By Debbie Gregory.
It all started with a quiet weekend trip to Arches National Park, Utah, in early 2012.
In 2012, before they were a married couple, Army Captains. Kendall and John Gomber, took a trip to Arches National Park, Utah. That trip gave the couple a novel idea how to spend time together while seeing America: visit every U.S. national park.
“We had such a wonderful weekend that we just kept going,” Kendall said.
The couple has visited every national park in the U.S., six of the seven continents.
“Really the goal was to see the United States and spend time with my favorite person in the world,” John said.
“It was awesome, especially when we were separated and at different duty stations,” said Kendall. “We’d have to see each other somehow, so we said, ‘Let’s go meet in Utah or Arizona or something.’”
On Labor Day weekend, the couple checked off their 59th and final national with a visit to Acadia National Park in Maine.
That means they have visited every national park in just under five years.
Some parks were more challenging than others to get to: remote parks such as Katmai National Park in Alaska and the National Park of American Samoa can only be accessed by boat or plane.
The other obstacle was coordinating trips between two separate Army training and deployment schedules while stationed at different locations.
The couple married in 2015 and is now stationed together at Fort Hood, Texas.
Between travel expenses, food and gear, John estimates they spent between $70,000 and $100,000.
But one thing they didn’t have to pay for was entrance to the parks themselves, thanks to the free military America the Beautiful pass.
The couple’s recommendation for anyone interested in replicating the challenge? Make sure to plan, plan, and plan.
“Whatever one you go to, make sure you talk to the park rangers,” John said. “If you have the right equipment and right mindset for what you’re doing, it’s always going to be a fun experience.”