After caring for my elderly parents for ten years, I was exhausted and ready for a new adventure. On an impulse, I jumped in my car and drove from where I was living in Wisconsin to South Dakota. I hit all the national parks in the state. I was floored by the beauty of so many incredible landscapes. I was hooked and I knew national parks would be a big part of my future.
As of this year, I’ve been to more than 101 parks … and I don’t plan to stop until I’ve visited all 419 national park units! With my neighbor as a travel buddy, I’ve visited Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii, the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, Herbert Hoover National Historic Site, and so many others. The National Parks represent one of the most unique aspects of the USA. We honor our history, both good and bad aspects so that we can learn from it.
I think a lot of people in our country take the parks for granted. But we shouldn’t. My neighbor and traveling companion originally comes from England. She always tells me that no other place she’s lived or visited has such an extensive network of places kept specifically for the public to enjoy. The parks represent the special beauty of the country and it is preserved for all to see and experience, today and in the future.
Now more than ever, we all need a place to sit, relax, think, renew, and refocus. The natural beauty of the national parks provides the needed escape from today’s stress.
Our national park system is a treasure and it’s up to all of us to do our part to protect and preserve it for future generations. That’s why I decided to leave a gift to the National Park Foundation in my will. It was easy to do — my financial planner simply had me choose a percentage of my estate to direct to the Foundation.
I am so happy knowing that one day, when I no longer need it, my gift will keep on protecting the extraordinary natural landscapes and keep on telling our nation’s most vital stories through the parks.