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Expedition National Parks
30 minutes | Jun 25, 2021
Gibraltar of the Gulf: Camping at Dry Tortugas National Park
Almost 70 miles west of Key West lies the remote Dry Tortugas National Park. This 100-square mile park is mostly open water with seven small islands. Accessible only by boat or seaplane, the park is known the world over as the home of magnificent Fort Jefferson and for its picturesque blue waters, superlative coral reefs and marine life, and the vast assortment of bird life that frequents the area. Dry Tortugas National Park is a bucket list adventure for many of the visitors who make it there. We camped for two nights and would highly recommend it but take any opportunity you have to visit what you can. Learn more about our experience as well as that of other campers. Just steps away from the disembarkation point of the ferry is Fort Jefferson, part of the third system of U.S. coastal defense. Fort Jefferson is the largest brick masonry structure in the United States and is composed of 16 million bricks. Hollywood, the energetic and expert tour guide from Yankee Freedom, shares a great deal of knowledge about the history and importance of the fort and the area. Information/Booking re: Camping in Dry Tortugas National Park: https://www.drytortugas.com/key-west-camping/ Outdoor Organization Feature: Venture Out Project: https://linktr.ee/theventureoutproject This month we are sharing the work of the Venture Out Project as part of our community effort to showcase organizations who are working towards social justice and more inclusive public lands. Established in 2014 by Perry Cohen, the Venture Out Project was one of the first guiding companies run by and for queer and transgender people. Their mission is to provide a safe and fun space for queer, trans, and LGBTQ+ people to experience the outdoors as well as providing education and support that helps schools and organizations affirm their LGBTQ+ members. This is further underscored by their commitment to environmental stewardship, social justice, diversity, and inclusion.
33 minutes | May 31, 2021
Linda M., @TheBucketListTraveler: Celebrating Diversity, Embracing Inclusion
Linda Mohammad, better known as @thebucketlisttraveler on social media, is originally from Malaysia. She moved to the U.S. to study in Colorado, then to Texas for her first job and has been living in California since 2012 where she works as an engineer. A few day trips to NPS sites in California led to her bucket list ambition of visiting all National Parks, which she accomplished in 2019. In honor of Asian American Native Hawaiian Pacific Islander Heritage Month (AANHPIHM), we organized a special session on Clubhouse in the National Parks and WH Sites club. This episode features excerpts of the conversation that focus on her own roots in Asia as well as the importance of diversity and inclusion, the powerful educational role of the cultural and historical NPS sites, and the importance of volunteer work. Special thanks to @nationalparkpatchlady for her insightful questions. Follow @thebucketlisttraveler on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thebucketlisttraveler/ Learn more and support the Channel Islands Park Foundation: https://www.ciparkfoundation.org/ Outdoor Organization Feature: Get Out Stay Out/Vamos Afuera is committed to increasing diversity and representation for people of color, especially indigenous youth, within the outdoor industry by ensuring they have opportunities to run, play, and discover themselves in the natural world. Follow Get Out Stay Out on Instagram (@getout.stayout). Please consider a donation to support their work - 100 percent of your donation will go to youth excursions: check out their website at vamosafuera.org.
