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Friday, January 24, 2014

Been There, Got The T-Shirt

I don't consider myself an addictive personality. Oh sure, I can go a little overboard with the chocolate now and then, but overall I don't feel there's much I couldn't live without. Lately though, during a little early spring cleaning, I realized I just may have a problem.

A whole drawer full, in fact.

I love t-shirts. Not just any t-shirt, but the ones you can find at the visitor's centers and gift stores at national and state parks. I've collected them for as many years as Mark and I have been camping together...no, that's wrong...longer than that. I think I got my first one when I was in high school. I try to tell myself that pictures are what we take away with us when we go to these places, but about 90% of the time I come home with a shirt, hat or sweatshirt as well.

Here's a picture of what I found on the top layer of my drawer:


I went through them just before Christmas and must have given ten shirts to charity. I thought I was doing better. I thought wrong.

I'm embarrassed to say I'm wearing one right now; my pink Yosemite shirt, purchased this summer on our annual trip. I've got one (or more) from all the major parks in the western states, a few from Canada, and a couple from our local county park. It's gotten so bad I have flat storage boxes that slide under the bed filled with shirts that won't fit in the drawer. And that doesn't even include my ball cap collection.

I wear them all, but confess to having a few favorites. My Crater Lake national park t-shirt started out life navy blue but has faded to a light purple, and holes are starting to form along the shoulder seam. I tried to put it in the rag pile but just couldn't bring myself to do it. I've gone so far as to search online to see if they sell the same style as a replacement. No dice.

Mark rolls his eyes when we walk into park stores and as a preemptive measure, warns me I can buy one only if I get rid of one (if by "get rid of" you mean putting it in the box under the bed, then it's a deal...) He can't exactly complain though; he's got a few himself, one of which he still wears even though it looks like an 80s acid-wash gone bad. The seams have the look of really sloppy lace, and there are spots on the back worn so thin by his backpack they're almost translucent.

Mark wearing his favorite Yosemite shirt when it was new-ish. Photo taken in Arches NP, Utah.
(We have a rule: we can't wear a shirt bearing the name of the park we are currently in. For instance, when camping in Yosemite, we have to wear a Glacier or Rainier shirt. Wouldn't want to look like a tourist or something...)

We're working on our plans for trips this year. We've got maps laid out all over the dining room table and guide books with sticky notes poking out the sides; we're looking for some interesting new places to explore in the Arizona and southern Utah regions. We have certain criteria: it can't be too crowded, the weather can't be too cold, and some four wheel driving has to be required. All of this is fine by me, as long as there's a gift store on the way out.

If I don't have a t-shirt, how can I prove I was there?