I was one of those individuals until this morning when a man reached out to me on Instagram from the account "ThanksBus." You see, Virgil "Bus" Carrell evidently was the artist/man behind the beloved signage that has become the familiar face of the national public land spaces of our parks and forests. You can read more history at the website thanksbus.com, but the short of it is that he had a vision to create the "Family of Shapes" that we see today associated with all the signage.
In our family, it has become a running joke that mom has to stop and jump out of the car at all the signs and get a picture, as if it is a right of passage for the trip or hike. That seems innocent enough, but this morning it gave me pause to appreciate the beauty and originality of this man's artwork. There is a deeper reason we all love these signs. They are simple and beautiful, and they beacon us in as we feel the hurried excitement of our arrival at a new destination, primed and ready to explore what this beautiful country has to offer.
In fact, when we were in Glacier National Park, the boys were so excited to start hiking that they drove right past the sign at least 5 times before finally letting me out to snag a photo of the epic sign with the mountains in the background. It became the running joke to drive RIGHT on past it while poor mom yelled "STOP! The sign!" So later that Christmas, I was ecstatic when I opened the small present labeled for MOM under the tree and found the Glacier sign as an ornament for me to savor every year. Seconds later, that glass ornament slipped from my fingers and shattered into a million shards of glass and real tears showered down my cheeks. It has become a family story for the ages, to be remembered EVERY time we pass those signs again and again.
So I'd like to pause this morning and say "Thanks, Bus!" myself. Next time you stop for the family photo, think twice about the artistry behind those iconic signs.