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Pair tackles 59 national parks in 59 weeks

March 4, 2016 at 8:15 PM EDT
Last year, 30-year-old Darius Nabors decided to quit his job and embark on the journey of a lifetime: a tour of all 59 of the country’s national parks in 59 weeks. Nabors was inspired by his father, a former park ranger, and his trip is timed to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service. So far, he’s visited 34 parks across the nation and shows no sign of slowing down.
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JUDY WOODRUFF: And, finally tonight, our “NewsHour” Shares: something that caught our eye that might be of interest to you, too.

Last year, 30-year-old Darius Nabors decided to quit his job to go on a journey of a lifetime, his goal, to visit all 59 national parks in 59 weeks. The trip was inspired by his father, a former park ranger, and is timed to celebrate the centennial anniversary of the National Park Service.

We spoke to Nabors by phone this week as he and his friend Trevor Kemp visited Death Valley, their 34th park so far.

DARIUS NABORS, 59in59: My name is Darius Nabors. And I am visiting all 59 national parks in 59 weeks to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.

We started our trip in Virginia, and then we drove to Ohio, to Cuyahoga Valley National Park. And then we kind of went north through Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, and up to Alaska.

One of the great things that we saw in Alaska in Katmai National Park was the Valley of Ten Thousand Smokes. So, in 1912, there was the largest volcanic eruption in the 20th century. And the scale was just huge. And we hiked onto this valley that had 700 feet of ash and pumice. So you went from being in this, like, verdant green Alaska forest to walking on the moon in just a matter of minutes.

We came to Washington and did one of my all-time favorite hikes, where we hiked around Mount Rainier on the Wonderland Trail. While we were there, there was also the super blood moon eclipse. And so one of the nights, we hiked back out and saw the moon as it was coming out of the eclipse and kind of rising over Mount Rainier.

And just came from Sequoia National Park, where they have some of the largest trees in the world, and the scale and immensity of these trees is really indescribable. You’re standing at the base of it, looking up, and the tree’s as tall as a football field, and you just can’t — you can’t get a sense of scale because it is so tall.

And right now, we’re actually in Death Valley. We lucked out, because once about every 10 years, Death Valley has what’s called a superbloom. And, so, when they have really big rains in the fall, the wild flowers will bloom really well in the spring. And so we’re going to go and visit fields of wild flowers in the hottest and driest place in the United States.

A lot of my friends ask me for great photos of the parks, and they ask me what my favorite park is or what’s the coolest experience, and I think that’s the really special part about it. I can’t explain to you, at least not in words, what it’s like to see Denali, the mountain, rise 7,000 feet above the surrounding mountains.

It’s one of those places where a photograph just doesn’t do it justice. And that’s the thing with a lot of these parks, is, we try and capture some great photographs, but if you want to truly see these parks, you have to get out there and visit them yourself.

JUDY WOODRUFF: Great pictures, though.

Darius Nabors and Trevor Kemp plan to finish their journey at Acadia National Park in Maine on August 25. That’s the National Park Service’s 100th birthday.

On the “NewsHour” online: Banksy, the elusive artist behind the million-dollar works of political graffiti, may have been tagged. A new mathematical analysis claims to have identified the anonymous street artist. You can see why they think they have uncovered one of the biggest mysteries in the art world. That’s on our home page.

All that and more is on our Web site, PBS.org/NewsHour.

And a reminder about some upcoming programs from our PBS colleagues.

Gwen Ifill is preparing for “Washington Week,” which airs later this evening. Here’s a preview:

GWEN IFILL: According to his foes, the Republican front-runner is a con man, a liar, and, worst of all, unelectable. Then, why have all the remaining Republican candidates promised to support him if becomes the nominee? Welcome to the world of rocks and hard places.

We sort through the latest amazing twists and turns in the 2016 campaign tonight on “Washington Week” — Judy.

JUDY WOODRUFF: On tomorrow’s edition of “PBS NewsHour Weekend,” continuing coverage of the presidential election, as voters in five more states head to the polls.

And we will be back, right here, on Monday, as I join “The Atlantic”‘s James Fallows on his trek across the country to explain how America is putting itself back together.

That’s the “NewsHour” for tonight. I’m Judy Woodruff.

Have a great weekend. Thank you, and good night.

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