39 minutes | May 16, 2021
Bicentennial of American Legation: U.S. and Moroccan National Historical Landmark
On May 17, 2021, the American Legation building in Tangier celebrates its bicentennial. A U.S. National Historical Landmark (NHL) since 1982, Sultan Moulay Suliman presented the building, now part of a larger complex, to the United States in 1821. The building is a powerful symbol of the long-standing and strong historical, cultural, and diplomatic ties between the U.S. and the Kingdom of Morocco. While it no longer serves a diplomatic purpose, it is still owned by the U.S. Government and is occupied by the Tangier American Legation Institute for Moroccan Studies (TALIM), which comprises a museum, library, cultural and research center. John Davison, TALIM’s director, discusses the history and importance of the building, both past and present, in this episode. The building is the oldest continuously occupied U.S. diplomatic property in the world. The relationship between the U.S. and Morocco is long and deep. Sultan Mohammed III issued a decree opening Morocco’s ports to American ships in 1777, making Morocco one of the first countries to recognize the newly independent United States. The Treaty of Peace and Friendship, signed by the U.S. and Morocco in 1786, is the longest unbroken treaty relationship in U.S. history. It is the only NHL listing or designation in a foreign country, excluding those in countries that grew out of the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands. NHLs are those that have been recognized by the Secretary of the Interior as possessing national significance: properties that help us understand our history. All NHLs are part of the National Register of Historic Places, which is the official list of the nation's historic properties worthy of preservation. Landmarks constitute more than 2,500 of more than 90,000 entries in the National Register; the others are of state and local significance. Both the NHL program and National Register of Historic Places are run by the National Park Service. TALIM website: https://legation.org/ Virtual tour: https://legation.org/virtual-tour/ TALIM social media channels: https://www.facebook.com/TangierAmericanLegation https://www.instagram.com/tangieramericanlegation/ https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCoWoGL8gO9n-Rjon-HYI2Jg Outdoor Organization Feature: Get Out Stay Out/Vamos Afuera is committed to increasing diversity and representation for people of color, especially indigenous youth, within the outdoor industry by ensuring they have opportunities to run, play, and discover themselves in the natural world. Follow Get Out Stay Out on Instagram (@getout.stayout). Please consider a donation to support their work - 100 percent of your donation will go to youth excursions: check out their website at vamosafuera.org. Resources: https://www.nps.gov/subjects/nationalhistoriclandmarks/list-of-nhls-by-state.htm Legation.org https://savingplaces.org/stories/american-history-foreign-soil-tangier-american-legation-morocco#.YKBL5GYza3I Photo courtesy of TALIM
31 minutes | Apr 30, 2021
Jazz Ambassadors: New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park
April is Jazz Appreciation Month and April 30 is UNESCO’s International Jazz Day. So designated to highlight jazz and its diplomatic role of uniting people around the world, International Jazz Day is celebrating its 10th anniversary in 2021. Not only is jazz an art form that comes from the United States, it was born in New Orleans, the Crescent City. In recognition of the important history of this uniquely American musical art form, both nationally and internationally, Congress authorized the New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park in 1994. Congress created the park to protect a significant American cultural treasure... jazz. But jazz was embraced by the world and is an international treasure. Some of the greatest jazz artists of all time toured the world on behalf of the U.S. government, helping to spread the love of jazz far and wide. These “Jazz Ambassadors” included Louis Armstrong and an excerpt of his interview with a Czech journalist on Radio Free Europe while touring in then-Czechoslovakia is featured in the episode. For the definitive story on the history and impact of the Jazz Ambassadors, check out https://www.pbs.org/wnet/jazz-ambassadors/. And while the Jazz Ambassadors program no longer exists, the State Department continues to do music diplomacy today, including jazz, but also featuring a wide range of genres from hip hop to zydeco. With education being the focus of the national park, we also include excerpts of two musical programs we attended, the first an introductory talk by a park ranger and the second a concert with jazz pianist Kyle Roussel. The park is currently closed due to the pandemic but virtual musical programs are still available. As always, visit the park’s website to obtain the most current information, including regarding closures and altered hours. Episode Highlights: 00:51 Introduction 02:22 Louis Armstrong interview with Radio Free Europe 04:12 Louis Armstrong singing 06:36 Outdoor Organization Feature: Camp Founder Girls 08:01 Ranger Jon - Lecture/Demonstration 17:37 Jazz pianist Kyle A. Roussel References: https://eca.state.gov/jazzdiplomacy https://www.nps.gov/jazz/index.htm https://soundcloud.com/hoover-institution/louis-armstrong-on-the-czechoslovak-service-of-radio-free-europe?fbclid=IwAR2RT5RIcWP13smFg1UMaThFCnpZP-9n-0f7sdB4kP4U5G-0REfwe36j_7o Outdoor Organization Feature: This month we are sharing the work of @campfoundergirls in our community effort to showcase organizations who are working towards social justice and more inclusive public lands. Follow @campfoundergirls for the latest info on this year’s summer camp scheduled from June 19-24, 2021. Check out their website (campfoundergirls.org) for more info and to donate.
