Recent comments

  • Families With Ties to Mammoth Cave National Park Landscape Invited to Research Those Roots   5 years 22 weeks ago

    What a great way to lure visitors to the region, help the economy and provide a great learning experience for everyone. Even if you did not have relatives there, looking up genealogy is a wonderful pasttime. We are a product of all those who have gone before us. sbf

  • Programming Note: Lighting of National Christmas Tree Will Be Televised This Year   5 years 22 weeks ago

    The tree that is the star of the National Christmas Tree lighting ceremony is a living Colorado blue spruce tree that was planted some years ago on the Ellipse just south of the White House. If memory serves, that one came from Pennsylvania. Yet another "national Christmas tree" -- a harvested one -- is donated each year by the National Christmas Tree Association and displayed in the Blue Room of the White House; I believe that this year's comes from West Virginia. If you don't find that confusing enough, consider that there's a third national Christmas tree in the mix. it's the Capital Christmas Tree, an annual gift to the U.S. Congress in the form of a huge Christmas tree installed on the West Lawn of the U.S. Capitol. The states take turns furnishing that tree. I think that this year's is a 75-footer from Arizona.

  • Programming Note: Lighting of National Christmas Tree Will Be Televised This Year   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I'm thinking last year's tree was from Montana, Eric, and that this year's is from West Virginia. Professor Bob knows the answer, I believe....

  • Programming Note: Lighting of National Christmas Tree Will Be Televised This Year   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Am I correct thinking the National Christmas Tree last year came from the Bitterroot Valley in Montana? I thought my Mom told me it was transported from somewhere near Hamilton or Missoula. Does anyone know if that was or will be the case this year?

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    You've given up collecting?! Robert, I suggest that you seek professional help right away. It may not be too late.

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I first started collecting t-shirts from parks we visited. But I'm a runner and already had a ton of shirts from races. So then I went to coffee mugs. But it filled up our cabinets and I later gave up coffee. After that I went to caps and now have a closet full. So now I don't collect anything. I still have a few of my favorite shirts and caps that I wear occasionally.

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Everything has a price, Rick. How much will you take for that sled dog shirt?

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    The first park-related t shirt that I remember was the ubiquitous "Go Climb a Rock" shirt peddled by the old Yosemite Park and Curry Co. It spawned a host of copy cat shirts like "Go hike a Canyon". My most prized park-related t shirt, no longer wearable, was created by the opposition forces to the creation of the new Alaska national monuments in the late 70's by President Carter, a step toward the new parks and preserves created by ANILCA. The shirt features a sled dog, lifting its leg and taking a leak on a sign reading "National Monuments." Priceless!

    Rick Smith

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Thanks for the feedback, Jane. I did not get past the part of your comment that included the words "costs more," but perhaps others will be interested in your suggestions.

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Broadcast the answer to a Mystery Photo quiz before you publish the quiz? That's great thinking, Kurt. No wonder you are a chief and I am still just an Indian. BTW, I think I'm beginning to warm to the idea of collecting caps. Please send me four or five of yours. Wash them first.

  • National Park Quiz 73: Birds   5 years 22 weeks ago

    There are lots of places you can watch for migrating whooping cranes, Grant, but if it were me doing the watching I sure wouldn't confine my choices to NPS units or take my chances with a hit-or-miss travel itinerary. All of the migrating flocks of these rare birds are carefully tracked and their whereabouts is known on a virtually daily basis.

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Hat's are the way to go, professor. They're much more durable than Tees. One of my favs bears the logo of the "Old Harbor U.S. Life Saving Service." Maybe we could use that as a Mystery Photo? Another, from Natural Bridges, reflects how hot it gets there in the summer -- it's a lightweight, buff-colored ballcap that won't toast your head during the high heat of July and August. Another from the Glacier Fund is much heavier, perfect for those not-too-terribly-cold ski days here in the Rockies.

    As for Tees, my favorite has to be from Death Valley, as well. It bears a smilin', stridin' skeleton with the words, "Hike or Die!"

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    If you turn them inside out to wash them in cold water with Cheer Free or Dreft (costs more) and no fabric softener, then hang dry them, the precious things won't fade. I have many as well, as does my hubby (a major-league sweat machine), and the way I wash them keeps them looking great. I launder all t-shirts with logos or patterns this way. They still look new, and people can stand next to you when you wear one.

