Sunday, March 15, 2015

I've Got a Big List

There are so many great parks and wilderness areas to visit, I am always stunned when I run into folk who complain that there's nothing to see or do in their area. For it's a rare place indeed that doesn't have something notable to offer from Mother Nature.

Over the past few years my wife and I have begun compiling a list of the parks and National Forest sites we want to visit when retirement offers us enough leisure time for such exploration. The list actually began to become somewhat ridiculous and so we stopped adding to it, because the USA and Canada have so damned many great spots to visit that trying to make a list of the need-to-see places became unbearably difficult.

So, we decided to just let the Internet do the listing for us, and we'll explore as we see fit when the time comes.

A while back I made a point of bookmarking every state park system on the Internet. Some states have amazing state park systems (California, West Virginia, Florida, etc.). And some states have pathetic state park systems (Georgia, North Carolina, Montana, etc.). I haven't figured out why some states suck at having nice parks and others are masters at it. In some instances it's a case of historical accident (the CCC was quite active in West Virginia and they've had to live with that happy occurrence), and other states work their asses off establishing a wonderful array of parks (such as Florida). And some states that by all accounts for natural beauty should have wonderful state parks instead offer anemic numbers and sad, gray places (my own state of North Carolina is unfortunately among this lot).

Then there are our National Forests. Many of them have eye-popping areas where one can wander and explore and see things most people never will. I can credit the Internet for opening up the world of our National Forest campgrounds and scenic areas and wilderness areas. Without the Internet connecting all of the dots I would likely still be ignorant of many places on my bucket list.

Retirement beckons to me in just a few years. I am champing at the bit to be rid of that particular yoke so that we can hit the road and see what's around the bend. The next mountain. The far lake. The flowing river. The still waters.

The places are out there. Look for them. Enjoy them.

Rhododendron tunnel, Nantahala National Forest.
Southern Nantahala Wilderness Area.
Stone Mountain State Park, North Carolina.
Public library, Helvetia, West Virginia.
Oconee State Park, South Carolina.
Road to Cataloochee, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
Wild turkey flock, Sugarlands Visitor Center.
Campsite, Cataloochee Campground, Great Smoky Mountains.

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