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Family stops in Hot Springs on national park tour

By The Associated Press

This article was published February 20, 2011 at 12:49 p.m.

a-group-tours-garvan-woodland-gardens-near-hot-springs-in-this-feb-19-2011-file-photo

A group tours Garvan Woodland Gardens near Hot Springs in this Feb. 19, 2011 file photo.

The Beverley family, of Massachusetts, recently made stop No. 13 when they visited Hot Springs National Park in their yearlong journey to see all 58 national parks in the country, including those in Alaska and Hawaii.

“We are spending up to four days in each park. This park is the smallest, so we’ll probably spend two days here, roughly, depending, but we can spend more since we have up to four,” said Teresa Beverley, noting that one travel day between parks is included in the itinerary.

Employed as an instructor with the U.S. Army Reserve, she said the yearlong excursion began in the Massachusetts area on Dec. 10, while she was mobilized there for a year, and after she got off duty, the family began their journey down the east coast.

“We’re kind of traveling with the weather. So now we’re in the southern region, and we’ll get all those parks out of the way and go west toward California. The plan right now is to go to Hawaii, American Somoa, and when we get back, we’ll head up the California coast into Alaska. Then we’ll head back down and hit the remaining ones in Colorado and Utah,” she said, adding that they plan to end their journey in November in San Antonio, which her family designates as their home and where the family of her husband, Anthony Beverley, lives.

“I was mobilized just after the war started, so I lost a year with my family, so this trip has a little bit more meaning for me because I want to try to gain that year back, so to speak, so we’re together for the year,” she said, noting that the trip began with a family vacation to the Grand Canyon National Park in 2001.

She said that while visiting the Grand Canyon, her husband asked a park ranger what it costs to get into the park and was told that all the national parks could be visited in one year for $70.

“He started researching and thinking about it,” she said.

Anthony Beverley said the park pass, which now costs $80, is available to anyone and can be purchased at any national park site.

“It’s a lot cheaper than any amusement park, especially for a family, and you get the 394 properties at this point,” he said.

While the family travels to the parks, Teresa Beverley said her husband homeschools their three children: Kendall, 10, Justice, 11, and Anthony II, 14.

“What we can do while we travel, as we go through each state, is we can talk about geography, we can talk about government, history, so we literally do that as we’re trekking down the road with our books,” she said. “Of course, they have their alone time when they do their own homeschooling. What I think it does is it takes something out of the textbook and makes it practical for them. They can actually see and touch and hear a lot more than they normally would out of a textbook.”

Teresa Beverley said that while their main focus is to visit all of the national parks, they plan to make time to see other sites along the way.

“We’re going to insure that we hit major monuments, museums, battlefields, as we go. For instance, as we went through Philadelphia, we got to see the State House,” she said. “These guys got to see where they wrote and signed the Declaration of Independence. A lot of kids don’t get that opportunity, and they’re knocking that out in a year.”

She said the family plans out what to do with their time at each park and with their time in Hot Springs.

“We’ve come to find out there’s a lot of history here, so we definitely want to take some drives through the area, do some of the trails. We go into a lot of shops and restaurants and ask people and locals what to see, what to do. We noticed there’s a lot of galleries, so there has got to be a lot of artists here,” she said, noting that while on this journey, they only eat at indigenous restaurants to receive the full cultural experience.

While some of the national parks have a fee, which is covered with the yearlong pass, Teresa Beverley said that up until this point, they haven’t visited a park yet with a fee.

“I think that’s something important that people need to know is that there are so many parks that don’t require a fee,” she said.

“I don’t think the east (coast) national parks are as good as the west, because I’ve seen so many more on TV, and we’ve seen the east, and I don’t like the east national parks, so far,” said Justice Beverley. His sister Kendall said she’s looking forward to the parks in California, while Anthony Beverley II said he’s looking forward to their next stop at Big Bend National Park in Texas.

Teresa Beverley said the family has been traveling for the first two months of the trip by car and at their motor home, which they plan to use for most of the remainder of the trip, at the next stop.

Funding the journey themselves, she said, “Being mobilized for a year really helps you save money,” noting that her husband had a sports memorabilia store for several years, but has recently had an online store.

“He’s been really active in selling all of his items,” she said, adding that as they travel, they’ve been looking into sponsorships.

“We don’t want anyone to think we want a free ride,” she said. “We want to partner with people who care about the mission of a family and turning off the gidgets and gadgets and going into national parks and spending time with our family.”

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