Since the last blog post, we were hitting cities and farmland through the MidWest in route to the Wild Wild West. In fact, I can remember a waiter at a restaurant we stopped at in Wisconsin, seeing our RV pull in, asked us "why are you coming all the way from NYC to little ole Blair, Wisconsin." When Pete and I first decided to do this trip, the idea was centered around seeing as many National Parks (Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Yosemite) as we could. But there have been so many stops along the way to get there. As we were hiking a 10 mile hike, up 1,600 feet in elevation to Grinnell Glacier in Glacier National Park (Big Sky Montana), a man from Britain started talking to us about our trip. He was on a "spiritual journey" exploring the US for 4 months. He said that in Britain, you can get from one part of the country to another in 12 hours..."but not in America", he says.
Some of the stops have been planned. Other stops, like Pictured Rocks (Upper Peninsula, Michigan), and the World's Largest Christmas Store (Frankehum, Michigan), were a result of driving for hours and seeing billboards (out of home media does work #JCDecaux). And then there are times when we are just looking for food and we pull into what looks like the most sketchy place but there is nothing else for 100's of miles, only to find the best sandwiches we have ever had (and ordered to-go sandwiches to have for later because they were so good) (Washington State). Then, there are other places, like Yellowstone National Park, and Glacier National Park, and I realize why they are a national park; because there is truly nothing like these places.
Pete has traveled more than me, but I find myself able to relate more to the rest of the country than he does. When we stopped in South Dakota in Mt. Rushmore, we stayed on a horse RV farm - with real cowboys. One night, we were talking with a cowboy on the porch of the campground store, and he asked us where we were from. After learning we lived in the NY area, he has a big smile and says "Welcome to America!" People are also much nicer everywhere else in the country outside of the NY area. And it feels like they get nicer the further West we go. At one point, we were talking about 5 minutes with a waiter in a small restaurant, he was a nice fella. After he left, Pete tells me "I am so Northeast. Like I appreciate you being nice but just take my order. We aren't going to be friends here." Working in NYC for 7 years, I am used to this attitude. But it is kind of a sad one. I think I prefer the smiling cowboy on the porch saying "Welcome to 'Merica!"
As we drive from place to place, I think I am most surprised with how the landscape changes; even just a few 100 miles from one another. For example, in Yellowstone, the active volcano underneath creates geysers, hot springs, and earthquakes almost daily. Drive a few hundred miles north, to Glacier National Park, and there are glaciers and ice patches. But that is what makes this country so unique right? When Pete and I first started the trip, we would make a note of places we visited that we would like to go back to one day. And as I go back and look, there are very few places we wouldn't go back to again. We have seen some amazing things in nature, like a bear eating a carcass and wolves chasing buffalo. In Yellowstone, we found a hot spring that trickled into the Gardiner River, making it the best hot tub I have ever been in. We were in a natural hot springs, surrounded by beautiful mountains and nature, on the day of the Solar Eclipse.
I think on a small scale, this trip inspires us every day. I think being in nature is how we were intended to live, or at least it feels much more peaceful that way. But in South Dakota, a gentleman at our campground was telling us a story about how a guy from Australia came to the US to work with cattle. He traveled all across the USA, and went back to Australia and said Australia needed refrigeration and grocery stores. Now that guy is a millionaire. So this man sitting by his campfire and horses looked at us and said "You never know what inspires you on your travels and what you can do with it." Pete and I are constantly challenged with that. If you want more similar stories, such as Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon, and how he traveled 3,000 miles across America writing his business plan on napkins, check out the video below. Pete and I have traveled about 8,000, so our idea may be bigger than Amazon haha!
But even more than ever, I hold to the Latin saying "Carpe Diem", seize the day. And here is why. Right now, in Yellowstone, NASA is investigating the active volcano underneath and may potentially dig into it to help relieve the pressure of this volcano. Apparently, if the volcano under Yellowstone erupts, it would affect the harvest of 15 states, and not only the US, but the world, would starve. In Glacier National Park, scientists have predicted that in 13 years, 2030, there will be no glaciers left in the park due to climate change. Right now, there are 26 glaciers. So in 13 years, I will be 42 years old. That is not even close to my 2nd retirement age. So if I had waited until retirement, I never would have been able to do the 10 mile hike up Grinnell Mountain to see Grinnell Glacier. Things are changing every day. I am changing, this country is changing, even our world climate is changing. But with each new thing we see, or learn, or experience, we get more affirmation that our decision to #carpediem with this RV life was the right one.