My name is Brandon. I am a gay American, great-grandson of immigrants, married to a son of immigrants. And I deeply love the public lands of my country. I am a son of the Great Lakes, a city-dweller, a child of Detroit, who now lives in Chicago with my husband, Sean, and my cat, Elsa. I am an urbanite who adores, longs for, and writes about our shared spaces.

In the summer of 2010 when I was thirty-one, after a drive through Cuyahoga Valley National Park, I decided to revive a childhood ambition to visit all the U.S. National Parks. Sean was enthusiastic, and it became a project for the two of us, plus our friends and likely our children at some point. We gave ourselves sixteen years to travel to all (then) fifty-eight National Parks (Pinnacles would become number fifty-nine in 2013). While our focus would be the National Parks, we would incorporate side trips to National Monuments, Historical Parks, Lakeshores, Seashores, etc. into our trips.

By the time we launched the project in November 2010, I had traveled to five Parks: Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Shenandoah, Badlands, and Cuyahoga Valley. Sean had been to one: Dry Tortugas.

This site is a chronicle of the journey.

(Image: Sean M. Santos)

AsTheyAre.net is © 2010 – 2021 by Brandon Hayes. Unless otherwise indicated, all images and videos throughout the site are by Brandon Hayes. Contact: behayes @ gmail . com

13 thoughts on “About

  1. Kurt A.

    Thanks for the site. Great pics, and the site helped me plan my trip to Badlands/Wind Cave/Black Hills/Devil’s Tower I took last week.

    It was a bitch of a drive from Chicago, but worth every minute.

  2. Kurt A.

    Kind of weird bumping into you guys on the train. I don’t think I even realized you lived here in Chicago!

    Have a great time at Denali…

  3. thecaptainnemo

    Good luck, Just the National parks or all the National monuments? i.e here in California we have Pinnacles, Lava Beds, Muir woods, and some others that are National monuments but not National Parks. Truthfully I have a hard time keeping track of which is which 🙂

    1. Brandon Hayes

      Thanks much! Just the National Parks in terms of the project (although we will be certain to visit the National Monuments, Lakeshores, Seashores, Battlefield Parks, Heritage Corridors, etc. as we go. Happily (and as an example of the extreme worthiness of many of the other NPS holdings), we visited Pinnacles after it was upgraded to National Park status in 2013. What a jewel of a park!

  4. Kurt A.

    Found your site again, as I’m planning a trip to Teddy Roosevelt Nat’l Park next month. Can’t wait to check out your Alaskan trip. Now I have something to do this weekend!

    Pinnacles is awesome. I went there the week it turned into a Nat’l Park. I spent 3 days there, and pretty much had the whole place to myself. I kind of wish they kept it a monument, because I’m selfish and don’t like tons of people around me in these places. But it deserves the Nat’l Park status.

    Anyway, I appreciate good travel blogs like yours…so thanks again…

    1. Brandon Hayes

      Hey Kurt, thanks for the note. I love that you enjoy the blog so much. And I’m envious that you’ll be at Teddy Roosevelt next month. That place definitely captured my heart. And if you like solitude, I think going to that park at this time of year will definitely give you some. Do not skip Elkhorn Ranch…and we joke that the Medora C-Store is the mosts important building west of the Mississippi.

      We have eight parks in the works for this centennial year. The idea is to catch up on the four that we need to calibrate (I’ve been to three Sean hasn’t been to, and he’s been to one I haven’t). Adding in other parks along the way will make for our biggest year yet. Which means I need to finish up writing about Alaska (I’m almost to Glacier Bay in the narrative).

      Have a great weekend!

    1. Brandon Hayes

      Joy, thank you so much for your kind words. We just returned from visiting two more California Parks, which is why I was delayed replying. I’m so glad you enjoy the blog and find it useful.

  5. Chelsea Karthauser

    Hi Brandon,

    I’m a Juneau, Alaska local, and I enjoyed your photography very much! Sidenote: I used to work at the Silverbow Inn! I am currently working on a publication about Juneau for an academic journal publication, and I was wondering if I could use 1 or 2 of your photos (with you credited of course!) It would be great if we could get in touch. My email is chelseankarthauser@gmail.com or my phone number is (414) 870 – 0195. Feel free to call, text, or email me.



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