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TRANQUILITY Kelly Thomas, a junior at St. Agnes Academy, loves to visit national parks.
Though I’d like to attribute my love of national parks to some bout of self-discovery, its inception was catalyzed by the traditions of my family. Nearly every summer growing up, my family would bear the blazing heat and travel on a multi-day, cross-country road trip to visit some combination of national parks. To give you an idea of how ingrained in me the practice of park-visiting has become, I have visited 17 national parks during my lifetime. I was so young the first time I visited one that I can’t even remember it.
Visiting a national park feels like visiting a second home. The brown wooden signs, countless hiking trails and rustic lodges conjure up a sense of nostalgia unmatched elsewhere. The inherent tranquility of the parks can be observed through a mountain landscape or the sound of a rushing waterfall.
One of my favorite experiences in a park is when my family and I hiked to Iceberg Lake in Glacier National Park. In the crisp, cool summer air of Montana, we set out on an almost-10-mile-long, ranger-led hike. The beginning of the hike had strenuous passes of steep incline, but eventually the terrain leveled out. I remained near the front of the pack next to the ranger in hopes of learning about the park.
After many hours, the turquoise oasis of Iceberg Lake came into sight. Surrounded by a meadow dotted with delicate flowers, miniature icebergs floated atop crystal water. The only thing splintering the silence were the screams of my brother and others who dared to stand on an iceberg, risking an encounter with the frigid water. To me this place is a perfect representation of the solitude that can be found in the national parks. Though some parts of the journey may be arduous, the destination is an ample reward.
I am so grateful for the experiences my parents provided for me as a child, and I hope to continue the tradition for generations. I urge you to seek out your place of solitude and allow it to refresh you and provide you comfort.
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