How To: Get A National Parks Pass for FREE

Summertime.

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Our 2013 National Parks Pass – We can’t wait to use it!

I can feel it coming and I’m excited! Camping, hiking, and just being outside makes me very happy. So although it’s been pouring on and off here for the past 24 hours, I decided to go out and get our first Military National Parks Annual Pass for 2013!

Now the best part about getting the pass this year? It was completely, totally, no-fees free. That’s right – FREE.

But before you run out your door, please note that this is only available for Active Duty Military! (Civilians pay the standard annual pass costs.)

If you are in the Joint Base Lewis-McChord area, head South to Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge to pick up one for you and your family! You can also pick up one at any National Park Ranger Station or National Wildlife Refuge Office if you are stationed somewhere else. 🙂 All you will need to bring with you is your Military ID!

The ranger I spoke to at Nisqually explained that the Annual Pass – Military comes along with some extra steps when using them:

  1. Do not lend the Military Annual Pass to other family or friends.
  2. To successfully enter the National Park or Refuge, you will need to show your Military ID along with the pass itself.
  3. The pass will allow other passengers entrance into the parks. Meaning, you, your active duty spouse and any other passengers inside the car will be allowed into the park – so not just those with Military IDs!
  4. Both you and your active duty spouse will sign the back of the pass. So if you just so happen to forget your Military ID and your spouse has their’s, you will still be able to successfully enter the park when he gives his CAC Card to them.

For more FAQs on Military Annual Passes, check the U.S. Geological Survey’s Military Pass Site here.

Enjoy!

Lauren

P.S. Today marks Blair’s first year in the Army. It’s hard to believe that last Mother’s Day I was dropping him off at the recruiter’s and now a year has already passed. I’m extremely proud of him for who he has become throughout this whole experience and proud of him for all that he has done. This also goes for all the soldiers already out there – without you guys, we would not be a FREE country! Thank you for your service!

Our First Year Captured

A Year.

A month from today, Blair and I have officially been married for a year. It blows my mind how quickly it’s gone by – let only how fast the last six years have flown by! So to remember our first year together and freeze our time here in Washington, we decided to have our photos taken at the beautiful Tolmie State Park by the talented Marjorie Santiago at Sugar Lilies Photography!

Blair and I have always loved looking at old photos of our parents and grandparents, and I can’t wait to have a huge collection of photos for our kids to look at and ask us about. Marjorie’s photos captured exactly what both of us were looking for. And despite it raining some (no surprise there!) and being very cold outside, she got us to laugh while we stayed snuggled close to each other to keep warm!

Below are just a few of our favorites that we wanted to share with our friends and family around the country. Enjoy!

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Marjorie is one of my all time favorite photographers, as well as someone who has become a good friend here in Washington. She’s everything a great photographer is: talented, friendly, creative and a go getter! But, I’m not going to lie, one of the best things about her is that she is a fellow Army wife! I love supporting fellow Army wives and she is definitely one that is majorly deserving of praise for her hard work and beautiful creations!

If you are in the Fort Lewis area, she’s the gal to go to for photos. She has great prices, creates beautiful photos and is always having awesome promotions (her last one was a free mini session for Easter!). To check out more of her work, visit her site here!

Lauren

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P.S. I asked Marjorie if I could use the photo to the right so I could show everyone what the part of Washington we live in looks like. Washington definitely lives up to their nickname “The Evergreen State” – they are everywhere here!

Tolmie is right by the water, and is a fun place to visit if you are up in Washington too. Such a great state park!

Howdy, Washington.

We meet again. 

Making the drive to Washington.

Life was a little different two years ago. I was at the University of Nevada, Reno, pursuing a degree in Journalism. And my now husband was across the country trying to get a job with a fire department. Being high school sweethearts, this time apart was really the first time we weren’t within a driving hour of seeing each other. It was a hard time for both of us. I took up blogging to fill the time and that’s how The Real Sweetheart started.

Then life got even busier. Blair came home and school ended and started up again for me before I could even realize where the time had gone. In January of 2012, Blair proposed at Disneyland (our favorite spot) and life was really just starting for the both of us.

Now, we are married and God has put us on a path neither of us expected to be on when we met six years ago. He’s in the Army and I’m an Army wife. We now call Fort Lewis our new home and first duty station. And we have a one-year-old puppy named Costello who keeps us on our feet along with the new adventures married life and the Army has thrown our way.

We try to constantly laugh, experience new things and thank God for all that He has done for both of us individually and as a young married couple.

I hope that you enjoy this new beginning for the blog. I’m honestly beyond excited, yet kind of nervous. Please enjoy, comment if you feel inspired to do so and send any ideas or questions my way!

Lauren

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures.
He leads me beside still waters.

-Pslams 23: 1-2