Inspired by dad, a UNL minister, man completes 3-year quest to visit all national parks

Inspired by dad, a UNL minister, man completes 3-year quest to visit all national parks
At the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C., Mikah Meyer completes a quest to visit every National Park Service site. The Washington Post

WASHINGTON — Mikah Meyer has spent three years hiking, rafting, flying in planes, riding on trains and sailing on boats and mostly driving, driving, driving.

As of Monday, 33-year-old Meyer has been to all 419 National Park Service sites in America — becoming, he believes, the youngest person ever to complete the list. He was also spreading LGBT acceptance.

His road trip ended Monday with a visit to the Lincoln Memorial in Washington.

He climbed the steps surrounded by not only friends and family but also strangers — people who followed Meyer’s epic road trip on Instagram and Facebook and became such fans that they had to come in person to see him finish his journey.

“I really got to know the American story,” Meyer said.

And he achieved a goal inspired by his father, Larry, a University of Nebraska-Lincoln campus minister who died of cancer in 2005. His death spurred Meyer to not put off his dreams for later.

Standing atop the steps of the Lincoln Memorial on Monday, Meyer wiped his eyes.

“The day I lie on my deathbed, whether it’s 60 years from now or six days from now, I can say I did something,” he said.

As Meyer’s supporters gathered, snatches of conversation revealed their shared love for these parks.

Kate Kramer said she felt inspired by Meyer’s frequent posts featuring a gay pride flag set against the backdrop of America’s iconic vistas.

Jill and Grace Nowadly, sisters who live in Virginia, arrived wearing “Pride Outside” T-shirts for LGBT-affirming parkgoers that they bought from Meyer’s website.

It was supporters like these who got Meyer through the trip. He received donations from social media fans, corporate sponsors and especially churches. Sermons he gave in more than 100 churches helped Meyer drum up the money he needed. He said church members often wanted to support him because he was attracting positive news coverage of a gay Christian.

Meyer tells stories from the road in a show of singing and storytelling that he developed to tell audiences about his trip. He hopes to continue making a career out of this journey. He will perform and give speeches.

If he can find a corporate sponsor, he wants to go to every Nebraska Cornhuskers football game this fall, to show that gay men love football, too.

World-Herald staff writer Chris Peters contributed to this report.

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