In celebration of our national parks 100th birthday this month, here is Stu at the historic Cumberland Gap (National Historical Park).
This is a natural break in the Appalachian Mountain Range giving early American frontiersmen (and women, and bunnies), a Wilderness Road to “the West” (i.e., Kentucky and beyond). It is located near the conjunction of Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia.
(Also, naturally, American Native Indians lived in the area long before the white man showed up in history, and were familiar with the gap’s secret.)
Cumberland Gap also played a part in the US Civil War, but alluded any battles.
Today you can hike the old Wilderness Road through the Cumberland Gap, but the wide and long tunnel for cars makes the journey far shorter.
As a writer, merely sitting in locations where I know much history took place is inspirational. Where are your inspirational spots?
Here is Stu Patterfoot visiting Devils Tower National Monument in the Black Hills of Wyoming. You can see this unique rock formation rising dramatically from the prairie for miles as you approach it, growing larger and larger and larger.
Climbers have tackled this formation for a couple hundred years. Although during the month of June, most climbers honor the Native Indians and do not climb these 30 days for related Indian ceremonies and prayers. Stu didn’t get much past the crumbled base.
Using US National Parks for writer inspirations for settings has existed before there were even National Parks. Devils Tower was used as a backdrop for “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” but visiting it after seeing the movie was a bit disappointing in that respect. Spoiler alert: FYI, you oldsters or old movie buffs, there are no aliens from other planets on the grounds. But I can’t guarantee the same if you look up.
The USA National Parks are great places to experience setting (for others besides just writers). Here is Stu the Rabbit in Badlands National Park in Western South Dakota.
Hiking the landscape is like walking on a solid rainbow – so many layers of vibrant colors, with little flora or fauna. However, mule deer, magpies, and rattle snakes are often seen within the park.
Once upon a time the government gave acres of this land to homesteaders who failed to raise crops except upon the occasional mesa. Even the Lakota avoided this area. The White River flowing through it is thick with (white) lime. Early frontierspeople tossed cactus leaves into a bucket which make much of the lime sink to the bottom, making it drinkable for their horses, but not humans.
The Badlands are beautiful, but not quite livable for humans.