Traveling consecutively to all of the U.S. national parks seems like a rather lofty undertaking. But for National Cathedral countertenor singer and LGBTQ advocate Mikah Meyer, it’s one he can check off of his bucket list. The 75,000-mile-journey was inspired by Meyer’s trip-loving father, who passed away in 2005. To honor his dad’s legacy, the determined traveler spent three years living in a cargo van and journeyed to 418 national parks — earning him a Guinness World record for being the first individual to experience all of them in an unbroken sequence.

Along the way, he sang for his supper — making numerous stops at local churches to boast fundraising efforts. On Sept. 6, Meyer will perform his multimedia musical show, “National Parks Cabaret” at Boulder’s First Congregational United Church of Christ. We caught up with the road-tripper ahead of his Colorado gig to talk future expeditions and what folks can expect from his upcoming show.

Mikah Meyer/ Courtesy photo

Mikah Meyer stands on top of his cargo van at White Sands National Monument in New Mexico. Meyer set the record for traveling to all U.S. national parks consecutively.

Daily Camera: When you first set this intense road trip goal, what was the reaction from family and friends?

Mikah Meyer: People naturally had their concerns for my safety, but I’d done enough crazy road trips previously that I think there was a sense of, “Well, he’s gonna do it anyway, so we better be supportive.” A few weeks before I finished the journey, some friends reached out to say, “Honestly, we didn’t think you — or anyone for that matter — could pull this off. But here you are.” That was fun to hear some of their true feelings, but late enough that it didn’t stop me from pursuing this goal.

DC: Along the road, did you ever experience moments of doubt or just exhaustion where you wanted to stop? If so, what motivated you to keep going?

MM: Every day. On social media, this journey looked like a giant vacation, which was the goal to entice people to see it. But in reality, most of my time was spent feeling like I was balancing spinning plates while juggling fire, because I was doing the work of what a staff of five should organize. It took a sort of unwavering focus to pull this project off, one that, since I’ve finished, I wonder how I kept going for three years. But, a large part of the motivation came from others — from the desire to do something that changed others’ lives. And the more the journey went on, the more I heard from people about how it was inspiring them. So, I wasn’t just doing it for me anymore, but for everyone finding some sort of joy or healing via this expedition.

Mikah Meyer/Courtesy photo

The marked-up roadmap that hung inside Mikah Meyer’s van on his three-year journey to all U.S. National Parks.

DC: What can attendees expect from your “Nation Parks Cabaret” performance in Boulder?

MM: One publication called it “head spinning,” which I really like, because so many attendees have said, “I’ve never seen anything like this, and never will again.” One of those reasons is because the show intersects so many different cultures and identities that aren’t normally put together. Another is that as a male soprano who specializes in non-traditional repertoire, people will hear music and a man singing in a way they never have before, all while seeing visuals from the most beautiful places in America. And lastly, while growing up the son of a preacher, I learned that it’s not just enough to entertain people; you have to leave them with something they can take out of the concert experience. That was reinforced when I saw Dolly Parton perform as part of my visit to Wolf Trap National Park for the Performing Arts, and I do my best to give audiences a Dolly Parton experience.

DC: What would you say was the most life-changing element of traveling to all U.S. National Park Service sites?

MM: I imagine most expect for a Cheryl Strayed-mountaintop epiphany from my trip, but in actuality, my journey to America’s most beautiful places taught me more about America’s people than anything else—Both us as a nation, which I talk a lot about in the show, but also about myself and my relation to others. Before this journey I was always the guy who thought the answers to everything were “Out there.” And now, my wanderlust heart has learned it’s often more about cultivating the grass under your feet than constantly trying out others’.

DC: Are you eager to get back on the road again? Any future goals you wish to crush or journeys you wish to take in 2020?

MM: Yes, but in different ways than a nonstop three-year journey. I’m really excited about a number of projects I’m working on, some which will continue to take audiences to under-explored and under-shared places. Others that again use travel to help break down walls between people who might not find commonalities. Like my national parks project, the problem once again is funding. So if I can line that up, where it’s through a TV show, another social media shared project, or more live appearances along the route, there’s no limit to what I call this “Travel Beyond Convention.”

Mikah Meyer/ Courtesy photo

Mikah Meyer rafts at Dinosaur National Monument.

DC: I know being an openly gay Christian, you’ve encountered both praise and criticism. What advice would you give to other religious gay individuals struggling to find acceptance within their church community?

MM: There’s the narrative that gets told on TV time and time again, and then there’s reality. As is showcased by First Congregational in Boulder hosting my Cabaret, there are a vast diversity of scholarly, faith-filled people in all religions. If someone is struggling to find acceptance in their religious community, I’d encourage them to seek out a similar community that does accept them — and they may be surprised by how alike “the other side” is on most beliefs. As I discovered on my journey, we have way more in common than what separates us, and the more we’re open to learning about others’ realities, the more we accept ourselves, others, and this beautiful planet we’re lucky to call home.

If you go

What: Mikah Meyer’s “National Parks Cabaret,” hosted by Out Boulder

When: 7 p.m., Friday, Sept. 6

Where: First Congregational Church UCC, 1128 Pine St., Boulder

Cost: free

More info:



Source link