A Well-Worn Passport

This well-worn passport is not the little 3 x 5 booklet used for international travel, but rather the “Passport to your National Parks”, what I call the ultimate adult sticker book. If you have ever watched a child, head bent over a new book filled with colorful stickers, mesmerized until the last little figure has found its rightful home, this is similar to what we feel when flipping through the National Parks Passport book.

I coveted this book, given our love of national parks, but not the small version.  No, I had to have the deluxe Explorer Edition, complete with space for cancellation stamps and stickers for national parks, monuments, memorials, battlefields, seashores, lakeshores, etc., etc.   What began as my fancy has become Terry’s infatuation, and as he slowly turns the pages, like a slow-moving kaleidoscope I watch the memories drift by.

Yellowstone National Park ~ WY/MT
Yellowstone National Park ~ WY/MT
Everglades National Park ~ FL
Everglades National Park ~ FL
Yosemite National Park ~ CA
Yosemite National Park ~ CA

If nature is not your thing, this book and the many sites listed within may not excite you. But if hiking a mountain trail on a crisp autumn day, walking through a golden meadow kissed by late afternoon summer sun, or standing on a bluff looking out over an azure sea finds you contemplating a higher being, you might enjoy the Passport book and the memories it can capture.

Flipping through the pages recollections of watching a sunset from atop a mountain, aglow with the sun’s fire, striking fall colors cascading down a mountain ravine, elk, bison, and bear grazing in the backcountry, the crash of a wave reverberating off a cliff face as it races to shore, all dance before me.

Nature is where the common thread that connects us all can be found.  It is the perfect place to just be, in the moment, eyes and flesh melting into earth and sky, where every cell of our being moves to Mother Nature’s rhythm.

When John Muir, one of the earliest advocates of the National Park Service, walked through the Sierras, he understood this better than most.  His support was the catalyst for the signing of the act creating the National Park Service in 1916.  Today there are 59 National Parks in the U.S. and over 100 nations now preserve over 1200 national parks for future generations to enjoy.

“The sun shines not on us but in us. The rivers flow not past, but through us. Thrilling, tingling, vibrating every fiber and cell of the substance of our bodies, making them glide and sing. The trees wave and the flowers bloom in our bodies as well as our souls, and every bird song, wind song, and tremendous storm song of the rocks in the heart of the mountains is our song, our very own, and sings our love.” ― John Muir

Although our passport was born of the desire to see all 59 of these parks, we have found many gems beyond the obvious – monuments, memorials, battlefields. They have taken us back through time, reintroduced us to our nation’s history.

Each time we visit another site and place another stamp in our treasured book I find myself contemplating who may have touched this same earth so long ago.  Were they too in awe of the beauty that lay before them…wild coastline, snow-capped mountains, rivers snaking through towering cliffs?  Hopefully generations to come will stand on these same grounds in wonderment, with a deep reverence for all these sacred places.

P.S.  If you have not had the opportunity to visit our national parks and would like to experience them through the eyes of a professional photographer, I urge you to visit Rick Braveheart’s blog here.  While on this journey referred to as his Earth Walk, he conveys the majestic of this place we call home and his images reflect the deep reverence he holds for lands set aside as national parks.

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71 thoughts on “A Well-Worn Passport

  • What a wonderful post and although we haven’t participated in the passport/sticker thing, I can see it being a great way to log memories. 🙂

  • Oh, Lu, this is my favorite of your many posts over the years. It is a subject that really touches my heart, as, I, too, am in awe of the beautiful nature of this beautiful country we call home. I didn’t buy the large book, as I travel and camp in a tent, and didn’t want the bulk, but I probably should have gotten it. Is there a space, in this book, to place some of your favorite photos? Or can you add sleeves to insert your photos? That would make it absolutely perfect, for me, especially with the great shots you take.

