- National Parks that host weddings have had to cancel them
- Birthday celebrations, family trips must be rerouted
- State parks are offering alternative sites for fun, celebrations
A whole bunch of things aren't happening this weekend
Scuttled and rearranged plans stack up like a laundry list of life's memorable moments: weddings, father/son camping trips, landmark birthday festivities.
Thanks a lot, Congress.
A wedding dream, revised
Joy Miller's long-anticipated Yosemite National Park wedding is off. The event will still happen, but the venue, a favorite spot since Miller started camping there as a child, is closed.
It's just one of hundreds of national park sites, Smithsonian Institution museums and other facilities that the federal government has shut down.
Miller's fiancé Adam Brown proposed at Yosemite last November, and the California couple had planned to marry there this Sunday. The marriage-to-be hit its first big bump early.
After local CNN affiliate KTVU aired a segment about the wedding plans gone awry, Bloomfield Events in Petaluma, California, offered to host the wedding free of charge and started recruiting other suppliers.
"We feel so blessed and honored that strangers have given so much to make our wedding a reality," Miller wrote via e-mail.
"I was feeling so downtrodden about America with the government shutdown putting a halting stop to my wedding in Yosemite, and these people have renewed my faith in the American spirit of goodwill."
Harmony Campbell's husband and son had to re-route their father-son kayaking trip.
Rick Campbell and son Gabe, 15, are going to Janes Island State Park in Maryland instead of Assateague Island National Seashore. The cost? A little bit of adventure.
"They were planning to primitive camp along their kayak route," Harmony Campbell, of Davidsonville, Maryland, wrote via e-mail. "They now have to camp in a campground with other people (no real adventure)."
Still, state parks are a ready alternative to the shuttered national parks, and Assateague State Park will be open this weekend, although congestion is expected due to a bicycle event on Saturday and increased visitation because of the national seashore's closure.
In Maryland alone, there are 40 state parks, 10 state forests and seven state wildlife management areas.
On the other side of the country, tourism officials in Utah moved quickly to offer alternatives to the state's five shuttered national parks. Visit Utah's website features a roundup of "50 Awesome Alternatives."
Lonely Planet has made portions of its national park, Washington, D.C. and United States guides available as free PDF downloads through October 6 to help travelers plan around closures by visiting highlights in surrounding areas.
Some travelers are planning to work around federal park barriers, literally.
Photographer Rebecca Latson didn't cancel her trip to Maine this week. Flying there for vacation and work from her home in the Houston area, she's not letting the shutdown shut down her plans to shoot pictures of Acadia National Park for the National Parks Traveler website.
"Instead of going *inside* the park I'll be photographing the park from a kayak offshore and a possible biplane flight overhead," she wrote via e-mail. "Too bad Congress can't get its act together but I won't let it stop me from figuring out other ways to get my stories."
Rotting on the vine
Even life's daily and weekly routines are being disrupted: A hike, a fishing trip, picking tomatoes in the garden.
Paul Moses can't harvest his community garden vegetables at Gateway National Recreation Area in Brooklyn, New York. Not being able to get to his kale isn't a hardship compared to what other people are going through as a result of the shutdown, Moses wrote via e-mail.
"I think it will outlast the shutdown," he wrote. "It's hardy and may even last through the winter. The tomatoes won't do as well."
In Washington, where you can't throw a rock without hitting a blockbuster Smithsonian museum, there are plenty of non-federal cultural alternatives, although the free admission offered by most Smithsonian properties is hard to beat.
The Corcoran Gallery of Art ($10 for adults) and The Phillips Collection ($12 for adults) both offer impressive permanent and rotating special exhibitions. For spy thrills, try the popular International Spy Museum ($20.95 for adults).
And just across the state lines in Maryland and Virginia, there's plenty of history and nature to explore. In Virginia, George Washington's privately-owned Mount Vernon is open as usual and it now boasts an underground visitor center and education center. Maryland's Greenbrier State Park has lovely camp sites, canoes and paddle boats. And the Appalachian trail crosses the eastern end of the park.
But sometimes there's no alternative to a headliner attraction.
Sue Michaud of Germantown, Tennessee, is on the brink of 60. She and her husband are planning to celebrate her birthday hiking and exploring the Grand Canyon.
Only their second child-free vacation ever together, they've purchased plane tickets, rented an SUV, pre-paid for their lodging and arranged for a full week off from work for their upcoming trip.
Michaud says she's waited 59 years to see the Grand Canyon.
"Yes, there will be other things we can do there, but the highlight was to finally see the GRAND CANYON!," she wrote in an e-mail.
"Everything else we were going to do, really doesn't mean much to me, at this point. Thanks government. Thanks for ruining our vacation. And a lot of other people's too."