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This Heart of Mine

Each New Year brings about change, and hope, and short term commitments of improvement. Some people carry out their New Year Resolutions (NYR); others, not even through the first week of January. With over 60% of Americans making resolutions, what do you think would be the top 5 NYR?

Number 1 is easy: lose weight. Everyone wants to lose weight, tone the body, and look good for swim suit season that’s just around the corner. Number 2? According to the Statistic Brain Research Institute (hey, it sounds fancy), it’s getting organized. For me, I’m an organized machine, so this doesn’t apply. Does it apply to you? Hmm, although, I did go through my closet and hope chest on New Year’s Day and donate a bunch of clothes and stuff I refused to hold onto any longer.

Number 3: Spend less, save more. Duh. We all want mo’ money. Number 4: Enjoy life to the fullest. Yes please. Any suggestions on how people achieve this one? Everyone hears how you’re supposed to live each day as if it’s your last. Okay. Great. But how? Do I quit my job, convince my family and close friends to join me on a trip around the world? Because that’s what I would do if I had one day to live. But that’s not realistic. I need a job to afford the travel, and I doubt my family or close friends would jump on my let’s all roam the world, working from town to town because that’s what people told us do. So, how else? Smile at random strangers? Say yes to every invitation? Visit a random restaurant or bar every day and engage in conversation with people sitting alone?

Moving on.

Number 5: Staying fit and healthy. Hmm. For me, this goes back to losing weight, so we’ll jump to their number 6 and call it number 5: Learn something exciting. Okay. I dig this one. Over the years, I’ve wanted to learn to play the piano, speak Spanish, cook like a chef, sing like an angel (which is probably the most unrealistic NYR imaginable), and learn to sew tops from cloth. Is there anything exciting that you want to learn?

For myself, I’m not big on making resolutions during the new year because I feel that I’m continuously taking on new ways of living, then losing interest, and then trying something else that is new. But for 2016, oh man, I picked a good life resolution. I’ve always wanted to visit the National Parks out west (Carlsbad Caverns, Arches, Yellowstone, Yosemite, etc.). I’ve planned multiple road trips but for whatever reason, not a single one has panned out. Plot twist! Over Thanksgiving my brother and SIL did a week-long trip to visit roughly 6 national parks in Utah, Arizona, and Colorado. Their trip (and mainly the pictures) re-ignited my dream and I decided to make it a reality.

Step 1: convince them (and the rest of the family) to visit a National Park each Thanksgiving for the rest of our lives. No cooking. Plenty of exercise. And beautiful views. Oh, wow, the views. [check]

Step 2: plan 20 other trips to visit the remaining National Parks. [work in progress]

There are 59 National Parks (not including National Monuments, National Historic Sites, National Historical Park and Preserves, etc.). There are 47 parks in the Continental United States, 8 in Alaska, 2 in Hawaii, 1 in the Virgin Islands, and 1 in the American Samoa (which will take some planning and lots of time off to mark this trip off the list). Of the 59 parks, I’ve visited 5 (Everglades in Florida, Glacier Bay in Alaska, Grand Canyon in Arizona, Hawaii Volcanoes in Hawaii, and Hot Springs in Arkansas).

I plotted various trips on a map and figured out I could take 15 trips where I could easily visit 2 or more parks (assuming I can do all Alaska parks in 2 trips, and I take a long 10 park trip to visit the AZ, UT, CO area), and 6 trips where I would only visit one park (Virgin Islands, Samoa, Arcadia, Channel Islands, Glacier, Rocky Mtns). If I plan 1 trip within every 4 month period, I'll have visited every US National Park within 5 years. Not too shabby of a 5 year goal!

Planned (ish) 2016 Trips:
January: Channel Islands NP
May: Yellowstone/Grand Teton
September: Rocky Mountains NP (and anything missed on the long AZ, UT, CO trip which I will try to squeeze in during April).
November: Big Bend, Guadalupe Mtns, Carlsbad Caverns

Wahoo! A goal. I like it. 2016 (and the next 5 years) are looking bright and full of "living today to the fullest" moments.

What parks have you been to? Any parks on your list that you'd want to join me in visiting?

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