    • Thanks so much Joan! I have been thinking about writing this for some time and when I flipped through the book recently, I thought I needed to just sit down and do it. the big Passport book has opened our eyes to so much beyond the national parks and it does have space to add additional sleeves. I know how much you love to get out in nature, visit national parks, and experience our nation’s history. Thanks for the wonderful comment my friend. 🙂

  • This is such a wonderful post! I thought I was the only one obsessed with getting those stamps in my National Parks Passport! Although we only have the standard edition, it too brings back great memories of the parks, monuments and historic sites we have visited. Thank you for sharing such beautiful photos of some of the most amazing places in America.

    • My pleasure and thanks for the kind comment. We have become a bit obsessed with the book and in our travels we are always looking at which national sites are on the radar. Hope you are enjoying your summer. 🙂

    • I hope one day that you get the opportunity to visit one of our national parks Al. As a photographer you would be in heaven. I just checked out the Lake District and would love to see this as well one day. We plan to do some international traveling in the next couple of years so I am adding this to the list. Thanks! 🙂

  • LuAnn, this is really a great posting. I am sure that many of the LuAnn & Terry followers feel the same. Each of us can most likely think of memories of a National Park we have visited. Mentioning John Muir immediately brought to my mind, Muir Woods, right across the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. In the 1950’s, I traveled through Muir Woods each day on my way up Mt.Tamalpais to the 666th Air Force Radar Station at the top where I was stationed. Thanks for the memories……..MrG

    • Mr. G, thank you so much for the comment. I do have some photos of Muir Woods but it didn’t make the cut. As you can probably imagine, it took me much longer to decide on which photos to use than it did to write the post. I found Muir Woods to be fascinating but the lighting wasn’t so great the day we were there so those photos weren’t as good as I would have liked. Muir Woods is where I was introduced to the banana slug and I read some very interesting facts about that little fella! 🙂

      • Wow, I can remember so well how my little son, Rod used to play with those huge Banana Slugs when we lived in Stinson Beach. Rod is now 59, but he was just a little guy of about 3 when we lived there. Great memories…….

  • Aren’t we so blessed to experience God’s paintbrush up close and personal. The National Parks are a gift from Him to us. I just love the beauty, quiet and movement of the parks. You did a beautiful job of conveying your love for this country.

    • Thanks so much Marsha and yes, we are so blessed! Terry and I both agree that being out in nature is always a spiritual experience for us.

  • This certainly is a great way to keep a small memory of each of these gorgeous places. It would be so awesome to visit all of the parks and historic sites. I guess we better get busy. This may take a while. Hopefully, we will be stopping at Pictured Rocks next week:)

    • While we were traveling last week I found myself counting up the number of national parks we had visited so far, then asked Terry what his guess was. He guessed 42 but it has only been 23, so we need to get busy as well. I am still hoping our paths will cross before we get out west. A girl can hope, right? 🙂

  • Your post makes me want to hit the road….Actually, Stan and I are traveling to MN in August by way of Theodore Roosevelt National Park in ND.

  • Oh what fun! I wish I’d known of this back in the 70s (if they had them back then) when I was visiting a lot of the parks. I’m guessing it doesn’t include all the wonderful state parks and other spots preserved for folks to visit and enjoy.

    • I think this program began back in 1986 Gunta. We have had great fun stopping along our routes to visit monuments and memorials, besides the national parks. This particular book does not include state parks unfortunately. I do seem to remember someone telling me that one state in this country has a similar book for state parks but don’t recall which one. It should be Oregon as the parks in your state are all so wonderful, but perhaps you would rather they be kept secret. 😉 Hope you are doing well my friend.

