NICE NATURE: The occasional free day at the national parks is certainly a wonderful thing, but the fact that people can enter without paying a fee is always tied to a bigger idea or theme. The free day that comes at the end of September coincides with National Public Lands Day, which the National Park Service says is "the country's largest single-day effort to spruce up the national parks and other open spaces." Yep, that's important. We've all been in a beautiful setting that is pristine and perfect. It looks like it did a thousand years ago. And then we've all been in that setting where somebody's picnic from yesterday still lingers. Yeah. That's less than charming. We all prefer the former, right? Hence National Public Lands Day.
2011 DATE: The get-in-free date is Saturday, Sept. 24. Several national parks will have special doings and clean-up efforts, if you want to get involved. Let's also note here that many of our greatest treasures have conservancy groups that keep a mindful watch on the parks; they're the people who work to keep these pretty places sparkling all year long. Thank you, everyone who goes the year-round route. And anyone who gives a day, too.