National Park Service, Guam, Hawaii discussed on Go West, Young Podcast
That is what Mike Mayer did an epic three year journey to not just every national park, but all four hundred and nineteen sites. Run by the National Park Service at the individual Micheals trip came to an end on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, surrounded by friends and family and fans who followed his journey on Instagram and Facebook mica joins us on the line from where are you now have been the appaluse AM? That's correct. I are you adjusting to, to life back in the real world? It is so much harder than I thought I, I realized it took me about two weeks to verbalize sort of feeling I was having. But I realized that for three years, I woke up every day and I knew what my short term goal was that day. What a needed to accomplish in how fit into three. Three year goal and my entire life. And now I wake up not in a parking lot not innovation in with sort of this less clear sense of urgency everyday, and my brain doesn't know how to handle it. So take us back three years. This started out as a tribute to your late father, but it turned into a whole lot more than that. Yeah. You know, my dad loves road trips in that was one of the ways that we bonded before he passed. And when I was nineteen he died from his office cancer. So I never got to take the road trips with him during college and beyond that I expected I would have done one road trip every year since he passed his way to keep that connection alive along the way realized that most of my peers seem to think they were guaranteed to make eighty since my dad passed away, fifty eight I had learned that, that's not the case hardway and wanted to do something crazy, when I turned thirty that would hopefully grab their attention, share this message and I figured what more relatable way to reach the entire world than our National Park Service. So walk us through the logistics you come up with this crazy idea. But how do you actually turn that into a game plan for a seventy five? Thousand mile road dream over however many years. Yes, so I spent I spent my twenty saving up money to, to launch this project ended age twenty eight realized it was time to start planning earnest. So really spent a solid two years, doing everything from research on whether patterns who best routes to most efficient ways to reach these sites to win. Each park was opened in summer, only open seasonally, who potential sponsors. I could reach out to who the most practical way to live on the road axes sites talking to experts getting help rafting schedule sort of doing everything. I could head of time who be best prepared for launch day when that came on April twenty ninth two thousand sixteen. And then, of course, on top of all those miles, you can't drive to Hawaii, or American Samoa or Guam, or Puerto Rico, or the Virgin Islands. You've got some some planes and boats to try and both factor in and fund as part of this. I couldn't have been a cheap endeavor. Right. And that was the scariest thing was I began this journey with what park experts told me was only a fish of the amount of money of what it would take to do this in. So I sort of got in that driver seat. And drove away on, on a big leap of faith that somehow in the following three years, I could figure out a way to make this sustainable incomplete. It. So you had funding and then part of this, you were you were preaching in passing the hat along the way. What point did you realize that was going to be part of, of this trip for you? Yeah, but when I planned it, I sort of pollyannaish looked around at the world of social media in saw millennials funding. Epic travels by getting sponsors. And I thought well just do that. And learn really quickly, that if you don't have over one hundred thousand followers, nobody really cares. And particularly in the outdoors industry, there were no openly t people that had any sponsorships the recreation industry had never had a pride month add, so I sort of knew going in that I would have to fight this uphill battle of not fitting that outdoorsy image and also not having huge social following that companies would require until I figured I would crowd fund this journey, and there was a total failure at first, I would do. Media sharing this journey. And I just got nasty emails from people who called me trust fund kid, which obviously didn't read the article 'cause they would know that passers don't have trust funds. But everyone was just really negative. And I found that unless unless I had the chance to talk to people on explain the real reason why was doing this trip. It wasn't just a vacation as they assumed but the meanings behind it, once they knew that they were really excited to help. And so it took me about nine months to figure out how to do that. But I began using my backgrounds of professional singer at spent over a decade, senior professionally, including our National Cathedral, and started out, just singing for my supper and would pass out the hat, and then churches started asking me to preach, the sermon and figure out a way to, to tie the story of this journey into a message that, that spoke to the people there and hear him three years later. So on top of all that you're obviously than visit. The parks themselves how much time you able to spend in each Parker. Or did you feel like you had to, you know show up get the visitor center, take a selfie and hit the road again? Yeah. That's another thing is a lot of people assume that I was sort of Chevy, chasing my way in touching the parks, leaving that they thought I was just doing it to set a record which records were happy coincidence, that happened from its initial goal. So I was really fortunate in that when I