time (lots of it) to interact with people on Twitter, read their content, and look at their websites.  We believe life is about what we can give back, not what we can take out if it.  Our approach has led to some strong Twitter friendships.  We have had very few “unfollows”.

*We follow Tweeps with similar interests. So far we have followed primarily photographers, writers, hikers, National Parks enthusiasts, and RVers.  Here are some of our favorite Tweeps so far: @AnastasiaVonB, @LoveYourRV, @theplanetd, @earthXplorer, @GlacierHiker1, @AaronBatesPhoto, @BigBlendMag, @Midnightskie, @RayneHall, @StacieOrtizDavis, @davidwherry, @ThatOutdoorGuy, @TornadoTitans, @DakotaLightPhot, @Flow397, @ThatHikerChick, @IJLmagazine, @usparkscom, @ParksTraveler, @terragalleria, @DiscoverNorCal. Check them out, excellent Tweeps!

*Before I retweet a post, I comment back to the poster, like it only if I like it, and read the content in their website.  We try to follow real people who are really there.  We do not follow retweeters and block them when they follow us.

* We do not use profanity in Twitter nor do we post political content.  We do not follow Tweeps that swear excessively or those that are primarily promoting a political agenda.  In part we do this because we want to appeal to families and children.  Check our timeline–very little cursing or politics throughout.

*Photographs are critical. We post only photographs that we have taken. We are more likely to retweet an original photograph.

*We endeavor not to engage in shameless self promotion on Twitter.  Not perfect on this one, but making progress.

Twitter is a blast, at least for this Tweep newbie.  I value all my friends on Twitter and am looking forward to making more.  My jitters are gone.  Join in on the conversation.