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Road Tripping the National Park Service Centennial

Editor’s Note: Shelly, AKA Mrs. 59 National Parks, is spending the Centennial of the National Park Service at Glacier Bay National Park in Alaska.  More on her trip coming soon.

Road Tripping the National Park Service Centennial

I knew that I would be spending August 25th at a National Park Service site.  August 25th marks the 100th anniversary of the Service.  It is an important date in both the history and the future of our Parks.  I wanted to be a part of the celebration.  My plan was to spend a day to enjoy a Park and write a blog on my thoughts about what the future holds for the Service.  I only had to figure out where.

Since completing our 59 National Park journey, I’ve worked a full time job.  As a “new” employee, time off is at a premium.   My initial thought was  that I would spend the day at our home town site the Harry S Truman National Historic Site in Independence, Missouri.  Its close to where I work and can be seen in a few hours.  Heck, I could just take a long lunch at the Truman Home and keep my employer happy.

Truman Home

Later it occurred to me that I really wanted to spend the Centennial in South Dakota.  Specifically, I thought that the #NPS100 lighting ceremony at Mount Rushmore would be pretty special on the magical day of August 25th.  I have Wednesdays off, so I could make the long drive on 8/24, do a whirlwind trip of the Black Hills on 8/25 and come all the way back on 8/26.  Such a plan would allow me to work the all important weekend.  Again this plan would likely keep my employer happy.  Problem solved.

Mount Rushmore

When I told Shelly about my plan, she asked me if I was sure that I wanted to do this alone–remember she will be in Alaska.  I said yes but she suggested that I call Jeff Howell (@MissouriHowell on Twitter) and invite him.  I did.  His response was lukewarm and he said he would get back to me.

In about two weeks Jeff called back and said he would go but wanted to change the itinerary.  Not long enough he said.  Besides he had been to South Dakota recently.  We threw a number of ideas around.  Jeff continued to reject mine so I put him in charge.  Eventually he proposed that we take a five night trip to Western Nebraska.  It had merit.  There are several National Park sites in Nebraska that we both wanted to see–Scottsbluff, Agate Fossil Beds. The crowds would likely be light.  We could even slip in to Wyoming and see Fort Laramie if time permitted.  Besides this short road trip would mollify the requirements of each of our employers.   Done deal.

Except it wasn’t a done deal.  Adventurers can never get enough.  We kept suggesting new side trips.  “What about Devils Tower?  Its nearby”.  “Let’s climb Laramie Peak.  Oregon Trail travelers gazed upon it in the 19th century”. “Let’s swing over to Thermopolis in the Wind River Range.  I hear there are hot springs.  We can take a dip there”.  A little bit a frustration started to sink in.  How could we construct a road trip worthy of the anniversary? Plus now the Howell kids we coming along.  We had to give them the best road trip possible.

A few weeks went by and Jeff demanded that I take an entire week off work so we could go to Yellowstone.  Made sense too.  Where else should one celebrate the Centennial of the National Park Service?  The first National Park on earth was the only place to go.  The road trip began to take shape.


 We are going #arch2arch with a number of stops in between.  We begin our adventure in St. Louis on August 20th at the Gateway Arch.  We are both Missourians so we have to start at home.  The other arch is of course the Roosevelt Arch at the North entrance of Yellowstone National Park.  We will arrive back at home after very long day’s drive on August 28th.  We hope that our employers will indulge our adventurous spirits.

Its not a secret.  We just don’t know exactly where we will be on August 25th for the Centennial.  We do know we will be Wyoming  that day.  We expect to visit ten or so National Park sites along the way.  And way not?  We are celebrating America’s best idea.

We will be live tweeting the entire trip.  Most road trip tweets will originate from @NPS100RoadTrip.  We also have an Instagram account with the same handle.  Follow along with  us.  Its going to be a blast.

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