YOUR PRESENCE REQUIRED: It is almost extremely certain that, if you've been invited to several birthday parties over the course of your lifetime, that your "presence" has been requested in lieu of physical, wrapped, bow-on-top "presents" (also, you've read a lot of "in lieu of" on a whole lot of invitations, for sure). It's a happy homophone situation, with "presents" and "presence," and the request of the latter simply means that the host wants to see you there, in the room. Nice, yes, but we'll take the word even further when it comes to visiting a famous organization on a pretty big birthday. The National Park Service is just about to mark its 99th -- it was founded in 1916, yessiree, on Aug. 25 -- and you definitely don't owe it any presents. (In fact, we're 100% sure you consider the motto "take only memories, leave only footprints" when bringing anything into a park.) Your presence, though, would be nice on Aug. 25, and by that we simply don't mean arriving in a national park and being there, but being there. Get us? We're talking about connecting with the place, the Joshua trees, the redwoods, the foamy surf, the quiet and the majesty and the nature and the wind. Anyone can offer presence, as in showing up, but embodying the quality takes a little extra oomph.
WHAT YOU WON'T REQUIRE... a little extra of, should you visit on the NPS birthday proper, is cash. Well, for sure, if you travel keep some clams handy, but paying them at the entrance gate to the park of your choice will be a no-go on Aug. 25. Your money shall be waved away, as the National Park Service is waiving get-in fees at those parks that charge them. (Way less than half do.) Do you need to hug a boulder? Stare at some cumulus action over a far ridge? What about saying hello to a waterfall? All of these activities vibe with the aforementioned presence. Head out to your favorite park, or a new one, on Tuesday, Aug. 25, and saunter in for free. Happy birthday, National Park Service! Already can't wait to see what you've got going for your big centennial.