One Man, his Subaru Forester, and 28 National Parks, in Search of the Best Trails to Run (Part 1)

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This story is written by Benjamin Perri.

This is the first of seven pieces I will be doing over the course of my six month National Parks tour. My Subaru Forester (Cassady) will be my home as I make my way through 11 states, over 12,000 miles, and 28 National Parks (and some other places). In this series, you will learn who I am and why I am doing this, how I built my setup in Cassady, and the trails I explore and run/hike/backpack on.

Forty-one years in to my life and nothing is figured out. On a recent trip to visit family in South Florida, I had the pleasure of seeing a lot of family friends of my parents. As we all reminisced over cocktails and club soda, the friends would go on about their kids and their accomplishments. That left me, the now homeless about to live in his car for six months guy feeling like he let his parents down. The next morning, I asked my mother if what I was doing, or lack thereof, was embarrassing to her. She thought for a split second and said “You are a good man that is respected by everyone you meet, and they adore you for it. What more could I possibly want?” Then my mother asked if I was happy with my life, and I answered with a resounding yes to which mom says, “Then that’s all that matters.” And with that, the fire to live life by my rules was stoked and is now raging uncontrollably.

Subaru camper

Working hard comes easy for me thanks to the work ethic instilled in me at an early age and for the last twenty years that’s exactly what I did. Be it building swimming pools for my father’s company, to starting a rock and roll band from scratch – working our way to a very small semblance of fame – to becoming a bartender that gets thrown in to the conversation for American Bartender of the Year. I have worked as hard as I could to achieve these ends. All of that work has afforded me a life that I can be proud of and one that has kept a roof over my head. Now, it’s time to put these accomplishments behind me and open new doors… with new goals that I will achieve. These goals are not in the professional world; these goals belong to the natural world.

The current political climate in the United States is as unpredictable as our physical climate. Right off the bat, the new President signed bills cutting the size of a handful of National Monuments. Alarm bells went off in my head all saying, “You haven’t seen any of these!” Then more bells, alarming me to the fact that I haven’t been to many National Parks either. In May of 2018 I decided to work my tail off and save as much as possible so that I could take several months off to witness these natural wonders in all their grandeur before they disappear. Fire inside…meet desire.

desert mountains

I made a list. The list was long. As I read it over, it became apparent that 40 parks and monuments was a bit ambitious. But, how do you take a park like Badlands or Great Basin or Great Sand Dunes off of a list of places I need to see before I die? The easy answer is that you don’t, you add an addendum to the list that says, “If time allows….” 28 parks made the cut in the end and strategy played a huge role in this. A lot of the parks will be buried in snow until July or August with a window of snow melt so minuscule, since time is of the essence, like Indiana Jones diving under the falling door and just grabbing his fedora before it slams shut.

~To Be Continued~

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