Things are starting to get a little hectic for Tacoma’s Julie Hurst and two young daughters. In a month they plan to hit the road to visit all 59 national parks, starting with Oregon’s Crater Lake. Hurst will take a year off from her job as an interpreter and 13-year-old Maitri and 9-year-old Annie will take a year off school. Hurst, 39, will be their teacher.
They’re in the final stages of preparation — raising money, building a website, packing and finalizing their itinerary — for a trip Hurst estimates will cover more than 16,000 miles. Hurst recently carved out a few minutes to talk about the trip.
Q: What was the motivation for your adventure?
When I heard about the Every Kid in a Park Initiative, I thought it was a great opportunity. (The program gives free access for fourth-graders and their familes to national parks during the 2015-16 school year.) Annie is going into the fourth-grade and I thought it would be a good way to help spread the world and inspire families to get outdoors.
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Q: Are you nervous about spending a year on the road?
I’m not worried. It is exciting to me. There is nothing to be intimidated about. I’ve moved around a lot. I was a Navy wife (She’s since divorced). I love it (traveling) and I’m used to it.
Q: What about teaching the kids on the road?
I think it’s really exciting. They’re going to see these places they are learning about. Their education will be boundless. ... It’s a different way to learn. (Hurst’s background is in speech pathology and she says she’s looking for teaching curriculum so her children can learn on the road.)
Q: So the plan is to go by RV?
I’m trying to get an RV. What’s great about an RV is that you’re self-contained. We’d fly to Hawaii, of course, and we’re saving Alaska for last. And there are a lot of options for getting to Alaska. ... And, some people forget, there are also parks in (American) Samoa and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Q: Have you done anything like this before?
When I was in the fourth-grad,e I took a similar trip with my family. It was the most amazing experience. I remember some funny things, like flying cockroaches in Texas. And I remember the Carlsbad Caverns where (there was) literally the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen. It was like a real-life “Frozen.” I remember I had braces and wore headgear the whole way. I remember not getting off the subway in Washington D.C. ... lightning in the Badlands, frogs in Florida and the Statue of Liberty.
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