Couple continue national parks tour on St. John

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ST. THOMAS - To share their love of nature, photography and the national parks, Don and Shelly Hafner are visiting all 59 parks in 59 weeks.

Last week, the couple visited the Virgin Islands National Park, and wrote about it on their blog,

"We really love it there," Don Hafner told The Daily News.

It was a whirlwind trip, just two days, but they managed to pack in an island tour, a visit to the Annaberg Plantation ruins, and a lot of snorkeling at Trunk Bay.

The couple has been to the territory three times previously for vacations, so they were familiar with the islands.

They flew in on Tuesday and spent several hours on Water Island first.

"It's really the only time we felt like we were on vacation" he said.

They spent the whole next day on St. John, taking photos and talking to people. They spoke to park rangers and let them know what they were doing.

"It was very much like having the tourist experience," he said.

With spotty Internet service, the Hafners were unable to post their St. John pictures and blog until they had already left the territory.

As an avid snorkeler and diver, Don Hafner's blog post about the V.I. National Park was primarily about the island's amazing coral reefs.

"I did an underwater blog, talked about my love of the ocean. Scuba diving, snorkeling, I think every picture but one was taken under the water," he said.

The project is a leap of faith for the couple, who have been married 32 years and have two grown children. They saved up money, quit their jobs and took on this project of visiting 59 parks in 59 weeks.

The idea for the adventure was born out of the couple just "sitting around and talking about someday we have to go to all the national parks," Don Hafner said.

"Our goal was to show people and inspire people to figure out a way to go do it," he said.

The couple is not reviewing the parks, but rather bringing the public on their journey as they make the trek across the country - and the globe - to visit all 59 National Parks.

They began the trip April 1 in Hot Springs National Park in Arkansas, and plan to end the trip July 4, 2015.

In addition to their website,, the traveling couple can be followed on Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, and YouTube.

- Contact reporter Aldeth Lewin at 714-9111 or email

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