- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

CARLSBAD, N.M. (AP) - For 15-year-old Junior Ranger Aida Frey, the great American road trip isn’t one that’s done in a single summer.

Since 2010, Aida and her parents have traveled - by car - to 244 national parks and monuments.

Carlsbad Caverns National Park became number 245 and Guadalupe Mountains National Park became 246, reported the Carlsbad Current-Argus (https://bit.ly/2aInzuK).

Aida, from the Chicago area, said her passion for the park service began when she was 9 and she received her first Junior Ranger badge at Effigy Mounds National Monument in Iowa.

“Two very nice lady rangers came up to me and they invited me to do the junior ranger program,” she said. “After that, we just kept visiting more national parks.”

Guadalupe Mountains National Park chief of interpretation Elizabeth Jackson said she believes Aida is the most decorated Junior Ranger in the country.

Earlier this year, Aida also became a published author with her book “America, Can I Have Your Autograph?: The Story of Junior Ranger Aida Frey.”

Aida enjoys a certain amount of fame at this point; she has more than 450 followers on her Facebook page and, while at the Visitor’s Center at the Guadalupes, was kind enough to take photos with admirers.

Aida’s goal is to visit all 412 National Park Service sites and, one day, become the organization’s director.

Being under driving age, Aida couldn’t have gone far without the help of her parents, Shawn and Norma Frey.

“I think we both had a love for traveling and once we got the idea that Aida was into it as much as we were, that just opened the door,” Shawn Frey said. “We’re very proud of her.”

Though they still plan on accompanying Aida once she gets her driver’s license, her father said he’s looking forward to having another person that can take a turn behind the wheel.

“That’ll be nice,” he said.

Of course, yet-to-be-visited sites in Hawaii and in Guam will require an alternative mode of transportation.

The high school sophomore said although her feats may seem daunting to others her age, she wants to send the message that anyone can accomplish what she has.

“I play sports, my favorite band is One Direction, I play Pokémon Go; I’m a regular person,” she said. “You don’t have to be me; you just have to be yourself.”

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Information from: Carlsbad Current-Argus, https://www.currentargus.com/

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