I still don't know when National History Day is, but what I do know is that September is National Wildlife Month. And unlike a lot of so-called national days or weeks or months, this one's official:
As natural habitats for diverse wildlife; as destinations for family camping trips; and as venues for hiking, hunting, and fishing, America's wilderness landscapes hold boundless opportunities to discover and explore. They provide immense value to our Nation -- in shared experiences and as an integral part of our economy. Our iconic wilderness areas draw tourists from across the country and around the world, bolstering local businesses and supporting American jobs.
During National Wilderness Month, we reflect on the profound influence of the great outdoors on our lives and our national character, and we recommit to preserving them for generations to come.
NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim September 2013 as National Wilderness Month. I invite all Americans to visit and enjoy our wilderness areas, to learn about their vast history, and to aid in the protection of our precious national treasures.
I have to confess I've spent very much time in the Wilderness. I did my share of camping as a Boy Scout, and as an adult I camped overnight in a handful of state and national parks when I toured California in 2003. But those Boy Scout campouts were all at campgrounds, with kybos and well water, and we never had to hike that far from the parking area to the site where we pitched our tents. My troop did make annual trips to Philmont Scout reservation, which offers a genuine wilderness camping experience, but I never went; Philmont's mountainous terrain and my weak ankles didn't seem like a good combination.
The same was largely true of the parks in which I camped while in California. I stayed in developed campgrounds at all four, and with one exception I was able to drive straight to my campsite and park next to my tent. The Yosemite Creek campground at Yosemite National Park was the outlier, but even there I could drive to the site and unpack before returning the car to the central parking area. That one didn't have potable water either, but even so, it still hardly qualifies as wilderness.
I was just thinking about that Yosemite trip the other day, actually, thanks to a recent grocery shopping trip. The gas station across the street from the grocery store was proudly advertising their new 24-hour pay-at-the-pump system. It reminded me of Yosemite because the small grocery store at Crane Flat was the first place I ever saw at which you could buy gas 24 hours a day, even when the store was closed. I don't understand why every gas station doesn't operate that way. Granted, in a densely populated area like Madison, it's not too very difficult to find a gas station that's open 24 hours, but why wouldn't the ones that aren't want to be able to sell gas to people who need it any time of day?