Oh, The Places You’ll Go … And The People You’ll Meet
Editor’s Note: While visiting Crater Lake National Park, Ore., the author of the article met Emily Heide by chance, struck up a conversation and recently hosted her new friend as she continued her cross-country journey.
CRATER LAKE NATIONAL PARK, Ore. — Recently, California native Emily Heide spent a few days in the Chautauqua County area visiting friends she met in June while making a stop at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon. As a child, the 25-year-old woman had traveled to a few national parks with her family and is now on a quest to see all in the continental United States.
“When I was 10 I told my parents I was going to visit all of the national parks. There are 59 total. I believe I am doing 48. I am also revisiting the parks I visited when I was a child.”
When she was 10 years old and again at age 15 she visited Hawaii with extended family where she saw Haleakala and Hawaii Volcanoes National Parks, but she has not been to Alaska. She made a visit to Channel Islands National Park near Catalina, Calif., before she left her home in Rossmoor on June 14.
“I sprung it on my parents as ‘this is where I’m going. You guys now get to pick where you want to visit me,'” she said.
Since her parents work full-time jobs, they are limited in how much they can travel. Her father joined her in Seattle and traveled five days with her. He again met up with her in Denver and stayed by her side for the next 14 days, touring Wyoming, South Dakota and Nebraska. Her mother caught up to her in Minneapolis, staying three days. Although she has had friends and family join her on occasion, she will travel solo for most of her trip.
Before she left home, she’d only been to 14 states. By the time she is done she will have seen all, except Alaska. She has added the US Virgin Islands to the list of possibilities
When she was in Cattaraugus and Chautauqua county, she had completed approximately 14,000 miles of her trek and crossed off 14 national parks and 12 historic monuments, sights, memorials and national scenic rivers. Originally, she had hoped to complete the trip in eight months and had planned through Aug. 20 by the time she left her parents home, but now she believes it will take closer to 10 or 12 months. Various unexpected happenings took place with the main one occurring in Bloomington, Minn., on Aug. 21, the day after her mother left. She became suspicious when she discovered the hatch on her 2017 Subaru Outback had not been closed properly.
“If you don’t close it using the button, it doesn’t look the same. At first I could see the red battery charger bag was gone, but then I discovered my camera was missing, too. I tried not to panic and looked inside my room first.”
When she didn’t find it in her room, she asked the person at the desk if the hotel had security cameras. She then called the police and was told they would get there when they could. Her plan to drive to Effigy Mounds in Iowa to view the solar eclipse at 90 percent were soon dashed. To top it off, when she arrived at her campsite that evening, it was pouring rain and the office door was locked two hours early. She believes this was the worst day she has had in the last three years.
A call from the Bloomington Police Department four days later, had good and bad news. Her Canon Rebel T6S had been pawned. To add insult to injury, the thief had erased all of her pictures on the camera’s card and added a few videos of himself, but none showing his face. She was thrilled to have the camera she had just begun to become comfortable using, but wanted the pictures more. She received a call a few days later telling her the police lab was able to recover 10 gigabytes or 99 percent of her lost memories.
The people she meets along the way have one of three reactions when they here she is traveling alone.
“Some people are like, ‘Wow, that’s great. You should do it while you are young.’ Other’s say ‘Wow, aren’t you scared?’ and then there are those that ask ‘How can your parents let you do that?'”
As a 25-year-old, she finds the last comment rather amusing.
“My parents are obviously nervous,” she says. “When I lost my camera, I was ready to go home and then I realized I couldn’t let one guy ruin the trip for me. I’ve met so many nice people. There are good people in the world and I should continue to meet more.”
She has camped 50 percent of the time, stayed with family and friends about 25 percent and in hotels the remaining nights. Most of her diet has been peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and Hebrew National hot dogs, but she did make spaghetti sauce from scratch one of the nights she spent camping.
Besides pictures, she is collecting Junior Park Ranger Badges and Park Passport Stamps.
“I did a lot of camping growing up. My dad has always liked camping and fishing. Every Fourth of July we would go to Devil’s Postpiles National Monument. That was how it started.”
She became a Junior Park Ranger when she was a child by getting a booklet that tells about the park, from the visitor’s center. After answering the questions and filling in the blanks and then turning it in at the center, a ranger reviewed her answers and then gave more facts about the park. She then received a badge. She has the badges and passports she collected as a child, under her bed at home and will soon have many more to add to them.
She has 30 Essential Oils with her and had a very difficult time choosing which to bring and which to leave behind.
During her stay in this area, she visited the Lucy-Desi Museum on West Third Street and Lucy’s grave in Lakeview Cemetery. She drove past Lucy’s childhood home and stood before the two statues of Lucy located in Celoron. All were quite apropos considering she had written a report about Lucille Ball in the eighth grade. From there, she was taken on a tour of the Chautauqua Institution grounds.
After leaving her new friend’s home in Randolph, she headed to the Buffalo-Niagara Airport to meet her mother, who will be traveling with her daughter for nine days, starting at Niagara Falls and Niagara on the Lake. From there they plan to visit Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec on the daughter’s first trip to Canada.
Ms. Heide will be leaving the circuit in December to take a Christmas Rhine River cruise with her family. When she returns after the first of the year, she will continue on her scenic tour of the National Parks system. She hopes to find a job and get her master’s degree and teaching credentials after she returns to her western home. One day, she would like to teach third grade, since that was her favorite grade when she attended public school. In fact, it is in her plan to visit her own third grade teacher when she passes through Texas, the state her favorite teacher moved to many years ago.