Since I have a B.A. in theater, I know people are always curious about what goes on backstage. In this blog, I’ll draw back the curtain a little on news from our national parks—since they’re the subject of my books—as well as articles I’ve penned that might interest you. And because my Christian faith is central to all I do, I’ll conclude each post with a Scripture verse or two for you to ponder.

Below, click the arrow to see my posts, and the Comments link to share your thoughts and subscribe to this blog.

June 2024

There are how many national park sites?!

429, as of now. The newest is Amache National Historic Site, in southeastern Colorado. Also known as the Granada Relocation Center (Granada is the nearest town), this is one of ten places where over 120,000 Japanese and Japanese Americans from the West Coast were sent during World War II. Two-thirds of them were American citizens; Japanese immigrants couldn’t become naturalized citizens until 1952.

A few other of these incarceration camps—the “residents” were housed behind barbed wire and overseen by armed guards in watchtowers—are in the Park Service: Tule Lake and Manzanar, California; Honouliuli, Hawaii (also a Japanese POW camp); and Minidoka, Idaho.

The National Parks on Jeopardy!

Try to answer these clues—in the form of a question, of course—from Jeopardy!. I missed the first one.

Bad behavior in the parks

You’ve probably heard about the people who damaged and stole artifacts from a closed-to-the-public area of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. They were caught on a security camera, which the park is releasing to the public for help in finding them.

On the other hand, a man who brought down a 113-year-old structure in California’s Death Valley National Park came forward and took responsibility for his action.

Good behavior in the parks

NBC’s Al Roker won the American Park Experience Award for his promotion of the parks over the years. The honor was bestowed by the nonprofit National Park Trust.

Previous recipients include national park ranger Shelton Johnson. He was featured prominently in Ken Burns’ PBS documentary, The National Parks: America’s Best Idea.

Get into the parks for free!

Only 109 of the 429 charge admission, but there are six days during the year in which even those waive their fees. Juneteenth, June 19, is among them.

What is Juneteenth? One of the oldest known commemorations of emancipation in this country. Many park sites mark the occasion—go to nps.gov and enter “Juneteenth” in the “Search” space, then click on “All NPS” to see if there’s one near you.


Have you ever considered your funeral? Yeah, I thought not—because the topic’s not exactly the most pleasant, too many of us leave it for our loved ones to deal with. Not a good idea. Check out Know Before You Go: The Not-So-Sad Guide to Planning a Funeral, a piece I wrote for Good Housekeeping. The graphics are really cool!


Two verses for this month, both relating to the park news:

"Be sure your sin will find you out” (Numbers 32:23). It’s pretty hard to hide out in today’s world; with God, it’s impossible.

“Stand fast in the liberty with which Christ has made us free, and don’t be entangled again with the yoke of bondage” (Galatians 5:1). Even better news than Juneteenth!