  • i’ve never heard of a passport like this, and it is certainly more special than the standard passport!!!  

    you two make shining examples of people who treasure our country’s natural beauty.  we are the lucky ones who you so graciously allow to travel with you via wordpress.   

    beautiful post!

    lisa/z

    ________________________________

      • i enjoyed reading the john muir quote as well… on my wall in my studio is a quote taht shares space with other eclectic items…

        it’s long, but every word counts:

        “Any fool can destroy trees. They cannot run away; and if they could, they would still be destroyed — chased and hunted down as long as fun or a dollar could be got out of their bark hides, branching horns, or magnificent bole backbones. Few that fell trees plant them; nor would planting avail much towards getting back anything like the noble primeval forests. … It took more than three thousand years to make some of the trees in these Western woods — trees that are still standing in perfect strength and beauty, waving and singing in the mighty forests of the Sierra. Through all the wonderful, eventful centuries … God has cared for these trees, saved them from drought, disease, avalanches, and a thousand straining, levelling tempests and floods; but he cannot save them from fools — only Uncle Sam can do that – John Muir”

    • Thanks so much Nicole. It is one I have been thinking about for some time. I think I was dragging my feet because there were so many photos to go through. 🙂

  • LuAnn your photos are stunning. Your post could be an ad for USA tourism. I value our Canadian National Parks as well. It is such fun to imagine the first explorers reactions to seeing the beauty we now enjoy in these protected spots.

      • LuAnn some of my recent posts ( Lake Minnewanka, Mount Norquay Via Ferrata and Banff Springs Hotel) are set in perhaps Canada’s most famous park that bing Banff National Park. Of course there are many others across the country but yes a beautiful one for starters.

      • We hope to do some exploring of your country next year so I will most likely be picking your brain on that subject as well. 🙂

  • What a great way to round up the preserved beauty of our national parks. LuAnn you are so gifted with your way of words and a great eye to capture the memories.
    It is so funny, my cousin has given me the standard version and completely forgot about it. I will dig it up and see if I can do something about it. Great idea.

  • I would be astounded if anybody was not awed by the National parks that you have..myself and many others are impressed by the photos you take and wished we were in your part of the world so we could have a potter and soak up nature.

    The beauty of your blog is that you showcase the hidden surprises that we would have less chance of hearing about. I love the idea of a passport which doubles up as a handy book of memories.

    • Thanks Ste J. It would be wonderful if you could experience some of our treasures during one of your visits here. In the meantime I will just have to show you some of them through my photos.

      • I enjoy both the photos and your company and I am eager to have these experiences with you and attempt to amuse you with my confused ways as we English do when we set foot anywhere else in the world.

  • What a beautiful and inspiring post, LuAnn! I’ve eyed those passport books for years every time we’ve been in national park bookstores — now I wish I’d acted on my impulse to buy one! Well, I guess that just means we have to revisit all of the parks we’ve already visited. Which isn’t really too much of a hardship. 🙂 You are speaking to my soul when you write of the connection between nature and spirit.

    • We have really enjoyed our passport book and have learned about so many places we never knew existed before buying it. As for the connection between nature and spirit, although we have yet to meet, I already sensed this about you. 🙂

  • Your words are ever bit as gorgeous as the photos dear friend!! It truly felt like you bringing me (us ~ all your readers) along for a trip down memory lane via your passport book! I am so utterly enamored with your adventures, even more your words and photos that accompany them. You are such a gifted writer…you know what I’m thinking now! 😉

    I love your passport!! I have something similar though not near so wondrous as yours…it is my word journal, though perhaps I should rename it to my “word passport” since words to do transport me to different places…. ~ Thank you so much for always sharing such exquisite photos, your precious thoughts/memories, and for shining so bright! Sending love love love to you with wishes for an amazing week & weekend! ❤ ❤ ❤ ~

    • Your encouragement and your praise is like a little piece of sunshine, it so nourishes my soul, just as nature does. As I say that I am reminding myself how often I have wished for a tape recorder while out hiking or kayaking, as my muse seems to accompany me at these times, words flowing as my spirit expresses delight in all that is seen and felt. Emotions that lay buried come bubbling to the surface.

      What a lovely expression “word passport”, as your words do just that for all of us Christina, transport us to another time or place, draw emotions out that at times may even be unbidden, but necessary to experience.