was planning this journey just by pure coincidence, about five miles east of me lived one of the three or so dozen people who at that point had visited all the parts and so one night, he came over for dinner, and I got out my spreadsheet, I went through every single site and said, if you go back here, what would be the ideal amount of time, you would spend and those days in the data that I used to come up with this three route. So really the intention in the actual experience was to spend the ideal amount of time. That each site suggests whether that's a historic site that you can do everything in a few hours or a place like the Grand Canyon, where you really wanna spend a week rafting down the middle. I made sure that that's what I did not goats. So this is left, you then with a very unique appreciation of the park service that, as you mentioned, only a few dozen people in the entire world might have. So I want to pick your brain here a little bit of a speed round asking you to pick a few of your favorites. But with kind of specific questions, what do you think is the most under appreciated national park? I would say, our national lake shores. There are three of them now that Indiana dunes became a capital in capital park. And I'm shocked by how many people don't know about them, despite their incredible beauty? Among the A-List, the ticket national parks, which one is absolutely every bit as good as advertised. Oh my gosh. I, I stood a glacier point, and watch sunset over half dome in Yosemite and was just blown away. And I know it's sort of the opposite of some of the things I said on this journey that I was trying to share about the park sites. You haven't heard of, but that's one that you have heard of that is very well visited that absolutely delivers what is the one park that everyone needs to see before they die. That's tough. I mean, what I learned about the park services that there are so many sites that can be special to people with specific interests of people who love certain president, or like Springfield armory, that, that chronicles our nation's history of, of guns and warfare. And if that's your interests, like you're gonna love that place where than anything else. So I would say whatever site specific -ly speaks to you, as far as your, your personal interests for myself. I was really enchanted in blown away in ways. I never expected by dinosaur national. Yes. I've heard that for many people who've been don't realize that, that's one that I've heard a lot of folks suggested that absolutely deserves national park status. The locals don't like me. I've got an Email saying, stop telling everyone about our secret. What was the biggest surprise of park that you maybe went in with low expectations and came out blown away? I really had a blast at the, the site in Guam the war in the Pacific, national historical park, and the accompanying affiliated site onsite pan, which is the American memorial park. Both of them are, are technically just small parcels of land. But then they have pieces of the history of America's involvement World War Two all around the islands. So really to fully experience these parks stories, you have to explore both the entire island of Guam, and the entire island of pan. And that was just such a an incredible experience that looking at the names, designations, this historical park and memorial, park, you'd probably think it'd be like a statue in a building, but getting to fully experiences place means taking on the entire island culture. And it was really incredible. You mentioned Refn and the Colorado what was the biggest thrill on your trip? So I my family grew up pretty poor and never got to, like, I mean, even we go to arcades and it was like too much to two quarters that stuff. So it was always like the cheapest way of traveling possible. Nothing extra. And so getting to do a hot air balloon ride in South Dakota was like something I never imagined or getting to take a helicopter tour over badlands, national park or Hawaii volcanoes like these are experiences that I always looked at, at other families and saw that they could do, but assumed I would never get to do my life. So because of this journey in sort of, I would trade trade, a coverage on my blog and social media for some of these two or opportunities. Getting to do those extra special views of the parks, just blew my mind. Were there any parks that you end up ended up, hitting either in the wrong season or mother nature just didn't cooperate near? You're like I would come back to you again. If given the chance and take a do over. Yeah. One of the things I pride myself on. Is that sort of a lot of the hiccups, that I think a lot of people expected, what happened on this trip did not happen because I spent two years planning. So I really did my research to make sure that, that I could it be places. When the weather was Satistics most likely to be good. However, California roomy off because devils, postpone, national monument can only be reached basically in the li- like middle, July, August and early September. And you're only a few hundred miles away from death valley, national park which do not wanna be at during that time of year. So I actually had to fly from Alaska down to Yosemite devils post. File just so I could reach devils postponed, national monument during that temperate, I am of year because the rest of California I did in the spring earlier that year. Yeah. It's a good, detour there. We hear a lot about overcrowding in some park, Zion Yellowstone Yosemite. Did you did you run into that? And do you think that is a genuine problem that, that some of our parks are facing right now? Yeah, I mean, sort of one of the, the side benefits of doing ally. Speaking churches was.