29 minutes | Mar 31, 2021
Lady Bird Johnson, Shadow Secretary of the Interior: Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park
We first learned about the important work First Lady Lady Bird Johnson did for the United States while at the visitor center of the Lyndon B. Johnson National Historical Park. Given our podcast’s focus on national parks, we were especially interested in her work on conservation and beautification. With March being Women’s History Month, we wanted to further explore her accomplishments. This episode focuses on the First Lady’s accomplishments as a conservationist--referred to as “Shadow Secretary of the Interior” by Interior Secretary Bruce Babbitt--in her own words, using excerpts of her audio diaries from the LBJ Presidential Library website and other sources. Lady Bird Johnson’s impact was tremendous. President Johnson of course realized that and made a special presentation to her on July 28, 1968. He gave her 50 pens that had been used to sign legislation related to conservation and beautification, only a portion of the 300 conservation measures that he signed into law, the legal foundation of the contemporary environmental movement. He also gave her a plaque that read, “"To Lady Bird, who has inspired me and millions of Americans to try to preserve our land and beautify our nation. With love from Lyndon." Her impact was far-reaching and went well beyond the “beautification” campaign she is known for. She was a very public champion of preservation of our natural space and that was by design. With Secretary of the Interior Stewart Udall, she launched “Discover America” which were trips to national parks that were meant to inspire conservation and encourage tourism. The scale was impressive: 100,000 miles, 40 tours all over the country and engaging in a wide range of activities: criscrossing the country while rafting, hiking, camping, beachcombing, stargazing, and learning about American Indian culture. These trips drew widespread press attention, both domestically and internationally, and encouraged people to visit the parks. The national parks were an important part of President Johnson’s legislative agenda. He created or expanded close to 50 units: https://www.nps.gov/lyjo/planyourvisit/upload/EnvironmentCS2.pdf These units spanned the country and were also in urban areas as both President and Lady Bird Johnson believed it was important that all Americans had access to their parks. It was also during the Johnson Presidency that national recreation areas and the national trails system were enacted. The legislation for national trails emphasized the creation of trails in both rural and urban areas. Check out a new book and podcast solely focused on Lady Bird Johnson and her pivotal role. The diaries are a main reference for this work done by Julia E. Sweig (juliasweig.com). Episode Highlights: 00:42 Introduction 02:49 Excerpt of Lady Bird John interview conducted by Michael L. Gillette, discussing 10:10 Lady Bird Johnson explaining meaning of beautification 10:35 Lady Bird Johnson describing an initial meeting with Interior Secretary Stewart Udall 11:59 Outdoor Organization Feature 13:51 Lady Bird Johnson describing Padre Island National Seashore dedication ceremony 18:20 Lady Bird Johnson describing Point Reyes National Seashore dedication ceremony 20:24 Excerpt of Lady Bird Johnson’s remarks at Point Reyes National Seashore dedication ceremony (“Faces of the West” Navy Film) 21:42 Excerpt of Lady Bird Johnson’s remarks at Redwood National Forest dedication ceremony 28:06 Lady Bird Johnson quoting Henry David Thoreau References: Audio diaries and annotated transcripts, Lady Bird Johnson, LBJ Presidential Library “Faces of the West,” Navy Film + more on podcast website
22 minutes | Mar 23, 2021
Maxine Johnston, Conservation Gadfly: Big Thicket National Preserve
During this month celebrating Women’s History, we want to focus on the important role Maxine Johnston played in the fight to preserve the Big Thicket, the nation’s first (alongside Big Cypress) National Preserve and one of the most biologically diverse areas in the country. In our travels, we have always been impressed by the tenacity and dedication of so many volunteers and citizen groups - true democracy in action. We all owe them so much. One such citizen and conservationist champion is Maxine Johnston, who was recently featured in a National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) blog post: These 10 National Parks Wouldn’t Exist Without Women. Thanks to Shannon Harris from KVLU Public Radio in Beaumont, TX, who interviewed Maxine Johnston in late 2019, we are able to share an excerpt of Maxine Johnston speaking about her involvement. The episode also features our conversation with the very helpful Ranger we met at the Visitor Center, who reviewed our Junior Ranger badges (you can hear us all take the oath together!) and spoke to us about forest restoration, longleaf pines, and the Kirby Nature Trail. We are grateful to Shelly Vitanza from Lamar University for allowing us to use photos from Lamar University tribute on the occasion of Maxine being selected as the Homecoming Parade Grand Marshal for Lamar University, where she spent more than three decades as a research librarian and then library director. She was honored both for her contributions to the university as well as her dedication and success as a conservation advocate. In fact, today at 93 years young, her LinkedIn profile lists her occupation as “Conservation Gadfly.” We are so