Time For a Vacation?

I'm on vacation for the rest of the month of July, so in anticipation I thought we could talk about what's going on at some parks. Because for me parks and vacation go together like roller skates and helmets.

Cumberland Gap National Historical Park (http://www.nps.gov/cuga/planyourvisit/events.htm) in Kentucky, Tennessee and Virginia, offers a two hour cave tour. In order to go on the tour you need to be able to walk about a mile and a half and navigate 183 steps. Wear closed toe shoes and maybe bring a sweater. It can be cold in the cave. Reservations are recommended and should be arranged at least a month in advance. I went on a great tour of Carter Caves several years ago, with some very tight squeezes, and I strongly advise using the restroom before you start the tour. Listening to the sound of water running while you're deep under the ground can make your bladder very grumpy. Complete details here: http://www.nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=10620

Devils Postpile National Monument (http://www.nps.gov/depo/index.htm) in California (about an hour and a half's drive from Yosemite) has one hour ranger accompanied walks daily. The walk to the Postpile is four tenths of a mile, so maybe everyone walks very slowly? Unfortunately the trail is only partially wheelchair accessible. The Devils Postpile itself mostly formed as a result of two components; a lava lake and some ice ages. The basalt lava made the column-like structures, which were then exposed by various glaciers over the past hundred thousand years or so. The walks run daily until September fourth. http://www.nps.gov/depo/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=637207-3...

Fort Raleigh in North Carolina (http://www.nps.gov/fora/index.htm) has a couple of interesting historical events going on this summer. If you are interested in the eternal question of what happened to the Roanoke colony you might want to check out The Lost Colony?, which runs daily until September 2. This program looks at “the mystery and the history”, as their website says, and takes place at an earthen fort. http://www.nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=14936

The same facility also has a program called One Island Many Stories, which looks at other humans who have lived on Roanoke through the ages. http://www.nps.gov/findapark/event-listing.htm?eventID=18465

If you're near Brooklyn and you want to give sailing or kayaking a try you can do both of them for free at the Gateway National Recreation Area (http://www.nps.gov/gate/index.htm). http://www.nps.gov/gate/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=490783-2... Sailing is on Fridays until August 23 and you get to explore Dead Horse Bay (which hopefully has no actual dead horses.) July 25th you can go for a beginning kayak tour of Four Sparrow Marsh. Reservations are required. http://www.nps.gov/gate/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=491813-2...

The Great Smoky Mountains National Park (http://www.nps.gov/grsm/index.htm), which is the most visited national park in the United States, offers quite a few events and activities this summer. Since they are so popular I am going to mention several of them. Cades Cove Night Hike takes place every Monday and Friday through August 16. This two and a half mile hike is free. The description mentions listening to spirits, but hopefully they are speaking metaphorically and no ghosts will appear and toss you into the cove. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=356454-2... There will also be a Full Moon Walk of the cove twice more before the end of the summer. Details here: http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=357042-2... Geology Rocks is a weekly event running Mondays through August fifth, which is wheelchair accessible. This 45 minute program explores the history of the mountains and is free. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=520860-2... Running Mondays through August twelfth is something called This “Tree-mendous” Place (their pun, not mine). This one hour free program looks at tree science and how researchers gather and maintain data. I'm assuming they also explain how this data affects the management of the park. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=520888-2... Once Upon a Time looks at the rumors and facts that swirl around the American Black Bear. (You may find out if bears really are zombieproof.) There is no guarantee of seeing an actual bear, but maybe you will luck out. This one hour program runs on Mondays through August twelfth. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=520936-2... Thinking Like a Bear continues the bear theme and runs Thursdays through August fifteenth. It takes a look at the difficulties and joys of managing hundreds of black bears and other wildlife in the park and the Smoky Mountains. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=425610-2... If you're curious what an elk acclimation pen is, you should head to Return of the Elk. A one and a half hour program taking place on July 23rd, this guided hike is about a mile long and takes a look at the waxing and waning of the elk population in the mountains. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=356566-2... When you are wheelchair bound you often can't get into caves, which are the number one place we find bunches of bats. However this program, called Wings in the Night: Bats of the Smokies, is wheelchair accessible and runs every Saturday until August seventeenth. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=425925-2... Four days a week until August 16th you can take the Cataract Falls Walk. (This the water cataract, not the eyes cataract.) Described as an “easy stroll” this hike goes to the waterfall on Sundays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=356693-2... A Waterfall by Lantern Light - Wednesday evenings through August fourteenth you can see the cataract at night, by lamplight. Space is limited to sign up early. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=425600-2... Old Elkmont is a ranger led walk that discusses what Elkmont was like a hundred years ago when it was a booming logging town. It takes place Wednesdays through August fourteenth. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=356827-2... Hills, Hollers, and Harmonies, a free weekly event, focuses on various music forms of the local mountain people. Instruments include the fiddle, banjo, and the human voice. Thursdays through August fifteenth. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=425874-2... In the Junior Ranger category we have I Wish I Lived in the Good ol' Days. Thursdays until August eighth, this free session looks at life a hundred or so years ago and compares it to today, and discusses which sounds better. Hint – video games are a necessity of life. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=520971-2... If your kids are particularly interested in learning about how kids in the past did chores, they can go to the Being A Kid in the Mountains events. They run Saturdays through August seventeenth, are free, and wheelchair accessible. http://www.nps.gov/grsm/planyourvisit/event-details.htm?eventID=523386-2...

Most likely more in this subject next week, or possibly no column until vacation is over.

Bonus Treat:
This week's bonus treat is a poem by a good friend of mine. Published by Strange Horizons and written by F.J. Bergmann, it's called Medical History. It's about the protagonist's inner life, or architecture, or soul, or something even more mysterious. You can read it here: http://www.strangehorizons.com/2011/20110404/bergmann-p.shtml