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The National Parks. Not America's Best Idea, but, Definitely Not the Worst

KenBurns NationalParks
September came and went without too much Pomp and Circumstance.  There were Things, I reckon.  There was the whole Kanye debacle.  We're still milking that bad-boy for all it's worth.  We're deep in the throws of the NFL and collegiate football.  *yawn*.  What?  Don't judge me.  Just because I like my Football to be of the European variety.  After all, it takes different strokes to move the world.

You know what curled my toes about September?  PBS.

I know, I know.  Does anyone under the age of 60 even watch PBS?  Not usually. 

Here's the thing.  I received, when I was but a wee-one, a specific gene from my father.  And I think he received it from His father.  Frugalis Tightwadus.  It's an affliction, I tell you.  It makes you not want to purchase Cable Television.  I've battled with this debilitation all my life.  From off-brand cereal - you know, the kind you can buy in the 7 pound bags - to day old bread.  Sweet Velcro Wallet!  I've been wearing the same flip-flops for 4 summers now.  This affliction needs it's own Walk-a-Thon, or some shit.

So, there's my cheap ass watching PBS.  But now, due to the Digital Conversion, I get 4, count 'em, 4 PBS channels.  That's right, I'm kickin' it like George and Wheezy.  One channel has NOVA.  I dig NOVA.  It makes me feel smart.  An then, after the science orgasm, I get board and want something completely different.  Like, old episodes of Chico and the Man.

Thank Fonzie I waited until October to step boldly into the mid Eighties to start receiving proper Cable Television.  Or, I would have missed it all.

You see, in September, PBS ran a six-part documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns.  It was a topic very close to my heart and made my empty backpack and beat up old hiking boots sad, and I think I saw my little MSR camp-stove try and light itself.  National Parks - America's Best Idea.  

I wouldn't go so far as to say that the National Parks were America's BEST idea.  There was the whole Emancipation Proclamation, ending Segregation, the Suffrage movement, Corn Nuts....The list goes on and on.  *cough* Funyuns and Percocet *cough*.

The National Parks are important though.  Why?  Well, because they are Yours.  They are yours and yours and even yours.  Yes.  Even yours.  They are also mine.  Because when John Muir walked out into what is now Yosemite Valley and said, *"Fuck me!  That is a fucking miracle of Creation!!", we took one step toward a nation with fewer sidewalks and more Wild places.  We need wild places.  Our children need wild places.  Have you ever seen a bear in the Wild?  I have.  I have been lost past nightfall and I have caught wild, native fish in the cool Mountain streams of the Smoky Mountains.  I have suffered Giardia and had blisters the size of Volkswagen Beetles.  I have seen meadows of Wildflowers that sway in the breeze as if they had a pulse and stood on overlooks that let you see the magic of Time and Creation.

Now it is October.  Now, if you want to watch this film, you'll have to go to the PBS website and buy it.  Now....

I'm lacing my boots, checking my climbing gear and flyrods, and outfitting my backpack.  Go watch.  When you're done, maybe I'll see you Out there.  

*probly not what John Muir said.

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I saw little bits of this but I heard a LOT about it through The Boy who seemed to catch the tail end of each installment and then stay up until 1:30 am to watch it on the replay and then talked about it all the next day.

Guess what he's getting for Christmas?

(I'll then promptly "borrow" the DVDs and watch it myself. It really did sound interesting.)


Nice. Would a five-year-old who is fairly into nature shows like this, do you think?


I loved the series, too- and I just adore John Muir. And I am under 60. :)


Yeah, I tried to watch the first three, and really tried to like it, but I found it really...dull, at least as compared to Burn's other series (which, for the record, I LOVED), and I'm a much bigger fan of the environment than I am of baseball or jazz or whatever.


Throes, not throws; its, not it's; bored, not board.

But I agree with you - it was a great series! I'm so glad I have a DVR and now have the series saved to watch again.


I am under 60 and I have Dish with 100's (1000's??) of channels. Even I watched parts of this show and I'm thinking about getting the dvd set. You know, for my parents. *cough*

The imagery is beautiful and the stories are really interesting.


I am another under 60 viewer of PBS. Although as of late, it's been more of the Sesame Street variety. I have the series DVR'd and now just need to find the time amongst all my crap tv viewing to watch it. We do need wild places indeed. Glad to see the series is getting a shout out on MamaPop. Yet another reason why I love this site! And cheers to Corn Nuts!


DVRd it, can't wait to watch it. I have made it a personal mission to visit as many national parks as possible in my lifetime since 1994. I bought a NPS Passport at that time and proudly been to over 30 parks so far. Granted, most of my stamps are close to home, but a lot of them are related to a major event, getting engaged in Maine (Acadia NP), my cousin's wedding in Fredricksburg (Civil War site), another wedding in San Diego (Cabrillo Mission), yet another wedding in Geneva, NY (Women's Rights NHM in Seneca Falls), Woodstock '99 (Fort Stanwix in Rome, NY) and the not so major--meetings I have attended for work in St Louis (Jefferson Expansion -Arch), Philly (Independence Hall) and Baltimore (Fort McHenry)and the like. I have stopped at parks to break up the dull road trip and made my kids learn about iron making at Hopewell Furnace in PA. Yes, I am a terribly mean mom. But you are right. They belong to all of us and we should take advantage of them. My kids have learned about history and geography by living it, not just reading about it in a book. And so have I. Can't wait to get to the big parks out west!


it's on my dvr & we hope to watch it. i bet it's breathtaking.

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