thankful for gadflies like Maxine Johnston. Episode Highlights: 00:40 Introduction 01:48 Shannon Harris’s interview (excerpt from Bayoulands Podcast episode) of Maxine Johnston 07:30 Conversation with Big Thicket Ranger 12:01 Outdoor Organization Feature: Love is King 12:52 Entire family discusses Junior Ranger booklet with Ranger 14:56 Nature Trail description - subtlety of ecosystem 17:54 Longleaf pine forest Outdoor Organization Feature: Donate to Love is King: bit.ly/likdonate Love Is King (LIK), a new organization whose vital work is helping to diversify our public lands and make nature a safe space for all people, is the outdoor organization featured in March. LIK is a movement led with love and empathy to defend the freedom to roam in nature as a basic human right. Join us in supporting Love Is King by sharing and engaging with their work and donating if you can. Follow @lik_free2roam and founder @_chadbrown_ on Instagram. Special thanks again to Shannon Miller and 91.3 KVLU Public Radio in Beaumont, Texas. Check out the Bayoulands TALKS podcast. Bayoulands TALKS is produced in the studios of 91.3 KVLU Public Radio in Beaumont, Texas by Shannon Harris and Jason M. Miller. For more information and to stream KVLU online visit: kvlu.org. You can listen to past episodes of the Bayoulands radio series at: https://www.lamar.edu/kvlu/programming/local-programs/bayoulands.html. Bayoulands Talks podcast can be accessed on https://www.npr.org/podcasts/970687057/bayoulands-t-a-l-k-s Photo credits: Lamar University Special Collections and Archive
48 minutes | Feb 28, 2021
The Ultimate Expedition: Round the World Record Attempt Without Planes
Torbjørn C. Pedersen, known online as Once Upon A Saga, has visited 203 countries and is on the verge of setting a world record… he is short just nine countries to gain the title of traveling to all countries in the world in a single journey without taking an airplane: the ultimate global expedition. We were lucky to speak to him about his 7 year odyssey which he chronicles on his blog and social media channels as Once Upon A Saga. Once Upon a Saga website: bit.ly/Sagablog Outdoor Organization feature: Syatt was founded by a mother and two daughters—TeamHood: Marcia, Erika, and Ebony Hood—with a mission to increase access to outdoor spaces for Black and Brown youth, while simultaneously creating and inspiring joy in places that haven’t traditionally been safe or welcoming to people of color. Syatt: @syatt_cle on Instagram Support/donate: https://syattcle.org/support-syatt Episode Highlights: 01:10 Introduction 03:59 His role as Red Cross Goodwill Ambassador 08:09 Importance of cultural connection and travel 14:40 Outdoor Organization Feature 15:32 What keeps him motivated 17:15 Travels in the United States 21:01 Container ship travel 26:40 Traveling on a small budget 29:49 Innovative/immersive ways to travel 34:52 How to pack 36:42 Additional projects 43:20 Visiting Muir Woods
47 minutes | Feb 23, 2021
The Extraordinary Betty Reid Soskin: World’s Oldest National Park Ranger and Rosie the Riveter WWII Home Front NHP
Join us as we meet Betty Reid Soskin, the inspiring National Park Service (NPS) Ranger who began her NPS career at age 85 and is currently the oldest Ranger. Based at Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Historical Park (NHP) in Richmond, California, she is a true inspiration with accolades as an author, entrepreneur, musician, activist and civil rights pioneer. She shares stories and experiences from the war where she worked at a segregated union hall but also her role in planning and launching the NHP. We encourage you to read her memoir “Sign My Name to Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life.” The biggest lesson we took away from meeting Ranger Betty as well as her book was that history is written by the people in the room doing the remembering. She has made it a habit to be in that room but she has taught us that it is important for all of us to be more aware of all strands of our history, not just the physical remnants. In fact, it is most important to seek and learn about the parts of history that are not so apparent. While we love the beauty of the national parks we visit, we are also as impressed by the history we have learned along the way. We saw a quote from Betty Reid Soskin that summed this up so perfectly: “We have created this system of national parks, where it’s possible to revisit almost any era in our history...The heroic places, the scenic wonders, the contemplative places, the shameful places, and the painful places. In order to own that history. Own it, process it, that we may begin to forgive ourselves in order to move into a more compassionate future together.” As always, we would love your feedback. Please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or message us on our social media accounts: @ExpeditionNationalParks on Facebook and Instagram and @ExpeditionNPS on Twitter. Thanks to Jason Shaw for the music. And, as always, follow the inspiration of the Junior Ranger motto - keep exploring, learning, and protecting! Outdoor Organization feature: Syatt was founded by a mother and two daughters—TeamHood: Marcia, Erika, and Ebony Hood—with a mission to increase access to outdoor spaces for Black and Brown youth, while simultaneously creating and inspiring joy in places that haven’t traditionally been safe or welcoming to people of color. Syatt: @syatt_cle on Instagram Support/donate: https://syattcle.org/support-syatt Episode Highlights: 00:45 