How A National Park Expedition Changed My Life
Last year I participated in the National Park Foundation’s American Latino Expedition and it changed my life. Cliché much? Es posible pero it really did. Prior to ALEx14, I knew I wanted to create more outdoor experiences with my family, I just didn’t know how or where to start beyond our regular visits to a nearby park, going to a festival, or hosting a family bar-b-que. Bottom line was that I was only getting to the familiar and nearby outdoor places without doing much of any exploring.
When I returned from ALEx14, experiencing the outdoors became a calling, a necessity, and a passion that I wanted to share with my family. Above is a photo of me overlooking the Grand Canyon of the Yellowstone at Yellowstone National Park. Right after that photo was taken, I began to make a video to share with you about how breathtaking the scenery was and then, I just started to weep. I was and I still am so incredibly grateful to get to experience this natural beauty that is ours – our country, our home, our land. I had come to realize the powerful, natural connection that I had with mi tierra. Through my tears I knew that I must share the beauty of the outdoors with the people whom I love the most – mi familia.
It took some time but we finally made it to Big Bend National Park this summer. I was super excited to get to take my family on our own great outdoor adventure to a national park! And we did have fun. We stayed at Chisos Mountain Lodge and we hiked various trails, took a guided jeep tour and finished our weekend with a gorgeous scenic drive. This adventure planted a tiny seed for love of the outdoors in my kids’ hearts. It’s up to them to let it grow. Meanwhile, I’ll do all the watering that I can. This is the beginning of our outdoor adventures beyond our local parks. It’s where I hope to teach my family that the national and state parks are ours, too, and that we have a responsibility to protect them as much as we have the honor to enjoy them.
Click here to read more about Melanie’s park adventures.