Strange Wonders: Searching for My Youth in America’s National Parks is Blue Highways meets The National Parks: America’s Best Idea. The book is a deeply personal memoir of a baby boomer’s odyssey of discovery in two journeys through the national parks taken 50 years apart.
Illustrated with classic black and white photographs taken by his professional photographer father on the 1962 trip and his own rich color images from the reprise.
In the summer of 1962, fifteen-year-old Whit Thornton took a seven week camping trip with his parents through eleven western national parks. Among his adventures was a technical climb of the Grand Teton, 13,770 feet high.
His father Dade was a third-generation artist-photographer with an out-sized personality and eccentric interests. As Whit matured into adulthood he turned from the path set by his father to establish his own identity, pursuing a career as a lawyer.
Over the years Whit relived the experience from 1962 through a journal he kept on the trip and through his dad’s photographs. He was drawn to repeat the trip, a feeling that grew stronger with the passage of time.
Strange Wonders is the story of Whit’s venture in 2012 to retrace the 1962 journey, to try to find the youth that spoke to him from the pages of his journal and stared back at him in father’s black and white photographs. One of Whit’s tests would be an attempt to climb the Grand Teton again.
The trip also become an unexpected opportunity to explore his relationship with his late father and reconcile feelings long repressed.