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Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National… (edition 2021)
by Conor Knighton (Author)
Leave Only Footprints: My Acadia-to-Zion Journey Through Every National Park by Conor Knighton
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Not a travelogue, this Conor has a unique, very informative, way to describe his one-year journey to all of the US National Parks. As a correspondent for CBS Sunday Mornings, he promoted the parks during 2016, the centennial year for the parks. He uses this book to share that journey, including tidbits about how he accomplished that lofty goal, and how the project inherently helped him to refocus his personal life. ( )
Really enjoyed this. Made me want to go to lots of parks, though. Appreciated how the author found one highlight of every park as he journeyed that someone visiting might not notice. Very envious of visiting Yellowstone in winter! I'd love to do that!
Good book about the parks and the author's reaction to them, but his discussion of his personal life was uneven and not particularly engaging.
Loved this book. Definitely on my top non-fiction of all time list. In the aftermath of a heartbreak, CBS correspondent Conor Knighton has the crazy idea that, just maybe, what he wants to do next is visit every national park within a year. What follows is over 50 episodes that are by turns inspiring, educational, funny, sobering, healing, and eye-opening.
I actually loved that this wasn't a deep dive into every park, it was more of a fly-over but with moments of insight and carefully selected (but not overwhelming) details. Honestly, this makes it a very appealing read for anyone who struggles with distraction while reading. Before one's attention has time to wander, we're on to the next park.
He organizes his narratives by themes, such as Mystery, Sound, Borders, Home, and Sunset. Tying seemingly unrelated parks together this way made for fascinating reading. For instance, who would ever talk about Cuyahoga Valley, just outside Cleveland, in the same breath as Gates of the Arctic? And yet it works.
And so many of the parks were ones I really had no reference point for. So it was the best kind of "I'm really learning something" reading experience, kind of like when you're a little kid learning about the seven wonders of the world for the first time. It recaptures that feeling.
A few quotes:
Canyonlands is a name that seems more suited to a video game than to a national park, and its four separate districts sound like realms to be conquered: Island in the Sky, The Needles, Rivers, The Maze. I assumed that if you somehow made it through the mysterious challenges of all four, an old knight would appear to offer you a chance to drink from the Holy Grail.
I definitely missed companionship, and I knew I wanted it again one day, but I wasn’t in a rush.
“It just doesn’t feel right,” I said. “I don’t know how to describe it. I guess it’s kind of like the subtle difference between a state park and a national park. State parks are great, right? But once you know places like Yosemite are out there, then it’s hard not to want something that feels like that. I want a relationship that feels like a national park.”
Efrain was quiet for a moment.
“Please tell me you’ve never said that out loud before,” he said. “That is the nerdiest damn thing I’ve ever heard. I think you’ve been spending too much time in the woods, dude.”
I do not think it is a coincidence that the two men responsible for two of our earliest and most stunning national parks both came from a state renowned for its scenic sameness...
As I traveled from park to park, I noticed that, more times than not, the urge to protect the land from future development has come from an outsider. Mills’s idol John Muir grew up in Scotland, where shipbuilding and sheep farming had left the landscape largely treeless. Imagine, then, how impressive the redwoods must have been for a guy who had barely seen a mighty oak. The highest mountain in all of Scotland is just half the height of Half Dome. Yosemite shocked Muir.
“I tell you what,” one of them said. “I’m glad I haven’t thought about politics for a week. Who even knows what crazy crap is happening now. It’s pretty great being cut off from the outside world.”
I looked out at the lake, its clear water softly splashing against the dock. To our left, thousands and thousands of thick trees hugged the coast, a spectacular green wall of wilderness marking the edge of the island.
“I think we’re in the outside world,” I said. “Everyone else is just cut off from this.”
Oh...erm... if you're squeamish, maybe skip the part about the bears.
But I recommend this book to everyone.
Just ok. I liked the parts about the parks but there just wasn't enough somehow. Haven't finished it (pg86) because it came due and couldn't be renewed.
"The Emmy-winning CBS Sunday Morning correspondent chronicles his year traveling to every one of our National Parks, discovering the most beautiful places and most interesting people that America has to offer. When Conor Knighton decided to spend a year wandering through America's "best idea," he was worried the whole thing might end up being his worst idea. But after a broken engagement and a broken heart, Conor desperately needed a change of scenery. The ambitious plan he cooked up went a bit overboard in that department; Knighton set out to visit every single one of America's National Parks, from Acadia to Zion. Leave Only Footprints is the memoir of his year spent traveling across the United States, a journey that yielded his "On the Trail" series, which quickly became one of CBS Sunday Morning's most beloved segments. In this smart, informative, and entertaining book, he shares how his journey through these natural wonders ended up changing his worldview on everything from God and love to politics and technology. Whether he's waking up early for a naked scrub in a historic bathhouse or staying up late to stargaze along our loneliest highway, Knighton goes behind the scenery to provide an unfiltered look at our country. In doing so, he reveals the unforgettable stories behind the often beautiful, always fascinating lands that all Americans share"--
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Melvil Decimal System (DDC)917.304History and Geography Geography and Travel Geography of and travel in North America United States Travel
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