When one is traveling through wilder terrain, one is always keeping watch for the next nexus, or where roads meet or fork, or where several paths spool off into new territory.
Early April is such a spot where the National Park Service is concerned. Not only is summertime the biggest season for national park sightseeing, and springtime is when many of those plans are put in place, but National Park Week is just ahead. And, yes, as is tradition, admission will be waived at fee-charging national parks on April 18 and 19, which is the week's opener.
But there's something even bigger just down the road: The organization governing our national parks turns 100 in 2016. True, true: Yosemite and Yellowstone and a few other dozen parks were given national park status well before 1916, but the NPS took its place as the steward for our wild and magnificent places in that year.
You can see all of those wild and magnificent places at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument on Thursday, April 9 and Friday, April 10. Nope, the NPS is not hauling Glacier National Park and the Everglades into Los Angeles (there isn't a thoroughfare nearly large enough). But the Find Your Park Virtual View Tour can fit the spirit of each park just fine, and so it shall.
What is it, exactly? It's a kiosk that allows visitors a glimpse at a wide swath of "America's Natural, Historical, and Cultural Treasures," from proverbial sea to shining sea. The interactive installation will also invite all viewers to share a story about their favorite park and what it means to them.
"While we never want a virtual experience to replace a genuine connection, we are hopeful that the display will provide a gateway that inspires people to visit their parks and fall in love with the beauty, history, and culture that make up our national parks and public lands," says Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell.
Want to take a trip to all of the parks right off of Alameda Street? Visit El Pueblo on April 9 and 10. LA is the second stop for the installation, following New York City. Next stop? Washington D.C., and then onward into the National Park Service's centennial year, which will assuredly bring more parties for the parks.