Home Stretch

I was struck by a feeling of melancholy yesterday morning as I hiked along a trail, alone with my thoughts.

My trip is almost finished. My trip is almost finished. My trip is almost finished.

This phrase rolled over and over in my mind, beating rhythmically in time with my steps.

Resting my feet on Isle Royale

Two hours later I was overwhelmed with excitement, celebrating the fact that I’ll soon be done — home at last. I’m definitely experiencing the gamut of emotions regarding the forthcoming conclusion to my year-long trip. It’s bittersweet; my brain and heart don’t know quite how to handle it.

I’m looking forward to a real refrigerator, an indoor bathroom, and not driving so much. I daydream of sleeping in one place for more than three nights. I eagerly anticipate seeing my friends and family again.

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A cute pioneer cabin I wouldn’t mind calling “home”.

But I’ll miss so much, too. I know I’ll pine for the vagabond lifestyle once I’m settled. I’ll miss the adventure of constant motion, the beauty of experiencing nature to the fullest, and the contentedness of personal reflection. I’m already becoming nostalgic for each memory I’ve collected.

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Random sign. Texas I think???

When I first set out on my 47 parks in 47 weeks journey, I considered it would be a fabulous blip within my life. I assumed I would spend time traveling and having fun, and then return to my normal adult existence.

But it’s not like that. I feel that 47 Parks is the beginning of something grand. It is the rekindling of my love of learning and the launching point of my passion for nature. Each national park has affirmed my child-like wonder and drawn out my desire to help others find this as well.

Great Smoky Mountains National Park

I may only have 2 more parks to see, but this isn’t the end.

I plan on exploring the world, one wild place and natural space at a time.


It just might look a little different than this past year, and my pilgrimages will be spread out as I find a healthy balance between travel, work, and rest.

I invite each one of you, dear readers, to continue to take this journey with me. I plan on making some slight changes to my website and Instagram (@theparkpilgrim).

Here’s some things to look forward to, post-wise, this summer:

  • Behind the scenes stories that haven’t quite made the blog yet (some funny, some creepy)
  • Another contest, wherein you have a chance to win jelly beans or photo prints
  • More park awards for Part II
  • What’s next in my life, including what outdoor places I hope to explore in the near future
  • Information regarding a calendar for next year
  • More pictures
  • Clarence’s fate
  • Whatever other stuff I come up with as I sort through 47 weeks of being on the road

Life is good.

It truly is.

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Clarence on the coast of California, right outside Redwood National Park.

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