Ahhh, road trips. My family went on them every summer when I was growing up. My dad, an immigrant, wanted to see all of his adopted country. We had a flat-front Dodge van with no AC. I remember sitting in the backseat as a 6-year-old, driving across Arizona in the heat of the summer, windows wide open and my hair blowing around my face. Oh it felt good! Along these road trips we stopped at every National Park and/or Monument we came across.

The four of us sang lots of songs on these trips. My favorite was “This Land is Your Land” by Woody Guthrie, written in the mid-20th century. This verse rings through my mind:

As I was walking that ribbon of highway,
I saw above me that endless skyway:
I saw below me that golden valley:
This land was made for you and me.

I value our public lands, available to you and me. Most of us will never personally own more than a lot in a city or town, if even that. Public lands allow us to experience and connect with nature and science. Any trip to Yellowstone National Park is a fascinating educational experience covering geology, biology, botany, meteorology, vulcanology, and more, that around 4 million people visit every year. When visiting the Park last year, I heard 6 different languages being spoken at Grand Prismatic Spring. Imagine if our jewel of a National Park weren’t open to Americans and guests in our country. I don’t want to even consider that.

As an adult, I’ve been coast-to-coast-to-coast and visited many public lands. In 1988, while living along the Gulf Coast in Corpus Christi, TX, Fred and I bought our first family station wagon, a red Subaru (with AC), and frequently went to the beach on Padre Island. We moved to North Carolina in that wagon and often visited the Atlantic Coast. We drove our first Suby Ruby (our cars are named) for 21 years until the AC no longer worked (the whole thing was falling apart), and in 2007, we bought a new Suby Ruby. It’s been across Wyoming, Utah and Idaho on the way to Oregon a few times while Michaela was in college at the U of O in Eugene; each time making a side-trip to the Pacific Coast. We couldn’t have visited the coasts if public lands and access didn’t exist.

Access is important for so many reasons, too many to go into detail here, but people fish, hunt, hike, camp, bird, and most importantly LEARN on public lands.

A line of “This Land is Your Land” I don’t remember singing, is still relevant in the 21st century:

Is this land made for you and me?