A Passport To Your National Parks


If you've never seen or heard of the National Parks Passport, you're in for a treat. But be prepared: the moment you commit to buying one of these, you must anticipate acts of craziness to ensue. Here's why...

Mom's friend, Jane, who we visited in Wisconsin, recommended purchasing the passports for the kids before we began our road trip. When you visit a national park or monument, you receive a stamp in this passport indicating that you've been there and done that. Since we were planning to see so many on the trip, Mom figured it would be a great way for the kids to keep track of what they've done. So, at Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico, Daniel, Mary and Robert became proud owners of their first National Parks Passport. It was really cute to see the kids rush to the visitor's center at every stop, frantically looking for their next stamp. At one point, in Charleston, South Carolina (where the picture above was taken), Mary left her passport at Fort Sumter, which can only be accessed by a ferry, and began to cry because she was so disappointed. Thankfully, the guides picked it up and brought it back to the mainland; they knew how important these passports were to people!

Well, it all began to change in Washington D.C. Let's just say the kids' passports became Mom's...mission. After a long day of walking to all the various memorials and monuments, the kids were too tired to walk another 200 feet to the visitor's center. Mom said, "But you need to get your stamps!" and Daniel replied, "Can you just go and get it and I'll sit here and wait?" Reluctantly, Mom agreed. What no one knew at the time was that this birthed a new passion in Mom. From that day forth, the stamps didn't sit high on the kids' priority lists. But for Mom, it was something that the kids would appreciate having later; thus, we must do whatever is necessary to get it now!

Take, for example, our trip to Niagara Falls in Canada. Because we were on the Canadian side, there were no stamps to America's National Parks and Monuments. Therefore, on our way out, we stopped by the visitor's center on the U.S. side, figuring that they'd have some kind of stamp or sticker that the kids could put in their books. Mom got out of the car, while the kids and I napped in the van, and she asked a man where the visitor's center was. He said "Over there," pointing in a general direction. Mom went that way, didn't find anything, asked another man, who replied with, "There is no visitor's center." Mom didn't take that for an answer so she continued looking around. At this point, it began to rain and Mom got blisters from her new sandals...but that didn't stop her. She went back to the first man and asked, "Where exactly is the visitor's center?" And this time, he pointed directly to the building, saying, "That third building right over there." She made her way to the building, but not without being stopped by border patrol. Her running around caused some alarm with an officer, who interrogated her about her whereabouts. She gave him the lowdown and he let her go. Luckily, after all of that, she found the stamps and the kids could stop holding their breaths, knowing that Mom's hard work paid off ;)

New York is no different. After our stop to Ellis Island, the ferry went to Liberty Island but because we were running short on time, Mom decided to get off, get the stamps and get back onto the ferry. As we approached Liberty Island, the crowd began to stand up and make their way to the door. Meanwhile, a huge crowd on the island was getting ready to board the ferry to go back to Jersey. Mom had a total of 10 minutes between the crowd unloading and the new crowd boarding to get the stamps in all 3 passports. Meanwhile, we stood by the window, anticipating whether or not we thought she would make it. We tried looking for her but of the thousands of people running every which way, it was almost impossible to find her. We looked and looked for about 8 minutes until she tapped us on the shoulder and said, "Whew!" She got back on the ferry before the crowd did! Apparently, she told the crew member what she was doing so he let her get back on before the rest of the line. She sprinted from building to building to find the stamps and by the time she was back on the ferry, she was soaking with sweat. Now THAT is dedication!

And what did the kids do?

They said "thanks" and put the passports right back into the bag.

For those of you who know my family, you know that Dad is a collector of all sorts of things but mainly books and postcards. Mom, on the other hand, is not a collector at all. If it was up to her, she'd give it all away for more space. So to see her this hardcore about collecting stamps is amusing to say the least. While Mom ran from place to place beginning in D.C., Dad sat by, quietly chuckling to himself.

1 comment :

Anonymous said...

That is so funny, Elysabeth! I could totally see myself running around like that just to get a stamp. I think for me it would be the need to not leave something out. And stamps in a passport take up so much less room as far as collecting things go. I might have to look into getting some for the kids. :)