National Parking

Some Yellowstone RiverSome people travel vicariously by reading Blue Highways by William Least-Heat Moon, or Travels with Charley in Search of America by that guy John Steinbeck. I like to read camping guides.

It was 10 years ago that The Complete Walker IV by Fletcher and Rawlins came out. I’m still reading on it. It gets my hopes up. It calms my nerves. It’s like going out camping without getting your nose cold. I bet my dog wishes he could do that! When all the claustrophobia of my life collapses on top of me, I read some of that book, and imagine myself in the Sierras, or the Adirondacks, or the Porkies. Somewhere not here.

You know, it’s like those Best in Tent Camping books that I love so much!

When I was 7 or thereabouts, my dad’s brother — so he’d be my uncle — gave me a big shiny picture book about the US National Parks. This was back when there still was a Platt National Park — before the giant sinkhole swallowed it, entirely, of a sudden. ‘Way back then I planned on visiting all those National Parks.

I’m still working on it.

But there’s this guy named Michael Oswald who hails from Madison, Wisconsin. And I’m sure that we all adore him! I know that I love his new book: Your Guide to the National Parks: The Complete Guide to all 58 National Parks. It came out the Summer of ought-twelve. Mike visited almost every National Park in the contiguous US. One third of the photos in the book are from his own camera. There’s maps. There’s recommendations. What I really like is the circles and arrows on the maps pointing out things not to miss.

Turns out, in some of the national parks that I have managed to visit, I missed stuff that I shouldn’t have. Missed, that is. Mike, where were you when I needed you! At least I’ve got you now.

This book really gets my hopes up. It tells you most of what you’d find at the US Park Service web sites, and it gives some history and scope. There’s plenty of background. There’s plenty of details about regulations and open seasons. There’s rated lists of hiking trips. There’s the things not to miss. There’s listings of other interesting places nearby.

And it’s not so objective that it’s empty. Mike makes those subjective leaps, telling you what he thinks is really the best parts of these different places. And, from what I’ve seen, I agree with him. And, from what I’ve not seen, I believe in him.

One of his favorites is Crater Lake. Maybe that’ll be my next trip. I’ve always wanted to go there and see the round island in the round lake in the round volcano caldera. Ever since I got this big coffee-table book for Christmas when I was just a kid. Since before the Platt succumbed.

Maybe you could give Mike’s book to some kid to dream about for a lifetime.

About Lyle Verbilion

I'm just wanderin' around lookin' at things. Wow.
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5 Responses to National Parking

  1. mike says:

    Lyle, I’m glad you enjoy my work and thank you for the kind post.

    I like your style and message. No matter what the impetus, I hope many kids begin to dream about exploring the natural wonders right here in the U.S. this holiday season!

    Keep wanderin’ around lookin’ at things!! (Crater Lake is a fantastic future destination.)


    • Cool! It’s an impressive book. As time went on, I kept ordering more for more folks in my life.
      Please let me know when your next book comes out!

      • mike says:

        You got it my good man!

        Research for the next book begins in about three weeks. I’m also working on forming 58 Parks Club. (I know, that could be ruined some day if, let’s say, a place like Mt. St. Helens National Volcanic Monument is turned into a “park,” but it sounds nice.) If you’d like to be a member of the “testing” phase, I’d be thrilled to include you. In short, it will be a place for like-minded individuals to share stories, images, and vacation plans, or even swap gear, share rides, etc. I don’t believe there’s a good virtual venue for outdoor enthusiasts in the U.S. to congregate when they’re not in the wild! (Plus, I like coming up with t-shirt designs.)

        Hope you’re enjoying the holidays!

        • I’d love to be a testing member. People often find me testy!
          What’s the next book about? Or how are you researching it? Or what is there that you can say about it?

          • mike says:

            Great! Thank you. I’ll let you know when the website is ready to roll. It should be noted that testy people are the most welcome variety. They’re usually extremely critical and honest!

            The next book is Hawai’i. It took some serious arm-twisting, but I’m willing to complete that thankless research project–for the people, of course (tongue-firmly-in-cheek). My big picture plan is to create guidebooks for the U.S. National Parks, Hawai’i, Alaska, and the U.S. Cities. After that I’ll probably work on an app and updating my original works. My goal is to be the leading authority on domestic travel…if I could only keep it all in my mind! Parks stuff is already seeping out as I move on to new ventures.

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