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    @ Djjeffrey100; Thank you for confessing your NP tee obsession. It takes courage to admit that you are a shirtaholic, and I respect you for that. Perhaps testimony like yours will help others to confront this disease head-on and learn to deal with it. @ Anon; What are you THINKING, man?! Please tell me that you are making this up. I can't rest easy knowing that anybody would sacrifice wearable tees to make a quilt. If you insist on making quilts out of national park tees, I will be glad to send you my unserviceable ones. Never have counted them, but there's got to be at least 30 in the rag bag out there in the garage. (You might need to air them out for a while before working with them.) @WayneK; If you mean baseball-style caps, the only park-themed one I've got is an olive drab one with VOLUNTEER stitched at the top of the NPS arrowhead. I left it on the rear window ledge of my car for two summers, and as expected, the sun faded it just the "I've been around" color that I was looking for. If you are into cap- collecting, I'd like to hear more about it.

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    What about the HATS?

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    We took several years buying tee shirts for the express purpose of turning them into a quilt. My wife did this and it's always on our bed.

  • Collecting National Park T-Shirts: The Passion and the Pain   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I myself am a NP T-shirtaholic. I will buy 2 or three if I can't decide which one I want more. Unlike you my shirts don't get a rest, even though I live in NE Ohio, I wear my shirts year around. In the fall and winter I will wear them over a thermal T, and under a sweater or fleece pullover. Just having them near has a calming effect. I probably don't have nearly as many as you so I keep them hanging in my closet and will eventually pack them away in a storage container as they start to wear too thin, tear, or rot. I don't look forward to the day that I have to set my first T-shirt aside. It will be a solemn occasion filled with reminiscing of the good times and maybe even a few tears. I am glad you have given me the opportunity to share my obsession for NP T-shirts with you. I love your site, please keep up the wonderful work that you do with it.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's the Most Important Part of Your National Park Trip?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I remember that non-profit group at Bryce Canyon sponsored by Ford Motor with a prominent logo on their uniforms. I once went on what I thought would be a ranger-led walk, but it was led by one of these non-profit workers with the sponsor logo right on the shirt. This is the best photo I can find. I wasn't deliberately trying to obscure her face, but it just turned out that way.

    That sort of felt cheap. I frankly don't mind scheduled walks led by personnel from non-profits like the Yosemite Association that don't wear sponsor logos. Once I walked into the Yosemite Valley visitor center and all the people behind the counter were YA personnel. A lot of NPS sites and visitor centers are staffed at least part of the time by non-profit workers and volunteers.

  • Split Appellate Court Erects Another Roadblock to World's Largest Dump Next to Joshua Tree National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Take a look at the area in Goggle Earth (type: "Yucca Road, Eagle Mountain, CA 92239" in the seach.) Yikes! Looks like Kaiser has done a pretty good job of raping the land over a very large area. Amazing...

  • Split Appellate Court Erects Another Roadblock to World's Largest Dump Next to Joshua Tree National Park   5 years 22 weeks ago

    You aren't going to drive past the former mine / proposed landfill on your way to JOTR: the mine is in the "hole" intruding into the park from the SE, and there are no entrance roads anywhere near there (there is a 4wd road, but it has a gate a couple of miles outside the boundary of JOTR). The issue is the lights & noise and wildlife impact immediately adjacent to the wilderness parts of JOTR.

    The basics of the trash proposal are to fill an abandoned Kaiser Steel open pit iron mine with trash hauled from the greater LA area via dozens of dedicated (unit) trains per day. Sounds reasonable: better than filling in any more coastal canyons, and the mine already has the usual chemical problems of abandoned open pit mines. But as a solid waste facility it becomes a 24/7/365 (now changed to 16hr/6day/week) huge industrial zone with noise & lights affecting what otherwise is one of the quietest places in southern California. The vehicular traffic has direct impacts on tortoises (they're proposing drift fences to keep the tortoises off the roads & presumably the railroad, but ravens & coyotes have already learned to patrol drift fences in search of easy meals). The trash (even if a tiny amount blows away) will subsidize and greatly increase the local raven population, leading to subsidized predation rates on tortoises and plenty of less charismatic species. Because ravens fly tens of miles and coyotes are quite vagile, too, the increased populations around the mine/dump will affect wildlife within the park boundaries. And, the last time I read any of the proposal in detail, the fine print is that for the first 75 or so years, the trash doesn't actually go into the open pit mine (which has potentially valuable ore still in it), it fills surrounding canyons that are otherwise pretty good habitat for the desert bighorn sheep.

    The 644 acre buffer zone is a cruel joke by mathematically impaired lawyers & judges. 640 acres is a square mile; the footprint (4654 acres) is 7 1/4 square miles. If that area were circular (minimum perimeter for the area so best case), the circumference would be 9 miles, so if that wonderful buffer zone to mitigate effects on bighorn sheep goes all the way around the landfill, it's on the order of .1 miles or 175 yards wide. [I somewhat question the dissenting judge's knowledge of Greek mythology, too: Ulysses wasn't on the Argo, that was Jason's ship.]

