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Stargazing with Shirley Jones

G’Day, adventurers! Hilary here, your Park Ranger in Training!

Holy cow, has this been an adventurous two weeks.


I’ve traveled almost a thousand miles gathering endorsements, visiting parks, conducting “Park Ranger in Training” interviews, meeting experts, and immersing myself in all things Aussie.

Now that my final submission video is in, I thought I’d share with you some of my favorite moments. And what else could I start with besides the exciting, overwhelming, and truly unbelievable day I had stargazing?


Not the type of stargazing you were expecting, huh? Me neither.

As part of my two-week long shortlisting challenge, I was tasked with gathering ‘high-profile’ referees that were relevant to my pending job description. It just so happened I knew JUST the woman to lend me a hand.


Academy Award winner and singing sensation Shirley Jones is more than just a silver screen starlet. She also happens to be an avid adventurer, outdoor enthusiast, and animal lover.

She and her husband, Marty Ingels, own a public park in the small town of Fawnskin, California (just outside of Big Bear). Their love for the outdoors drove them to purchase the land; they couldn’t bear to see it turned into a commercial property.


In traditional Shirley fashion, she wanted to go above and beyond and ensure her park had purpose. It just so happened they bought the land days before a catastrophic day in American history: September 11th, 2001. On that horrific day, she and Marty decided to dedicate their park to the victims of the attack.

Rudy Giuliani, Mayor of New York City at the time, sent Shirley a 600 pound girder from one of the Twin Towers. It now serves as the centerpiece for the park.

Listen to Shirley tell her tale.

Shirley Jones & Marty Ingels Fawn Park from Hilary Billings on Vimeo.

And in case that wasn’t cool enough, listen to what Marty and Shirley have to say about backing #TeamHilary.

Shirley Jones & Marty Ingels support #TeamHilary from Hilary Billings on Vimeo.

The Important Takeaway: 
1. Obviously, I have no other talents besides traveling and sharing my stories. So it’s Australia or bust. ;)
2. Academy Award Winner Shirley Jones wants to join ME as an honorary Park Ranger in Queensland if I am successful. Anyone see a great reality show in the making? Maybe we can call it The Cassowary Family?
3. Most importantly to Marty, Shirley, and myself, if you would like to support Fawn Skin Park, you can donate via PayPal to

Many thanks to Marty and Shirley for allowing me into their home, into their lives, and letting me share their story with the world. I am so grateful, humbled, and honored to have such a powerhouse couple behind me for this application!


More great stories and interviews coming! Stay tuned, adventurers!

In the meantime, I’ll be coming up with a theme song for The Cassowary Family. Hey, a girl can dream, can’t she? =)


  • Reply

    This is so cool! I had to tweet about it. That was incredibly nice of Shirley Jones and her husband to invite you to their home. I’m envious!

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      May 11, 2013

      Aww, yay! Thank you so much for sharing. I hope their story gets shared far and wide. It’s well deserving of it. They are incredibly nice people. And I am one very lucky duck. =)

  • Reply


    May 11, 2013

    Hello Hilary
    Great article maybe you can share this with Shirley and Marty just something I wrote about the city and park

    Ode to Fawnskin
    Sometimes twist and turns lead to slow stroll
    She’s withered and wrinkled
    Her rambunctious past shows
    No pretense just truth,she reminds us of our pains
    But leads us through the fearless
    She welcomes with a real hug
    I know it’s not fair,but she can’t help it
    Just too close to God

    • Reply

      Hilary Billings

      May 11, 2013

      Hi Gil!

      Thanks so much for sharing. Incredibly creative! I’ll see if I can pass it along. =)

  • Reply


    May 11, 2013

    Way to GO! Looks to me like you are approaching this with such creativity and zeal that… here’s to the “in training” part of your title washing away.

  • Reply

    A Gracious Life

    May 11, 2013

    Way to go! Keep on going! =>

  • Reply

    Nancy Richard

    May 15, 2013

    Academy Award winner Shirley Jones and comedian Marty Ingels give the history of their park in Big Bear, Fawn Park.

Leave a Reply

About Me

About Me

Hey fellow adventurers, my name is Hilary! After being rejected from grad school, I took off on a solo journey around the world. Now I constantly challenge myself to take on new experiences. This blog documents my journeys from Europe to Fiji, swimming with sharks and living with tribes, to becoming an accidental beauty queen and working for one of the top national media outlets. If you like what you're reading, please subscribe! Here's to the next great adventure!

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