U.S. Park Service personnel place barriers and signs as they close the Lincoln Memorial on Oct. 1 in Washington, D.C. / Shawn Thew, epa
Dana Johnson dreamed of getting married in Yosemite National Park ever since, as a child, she saw a wedding with the park's breathtaking vistas and Yosemite Falls as a backdrop.
Almost two decades later, the 27-year-old nurse from San Diego is set to be married Friday at the park's Glacier Point.
Maybe. The government shutdown means national parks are closed and Johnson's dream wedding - like weddings scheduled in parks across the country - is up in the air.
On Capitol Hill, public tours were canceled but members of Congress and most of their staffs continued to work - but with no apparent progress.
For many federal employees, the first day of the shutdown was really a half-day. Furloughed workers were told to report to work and spend four hours preparing for not working. Many federal websites went dark. The most visible effects were along the 2-mile National Mall in front of the Capitol. The Smithsonian Institution and the National Zoo locked their doors, and the National Park Service began barricading the monuments.
Meanwhile, bride-to-be Johnson, her mom and sister were driving the seven hours to Yosemite to check on contingency plans in case the park remains closed the rest of the week. She says they will either reschedule, find another spot near the park or get married at home in San Diego. She doesn't know which is the best option because of the uncertainty surrounding the length of the shutdown.
"It was my childhood dream; I've always wanted this," she says. "I feel so hopeless. It's out of my control. I'm at their mercy and I can't do anything about it."
Families across the country are feeling the impact of the shutdown that began Tuesday. For many, it is a serious financial concern.
In Gettysburg, Pa., furloughs are now a family affair for Andrew and Stephen Robinson. Both father and son are employed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Emmitsburg, Md. Both are among hundreds of thousands of federal workers and contractors facing furloughs.
Stephen Robinson, 51, a maintenance worker for almost five years, was told his schedule will at least be cut back. Andrew Robinson, 20, a part-time contract coordinator for the National Fire Academy, faces the prospects of no employment at all.
"My dad is the primary breadwinner for our family," says Andrew, a junior at Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania. "It's tough when you realize you may not get a paycheck, when you don't know how long you will be unable to work. It's stressful."
Andrew says he also feels the impact as he juggles bills for school, car and health insurance.
"It's disgraceful that congressmen and women will keep their paychecks coming but deprive the hundreds of thousands of middle-class government workers," he says.
Dave Donohue of San Francisco doesn't work for the government. He is concerned about a family trip to Mexico planned for next month. Donohue, 41, his wife, Kathleen, and their 11-week-old son, Milo, plan to celebrate Milo's grandmother's 75th birthday.
But Milo needs a passport to travel to Mexico. Donohue says he submitted the application two weeks ago. Now it's a race against time. The State Department has said applications will continue to be processed, but that could change if the shutdown drags on.
Donohue says that if he can't get a passport in time, it could cost him $6,000 in airfares, his share of his extended family's housing costs and other expenses.
"I can't imagine that Mexican border authorities are going to care that my son doesn't have a passport because the U.S. government stopped working," Donohue says.
Karen Carey, 36, of Lyndonville, Vt., and her family expected to achieve their dream of homeownership this fall. Now "we are at a standstill."
The Careys' loan officer says the shutdown could delay their Nov. 15 closing and force them to get an extension on their sales agreement. It also could affect the interest rate they had been offered.
"I'm hoping for myself and family that it is a small blip," Carey says of the shutdown. "It's a big deal. It puts our life on hold.
"You cross the hurdle that the home inspection goes well. You get all the paperwork in on time. You cross your fingers that your loan gets approved - and then they just throw a stop sign up," Carey said. "It is frustrating to have no say."
The impact was immediate at national parklands.
At Assateague Island National Seashore in Maryland, a sign outside warned "National Seashore Closed. Federal government Shutdown.'' Barricades blocked the entrance to the visitors center, and public restrooms were locked.
"Disappointment is generally the look I see on people's faces," said Assistant Chief Ranger Walt West.
The National Park Service notified campers they had 48 hours to leave. West said the park would be fully closed by Wednesday.
The story was similar in the West. At Grand Canyon National Park, visitors were told the park was closed.
"I'm disappointed. But what do I do with this?" said Esteban Estevez, on a two-week vacation from Argentina. "I was thinking this stuff with shutdown would be later, not when I'm here."
At Sandy Hook, N.J., part of the Gateway National Recreation Area, the Jersey Shore Half Marathon scheduled for Sunday was on hold, along with more than 1,100 runners who had planned to participate. If the government isn't running by Friday, the race is off.
"We're 96% ready to put this race on,'' organizer Isabel Meldrum said. "And now, because of this silly government shutdown, we might have to cancel. You know how disappointing this is? I don't want to think about it because I think I'll cry.''
Amy Schumann, her husband and 19-month-old son had traveled from Bozeman, Mont., to New England, bound for Acadia National Park in Maine. Now they're holed up in Vermont, canceling their hotel reservations in Maine and trying to make new plans.
"Due to (Acadia) being deemed operated by 'non-essential employees,' we have to figure out a new plan," Schumann said. "And we won't be helping the local economy by spending money on gas, food, etc."
Florida resident Joe Bresnahan was among the campers at Great Smoky Mountains National Park who learned that their vacation had been cut short by the government shutdown.
He had a message for Congress as visitors were being tossed out of the park, which straddles the North Carolina-Tennessee border, around noon Tuesday.
"When everybody goes to the polls next year, if there is an incumbent, regardless of party, vote for the other person," Bresnahan says. "Get them out. Fire every damn one of them. They need to be gone."
In Highland Falls, N.Y., near the campus of the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, resident Peter James Clark predicted lean times ahead because of the shutdown. Many of the town's 3,900 residents work at the academy.
"It's going to kill this town's economy," said Clark, 55, a supervisor for West Point's Department of Public Works. "It's going to kill everybody. This is mom-and-pop businesses all around here."
In Denver, Gov. John Hickenlooper approved use of state funds to pay 120 National Guard engineers who he says are crucial to rebuilding a highway washed out during recent flooding.
Joey Moppert works in the oil and gas industry in Denver. For him, the shutdown's impact involves work and play. He said he was supposed to drive to Cheyenne, Wyo., this week to work with the Bureau of Land Management office.
"Now it is shut down, so I cannot do my job," Moppert said. "I also was planning on going up to Yellowstone National Park next week for vacation, but that is shut down as well. I'm glad Congress is getting paid to act like children and we in the real world are feeling the effects of incompetence."
It's a long way from the rustic Vermont town of Derby, where Irene Ames has been making baskets for many years, to Washington, D.C.
But Ames, 70, was headed to Washington this week for a celebration of her work, and the work of dozens of other basket makers, at the Smithsonian Institution's Renwick Gallery.
That reception won't happen. A smaller, off-site celebration is now planned. The baskets remain locked up in the closed gallery.
"We already made plans to go, so our family is going to go and celebrate her work anyway," says her son, Adam Ames, who lives in New York. "But obviously my parents are disappointed."
Contributing: Marisol Bello and Gregory Korte, USA TODAY; Nancy Remsen and Joel Banner Baird, The Burlington Free Press; Jon Ostendorff, Asheville Citizen-Times; Elaine Bean, The Daily Times in Salisbury, Md.; Keith Sargeant, Asbury (N.J), Park Press; Michelle Ye Hee Lee, The Arizona Republic; KUSA-TV; Alex Tayler, LoHud.com
Copyright 2013 USATODAY.com
Read the original story: Shutdown's reach felt by families across USA