Recently, I had the absolute privilege of sitting next to documentary maker Ken Burns at a dinner party.
You must know his work on PBS on a wide variety of important subjects from – “The Civil War,” to “Baseball,” to “The Roosevelts.” Needless to say, it was a fascinating dinner conversation with all the guests peppering him with questions, and him, with his encyclopedic memory, recanting tales and facts from his years of observing and listening on the job. He even recited the Gettysburg Address from start to finish. He certainly honors his subjects through the stories he tells on, and off the screen.
But it his six- episode documentary on our country’s national parks (The National Parks: America’s Best Idea) that prompted me to ask him my travel-related question: “Which national park is your favorite? ”
Without missing a beat Burns said “Yosemite.” And… I of course returned, in the same rapid fire speed, the question “Why Yosemite?” He answered in three words, “Because. It’s. Beautiful.”
What??! Not because of Half Dome’s lurking majesty? Or the delicate but plentiful bursts of color from Wawona Meadow’s wild flowers? Or the sheer trance-setting Bridalveil Fall?
Quick to ask (perhaps too quick, but still with the utmost respect) I said, “That’s it? Just because it’s beautiful?” I expected a much more poetic answer from someone who has so much to say on so many topics..and who had spent a lot of time at the park and on the subject.
His effortless answer struck me..stayed with me. It was almost as if he found Yosemite so awe-inspiring – all 750,000 acres of it – that the sheer magnitude of its beauty left even the most descriptive, expressive writer who can’t wait to tell the next story, somewhat speechless.
Sometimes a simple answer leaves just as big an impact. (Or perhaps he was just tired of answering my questions, LOL)
So on this note, I want you to see for yourself. Spring is a fantastic time to visit Yosemite, but there are some special things going on at the park all year long:
1) This October Yosemite will celebrate it’s 125th anniversary ! President Benjamin Harrison signed legislation making Yosemite our country’s third national park. There are all sorts of activities organized leading up to Oct – many for kids! - so check here for how to best plan your trip: www.nps.gov/featurecontent/yose/anniversary/index94d6.html?doing_wp_cron=1425330117.6956789493560791015625
2) Every Kid in a Park: Starting this September if you have a fourth grade child, you and your family can get into any national park for free for a year. The idea is the Obama administration’s incentive to encourage children to get away from screens, and see our beautiful country. Fourth grade was chosen because someone felt this is the ideal age to expose kids to the great outdoors. This could be a nice savings for millions of families… as an annual pass costs around $80.
Spring has sprung! So much to see… and if you can’t make it to Yosemite, you might want to check out Ken Burn’s series “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.” Just beautiful.