Introduction 01:45 Ranger Betty Reid Soskin introduction 06:45 Richmond Shipyards 09:05 Expansion of Richmond’s population 10:11 Kaiser recruitment in the south 12:30 Port Chicago tragedy 21:24 Role of National Parks 22:48 Outdoor Org Feature 23:58 Work experience during WWII 29:20 Racism and employment discrimination 33:10 Bay Area different than rest of country 34:58 Richmond’s explosive growth 38:12 Great-grandparents’ experience 39:25 Family connections to Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans 40:54 Family impacted by New Orleans floods, bombing of levees 43:31 How social revolution/response to racism evolved 45:00 Constant state of renewal since 45:30 Signoff Donate to Syatt: https://syattcle.org/support-syatt Resources/More Information: No Time to Waste: https://www.notimetowastefilm.com/ (documentary on Betty Reid Soskin) Her memoir, Sign My Name to Freedom: A Memoir of a Pioneering Life Spoken-word album: “A Lifetime of Being Betty” Reference: https://www.rei.com/blog/stewardship/betty-reid-soskin
29 minutes | Jan 31, 2021
Southern Treasures: Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve (NHP&P) is comprised of six sites. These sites are spread over a large area across south Louisiana so it is essential to plan out your trip carefully. We visited in January 2020 but currently most of the sites are closed or with limited access because of Covid-19 restrictions. In this episode, we describe the six different sites that comprise the NHP&P but also speak to Ranger Briana to learn about the history and context of the NPS unit as well as the history of the people. She also explains the story behind the park’s namesake, Jean Lafitte. We also attend a talk presented by a volunteer which focuses on the pre-Civil War economy and history of the South; the false narratives that justified the horrific institution of slavery; and the unique cultural influences of New Orleans. This month’s Organization feature is the Memorial Foundation which helped to build the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington, DC. The MLK Memorial is the 395th unit in the National Park Service and is the first memorial to an African-American on or near the National Mall. The Memorial Foundation aspires to a world in which the memorial serves as a beacon that inspires people around the globe to apply the principles of democracy, justice, hope, and love. They continue Dr. King’s work through Global Youth Leadership Conferences and programs at the Memorial. Follow @thememorialfoundation on Instagram to learn more about their organization and scheduled events. We would love your feedback. Please leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or message us on our social media accounts: @ExpeditionNationalParks on Facebook and Instagram and @ExpeditionNPS on Twitter. Thanks to Jason Shaw for the music. And, as always, follow the inspiration of the Junior Ranger motto - keep exploring, learning, and protecting! Episode Highlights: 00:37 Introduction, overview of six NHP units 02:29 Ranger Briana, background of site 05:55 Short history of Acadian people 10:14 Creole description 11:05 Who was Jean Lafitte 14:32 Organization Feature 15:37 South’s false arguments in support of slavery 18:18 South’s economic destruction post-Civil War 20:55 Indigenous African influence on New Orleans 21:51 Unique culinary and musical aspects of New Orleans 22:33 Immigration from Haiti 25:10 Origin of Mardi Gras Indian 28:14 Farewell Donate to Memorial Foundation: bit.ly/MemFdnDonate Fun from Home - Activities from Kids: bit.ly/FunfHome
30 minutes | Dec 15, 2020
National Park Fanatics: David Kroese's Centennial Journey and Beyond
David Kroese is a true National Park fanatic. He has visited over 1500 parks and his attempt to visit all 400+ sites in 2016, the NPS Centennial year, led him to write The Centennial: A Journey Through America’s National Park System. In this episode, he describes what motivates him to visit the parks, particularly what fueled his desire to visit all of them in 2016. He offers tips on how to get the most out of a park visit, the important role of the National Park Travelers Club, and how there is no “right” way to visit a park. He is currently at work on his second book which focuses on hidden gems of the NPS. Highlights: 2:33 Introduction of David Kroese 3:50 National Park Travelers Club 7:18 What motivated him to write The Centennial 10:30 Why he undertook Centennial Journey 11:34 Vast pre-Centennial Journey experience 12:52 Outdoor Org Feature: Black Kids Adventures 13:46 How the NPS system is layered in terms of discovery 16:46 No “right” way to visit a park 19:30 Tips on NPS Travel 21:02 Value of the entire NPS 22:01 Preview of his next book 26:22 Uniqueness of Channel Islands National Park More information on The Centennial: A Journey Through America’s National Park System Website: www.centennialjourney.com Facebook page: (4) The Centennial: A Journey Through America’s National Park System | Facebook The book is available via Amazon, the book website, and by direct order through the author. For those who want a personalized copy, please use the Contact author feature at the bottom of the page on www.centennialjourney.com . More information on Black Kids Adventures: bit.ly/BKAdventures NB As of December 2020, with the addition of Medgar and Myrlie Evers Home National Monument, there are 423 NPS sites. The interview and other parts of the episode mentioning specific numbers of NPS sites were correct at the time of recording.
