Dear Friends,

This will be the final postcard you receive from the Bus trip – by the time you’re reading this we’ll have left our adventures in the wilderness behind and returned to our normal lives…

After we left Acadia National Park we traveled down to Washington D.C. to meet with April Slayton, the Assistant Director for Communications at the National Park Service. We got to see the National Park Service’s headquarters and learn about the logistics that go into managing the nation’s parks, which was fascinating! April was an amazing storyteller and an excellent resource for my Bus friends’ documentary; we were so thankful that she took the time to meet with us and give us a better picture of what goes into running the National Park Service.

Our next stop was Shenandoah National Park in Virginia! Established in 1935, Shenandoah contains a sizable portion of the Blue Ridge Mountains; this range in elevation provides a variety of habitats to many diverse plants and animals.

The valley in Shenandoah was so beautiful, and all around us there were majestic mountains, large meadows, and even a few waterfalls. The park has a little of everything, and it was a really fun place to explore on our hikes. When we first arrived at Shenandoah we saw a mother black bear and her three cubs run across the road! It was a little scary (given our previous encounter), but the babies were cute – and maybe even bigger than me…

While at Shenandoah we drove the Skyline Drive, a road that runs from the top of the park to the bottom. It allows for stunning views and trails every few miles, and we really took advantage of it! Since this was our last stop, we decided to make the most of our experience by going on several strenuous hikes. As a treat, one night we cooked chili and ramen for dinner! I had more than a few helpings… But I would need the energy for our final day at Shenandoah.

We ended our adventures by tackling Old Rag, the most notorious, intense hike the park has to offer. I’m impressed that I was able to keep up as well as I did – I think this trip has made me stronger! At Congaree National Park, our first stop, I would never have had the endurance to hike these challenging trails – now I feel like an old pro! I wonder if I’m the first beagle to conquer Old Rag?

When we started this trip, I really missed my parents, my yard, the Lodge, and all my friends. I’m not the most adventurous beagle, but the experiences I had while chronicling our journey have given me a new perspective of the natural world.

It can be scary, away from the urban, structured lives we lead. Nature doesn’t operate by the same rules we do, but despite the dangers and the risks it poses to cautious dogs like me, it never fails to remind us that all of the things we worry about and stress over are often so much smaller in scope than we believe.

While exploring old, magical forests, swimming in crystal clear waters, seeing alligators, bears, and a whale for the first time, sleeping under the stars, and watching the birth of a new day from the tip of our country, I felt incredibly lucky; lucky that my Bus friends and I should all be together at this very moment, witnessing these miracles.

I’ve come back from the trip stronger, refreshed, and hopeful. The National Parks serve as a reminder that such incredible experiences are not a guarantee; they can only come about when ordinary people fight for the health and preservation of the environment.

I would like to end this postcard by saying thank you to those men and women who saved these precious lands from destruction – because of you we’re able to learn more about the American landscape, and about ourselves every time we visit a National Park.

And of course a huge thank you to the Green Beagle Lodge for sponsoring these adventures and sending me along for the journey!

Shenandoah

Happy to be home,

Bing

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