Keeping current in wellness, in and out of the water
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2016 is a special year for the National Park Service in the US. To celebrate the 100th anniversary of the founding of the service the American people are being gifted extra free admission days to discover our parks. I am the lucky owner of a senior pass, which I purchased last year for $10. It entitles me and a car full of my guests to visit the National Parks gratis for as long as I live. This is, by far, my favorite benefit of being an American senior citizen. The value of a visit to any of our majestic National Parks is incalculable.
The theme for this birthday year is Find Your Park. My friend Eric treated me to a visit to Joshua Tree National Park last September. We had a wonderful time and enjoyed the exotic scenery very much. It was still hot a blazes up there, so our photo shoots consisted of running quickly back and forth to and from the car to snap some of the landscape for posterity. One can easily see why it is known to rock climbers all over the world who flock to it as soon as the temperatures allow outside recreation without frying to a crisp. It must be a fabulous place to hike, especially in the spring. If you have a chance to discover this amazing gem of a park I highly recommend it. I plan to return to discover more of the dramatic beauty of this place.
Very near our home in Tucson is a special park dedicated to history, Tumacacori National Historic Park. I love to go there for any reason, but their educational programs are exceptional. We attended a full moon lecture last fall at the mission park that was taught by a ranger. She told us in great detail about Padre Kino and the history of the area and native peoples. She was knowledgable about the never ending restoration work done to preserve the original structures. We all learned new things about the history and culture of this region while taking a candle lantern tour around the grounds and inside the church.
The Centennial of the Park Service is indeed something in which we can take pride. I hope all of the gentle readers will have a chance to find your park in 2016. There is a very cool way to share your experience and those of others at findyourpark.com. The extra free admission days around the country take place during the last two weeks of August, 2016. If you are in vacation planning mode please consider taking advantage of this generous offer to Find Your Park. Bon Voyage.
I initiated my new fabulous senior pass for the national parks yesterday at Tumacacori. It was a full moon night and a special program was presented. The park reopens a few times a year to let the public experience the place after dark. The ranger was a wonderfully knowledgeable presenter who showed a lot of pride in her position. This is a unique park because it preserves history of a mission that was abandoned. The original mission was founded by Padre Kino, who visited a couple of times before he died, but had little contact with the locals. He became popular by gifting the natives with seeds, animals and trees. Mission land was granted for the natives to use, but not trade or sell. Success through new agriculture was the main selling point used by the missionaries. By farming within the mission walls the crops were protected from wildlife and livestock grazing in the area. Crops and animals were introduced that provided food in seasons when native plant harvests were scarce.
Kino was a member of the Jesuit order, which would eventually be banished from New Spain by the king. The Franciscans took over the place, but when Mexico won independence the funds no longer flowed from Spain. The missionaries moved north to Mission San Javier del Bac, which is still in use today as a Catholic church. The abandoned site sat empty until the National Park Service took over.
The full moon tour was an exciting and authentic way to honor this historic place by learning about the past. I learned many new facts that make me curious to learn more and return in the future to take in this very special atmosphere. I plan to make the most of my senior pass by checking out all the national parks in Arizona. I will have many happy travels in the future by tuning into programs and events such as the one we enjoyed yesterday as a day trip . If you know a senior (62 or over) who does not yet have a pass, this would make the very best of holiday gifts. It works for a whole car load of visitors. You only need one senior pass per car for free entry for all passengers. Maybe it is time to start traveling with a senior on board.
Arizona is full of scenic places with ancient civilizations. We are privileged to have such a rich cultural and natural tradition surrounding us. Now that I am loaded with my lifetime park pass I will be taking full advantage of it.