45 minutes | Nov 26, 2020
Inside a Snow Globe: Yellowstone in Winter
While we are not particular fans of winter, a friend told us that visiting Yellowstone in winter was like being in a snow globe. After hearing that, we knew we had to visit. And while we expected to be disappointed as our expectations were so high, the trip was absolutely magical. It was a trip of firsts for us, including traveling on the Snowcoach that our friend likened to a “people mover out of Star Wars.” We cross country skied around the Geyser Basin and the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone, as well as Lone Star Geyser. We were afraid of the cold but it wasn’t a problem at all. We even met a young man who hiked and camped from Mammoth Hot Springs all the way to Old Faithful; we share the conversation in the episode. There are Ranger programs and multiple Junior Ranger programs--including a special winter one--and Ranger Rebecca gave us a master class in geology. This trip was truly a unique experience that we will never forget, and can only recommend our listeners to consider a winter visit in the future. For you will never find a place as beautiful, magical, and peaceful. Highlights: 4:32 Canyon Visitor Education Center Rangers 7:27 Mammoth Springs Visitor Center Ranger 10:41 Will explains his winter camping experience 16:27 Outdoor Organization feature 17:25 Ranger Rebecca on Yellowstone’s Winter Junior Ranger program 19:36 Ranger Rebecca on Yellowstone’s unique geologic and therman features 34:07 Increase in Chinese tourism to Yellowstone 41:03 Final reflections For more information on Youth Opportunities Program: bit.ly/YOPNov2020. To donate, bit.ly/YOPDonate. More information on Wolf Restoration in Yellowstone National Park: bit.ly/NPSWolf Wolves and Rick McIntyre: https://www.yellowstonepark.com/things-to-do/wolf-reintroduction-changes-ecosystem https://www.yellowstone.org/rick-mcintyres-notes-from-the-field/
17 minutes | Nov 9, 2020
Vacation All the Way: Exploring the U.S. via Long-Distance Train
We are big fans of trains and the previous episode focused on the Trails and Rails program, which we were able to experience on a 2017 trip on the Southwest Chief. In 2020, we took two other long-distance trains: the Sunset Limited in January and the California Zephyr in March. Amtrak has 30 train routes throughout the United States which cover 500 destinations in 46 states, offering some of the most beautiful scenery in the country. Train travel has been likened to a “land cruise” and we definitely considered the train trips part of the vacation, exemplifying the adage that it is not about the destination but the journey. We appreciated the opportunity to not only learn about the history and geology of the U.S. but also to get to know our fellow passengers and Amtrak staff. While Covid-19 has altered operations significantly, we encourage our listeners to consider a long-distance train ride in the future. For more information on Youth Opportunities Program: bit.ly/YOPNov2020. To donate, bit.ly/YOPDonate. And to learn more about Amtrak’s routes, including the California Zephyr and Southwest Limited: bit.ly/Amtrakld
19 minutes | Oct 24, 2020
Discovering the National Parks by Train: Trails and Rails 20th Anniversary
October 2020 marks the twentieth anniversary of the Trials & Rails program, a partnership between Amtrak, the National Park Service (NPS) and the Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences at Texas A&M University. Building on a rich relationship and traditions , Trails and Rails NPS volunteers on select trains share stories about parks and other places of interest along with the route. They help travelers make connections between what they are seeing out the window to American history and culture. The highlight of the episode is an interview with Jim , the original creator of the program who still heads the NPS involvement in the program. He describes the history of the program, the challenges posed by Covid-19 which have temporarily halted the program, and how they are reimagining the program for the 2021 season. We were fortunate to be passengers on a Trails and Rails Amtrak journey in 2017 so we know first-hand the positive impact of the program. Check out videos from three of the Trails and Rails programs across the United States that were created to celebrate the anniversary: bit.ly/TandRvideo or linktr.ee/expeditionnationalparks Audio excerpts and Trails and Rails logo courtesy of the National Park Service
