Awed by the beauty of the trees dressed in fall color at Gene Coulon Park….
What words do you like?
This is Tiger and after much consideration and with some resignation, I have decided the new kit known as Benji shall be allowed to stay and share with me in my domain. Not equally of course but in part and only after maturity has been reached. Never let it be said I was unreasonable.
He still has much to learn (everything in fact) and if and when he settles down I shall be happy to teach him. In the meantime Sue promises to sequester him when I need to be left alone. She knows when that is. I shall try to be understanding but I have my dignity. I refuse to defend myself against that boy’s mischief.
And if we don’t exactly become friends perhaps we can still become brothers. Brothers may pester and brothers may fight but brothers will also understand and forgive. Maybe that is better after all.
From Tiger and Benji, almost but not quite, brothers.
A beautiful day for a walk along the Snohomish River….
I know you can google it but why don’t you guess? Of the 59 US National Parks, which one is the most popular based on number of annual visitors?
My guess was Yellowstone National Park. Established in 1872 and considered to be the world’s first national park, Yellowstone continues to impress visitors with bubbling mud pots, shooting geysers, and rainbow colored hot springs. Located in the northwest corner of Wyoming (with small portions in Idaho and Montana), it is a mountainous region where pristine rivers run with trout, and grizzly bear, bison, and moose roam among ponderosa pine and in expansive valleys. I’ve been there many times. Wish I was there now, in fact! But it’s not the most popular as measured by annual number of visitors.
My second guess was the Grand Canyon, knowing that people travel from around the world to see one of nature’s greatest vistas. I went there once (too long ago to have a good picture to share) and it was grand indeed, though it doesn’t make my own favorites list. It’s too, I don’t know, grand. Inaccessible. But it comes in at #2 on the list of most visited National Parks for 2015.
How about Yosemite with its world famous valley and enormous chunks of solid granite, El Capitan and Half Dome. Can you top that?
Well apparently you can, because Yosemite shows up as #4 on the list according to numbers published by the National Park Service.
How about Olympic National Park one of my own local favorites?
Or Glacier in Montana?
No and No. Okay then. Which National Park comes in at #1?
Unless you googled it I suspect you didn’t guess correctly (though I am a westerner and may be biased.)
The winner for most visited National Park in the USA is:
Great Smoky Mountains National Park with 10.7 million annual visitors!!
Surprised? I was.
I mean, aren’t the most gorgeous, jaw dropping sights in the US found in the west? Well, yes, I believe so. (See western bias mentioned above.)
Great Smoky Mountains straddles the border of Tennessee and North Carolina. The gentle, ancient mountains are covered with hardwood forests and filled with diverse plants and wildlife. Fog hangs over the region like a blue, hazy smoke giving the mountains their name, and the historic, rustic, cabins of settlers remain. It is a beautiful area and I liked it a lot. But #1? Grand Canyon which is #2 on the list isn’t even close, coming in at 5.5 million visitors. How can the number of visitors be almost double that of any others on the list? Inquiring minds want to know.
Here’s my theory. There are very few national parks on the eastern side of the country and Great Smoky Mountains NP is in close proximity to large population centers. It is therefore the “go to” park for millions. Yellowstone, on the other hand, is way out there, up in Wyoming which happens to be the least populous state in the union, and not on the way to anywhere. You have to really want to get there.
For the record here’s the official list of the 10 Most Visited National Parks for 2015 according to the National Park Service
And here’s the list of my own current favorites:
Finally, one more thing. If you include the 400 plus sites administered by the US National Park Service (parks, monuments, historic sites, parkways, etc.) guess what tops the most visited list? No need to google, I will give you the information right here, right now. At over 15 million visitors a year, it’s the 469 mile Blue Ridge Parkway which runs from North Carolina to Virginia and is right next to …. you guessed it, Great Smoky Mountains National Park.
As with the Smoky Mountains, it’s amazing to me that this is the most visited site in the National Park system. But I’m sticking to my earlier theory. This gorgeous parkway is in close proximity to major population centers of the east, accessible to millions and “on the way” to other places. We took the parkway once and I really did love it. If I made an expanded list that included all sites, it would definitely be near the top!
Of course this isn’t a competition and it doesn’t matter if your favorite parks ever show up on the Most Visited list. I expect my personal list will continue to change and grow as I visit new parks and revisit the old, as old memories fade and new ones are created. But I hope I have inspired you to go and see some of these national treasures. Visit as many as you can. Soon you’ll be making your own top 10 list and memories for a lifetime.
From the Tiger ~
I don’t mean to complain but I gotta tell you the new boy is getting on my nerves. I’m talkin’ about the one they call Benji (aka, Squeaker and Stinker, Sue’s words, not mine.)
She must have known I was lonely ever since Shadow went away (may he rest in peace.) Yes, I do miss my brother. He was the greatest friend and confidant a cat could ever have. Always looking out for me. Always there for me to lean on.
And who can forget all the fun we had together exploring the great outdoors?
So a companion would be nice. But can this new kit on the block really take the place of Shadow?
The problem is, he never stops moving! Pestering! Stalking! Can’t he see I’m twice as big as he is? Only my hissing keeps him at bay and I don’t want to hiss everyday the rest of my life! It’s against my better nature. I’m gonna have to bop him one real soon because despite all my warnings he cannot seem to stay away from me. He’s always lurking somewhere ready to spring.
And get this. I found him sleeping on the big bed which is definitely against the rules! I’m gonna have to teach him a few things and the sooner the better!
From the Benji ~
I think he likes me.
While strolling in my garden this fine day I came across an unexpected visitor..
It wasn’t this squirrel storing up supplies for the coming winter…
And it wasn’t this pair of kinglets who stopped by for a drink and bath.
It wasn’t Tiger who drank the flavored water after they left..
Nor this spider who made a home in the rosemary..
The turtle stands daily, stone cold on the stream’s edge, so it was not him.
No. It was in the woodpile.
Where I found the visitor hiding.
How he got there I will never know. But I shall let him stay.