National Parks

Lake Crescent Lodge
Lake Crescent Lodge

Recently, just prior to my “close call” with pneumonia, my wife and I traveled to Olympic National Park in Washington State. Two friends from Seattle joined us for the trip. We stayed together at Lake Crescent Lodge, which is located just inside the east boundary of the park. 

Our history with national parks is long and strong. Growing up in California, my family vacationed annually in Yosemite National Park. Later, as a college student, I worked there during the summer months. Then, after finishing with school, I decided to see all the seasons. I got a job at the Wawona Hotel, which is located inside the south gate of the park. A pocket of private land with vacation homes and tourist accomodations exists adjacent to the hotel. I found a small cottage to rent and stayed five years.

This is what happens if you leave your furniture outside in a rain forest.
This is what happens if you leave your furniture outside in a rain forest.

My wife worked as a waitress at the hotel. She had followed her own unique path to end up at Wawona, where we entered each other’s orbit. With the blessing and oversight of the winter caretaker, we were married there on February 1st of 1975. 

Soon thereafter, we immigrated to New Zealand. During our 2nd year, I rebuilt a Volkswagen van. We quit our jobs and set off on a six month adventure through the north and south islands. 

On Thanksgiving week of 1976, we stopped at Tongariro National Park, a volcanic wonderland in the center of the north island. We hiked the trails of three active volcanoes, Mts. Ruapehu, Ngauruhoe, and Tongariro. We used the park’s campground as a base for our activities.

New Zealand, 1976. Arlene, Kevin, Marilyn, and me wearing our NZ bush shirts.
New Zealand, 1976. Arlene, Kevin, Marilyn, and me wearing our NZ bush shirts.

And, this is where we met our Seattle friends. As fellow Americans, the holiday drew us together. They were hitchhiking and we had a van. The joke is that we picked them up and have not been able to get rid of them.

We traveled together for the next several months. Periodically, we went our separate ways with the agreement to rendezvous elsewhere. During these travels we bonded over the rugged beauty of NZ. We backpacked together, endured rainy periods, and shared long nights of card games in the country’s campgrounds.

2016. Atop Marymere Falls. Kevin, Marilyn, Arlene, and me.
2016. Atop Marymere Falls. Kevin, Marilyn, Arlene, and me.

Accordingly, on our visit to Olympic National Park, we spent time much like we did years ago in New Zealand: day hiking, eating good meals at the lodge, and playing cards by the fire at night.

This week, as our country celebrates the centennial of America’s National Parks, we are making plans to visit Glacier National Park in 2017. Once again, we hope to share the heritage of our preserved parklands and a friendship nurtured by their beauty.

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10 thoughts on “National Parks

  1. What a wonderful story and photos. I’m in awe of your history, the freedom and adventure and staying power of your small group. I’ve never been to any of those parks (except Yosemite), but we do have a favorite pot roast recipe that originated from the Wawona Hotel 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Yes, NZ was still old fashioned in the 70s. The trails were good but once you left them and entered the “bush,” wildness prevailed. OTOH, NZ has no predatory animals or poisonous snakes or insects.


  3. The Olympic National Park is my favorite (mainly because I spend so much time there), so this post had me hooked from the beginning ~ and what a life of adventure & love… It makes the friendships generated over time that much more valuable. Part of making memories when we were young, is to get together and make more when we’re older. Cheers to a good day.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I so envy your travels. I didn’t have that much of a sense of physical adventure in my youth and preferred staying close to home with my daydreams. Closest I got was to Joshua Tree where, from the top oa hill, we looked down at the San Andreas fault. Looked like he stuck his finger in and dragged it along the ground. I beg my children to travel more – but unfortunately they inherited my dream of safety and comfort. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

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