26 minutes | Sep 29, 2020
Summer Work Travel Program and the National Parks: Acadia National Park and Beyond
The second and final part of our series on the Summer Work Travel (SWT) program (bit.ly/SWTJ1) features Narmin and Javanshir from Azerbaijan and Adrian from Slovakia. All three were participants in the SWT which aims to allow foreign students "to share their culture and ideas with people of the United States through temporary work and travel opportunities." These students are issued J-1 visas and the program has a long history and is one of many people-to-people diplomacy programs which aim to promote mutual understanding. Javanshir enjoyed his first summer as a SWT participant so much that he convinced his sister and another friend to join the following summer (2019) when all three worked at the Jordan Pond House in Acadia National Park. Javanshir even baked some of the famous Jordan Pond House popovers! Adrian did not work at a national park but visited several NPS sites, including Zion National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Yosemite National Park, and Glacier National Park) during the travel portion of his experience in 2019.
17 minutes | Sep 20, 2020
Friendship, Cooperation, Diplomacy, and Unity: Chamizal National Memorial
Chamizal National Memorial is one of the most unique NPS sites. It is many things in one: an urban park, a performing arts center, and part of a cross-border park. Most of all it is a testament to the importance of diplomacy and a physical reminder of the peaceful settlement of a 100-year boundary dispute between the United States and Mexico. Congress established the memorial in 1966 to commemorate the successful diplomatic conclusion of the Chamizal issue and to celebrate cross-cultural friendship and goodwill. As the park’s website says, “We celebrate the cultures of the borderlands to promote the same mutual respect that helped to diplomatically resolve an international disagreement.” The name of this episode derives from the sections of the site’s Junior Ranger program.
17 minutes | Aug 31, 2020
Summer Work Travel Program and the National Parks: Two Seasons at Glacier NP
The Summer Work Travel program (bit.ly/SWTJ1) is one of several J-1 Exchange Visitor programs overseen by the U.S. Department of State. The Summer Work Travel program “provides foreign students with an opportunity to live and work in the United States during their summer vacation from college or university to experience and to be exposed to the people and way of life in the United States.” This week, Goksu, a fine arts university student from Ephesus, Turkey talks to us about her experiences over the three years she has done the program. She started in Newport, Rhode Island as a tour guide at The Breakers Mansion. She spent the 2018 and 2019 seasons as a server at Many Glacier Hotel in Glacier National Park.
21 minutes | Aug 19, 2020
A Cultural Crossroads: Pecos National Historical Park
It wasn’t until we visited Pecos National Historical Park that we realized the great breadth of history represented: prehistoric ruins to the establishment of Pecos Pueblo to colonization and missionaries, which culminated in the Pueblo Revolt of 1860. The revolt’s success stands out as the only time European colonizers were expelled by Native Americans. The Spanish reconquered the area 12 years later. The Santa Fe Trail passed right by and of course there was a major Civil War Battle. Ranger Eric explains why this area is so important both culturally and historically.
18 minutes | Jul 22, 2020
The Most Important Fight You’ve Never Heard Of - Monocacy National Battlefield
In a wide-ranging discussion, Ranger Matt of Monocacy National Battlefield highlights the importance of not just the Battle of Monocacy but also of history and the long-term impacts of the Civil War. He describes the free audio tour available to visitors and discusses the impact of the National Park Service, its protection of battlefields, as well as some of his own personal favorite national park sites.
18 minutes | Jul 1, 2020
All Tracks Lead Here: Pullman National Monument
Pullman National Monument is one of the newest national park sites. It tells so many stories besides the most obvious one connected to the railroad: civil rights, labor rights, art, architecture, and science.
26 minutes | Jun 18, 2020
House of the Sun: Haleakala National Park
Join us on our Junior Ranger journey through Haleakala National Park.
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