I have lived close to the ocean for my entire life and I can’t imagine ever living more than a few miles from the coast. Listening to the crash of waves triggers nostalgia for my childhood. As a child, my family felt it was their duty to expose me to as much of the Pacific Northwest as possible. Despite all my whining (“are we there yet?”, etc.) on our family road trips, I will be forever grateful for all the memories they gave me. The countless summer days I spent at Orcas Island, whether I was swimming (a.k.a. taking my chances with the jellyfish) or watching the sunset, are some of the best memories of my life. This week, the In My Backyard Team traveled to San Juan Island, a close neighbor to Orcas. On our way to our campsite by San Juan Island National Historical Park’s American Camp, we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the ocean. We were close enough that I could smell the saltwater and instantly I felt a familiar calmness sweep over me. It was almost as if the ocean was welcoming me back to my second home.
During the course of this project, I got to learn a lot about the opportunities available for youth at National Parks and other sites around Washington. One of the things that I knew coming in was that there is a serious lack of these opportunities, but during the summer, I discovered some of the factors that lead to this lack of activities. To me, the main factor that creates difficulties for youth involvement in national parks and other special places beyond downtown Seattle’s borders is transportation. It’s extremely hard to get out to National Parks without a car and a driver’s license. As of now, I don’t think there is a simple solution. It’s expensive to provide buses and there’s no guarantee that if buses were available, youth would take them.
This last week, I took some time to explore the National Park Service further afield. I drove nine hours out to Glacier National Park in Northern Montana to go backpacking with four other friends for four days. We showed up at the park Friday night and managed to find camping just a few miles outside of the park boundaries on Forest Service land. On Saturday morning, we woke up at the crack of dawn to line up outside of the backcountry office in Apgar Village just inside the boundaries of Glacier National Park to get permits when the office opened at 7am.
As I have mentioned in several blog posts, I am quite out of shape. Simply put, I just don’t exercise. Many people I have spoken with rave about the great endorphin rush they feel after exercising, but I personally have never really noticed this. I’ve definitely tried to exercise, but running hurts my knees and spending time in the gym honestly just bores me. Although I don’t exercise, I still consider myself active as walking is my primary method of transportation. That being said, I live in San Jose, CA for the better part of the year where the land is as flat as possible.
The word “awesome” has become fairly common in the everyday speech of our generation. However, the word’s original definition would not exactly describe a sandwich or a general state of being as it does today. “Awesome: impressive and frightening: so impressive or overwhelming as to inspire a strong feeling of admiration or fear.” If you have found a sandwich that fits that description, please contact me immediately.