Over the course of the past week I have been watching PBS' 6-Part Special THE NATIONAL PARKS: AMERICA'S BEST IDEA. As Ken Burns himself stated during an interview with Tavis Smiley, "It's not a travelogue; it's not a nature film, though there's great stuff of nature. It's about ideas and individuals. It's about stories. And I think that's what makes it different from other things about the national parks."
As a child my parent's sought to it, either for their own interest, interest in nature, or for the sheer economics of traveling with a family of seven, to see the nation by automobile on our summer's off. We stopped at a good number of the major National Parks in our system. I was quickly won over by the rolling hills, snow-capped peaks, and grass-filled plains. I've recently revisited a handful of them as an adult and their majesty almost seems to have aged like a fine wine over the years.
This country is magical. The land speaks to us, and it is no wonder that it were these lands that a number of Native Americans called home. You can almost feel the presence of a higher being when you just stop to take in the grandeur of it all. As you stay still you can hear several species of birds sing their song, the wind rustles leaves on the ground and branches in the trees, the fresh air empowers you with strength and fragrance, all the while water nearby carves the land and nourishes all the life around you simultaneously. You come back to your senses as a member of your party snaps a branch as they approach your peaceful stance.
It is exactly this environment that our National Park Service fight to protect, and this is their story. All 6 episodes are available streaming online until October 9th. So connect that computer to your TV and learn about the wonder that is our National Parks. Then, more importantly, get off of your ass and see them for yourself. Come out west and see with your own eyes what John Muir spent most of his life protecting, Yosemite Valley. Or simply visit the nearest National Park to you.
Please enjoy Ken Burns' The National Parks: America's Best Idea: