The Big 0-0

What’s making us happy this week.

A big Happy Happy to the National Park Service, which turns 100 this year.

john muir housePhoto by H-stt via Wikimedia Commons

A park Muir never left. It was the writings of John Muir that put forth the revolutionary idea of setting aside wilderness for all to enjoy; thus, he is known as the founding father of the NPS. The naturalist lived in an Italianate house on a fruit ranch in Alhambra Valley. At the John Muir National Historic Site in the Bay Area you can tour the first floor of the home and the grounds as well as browse Muir’s photos and notes. You can even pick fruit, like pears, as long as you follow the “take only what you can carry” rule.

joshua-tree-elmer-treePhoto courtesy Robb Hannawacker via NPS

A park that rocks. The alien-like Joshua Tree National Park, about an hour from Palm Springs, boasts 8,000 climbing routes across many boulders and rocks, from easy to impossible. A lot of visitors come to scramble. Others come to see the park’s namesake, a Dr. Seuss-looking tree that is a variety of yucca. The local Cahuilla tribe may refer to the tree in their language (“hunuvat chiy’a”) but, luckily, you don’t have to. The tallest one is 40 feet, in the Queen’s Valley.

biscayne Photo courtesy National Park Service

A park to sail through. The bluest national park may very well be Florida’sBiscayne National Park: 95 percent of it is underwater. Its National Maritime Heritage Trail maps  six shipwrecks that can be dived or snorkeled. Now that’s a twist on the national park hike.

fordstheatre-carol-highsmithvialocPhoto courtesy Carol M. Highsmith Archive, Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division

A park with actors. The hot tickets in town are for a show atFord’s Theatre. You may know the 1860s theater as the place where President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated. No worries, the Lincoln Box is not available. Before the performance and during intermission, the museum opens (which includes John Wilkes Booth’s derringer). If you come before the show, your theater ticket is good to tour the house where Lincoln died (across the street). Tennessee Williams’ The Glass Menagerie opens January 22.

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