How many do we have left to see? Why National Parks? Why the Maltese Cross?

Status update: We’ve been to 42 of the 63 National Parks. Whew. Yikes, I am way behind on this blog, but that is why we have January!

Everything I do comes with deep intention, and our National Parks journey has been no exception. I am most at home in these remote places; it’s where I feel most alive! The lessons I want my kids to learn, the things I want them to understand about their place in the universe and why we are flying through eternity on this planet, are most easily taught here. God’s gracious hand creating this world for us, is most perfectly viewed through this lens. The wonder and majesty of what we have, this spectacular earth we call home, is omnipresent under starlit skies in the middle of nowhere. Our role in protecting our special places, and helping others maneuver through life together, is best taught on an empty trail. Some of my favorite park memories are when we’ve shared these places with friends and family!

We’ve been at this adventure way longer than it’s been an Instagram trend. It started with a trip to Ixtapa, Mexico! Autumn was a baby, and James a toddler and I was a nervous wreck! It was the most miserable vacation I have been on, in the most beautiful place. I read the week before our trip, bodies were being dumped off shore by the cartels and fed to the sharks. I was terrified of catching illnesses in the pool, Autumn was terrified of the ocean. We all feared her beloved blanket would be lost by hotel staff when we sent it for cleaning. Joe was almost bitten by an alligator when he went golfing – slight exaggeration there, but there were alligators on the golf course. I couldn’t wait to leave!

When we got home, I told Joe we were done touring other countries until we saw all the great places in ours and we promptly bought a pop-up camper and headed to the Grand Canyon. The electrical system didn’t work when we got there and Joe had to drive into town for a new battery. We biked in the rain, we saw condors. We ate lunch with a massive bull elk in the campground. James earned his first Junior Ranger Badge after a hike looking at fossils, and we all fell in love with our National Parks.

We don’t go to say we’ve been. We go to know the places we’ve seen, to learn about them, to learn about the species that call them home. I spend weeks planning each trip to ensure that we have the full experience of the place. Our itinerary’s our usually pretty intense, and I never take enough pictures.

The Maltese Cross picture that marks my posts was taken while we were visiting Teddy Roosevelt National Park in North Dakota. This cross is carved into his ‘Maltese Cross Cabin’ that he occupied in the 1880’s in the badlands of the Dakota Territory. The president responsible for doing the work to establish the first national park, should get due credit for this great gift. I am always thankful for the foresight he had in preserving these places, and to all the individuals who work so tirelessly to protect and preserve them. Historically, the cross was the symbol of a Christian warrior who pledged not only to fight in defense of the Holy Land, but also to protect the lives of his compatriots. This blog is an extension of the fight to protect our own holy lands and the fight to protect the creatures that call them home.

So, why the blog? I want more than anything to let the people who come across this know how special these places are. I want them to consider visiting, and taking their children. I want these parks preserved and protected into perpetuity. They truly are “America’s Best Idea”.

So, what are we going to do after we see all our National Parks? Well, it looks like I’m missing a few sign pictures – so I guess we’re going back! Truthfully, I’ve never spent enough time in any of them yet.


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