Ginger Murphy is Assistant Director for Stewardship for Indiana State Parks and Reservoirs. During her 25 years with DNR she has also worked as an interpretive naturalist at the Upper Wabash Reservoirs (Salamonie, Mississinewa and Roush Lakes) and as Chief of Interpretation. Birding and hiking top her outdoor interests list.
One of the questions we see asked in the media or we ask others as we consider the 10th anniversary of 9/11 is “Where were you when it happened?” Most of us have a memory that flashes by or a story to tell.
Another question to consider is “Where were you the DAY AFTER 9/11?” Surprisingly enough, that next day – a Wednesday – found a record number of people visiting parks – city, county, state and national. Will LaPage, a noted conservationist and director of New Hampshire State Parks from 1984-1994, writes the following in his book Parks for Life, “Do you happen to know when the highest day of off-season visitation occurred in America’s parks? It was a quiet Wednesday in September 2001. Once the initial shock of 9/11 registered and we got tired of the replayed horror, we went to our parks in record numbers – as places of peace and safety in a shockingly unpredictable world.”
With that in mind, we invite you to do the same thing on the 10th Anniversary of 9/11 that many people did after the attacks occurred: make a visit to an Indiana state park, reservoir or state forest. And to make it easy, we will waive the gate fee for everyone on Sunday, September 11, 2011. All other fees (camping, etc) will apply, but you can enjoy a picnic, take a bike ride, go for a walk, visit a nature center or enjoy many other activities at a DNR property with no cost to you.
There is an Indiana state park within an hour of every single Hoosier now. When we opened Prophetstown State Park in 2004, we achieved that goal, so you don’t have to travel far. I know that for me, when I need a break from the demands of daily life, nothing is as restorative as a walk in the woods. I’ve shared with friends that an afternoon with a pair of binoculars on a favorite hiking trail for me is sort of like watching a dried up prune restored as it soaks in a glass of water.
So if you’re looking for an escape and some healing from the images replaying in the media or in your mind related to 9/11, consider a visit to a state park, reservoir or state forest this Sunday for reflection and relaxation either alone or with family and friends. Colonel Richard Lieber, the founder of the Indiana State Park system in 1916 (not long after the end of World War 1) once said the following that still applies today: “Our parks & preserves are not mere picnicking places. They are rich storehouses of memories & reveries. They are guides & counsels to the weary & faltering in spirit. They are bearers of wonderful tales to him who will listen; a solace to the aged & an inspiration to the young.”
See you on Sunday.