Thank you for virtually going on our vacation with us. Blogging turned out to be more difficult than I anticipated, trying to blog on the fly using an iPad and iPhone with weak, and sometimes non-existent internet, but I am glad I did it.
Our country is a diverse place. What struck me most on our trip is the sheer size of America. You can drive for miles and miles and miles, sometimes without seeing much of anything, or at least anything that might be considered a tourist attraction. We are accustomed to cities and people. In the West the spaces are vast. The lack of trees or foliage make the earth and sky seem to meet and the land appears so much larger.
In the heartland there were fields and farms for mile after mile. So much food is being grown to feed our people and our vast appetites. As a friend of mine joked, “We will never run out of food as long as we are willing to eat cornflakes.” The grain belt is a place where towns are few and you are unsure who could possibly own so much land.
Travelers relate to each other and to the sights we are seeing. “Can I take a picture of you together?” is a question often asked by strangers, which leads to the next question of, “Where are you from?” and a conversation follows. We met people from everywhere; California, Vermont, Illinois, Texas and beyond. Also, there were many people from other countries who were touring our country. In the National Parks, probably half the tourists were international.
We had figured on driving about 4,000 miles. We ended up driving 5600 miles. You don’t just drive to a place and stay put until you leave. You make side trips, driving around, and sightseeing after reaching a point-of-interest destination.
For the most part, the National Parks were as I remembered them from years ago. That is a good thing. They are successfully being preserved. I don’t know if someone cleans the roadsides at night or if people are more respectful of these special places and do not litter. The beauty of the land was sometimes almost overwhelming. It is hard to stand on the edge of the Grand Canyon or to watch Old Faithful erupt without feeling a sense of awe and a lump in your throat.
Things went wrong in spite of our best efforts to plan ahead. Most problems centered on weather, construction, lack of time, high prices and tiredness. We were very fortunate with weather and I can think of only one time when we actually missed doing something due to a rainstorm, although haze spoiled some of our picture taking. We saw plenty of construction, but had significant delays only once or twice.
I had not realized how physically draining travel would be. There was a lot of walking, and even riding in a car is tiring. Resting seems like a waste of time, but in the long run, you enjoy things more if you are not tired. Prices were shocking, about twice what was reasonable and ordinary. Hotels and restaurants know they are in a popular location and price gouging of tourists is not unusual. We only walked out of a restaurant once after seeing the menu.
You can’t see everything. You have to make choices and see what you can in the amount of time you have. This means sometimes skipping things you would like to see. Nevertheless, we saw enough, more than enough really. Besides, we now have a good excuse to go again to see things we missed. It was worth the time, energy, and money involved. Morris got to see places he had heard about for his whole life. I got to renew my memories of these places.
We stayed in motels and ate at restaurants, but there are cheaper ways to travel. Many people camp and cook their own food. I once had neighbors who traveled by sleeping in the back of their station wagon and cooking on a portable camp stove. They taught classes on budget travel. This is not for everyone, but if it is the only way you can go, do it.
Be adventurous. See the country. You will not regret it. Go!