Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Dry Tortuga National Park

Dry Tortuga is one of the most unique and interesting National Parks.  Only accessible by boat (or seaplane!) it is located on the last of the Florida Keys, 68 miles west of Key West. My husband and I visited here in March 2011, and had the opportunity to explore one of the islands, Garden Key

As a National Park, it was established in 1962, but it's rich history began in 1513 when Ponce de Leon landed here and gave it the name "Tortugas" spanish for turtles.  A little later, the additional "Dry" was added to warn sailors running low on fresh water that they would not find any there.  The United States acquired the island from Spain in 1822, establishing a lighthouse on the island of Garden Key and later, in 1846 began construction on the US Army Fort Jefferson as a base to control the ships entering the Gulf of Mexico. 

 The fort was huge, enough to house 1500 soldiers.  With 16 million bricks and 8 foot thick walls it was a fortress.  One of it's most famous claims to fame is that during the Civil war it became a military prison, with it's most  famous resident being Dr. Samuel Mudd, the doctor who helped John Wilkes Booth after he assassinated President Lincoln.  While serving his time, he saved many lives at Fort Jefferson during an epidemic of yellow fever and was pardoned in 1869.  Eventually the lack of available water presented problems and though construction continued thru the Civil war, the fort was abandoned in 1874.  

The park encompasses over 100 square miles, 99 percent of which is underwater.   I look forward to returning someday to explore the rest with my snorkel and fins!! 

Learn more about Dry Tortuga National Park at:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Joshua Tree National Park

Joshua Tree National Park
Established 1994

Soooo... I had never heard of Joshua Tree National Park, nor did I have any idea what a Joshua Tree was.  My daughter, Sarah visited Southern California and this national park a while back so I asked her about it...  her response was "you know mom, it's the Dr. Seuss trees!"  And so, forever imprinted in my mind is Thing One and Thing Two roaming around in the California desert, and then The Cat in the Hat popping out (Boo!) from behind one of these cartoonish trees!

With that in mind, I am taking a more comical and colorful approach to this sketch!  Seems a little bit more like "paint by numbers" than a work of art, but I had fun... and at the end of the day, that's what it's all about!

Learn more about Joshua Tree National Park at:

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Zion National Park

The five beautiful national parks of south Utah will always have a special significance for me.

In September of 2001 my dear friend, Andrea Townsend and I had planned a fun adventure to tour the five parks in her home state.  Then 9/11 happened.  After the shock and horror of that day, we wondered if we should just stay home with our families and play it safe.   After spending weeks glued to the TV news, we were depressed and scared for the future of our country but as the weeks grew closer to our scheduled trip we eventually decided that this trip was exactly what was needed to do.  We agreed to turn off the news and instead we would turn our minds and hearts to the positive and hopeful by reconnecting with the great beauty of God's world in our National Parks.  Knowing that the God who created the beauty before us, was also in control of the chaos of these days and we would always be safe in His hands.  

So we spent an amazing week together.  First in Arches National Park (pictured above) then traveling through Canyonlands NP, Capitol Reef NP,  and Bryce NP before completing our heart filling journey in Zion NP.  

Established as a national park in 1919, this area is considered by most geologists to be the planets largest dune field, blown here from the Appalachian Mountains, back during the Jurassic era.    Today, a glorious vision of sandstone cliffs, rushing rivers and lush greenery.  Issac Behunin, an early settler in the area once exclaimed "A man can worship God among these great cathedrals as well as in any man man-made church - this is Zion"   
And the name stuck!   

Andrea and I hiked the trails, took in the milky way on a clear night, laughed, prayed and sang together.  This weeks National Park Art is of Angels Landing, one of my favorite vista's .... I do believe that their are angels everywhere watching over us, especially in these days and I can't imagine a better place for them to arrive than here!

Andrea and Barbara - Zion National Park - September 2001

Learn more about the National Parks in Utah by visiting:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Acadia National Park

Acadia National Park

From the first NP (Yellowstone) to my favorite (Grand Teton) we now visit the Easternmost National Park located on the coast of Maine.  

I am a sucker for lighthouses!!  In the fall of 2013 following a wedding in Martha's Vineyard, my husband and I took a road trip from Boston to Bar Harbor along Hwy. 1.  I sought out and photographed at least 9 different lighthouses along the way, each one unique.  At the end of our trip we enjoyed two lovely days in Acadia National Park and I was looking forward to seeing the Bass Harbor Lighthouse on the southern tip of Mount Desert Island.  However,  just prior to that we stopped at Jordan Pond and I decided I wanted to take a photo of the bridge from the riverbank, so I ran... and ultimately tumbled down that rocky path and ended up flying into the rocks, smashed my camera and banged up my knee!  But that didn't stop me from getting to this "last but not least" lighthouse, perched amongst the rocky cliffs!   Unfortunately with no camera to record this image I needed to rely on google images for this painting!  

But I digress.... more about Acadia National Park:
Because of it's beauty and remoteness, Mount Desert Island began to attract the rich and famous in the 19th Century.  Wealthy families such as the Astors, Vanderbilts and Carnegies built magnificent mansions on the islands northeast coast...ultimately becoming known as "Millionaires Row."  Soon, hotels and tourists followed and the wealthy part-time residents became concerned that the island would lose the qualities that made it so attractive.  One of them, John D. Rockefeller, Jr. donated 11,000 acres in 1919 to what was originally named Lafayette National Park.  Now, with 50,000 acres and a new name (in 1929) Acadia National Park is one of the most popular national parks and the only one located in the North East USA.

For more information about Acadia National Park go to: