A big impetus for getting an RV and taking to the road was to experience history in its many forms - whether a man-made site or geological wonder. Our National Park System is a living classroom and I wanted a way to commemorate my long-term pursuit of visiting as many NP sites as possible.
In 2003, I got my National Park Passport.
Since then I have collected 82 stamps.
|First stamps. |
From the Jimmy Carter National Historic Site in Plains, GA
The stamps aren't of the paper variety, but rather cancellations made with a rubber stamp and ink found at National Park Visitors' Centers.
IMO, stamps are ideal souvenirs because they 1) are free ! and 2) don't take up much room.
If you are interested in learning more about collecting, the parkstamps.org website is for rabid stamp collectors. It contains a very active forum and has comprehensive info about where and which stamps are available at the NP sites.
Wikipedia has an informative article about the stamp program.
Some people chase after the stamps just to chase them, as an end in themselves. They dash in and dash out before the ink is dry. Many though, like me, have rules. Rather than stamp and go, I spend time at the visitor center exhibits and view any film that is on offer. That's the minimum. Of course there is always far more to do; for example, touring the ruins of a Native American village, gawking at glaciers, or plunging into underworld caverns. You can explore for one hour or one week.
Traveling in the GDB makes these experiences even better. For example, I had some time to kill at the LBJ Ranch recently so I made some coffee, sat back, and watched the cattle graze. A simple thing - but I'll always remember it.
Not all NP sites hold equal interest for me. Military sites such as forts and battlefields are not high on my list (with a few exceptions). But I still visit those places because I know I'll not be disappointed. There is always something to learn. I've lived long enough to truly mean it when I say 'you never know'.
I only wish the National Parks Passport had been around a lot earlier. What great mementos to have from our family road trips in the 60's and 70's!