Posts Tagged With: National Parks

A Week of Education


I’m just gonna do a general roundup today, because it seems like that sort of a week.

It’s the National Park Service’s 100th birthday today, and admission is free all weekend.  It makes me want to road trip SO BAD.  Joshua Tree is only an hour from us.  It’s supposed to be 93 degrees out, though.  I don’t know.  At this point, temperatures have been over 100 for so much of the summer that 93 seems doable.  We’ll see.

I had a spate of work that was all mindless adding things to the database, and so I was doing it while listening to the On Being podcast.  They’re all amazing, but I want to particularly recommend this one by Ellen Langer.  Mindfulness without meditation?  Amazing.  And her advice on “can we?” vs “how can we?” is also mind-blowing.  This podcast maybe has changed my life.

I made both Apple Lemon Lavender Jam last weekend and Watermelon Jelly.  The apple lemon is a bit tart, and the watermelon didn’t set up correctly, despite all the pectin I added.  But both are tasty, so there’s that.  I’ve made the Apple Lemon before, only with lemon balm instead of lavender, and it’s one of my favorite flavors EVER.  I just think that I should have either soaked the lemon peel or picked a different herb to put it all with.  Or maybe just added more sugar.  Next time.  And I’ve officially invented watermelon syrup – good on ice cream of all kinds. Just don’t try to spread it on any bread (it doesn’t spread, it oozes.  I may also have a B movie in my refrigerator, only time will tell).

The students come back to school in a couple of weeks.  I’m not ready.  Mostly because I haven’t even started my seasonal reading list, and that’s no small task.  I’d better get on it.  Amid all the novel writing and dissecting of my favorite books, of course.  I’m ½ way through the dissection of A Ring of Endless Light by Madeline L’Engle and I feel like it’s so full of stuff I never fully realized yet still felt. I’m in love with all the quotes she uses.

I guess the point of this post (if it has one) is that it’s been a very educational week.  That’s all I have to say on the subject for now.  Have a good weekend.  I’m going to.  How do I know this?  Ellen Langer told me so.

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I’m posting Brian’s note about our anniversary trip instead of writing my own.  He feels better about it than I do.  I mean, our tenth anniversary trip was not going to live up to the hype.  I knew that already.  I was just hoping that it would not be filled with all my most glaring faults: my disorganization, my forgetfulness, my inability to physically handle nature, my insecurities about all these faults.  But we did have a good time overall.  I love him lots, and there is no better person to face adversity with. 

Shameless plug:  Brian’s blog is at

The good news is, Casey reserved a tent in Yosemite Valley for the weekend.

The bad news is, she accidentally reserved it for April instead of July.

The good news is, we were still able to get a cabin for the night.

The bad news is, it was 90 degrees outside and we had no air conditioner.

The good news is, the next morning, we were able to hike up to Vernal Falls.

The bad news is, we couldn’t get another room for Saturday night like we hoped.

The good news is, we found a Holiday Inn near Sequoia National Park with air conditioning.

The bad news is, I set Casey’s purse down at General Sherman Tree to take pictures and we left it behind. (Casey edit – it’s so nice that he’s taking credit for my inability to keep track of my purse.  We all know better)

The good news is, we got tickets to tour Crystal Cave.

The bad news is, Casey got the first stages of heat exhaustion on the half mile trip back to the car.

The good news is, when we got home, we had a message on our phone saying they’d found Casey’s purse.

Like our relationship over the years, it was a lot of ups and downs, but like our relationship, we somehow managed to have a lot of fun through it all. I love you, Casey. Here’s to 10 more years of chaos and shenanigans. 🙂

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Of Passports of All Kinds


It may sound strange, but I am 31 years old and I have never had a passport before.  My first one came in the mail last night.  It looks remarkably like my National Park passport.  It is also dark blue in color, with shinny, foiled lettering.  Inside are also a bunch of blank pages for stamps.  This is where the similarities end.

In my National Park Passport, the pages are separated by region in rainbow hues, and there are colored squares to paste the special postage stamps they sell at each park.  You stamp your own passport with ink stamps they provide at each location.  My book has three separate stamps from Yellowstone alone – one for Old Faithful, one for Mammoth Hot Springs, and the last from Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone.  Be sure the date is correct.  The stamps are often located in stores where kids rotate the dates for fun.  My grandfather had a National Park Passport, and my mother has one.  It seems like such a silly thing, so silly that I almost didn’t buy one, but I am filled with glee when I get to choose my postage stamp and press the ink into the page.  Sometimes it’s hard to believe that I’m 31 at all.

I went to the Orange post office to turn in my paperwork for my real passport.  It is a tan colored building all made out of brick, with rough arches stretching above the doors.  There was a special line for Passports, and I had to take an oath that all my information was correct, right hand raised, staring at the postal worker with his right hand raised.

“I didn’t know you had to take an oath,” I said.

“Yup,” he replied as he stapled my paperwork together.

“They’re not messing around!” I said.  “It’s kinda fun!”

“They are definitely not messing around,” he said.

My actual United States Passport has a spread in the front where a very bad picture of me lies in a network of red and blue anti-fraud lines. Important information is listed about me.  Mostly blank pages follow, but they are also decorated with line drawings.  Ships with sails spread wide cut through the inky sea, a lighthouse in the distance.  Two men on horseback walk with a herd of longhorn cattle on a flat plane.  The head of a bald eagle looks at a scene where buffalo graze in front of snowy mountains.  A circular satellite, its metal arms flung wide, peaks over the round hulk of a planet.  “Let’s go there,” said Brian, pointing to the satellite.  It seemed possible, with that book to permit me.

I can’t imagine I get to stamp my own real passport.  I’ve been to both Mexico and Canada, but this was pre-9/11 when Americans could cross border lines freely.  I’ve never sat in a customs line, explained the contents of my luggage, or received a stamp of any kind.  A cousin of mine is getting married in a few weeks, and her house is just an hour from Montreal.  We’re planning a family caravan, so I will soon be a world traveler who knows these kinds of things.

Mostly what I can’t wait for is sharing a too-full house with relatives I don’t see enough.  I have fourteen cousins on my mother’s side alone, and we all used to spend summers together running across the sand in front of my grandfather’s beach house. An event when we’re all present is miraculous.  I’m excited to see my cousin walk down an aisle in white.  I can’t wait to explore Vermont as an adult, when I’ll remember it.  Getting my first stamp on my very first passport will be only part of the good things I’m hoping for that weekend.  Still, I do hope my first stamp is a nice one.

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