Spring break of 2006 we decided to take a trip down to Kentucky to see Mammoth Cave National Park. It was our first trip to the national park and we chose to stay at the lodge instead of camping because we weren't sure what we would find. What we found was a fantastic series of cave tours, a knowledgeable staff, and that sealed it. We were sold on the National Park Service. I may have a variety of other issues with many other departments of the federal government, but I have a great deal of respect for the underfunded NPS. At that time we decided to finally cave and do the truly nerdy thing by purchasing a passport book which would allow us to track every visit to every national park we ever visited. We started kicking ourselves because of the number of stamps we missed on our trip out west two years before, but we figured we would be making that trip again. We collected stamp after stamp in the summer of 2006 when we made our first trip together to Washington D.C. (my first ever). We hit as many memorials as possible in D.C., stopped in Baltimore, stayed in Philly, biked through Valley Forge, and drove through Gettysburg until there was no more daylight. In the years since we have tried to get as many stamps as possible, but our aforementioned lack of camping has cut down on the number of stamps. Last summer when we were in Gatlinburg and Great Smoky Mountain National Park we got each of our kids their own passport book for future planned trips to national parks.
Now we are on our way back to Gettysburg for the 150th anniversary celebration and my determination to get as many stamps as possible on this trip might be driving my husband a little crazy, but I'm sure it will be worth it. Our first stop and stamp of the trip was supposed to be easy to get. We were half an hour from Cuyahoga Valley National Park when we hit bad traffic, putting us behind schedule by at least an hour. My husband was already on edge from driving the trailer a long distance for the first time, then the traffic made him even edgier, and by the time we got to the park he was ready to get out of the truck. I, of course, had other plans. My plan before leaving this morning was to drive through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, find the visitor center, get a stamp, look around a bit, and get on our way to our campsite nearly an hour down the road. That was the plan. However the park was not what we expected. It appeared to be a town with a railroad turned running/biking path with a couple small visitor centers, two of which we passed without stopping because we were dragging a trailer behind us and there was no easy way to stop. Both of us irritable for different reasons, we put our camping destination into the GPS and continued down the road. So we can say we have visited the park, but we don't have the stamp to prove it. Sigh! Tomorrow is another day that will mean at least one stamp and then on to Gettysburg!