      I hope you have a most beautiful day my friend, and a fabulous weekend. I am desperately trying to catch up on my reading, as I will soon be without internet for the next several days. Big hugs to you! 🙂

  • Fabulous post on all accounts Lu Ann , I can really understand the infatuation with your sticker book 😉 I’m sure there were many times when the last stamp or sticker eluded me when I was younger but I still keep mementos from holidays too . It ‘s finding the time to sort them .
    As you say flippng through jogs memories of such great adventures and then your photos … well they are an incentive to get out and about connecting with the world around us for sure .
    How lovely to still have so many NP left to visit ! I must now check out the handful we visited ourselves ….

    • Our passport book has truly become our “memory book”, reminding us of the tremendous beauty nature provides. Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • Oh my gosh! I love this post! Mike looked at the big Passport book when we first started full-timing over 2 years ago, but we didn’t buy it. I don’t know why. He has regretted it ever since, so he just recently bought the small one and got the stamps for Teton and Yellowstone. But we are wishing we got the big book. We’ve got to go back to so many places anyway. I think we’ll get the big book and just start over! (I thought we were the only ones obsessing over these stickers and passport stamps!).

    • You are not! The longer we have had it the more we have loved it and have found so many interesting things along the way in our travels. 🙂

  • I haven’t hear about the passport style book of all the national parks. That is such a cool thing.
    We did our National Park tours before the digital camera 🙂 Your post makes me feel like to travel these places all over agin.

  • Your words melt my traveling heart and wake my traveling mind. 😀 Ahihihi You are very poetic, LuAnn. I triple-love 🙂 this look-back collection of your previous journeys. Even my international passport doesn’t that much stamps. Maybe we can pitch an idea of bucket list passport book as well. 😉

  • Thank you for such a beautiful post. I have carried my passport in our RV tow car for almost 7 years, even before we began fulltiming to see the USA. There are many places noted in the passport book I may have overlooked had it not been highlighted in the print. I have enjoyed every stamp in so many ways – I always try to remember to get the stamp at every noted stop. Every stamp is a memory and holds with it the excitement of having experienced something new. Every trip to a protected park, monument, battlefield, etc. should be a reminder for us to be vigilant so that future generations can enjoy our national treasures. You were wise to get the deluxe edition – my purse size has filled up fast!

    • My pleasure Marty. I just went over to your blog and found that we have traveled many of the same roads as you. Lovely memories being made indeed! Thanks for stopping by. 🙂

  • So very beautiful LuAnn. Your well written words, the gorgeous and interesting photographs, your excellent thoughts, the composition of all the above and most of all the amazing amount of wonderful feelings you engender with this post. Thank you my friend. An exceptional post, like the individual who wrote it! 🙂 xx

      • I understand, LuAnn. It can be difficult to explain, the most amazing feelings and connections that one has when in nature, although I agree that John Muir totally “got it”! 🙂

  • I get such great enjoyment from your posts, LuAnn. It seems to me the Passport would be a wonderful thing to own, even if one couldn’t go adventuring, so to speak!
    Love your pics; and knowing that you’ve actually visited and enjoyed all of these wonderful places adds to their beauty.

  • Beautiful post. I LOVE the national parks and hope to do this one day. My husband says in two years. I think I will be as giddy as you putting those stamps in my book! Thanks for sharing your pictures. It allows us to have a sneak peek and dream. :0) And thanks for stopping by my blog…I look forward to visiting again.

    Have a GRAND week! ~Namaste, Marie

    • Thank you Marie. I hope you are able to meet your goal of two years and see some of our fabulous national parks. Thank you for stopping by! Have a beautiful week. 🙂

  • What a special passport that is! Your beautiful and heartfelt post is very evocative of your deep appreciation of nature Luann. You are fortunate to have been able to witness so much of its magnificence. Thank you for letting us share in the wonderment! 🙂

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