Nature Can Teach: Three Important Qualities We Learn by Getting Outdoors

My blog theme and monthly challenge for this month is about being thankful for NATURE. In this post, guest blogger Avery Taylor highlights three important qualities nature can teach us. I’m grateful for all of these! Enjoy!Three Important Qualities we learn by Getting Outdoors

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Thankful for NATURE: November Outdoor Challenge

I’m thankful for nature every single day. Being outdoors keeps me calm, encourages exercise and just makes me a better mom.

Because of that I’m excited to announce this month’s outdoor challenge.

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What IS the National Park to Park Highway?

Last week we announced our biggest adventure yet. A seven week, 5,600 mile auto tour of the National Park to Park Highway. You may be wondering the same thing everyone I’ve talked to does: What exactly IS the National Park to Park Highway?

Image from Paving the Way: The National Park-to-Park Highway

In 1920 there wasn’t good road access to the National Parks of the West. The primary transportation in and out of National Parks was the railroad or roads designed for use by horse and wagon, not the increasingly popular automobile.

A group of intrepid travelers wanted to change that. With the help of AG Westgard, route finder for AAA, and Stephen Mather, the first director of the National Park Service, the National Park to Park Highway Tour was born.

The Playground Trail

National Parks were known as The Nation’s Playgrounds in those early days, and this book by Lee and Jane Whiteley is the best resource I’ve found about it. It’s a wealth of information with authentic maps and photographs, plus directions on driving the tour today.
One thing I learned from The Playground Trail: The National Park-to-Park Highway was that roads in the 1920s were named and maintained by private groups, usually auto clubs. Nowadays we take for granted that some government agency maintains our roads, but at that time private groups provided signs, maps and maintenance of their adopted route.

Although many auto trails existed, nothing connected all of the National Parks of the west. The National Park to Park Highway association banded together to fix this.

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Paving The Way
The PBS Documentary Paving the Way: The National Park to Park Highway directed by Brandon Wade is another invaluable resource. It chronicles the efforts of the dedicatory tour that left Denver on August 27, 1920.

Twenty vehicles joined the 5,600 mile caravan on The Longest Auto Highway in the World. Along the way they advocated for paved, well maintained roads to connect the National Parks. Their 76 day schedule is truly amazing considering how slow and difficult car travel was compared to nowadays.

If you have any interest in early National Parks or good historical story telling I highly recommend watching Paving the Way: The National Park-to-Park Highway.

See America First
You can learn all you want from books and movies, but at some point you have to be in a place to truly experience it. That’s why I’m taking my mountain family on a tour of the twelve Parks on National Park to Park Highway, plus six more National Parks and Monuments along the way.

Since 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service it’s the perfect time to celebrate these outdoor spaces. This summer we hope you can #FindYourPark along with us as we take the advice of the 1920s National Park advertisements and See America First. We’re taking off in late June and would love for you to come along.

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Pike Place Market and Olympic Sculpture Park, Seattle, WA

Earlier this month Baby L and I visited Seattle and Bainbridge Island with my sisters-in-law for a fun sisters weekend. Normally kids are not invited, but Baby L is still breastfeeding so it’d have been tough to leave her. Luckily she did great being carted around everywhere.
We happened to schedule the trip on the hottest weekend on record. Three days hitting 90 degrees with a baby strapped to me constantly made for a sweaty time, but even with the heat, the attractions were amazing.
We enjoyed shopping at Pike Place Market, a Seattle shopping icon. Unique shops, flower vendors, and farmers stalls all come together in one place. You can find anything from hand painted Polish pottery to fresh fish at Pike Place Market. 
I picked up a print from Ugly Baby and LaRu, we saw the original Starbucks and enjoyed lunch at a local deli. Pike Place Market is a fun place to go shopping with the girls – the perfect sisters weekend stop.
After shopping and walking in the heat all day, we took a break at Olympic Sculpture Park to soak in the scenery. The Seattle Art museum converted a nine acre industrial space into a beautiful water front park for residents and visitors to enjoy.
The collection of larger than life sculptures set against the backdrop of the Puget sound was the perfect place to relax and enjoy the Seattle sun set. While there I spied some yogis practicing near one of the sculptures and couldn’t help but see the contours of the sculpture reflected in the movements of the people.
The Olympic Sculpture Park was a beautiful way to enjoy Seattle scenery and as a bonus admission is free! Don’t be confused by the name – the Olympic Sculpture Park is named for the Olympic mountains not the Olympic Games. It was a great place to relax on a busy sisters weekend.