Joan and Michael Young -
Just Who Are We?
We are a retired baby-boomer couple, living in a small town in Northern New Mexico. We are both on our second marriages, and this time around, are very happily married. We used to live in Albuquerque, but we built an unusual, off-the-grid home in the mountains north of Taos and, upon retirement, left the big city for the more relaxed, and very quiet, atmosphere of rural New Mexico.
Joan was born and raised in sprawling Los Angeles, got married relatively early, and moved to Albuquerque nearly 40 years ago. Joan worked, mostly, as an accountant, after raising her family, but she never really enjoyed what she did.
I was born in Casper, Wyoming, a small, windy city, but moved to Los Angeles as a teenager. From there I began a series of moves which have taken me to Denver, Minnesota, North Carolina, New York City, Connecticut, and, 25 years ago, to Albuquerque. (I like to tell people that I have had more than 23 different mailing addresses during my lifetime.) I made a living as a database/software consultant and developer, working for a number of small and large companies both back east, and in Albuquerque. Although I had a few moments of success in my career, I too was very happy to retire.
We are an unlikely couple. Joan, prior to meeting me, really only knew two different cities, while I’ve already traveled, and lived in a number of locations. Joan is a small cute redhead, while I am a massive brute at almost 6’5” and well over 300 pounds. After our first marriages failed, Joan and I sort of stumbled onto each other (with the help of a mutual friend), and, after several years of dating and living together, we finally got married a month after 9/11.
As we became more and more alienated from our jobs, we found the escape offered by leaving for the New Mexico mountains more and more attractive. Finally, in 2012 we both retired, and moved to our mountain getaway full time.
And Who is MisterParks?
Well, that would be me, Michael Young. But there is a little story there.
You see, we love our National Park system and, in other places, I’ve talked about how I have a Bucket List of some 210 National Parks that we use to help us plan our travel itineraries. So we see a lot of them and they play a huge role in helping us appreciate the spectacular scenery and rich history that our country has to offer.
So, in support of our parks, we always go to the park store, usually in the visitor centers. There we buy a number of things including gifts for our granddaughter, postcards for family, books to help us understand our world, and souvenirs to help us remember our visits. As seniors, we do not pay an admission fee to parks – a perk that we really appreciate. But because we believe in our parks we always spend a fair amount of money in the store to help support them.
In big National Parks, I usually buy an article of clothing like a tee shirt or, from Isle Royale, a really terrific hooded over-shirt that was just perfect for the weather. At National Lakeshores and Seashores, I buy pins and at National Monuments, I buy the cloth patches.
At first, I just collected the items, stuck them in a drawer and looked at them occasionally. But as they accumulated we decided that they deserved a more prominent display. Since we frequently travel in the spring or fall, when it might be chillier, I’ve frequently worn a fleece over-shirt. So Joan decided one day to sew the patches on the overshirt as a way to do something with them other than hide them away in some drawer.
So one day, in Glacier National Park, I’m wearing this overshirt with a couple dozen of these patches on it around the campground. As we encounter a neighboring camper, he remarks on my shirt, and looks around at the patches. He then asks if we had actually been to all of them and I, very proudly, said that yes, of course we had. He replied, ‘well you’re a regular Mister Parks’.
And so as long as the tradition survives, so shall the name – MisterParks Travels