Chiro1Source - April 2020

Marah and I Continue Our State Park Passport Quest HEADING OUTDOORS FOR EARTH DAY

866.318.3251 Chiro1Source.com APRIL 2020

When I was a kid, I spent as much time outside as I possibly could. I had the run of 8 acres and my father’s massive garden, and my

Carolina State Parks Passport. When you sign up, they send you a passport, and you get a stamp every time you visit one of the state parks. The goal is to hit milestones — they send you a little prize for every 10 parks you visit. I think they probably designed the passport for kids, but Marah and I love it! We’ve done something like 25 parks now, and it has been really fun. A lot of these parks are in the middle of nowhere, and I’ve enjoyed exploring parts of North Carolina I’ve never visited, even though I’ve lived here my whole life. All you need to do to get a stamp is go into the park, but Marah doesn’t feel like she’s earned it until she’s hiked at least a mile. Usually, we bring the dogs with us and take a hike that’s closer to 3 or 4 miles to really make the trip feel worth it. The mountain parks, like Stone Mountain State Park and New River State Park, are our favorites, but we’ve been to some neat ones near the coast, too. A lot of them are on rivers, which can make for beautiful scenery or, in late summer, enough mosquitoes and other bugs to make you go crazy. Out of all of the parks we’ve visited so far, a few really stand out in my mind. Not too long ago, we drove out to Pettigrew State Park, which is home to the second-largest natural lake in North Carolina. It was so windy that day I almost felt like we were on the ocean, watching the waves come crashing in. Another standout was New Year’s Day, when we took advantage of the First Day Hikes program and hiked through Merchants Millpond State Park and Dismal Swamp State Park. My all-time favorite state park experience, though, was last Earth Day, when Marah and I visited Elk Knob State Park. It’s a beautiful park in the mountains, and Marah and I took the dogs with us to enjoy the adventure. We ended up going on a really long, strenuous hike, even though it was a hot day. It wasn’t long before I was thanking God that we'd brought the dogs along! We each had one dog on the leash, and they pretty much pulled us the rest of the way up the hike. As tough as it was, the view from the top was worth it. We weren’t sure we’d make it down alive, but we did — and I’ve got to say, I had so much fun that I’d probably do it again. This year for Earth Day, we plan to earn another passport stamp. If you’re looking for a way to get back to nature, too, I’d highly recommend checking out nearby state parks. Just pick a park you’ve never been to, pack some snacks, your pets, and your partner, and hit the road. I promise you won’t regret it!

family would make the pilgrimage to Blue Ridge Mountains at least once a month. Looking back, I can’t begin to count the number of hours I spent wandering in those hills, investigating animal tracks, and digging in the dirt.

I’m not quite as obsessed with nature anymore (these days, I like to camp in hotels instead of on the hard ground), but I still love getting outside. Something about spending time there

helps me disconnect from the stress of running a business. All of this is to say that Earth Day, which is coming up this month on April 22, has a special place in my heart. Luckily, my wife Marah feels the same way, so to celebrate, we plan to continue the nature-related quest we’ve been on for the last two years: filling in all of the stamps on our North Carolina State Park Passport. North Carolina has 41 state parks, and to encourage people to visit them, the National Park Service came up with something called the North

-Josh Walker

ELK KNOB STATE PARK

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