Ken Burns’ National Parks

I hope that some of you, at least here in the U.S., have been able to see part of Ken Burns’ new documentary on PBS about the creation of the national park system here. Like all of Burns’ work (except for the one on baseball), it is beautifully written, has wonderful music and is voiced by some of the best talent around, including Tom Hanks and Sam Waterson.

Here’s a description of the series:

Filmed over the course of more than six years at some of nature’s most spectacular locales, “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea” is a six-part, 12-hour documentary series by Ken Burns and his longtime colleague Dayton Duncan on the history of America’s national parks. This is a story of people — rich and poor, famous and unknown, soldiers and scientists, natives and newcomers, idealists, artists and entrepreneurs — who were willing to devote themselves to saving some precious portion of the land they loved and in doing so, reminded their fellow citizens of the full meaning of democracy.

I have been fortunate enough to visit two of the most spectacular parks–Yellowstone and Yosemite. These two sites encapsulate the beauty of the west with a capital W. We went to Yellowstone on our honeymoon and I remember seeing Old Faithful. It was my first experience of actually seeing something I never actually thought I’d see in person. I’ve had that pleasure many times since, but Old Faithful was the first. Several years later, we traveled through Yosemite. I will say right now that Yosemite is not always a good choice for people as afraid of heights as I am and I did come down one trail on my rear end (much to husband’s embarrasment and dismay).

As fabulous as the western parks are though, they’re not my favorite. That distinction has to go to Great Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s where my parents took us on our first vacations as children. It’s where we escaped to on the first pretty spring days during college. And it’s where I’ll be this weekend. In a cabin overlooking the blue-green mountain tops of East Tennessee.




As much as I love travel to foreign lands, it’s nice to be reminded of the spectacular scenery right here at home. (And yes, that is a hot tub. Don’t be a hater.) 🙂


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8 responses to “Ken Burns’ National Parks

  1. Bon voyage. Have a nice trip. And you’re mistaken about Burns’ baseball documentary. Everything that guy touches is gold and the baseball doc is one of his best.

  2. I love Ken Burns’ documentaries. His Civil War is one of my favorite. And Baseball for that matter. And Jazz. I’m hoping they may play it down here, but it’s probably not topical enough.

  3. I doubt I’ll be seeng the documentary over here. But your post and your photos made me sigh with regret (once again) that the only time I went to the States, it was to Orlando (not my choice, nor my kind of place). No offence to Florida, but I think I would have enjoyed any of the places you mention here much, much more.

  4. I have to disclaimer by saying I love the west. It speaks to me in a way other parts of the country do not. However, I worked in Durham for a time, and the drive out there, through the Smoky Mountains, was heart-stoppingly beautiful. I was utterly blown away. There are areas so beautiful they’re downright surreal.

    We recorded the first part of the Parks series last night. I’m really looking forward to it.

    And totally agreed on the baseball documentary.

  5. I keep telling myself I need to hang around the kids at work so I can learn how to find forbidden stuff on the internet for downloading. That sounds bad. Like Mad Men and True Blood and maybe this documentary. Not porn.

  6. UB and AFM–Have to admit that I’ve never actually seen the baseball series. I just can’t stand the sport, ergo, I can’t stand much that’s associated with it.
    Denise–Florida has some wonderful areas, unfortunately, Orlando isn’t one of them. But the country is huge, and there are MANY places I haven’t seen either.
    Elise–Thanks for stopping by. The west and east are each beautiful in their own way. Our weather on Saturday was absolutely perfect and the view from our cabin was breathtaking. Too bad the memory card for the camera was sitting on the kitchen table at home.
    Ellie–Did you get to watch Mad Men yet? Can’t wait to hear your opinion.


  8. Rass–I barely touched on it…lots of fruit left on the tree.

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