Tuesday, March 10, 2020

A Humorous Look at the Beauty of Our National Parks

My son and his dog Emmet, 2003
In 2003 my son and I went on a road trip out West, and I remember when we stopped at the Pacific Ocean in Northern California. My son was sixteen years old, and we walked along a beach close to Eureka with our Snoodle (Schnauzer and poodle mix) dog Emmet. After twenty minutes or so, my son said, "What's the next thing to see?"

We were heading east next for Pullman, Washington, but I said, "Let's just stay here for a while and enjoy." We tented in a private campground, spending time in the redwoods and on the ocean. It was quite a change for my son from the prairies of Iowa. I remember the long drive back home, and when we hit the Iowa northern border, we stopped to camp for the night. Getting out of the car, my son took a deep breath of the humid air filled with the scent of ragweed (a plant that aggravates the allergies of many) and said, "Ah! It smells like home!"

From the comments: "Had the commentator Never left their house in their entire life??"

I suppose the familiar is reassuring, and I'm also sure that the unfamiliar can be somewhat intimidating or at least disconcerting. As a writer, I'm also aware that sometimes people say or write things without really considering all the possible interpretations of those words. Sometimes those thoughtless expressions can be funny, and sometimes the best reaction to odd or unexpected expressions can only be a "Hmmmmm."

From the comments: "Ummm, it does too look like the license plate.
But you need to get out of your car to see Delicate Arch."

Illustrator Amber Share found a perfect subject for her craft in reviews of national parks, where the reviewer gave a "one star" designation--without, perhaps, thinking too deeply on the subject. Here's the idea below.
"I'm an illustrator and I have always had a personal goal to draw all 62 US National Parks, but I wanted to find a unique twist for the project. When I found that there are one-star reviews for every single park, the idea for Subpar Parks was born. For each park, I hand-letter a line from the one-star reviews alongside my illustration of each park as my way of putting a fun and beautiful twist on the negativity."
The website Bored Panda's staff writer Aelita SenvaitytÄ— helped Amber create an article that highlights sixteen park "posters" that include a one-star comment. ("I Illustrated National Parks In America Based On Their Worst Review And I Hope They Will Make You Laugh--16 Pics") The result? Humor! Or at least I think so. As the writer for a tiny trailer travel blog, I've covered quite a few campers who have traveled to-and-through our national parks and provincial parks. Whether we've visited many parks or just aspire to, I think you'll enjoy Amber Share's wry twist to the "out in nature" experience of some.

North Cascades National Park. From the "West Coast Camping Extravaganza" travelogue.

The article includes not only the one-star comment but also for some illustrations insights from the illustrator on the creative process, or a contrasting description from the National Park Service on the beauty of the particular park. Yosemite National Park is one example. Below is the National Park Service's description. Then we have the poster of the one-star review.
"Not just a great valley, but a shrine to human foresight, the strength of granite, the power of glaciers, the persistence of life, and the tranquility of the High Sierra. First protected in 1864, Yosemite National Park is best known for its waterfalls, but within its nearly 1,200 square miles, you can find deep valleys, grand meadows, ancient giant sequoias, a vast wilderness area, and much more." (National Park Service)
Two comments from the article:
"Trees block view of what? What did they want to see?"
"Easy. The forest, but without any trees to block the view of it."

One aspect of camping is that we can experience the world without technology . . . or can we? According to the National Park Service, if we were to travel to Isle Royale National Park, we could experience a variety of island wonders. "Explore a rugged, isolated island, far from the sights and sounds of civilization. Surrounded by Lake Superior, Isle Royale offers unparalleled solitude and adventures for backpackers, hikers, boaters, kayakers, canoeists and scuba divers. Here, amid stunning scenic beauty, you'll find opportunities for reflection and discovery, and make memories that last a lifetime." (National Park Service) However, is an experience bonafide if not shared on social media platforms? Some travelers must cherish the Instagram moment.

From the comments:
"That's a feature, not a bug!"
"That's good because from what I read above, the bugs will bite you on the face . . ."

I want to add something about the Great Smoky Mountains National Park because I traveled through that area last summer. The comments for Amber Share's poster contain quite a few suggestions for enjoying the area, not only the park but also the communities. "This is one of my favorite places on earth," one commenter says. "If, for some mind boggling reason, you really can't find anything to do, there's a cute little British pub outside Pigeon Forge where you can park your grumpy butt and drink an impressive assortment of beer." The one-star reviewer, however, seemed to be lacking a clear purpose for the visit.

From the comments:
"I went to the general store, and they couldn't sell me anything specific."

For those of you who are considering a visit to a national park or provincial park, the sixteen posters that Amber Share created offer a wry reminder of why we camp. We just have to remember not to be intimidated because the great outdoors is . . . well, so big! Maybe a little humor can help us keep a balanced perspective.

Mount Rushmore National Memorial. From "Tiny Trailer Travels West" travelogue.

I've shared five of the sixteen posters in this article. To enjoy all the illustrations, go to the Bored Panda article, or connect with the posters on the Instagram site Subpar Parks. I try in my own way to have a creative response to my time in nature, such as I wrote about in the article "It's Not Just How Many Miles or Places." To read more articles I've written about arts and crafts in connection with camping, go to this aggregated link: Arts and Crafts Activities.

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