I was born to love the outdoors. And though I grew up on the east coast in a small suburban area that offered few opportunities and access to open space, I spent as much time as I could exploring every patch of trees or wildflowers I could find.
Then when I was 17, my family took a rare road trip west to Colorado. As we approached Rocky Mountain National Park, I could hardly believe my eyes when, early in the summer, I got my first glimpse of high-elevation, snow-covered peaks. Having only seen such photographs in books, witnessing a sight like this in person totally blew me away. I was awestruck.
In my mid-20s, I began to explore the parks in earnest, backpacking with friends in Colorado and New Mexico. In Oregon, I saw my two most beloved natural features – mountains and ocean – right there together for the first time. Hiking along the trail in the misty temperate rainforest with the waves crashing far below you—that’s paradise to me.
I now live in the Southwest and have fallen in love with the otherworldly landscape that our national parks showcase best: the saguaro cacti, the ocotillo in bloom, the contrast between the sky island mountains and the desert. And of course the wildlife is incredible: Sonoran desert tortoises, Gila monsters, and all kinds of amazing bird life.
When I needed to choose a beneficiary for my retirement plan, I knew I wanted to support the national parks. I did a year’s-worth of research, and decided that designating the National Park Foundation as one of my beneficiaries would be the best way to show my gratitude for all I have been able to explore and experience.
Like many fellow supporters, I’ve been very concerned about the national park budget cuts that have occurred over the years. The evidence of strain is visible when you visit our parks. So, I’m glad and thankful that there are other ways for the National Park Service to secure the funds it needs. Leaving a gift to the National Park Foundation is a great way to ensure that our parks are here for people to enjoy for generations to come.
I turned 62 in 2016, the same year the National Park Service celebrated its centennial, and, as planned, the very first thing I did the morning of my birthday was to make the short drive over to Saguaro National Park where I met with a very nice park ranger who issued me my Interagency Senior Pass. I plan to put that pass to very good use during my upcoming partial retirement. You can look for me at Glacier, Yellowstone, and Yosemite, as well as the Everglades, all places I have yet to discover. And, I’m looking forward to hiking at least a portion of the Appalachian Trail.
I’ll see you there!