    My understanding of the court case is that it is about the specifics of the land swap. The 2,846 acres offered by Kaiser are non-contiguous parcels along and including their Eagle Mountain Railroad right of way, so part of the deal is that they get to run a railroad on the land they're trading to BLM. The land they want surrounds the actual mine
    http://www.ccaej.org/projects/desert_protection/pe_9_21_05_map.html
    BLM was sued by private parties including NPCA for undervaluing their land, not considering a sufficient range of alternatives in their EIS, and not meeting the requirements of managing their land to have no adverse effects on surrounding federal lands. [The original 1950s agreement gave Kaiser the right to mine on the land, but didn't give it the land. In 1952 465 acres were transferred to Kaiser Steel for the town of Eagle Mountain and their operations. I have no idea of the current status of what land Kaiser Ventures actually owns in the footprint, but it appears that something changed before the 1999 land swap. The Chaipieds, parties to the suit, claim that the 1952 agreement says that if the land is not used for mining for 7 consecutive years it will revert to the public for its highest and best use.]

  • Reader Participation Day: What's the Most Important Part of Your National Park Trip?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Any visit to any NPS area is the best experience -- EXCEPT for the time a couple of years ago when I ran headlong into the Bush/Cheney idea of "privatization." That summer I was appalled to find no rangers in the visitor center at Bryce Canyon. Instead, all the "privatized personnel" were wearing FORD MOTOR COMPANY T-shirts!

    Man, I hope to goodness that's over now!

    And, by the way, I do love the real, honest-to-gosh VIP volunteers. What wonderful people they all are. Back in the early 70's my five-year old daughter was one of the first VIPs when we were at Sunset Crater. She'd sit on a stool behind the desk proudly wearing her little VIP vest and would steer visitors toward the restrooms and then give them the full spiel about the drive through to Wupatki and all the trails they needed to hike. It was a lot of fun to watch how visitors would come in the front door, spot Jennifer and a real ranger standing at the desk and head straight for her. I had hired a blind seasonal that summer and she would lead Charlie through the campground as he walked around inviting campers to his evening program. Overflow crowds at our improvised campfire circle every night as Charlie read a Braille version of Helen Keller's essay, If I Had One Day To See, while color slides of beauty were on the screen. Many of our visitors left that program in tears as they sometimes did when Charlie led them on guided walks with either Jennifer or a visitor holding his arm and guiding him as he guided them on a walk that taught them to use their other senses.

    Sorry. I guess I got a little carried away in some great memories.

  • National Park Quiz 73: Birds   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Missed one. But I got lucky with #9. I know where Whooping Cranes breed and winter, but didn't know any good spots for them on migration.

    The Dry Tortugas and Big Bend were high on my must-visit list even before I became super interested in visiting all the parks. I would guess that those two, perhaps along with the Channel Islands NP, are probably the most popular among serious birders because of the birds you can see there that you can't anywhere else in the US.

  • Reader Participation Survey: Should Hunters Be Used to Manage National Park Wildlife?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    I am opposed to hunting in our park systems, national, state or county. I think that parks are a place to go and enjoy nature and for living things to prosper, not to be a killing zone for humans to kill innocent wildlife. Our parks say we cannot pick flowers or take rocks, yet they see no problem with taking lives?? Just knowing that these killings are going on in the parks make my visits less enjoyable and I did not vote for my local parks levy in Nov. because of this.

  • Reader Participation Day: What's the Most Important Part of Your National Park Trip?   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Being a Ranger in training its great to see this topic and read everyone's post. This is pretty much the only website news related site that I look at everyday and can't ever get enough of it. I took a trip out to Utah back in August and found some things that I love the most about National Parks, Rangers that could not of been friendlier. The interpretive programs I went to were great and all the Rangers who led them took plenty of time afterwards to answer questions and chat a little. I know a lot of visitors don't even stop into visitor centers, but those that do might be getting the only interaction with a Ranger during there entire visit. A Ranger that tries to say Hey if they are just standing behind the desk or one that comes around the counter to explain something on a relief map has always been a like of mine. To those Rangers in Arches, Canyonlands, Bryce, and Zion back in August, thanks for inspiring me more and helping me better experience and love Utah's National Parks!

    P.S. Ed, I'm pretty sure what you saw in the Smokies was an Elk, not a Moose.

  • Programming Note: National Geographic Channel Explores the Appalachian Trail Tonight   5 years 22 weeks ago

    Well if you think 70 years old is impressive, they you would be suprised that my naighbors uncle (78) just did the entire thing last year in 5 and a half months. He's done it 3 times now during his lifetime. He is also doing one in florida now that starts in the Keyes.