parks

A National Parks Checklist Map

When I was growing up, national parks weren’t really on my radar. I come from a very-NYC family—i.e. not outdoorsy—and our summer vacations usually involved relaxing on an east coast beach, rather than hiking trails.

And as I got older, I preferred to spend my vacation days exploring new countries rather than stateside attractions.

But over the past few years, I’ve found myself wanting to visit more national parks. I’m astounded by the diverse landscapes that exist in this country—everything from beaches to volcanoes, mountains to deserts. I’ve started to make up for lost time by visiting some, like the Grand Canyon, Acadia, Volcanoes National Park.

I’d like to see many more. Which is why I’m loving this National Parks Checklist Map by ElloThere, an awesome, Brooklyn-based, husband-and-wife design team.

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The map shows all the national parks, which are denoted by numbered green trees.

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It comes with numbered gold tree stickers—so after you visit one, you can mark it off.

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A cool whimsical extra: The map also comes with a little explorer’s patch!

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I feel like I may need to plan a national park trip soon…

(Images via Ello There)

Checking Out the High Line

I have to admit, all the hype about the High Line made me a bit dubious about the project. For years, there have been sporadic flurries of stories in the New York media about how the High Line is coming, and now it has more funding, and here’s how its progress is going, and so on. And, of course, there was the celeb involvement, which made my skeptical side think that somehow, despite the High Line being a public park, it would be co-opted by New York’s upper crust. Plus, it starts in the Meatpacking District, and that alone made me think the neighborhood would rub off on the park and tinge it with a bit of pretentiousness and douchebaggery, for lack of a better word.

On Sunday, when we went to check out the High Line, it initially seemed like my skeptical assumptions would turn out to be true.В 

For the time being, you can only enter the park at Gansevoort Street, which is a bit of a bummer if you’re walking from uptown, like we were. We ended up walking below the High Line, on the street (what a tease!), until we reached Gansevoort…and saw a mob of people. A huge line of people waiting for wrist bracelets to get in would have stretched into the West Side Highway if it didn’t curve back into the street.В 

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At that point, I was tempted to turn around and come back on a weekday morning, but one of the line monitors assured us that the line moved quickly. He was right. About 20 minutes later, we went through a few rows of carrells — similar to the ones at amusement parks — and finally stepped onto the High Line.В 

I was pleasantly surprised. Judging from the hordes of people waiting to get in, I expected the park to be jam packed. But it wasn’t. I suppose the High Line’s length allows people to disperse quickly, so I never felt like I was crowded in or jostling to get around people.В 

The park design is beautiful, too. There’s something quite gorgeous about the way new plants and quirky-looking flowers are growing amongst the rusty old freight train tracks. Plus, the park’s elevation makes you feel like you’re insulated from Manhattan’s hustle and bustle, but still in the heart of the city.

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I especially loved these lounge chairs. I plan on coming back one weekday to take full advantage of reading and sunbathing:

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Despite the park’s beauty, it’s hard not to view it with a grain of cynicism. As one of my friends said, you have to wonder how many other city parks could have benefitted from all the money that flowed into this project…
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