TOPIC: On the Road
LOCATION: Roaming . . .
PROJECT: Living Mobile / Introspective
What's a typical day on the road like for The Van Man? Morning means packing the van back up and putting away all loose items, anything we forget will be crashing around in short order once we hit the road. Usually I'll be behind the wheel for a while as I do the majority of driving day to day. Once the sun starts setting we'll search out a campsite for the night. Probably a few hands of cribbage after dinner (Gale is KILLING me of late). Then paging through the atlas to see what the next day might hold.
How do you choose your itinerary? Friends and family play a huge role in setting our course. A familiar face and the promise of a hot shower are always a draw. Aside from that we see if anything catches our interest, is on our must visit list, or we get a good recommendation and then go for it. We try not to be overly scheduled as the road has a way of slowing you down.
Tell us about your park patch collection, which one's your favorite? The patches are a source of memories, just a reminder of where we've gone. My Junior Ranger patch from the National Elk Refuge in Jackson, WY because it was my first Junior Ranger experience. The retired volunteers had a good laugh swearing me in over the intercom at the visitors center. It was fun and got me excited to actively learn more about the parks, not just visit them.
What are your top 3 favorite parks on your journey so far? Olympic National Park, Grand Teton National Park, and Glacier National Park. I can't wait to visit all three again. I felt like we only scratched their surface.
What park do you want to go back and explore again? Of the three above, I'd have to say Olympic National Park. There's just such a broad range of environments there, I need more time to know it.
Do you have any advice for travelers wanting to experience our nation's parks? Buy an atlas and start looking at the state you live in and look for the different parks that exist. Don't just focus just on National Parks, there are some spectacular State Parks and National Monuments that are often overlooked. I never knew how much there was available around me until I started paging through an atlas.
What can we do to protect our parks for future generations? Invest in them. It's clear that the parks system is strapped for money and often under attack for the use of the natural resources they often contain. We need to invest in them across the board: volunteer our time, push politicians to properly fund public lands, and make the effort to show others the amazing value these parks provide us as a society. The more people who act, the better chance these parks will be preserved for generations to come.
Where to next? South down the east coast and then west. We've been stuck in quite a bit of snow the last few weeks, looking forward to some warm weather!
Bio: Jon Gaffney is currently a man of the road, traveling North America with his girlfriend Gale Straub of She Explores www.instagram.com/she_explores in a Sprinter van camper of their own creation. If he doesn't have a camera in his hand he's probably attempting to climb, hike, ski, or swim and needed both hands. Follow him at www.instagram.com/thevanman