Throughout my life I have had the privilege of visiting several national and state parks in at least fifteen different US states; from Florida to Alaska. I love the opportunity to see and enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife.
One of my most memorable outdoor adventures occurred during the summer of 2011. My family and I decided to take a vacation and drive out to Washington and Utah to visit family. During our trip, we decided to stop and spend some time hiking around the following sites, some of which I had the privilege of visiting years before as a teenager:
- Badlands National Park – SD
- Rushmore National Memorial – SD
- Crazy Horse Memorial – SD
- Devils Tower National Monument – WY
- Yellowstone National Park – WY
- Arches National Park – UT
Since photography is something I really enjoy, I took hundreds of pictures while visiting these locations. I also believe this is when my daughter, then sixteen, began developing an interest in photography. She is now in college studying communications with an emphasis in visual media and owns her own fancy camera. This fall she will start her senior year.
In honor of the five-year anniversary of our 2011 outdoor adventure, as well as our love of nature and photography, this year my daughter and I, occasionally accompanied by my son and wife, have begun another adventure. We are visiting as many state parks and outdoor areas as we can that are within a reasonable driving distance of our home here in East Tennessee and documenting our adventure. So far we have visited the following:
- The Lost Sea Adventure – TN
- Ruby Falls – TN
- Rock City – TN
- Seven Islands State Birding Park – TN
- Cove Creek Wildlife Management Area – TN
- Norris Dam State Park – TN
- Max Patch Mountain – NC
- Ijams Nature Center – TN
It has been an awesome experience. We have seen some of the most beautiful of God’s creations. Everything from landscapes, forests, waterfalls, plants, and animals. The pictures in this post are some of the things we have seen during our visits. If you would like to know more about these beautiful places to visit, click on the name of the location to take you to their website. As my daughter and I continue our adventure, I hope to share more of our experiences and photos. To see more of my outdoor photos, follow me on Instagram: @jbwriter70.
Now, I feel inspired to share the disappointing part of our adventure. It is something I feel is very important. As we have hiked along the trails of these locations one thing has disgusted me-the TRASH! Why can’t people just pick up their garbage and carry it out? At most of these locations it wasn’t too bad. We just occasionally saw some trash, but not much. However, one particular location, which I will not identify, really disgusted me.
There was so much trash that to me it took away from the beauty of the place. After visiting this place, I decided that as we hiked around other locations we were going to carry a couple of trash bags with us and take the time to pick up the trash we saw.
On our next trip, with trash bags in hand we set out on the trail. It started out ok, there was very little trash, but, by the time we were done, we had a full bag of trash. What made it even worse was finding someone else’s full bag of trash that they had just tossed into the bushes.
Fellow visitors and lovers of the outdoors, I beg of you: take responsibility for your garbage. Don’t leave your plastic or glass bottles, beer and soda cans, gum wrappers, tissues, cigarettes, or other garbage. Take it with you. I’m sure some would argue that the federal and state government need to take responsibility for this problem by putting trash cans along the trails, but this will not solve the problem. Besides, the trash cans will cost us, the tax payers, more money. The cans cost money. Paying someone to periodically empty them cost money. The key to solving this problem is us taking the responsibility to care for and protect our natural environment by properly disposing of our trash. WE THE PEOPLE have to take ownership.
I encourage you, the next time you are out hiking, take a couple of trash bags with you. Properly dispose of your own trash and if you happen to see any other trash, pick it up. Let’s clean up and maintain the beautiful world that God has given us.
If you feel inspired to do so, please like and share this post with others so we can get the word.