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.
Never miss a local story.
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.
To recommend somebody for the Adventurer of the Week, email firstname.lastname@example.org.