Article By: Charlie Weisel
Originally Published In The October-November 2020 Issue Of Cycle Source Magazine
National Parks are amazing. The End. Okay, okay, everybody just chill. I guess I’d better elaborate on that or I may get fired as a contributor to this fine publication we all enjoy so much. Seriously though, they are amazing. If you disagree then I urge you to go a spend a few days in one, put up a tent and sleep under the stars. there are 62 National Parks in total so it shouldn’t be hard to find one relatively nearby. If you still disagree after giving it a fair shake, then I guess we just won’t see eye to eye and you can go ahead carrying on with your nature hating ways. Sounds like a tough way to live but to each his own. By now it should be no secret that I’m n a bit of a tree hugger, I even had a Birkenstock and tye dye phase of my life I’m not overly ashamed of. I’ve recently thought of buying another pair of Birkenstock’s in fact. They’re cozy, what can I say. But alas, I’m getting off track here. The reason I bring up this topic of National Parks is not because i’m trying to convert you to a stinky patchouli wearing hippy or because i’m a long lost ancestor of President Roosevelt, its because I passionately believe in appreciating the natural beauty of our world. Our National Park system is the ideal place to do just that, be appreciative.
Be in awe. Observe. Immerse yourself in the environment and let the day to day affects of technology, schedules, deadlines and meetings wash away. Turn your cell phone off. Take in the fresh air, the aromatic scent of the pines, the melodic songs of the birds and the rhythmic lapping of gentle waves caressing the beach. Watch a Woodpecker slam his beak against a tree for an hour, that’ll be fun for at least one of you. Stumble across a Grizzly bear from a safe distance, key words there are “safe distance”, its only a “cool” experience until you get eaten. Watch the Buffalo graze in a field next to natural hot springs and geysers. Witness a gaggle of unruly children reek havoc in an overpriced gift shop while Mom and Dad argue over who’s taking little Timmy to crapper. That last one was just to see if you were paying attention. The point is, there are incredible things you will likely only ever witness within the National Parks system and President Roosevelt had the foresight to act on that in the early 1900’s by creating the 6 National Parks and laid the foundation for many more before these natural wonders were turned into strip malls… where little Timmy probably is in fact being dragged off to the crapper by his pissed off Dad. Timmy, you are to old to crapping your pants.
Kayla and I had the pleasure of being able to visit three of the National Parks over the course of a ride through Wyoming, Montana, Idaho and Washington a few weeks back. Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks were first on our list and also repeats for us. We don’t mind repeating some of these places though because it seems you see something new every time. Even a difference in weather can dramatically impact your experience. We didn’t spend a lot of time in these parks however because Glacier National Park was our true destination. Glacier has eluded us for some time for one reason or another so we saw it fit to make it a priority on this particular endeavor. What can I say, it was worth every cold and soggy mile to get there. I say that even after we were only able to experience the western side of the park and were unable to ride the Going to the Sun Road which is way up near the top of my bucket list of roads to conquer. Due to pandemic fueled staff shortages the road had still not been cleared of its winter snow pack. Typically this sort of thing would have left me truly disappointed, but in this case the peacefulness of my surroundings calmed my irritation and left me feeling only that much more appreciative for what we did get to see. Soaring mountain peaks blanketed in a dense fog, icy rivers cutting through chiseled mountain sides fed from waterfalls cascading a thousand feet from above. Dense mossy forests. We took in all the sights we could, reveled in every moment of the Parks grandeur and spent a night on Lake McDonald. We came, we saw and we left with a revived sense of just how wondrous our world is. How much more we have to see and experience. I think that is the true gift these parks give back, that reminder that we are just guests on this earth and we should treat it accordingly.
From Montana we ventured west, across Idaho, toward Washington to spend a few days near Leavenworth with Kaylas cousin and his family. After three solid days of extremely masculine behavior such as shooting guns, splitting wood and exaggerating stories, it was time to start working our way back to just that, work. During the three days it took us to return to our home state of Colorado we carried with us visions of the beauty we had seen and d a y d reame d of exploring the rest of the National Parks. As I mentioned earlier there are 62 of them, that sounds like a whole heck of a lot of eye opening experiences to me. I hope that in same way my rambling here has inspired you to go check out some of these parks for yourself. I really and truly think you will be glad you did. Heck, take your hiking boots with you and get off the road for a bit. Get lost in nature and find yourself. For more photos of this ride and others follow me on Instagram @ travelingchopper Also follow @roadsareforjourneys and check out our website Roadsareforjourneys.com