Thankfully, this long, strange acid trip that we have been referring to as a “presidential election” is almost over.

As much as I have enjoyed hearing Donald Trump say “tremendous” three million times a day and listening to tapes of him talking about grabbing, um, “stuff,” not to mention Hill’s emails, the foundation and the “Weiner connection,” all good things must come to an end, right? Is the sarcasm coming through in print? I hope so.

This is the last column I will write before the election. I am not going to waste any ink trying to convince you who to vote for as your next president. I am sure you have already made up your mind and even a pretty crazy “November surprise” wouldn’t sway your opinion at this point.

But I do want to say to my friends who have expressed absolute despair or a desire to move to Canada (Why is it always Canada? I say go to the Bahamas!) should their candidate not win, it’s going to be OK. While I don’t think either nominee is great (a “tremendous” understatement), I do think our country is. The founding fathers set up a pretty nifty system and there will be checks and balances to keep whoever ends up in that funny-shaped office in line. In fact, I am beginning to think they must have been time travelers and crafted our clever three-branch system after witnessing this election cycle. Thanks, guys! Did you travel in a hot tub or a Delorean? Either way, could we borrow it and go back to the primaries so we can have a do-over? Every electorate deserves at least one mulligan, right?

I guess not.

While we may be stuck with that guy in that hat and that gal in the pants suit, there are other things on the ballot we will need to decide on here in Alabam’.

I know, I know. It’s hard to believe.

Most of the other politicos are running unopposed, but there are also 14 amendments to consider. We do a thorough rundown of those in our election guide. Take a gander so you don’t have to read them for the first time while you are in the voting booth. Never a good idea!

One of those amendments has been causing quite a bit of confusion.

Amendment Two would prohibit funds generated by state parks from being used on anything else. Last year, around a million dollars from the parks was transferred into the general fund. Grrrrrrrrrr. An affirmative vote on this amendment would make sure “park money” stays where it is supposed to be and is used to operate and maintain them, as it should be.

The confusion has come with the part of the amendment that states the parks can enter into private partnerships with businesses to run things like restaurants or golf courses, if they so desire.

This is already happening in some parks, but an amendment passed sometime in the ‘90s prevented some others from being able to do the same. This would simply allow those parks to do what others have already been doing.

Sure, it will take the state and the parks entering into good agreements with reputable partners that complement what they are trying to do. But I think it’s much better to secure the funds for the parks than worry about what might happen if a bad partnership is made. As my momma would say, that’s just “borrying trouble, Ashley.”

I think most people who are worried about this are envisioning some private entity turning Chewacla into Las Vegas. That is not going to happen. This would just allow a chef to run a restaurant rather than the state. Or a recreation company to add a new amenity or service the park system couldn’t otherwise afford or provide.

In case you haven’t heard, our sweet home Alabama is always broke. So broke, in fact, as I mentioned before, we had to steal from our state parks’ piggy bank last year. This amendment puts a padlock on that piggy bank that none of our legislators would have a key to and it would allow the park service to add enhancements to parks it might otherwise not be in the position to do for years. As my momma would also say, “sounds like a win-win to me.”

I have been waiting for my munchkins to get just a little bit older so they could fully enjoy the parks before we set off on our Alabama state park adventures, but they are almost there and I can’t wait to take my geology-loving son to Cathedral Caverns. And we will definitely have to stay in a chalet at DeSoto State Park because I really want to be able to say, after putzing around on Lookout Mountain and checking out all of the beautiful waterfalls there, “Honey, kids, we really need to get back to our chalet.” My pinky finger will most definitely be extended.

But more important than the fun of being able to say “chalet,” it is imperative we keep the funding to our parks secure. In this crazy-always-busy-glued-to-the-iPhone-iPad world we now we live in, it is so important that we make sure we all have these “tremendously” beautiful places to unplug.
Maybe even more so after Nov. 8.