Please kindly remember that when you want to switch lanes, it is common courtesy to be going faster or at least matching the speed of the car you are cutting in front of. Also make note that my stopping distance is double what you think it is; Clarence the MyPod is quite hefty which takes a toll on my ability to decelerate.
Dear State of Virginia,
Your choice of state park names is somewhat comical. “Hungry Mother State Park”… really? Sure, the legend surrounding it makes sense in a mysterious sort of way, but it drove me crazy for over 100 miles on I-81 until I could safely Google such strange nomenclature.
A Puzzled Citizen
Dear State of Arkansas,
Please fix all the potholes on your highways and interstates.* They’re large enough to swallow a small child whole.
All the best,
You gave me food poisoning and delayed my journey. You should be ashamed of yourself. Making me be sick for hours at a rest station was a real low-blow.
Dear Commerce Industry,
Could you kindly come up with a chain of restaurants/hotels/gas stations that begins with the letter “X”? Playing the alphabet game has become very difficult. Thank goodness for Quality Inn and Zaxby’s.
My winter hiatus has absolutely flown by. It seems like I pulled back into the Northern Virginia area only a short time ago, tugging along Clarence (the teardrop trailer) like a faithful pet.
Now the days are getting longer, and the temperature is gradually rising. I’m eager to get back on the road to visit the remaining 23 national parks. The Pacific Coast promises a whole new world of discovery: deserts, mountains, forests, and beaches. The northern border of the U.S. will be rife with intriguing flora and fauna, adjoining up with the natural areas in Canada, my homeland.
I will do some things differently. I’ll plan out my time a little better depending on the size and available activities in each park. I’ll be smarter with where I lodge each night – warmer temperatures will mean less need for pricey electric hookups. I also intend to adjust what I’m bringing with me. During Part I of my trip, I toted a variety superfluous goods around the country that I barely even looked at, nevertheless touched.
What’s Staying Behind:
Half of my clothes, particularly cotton
Unnecessary camping gear
My climbing rope (I decided I didn’t trust strangers to prevent me from falling)
Some books, puzzles, office supplies, and activities
What’s Coming Along:
Knitting materials (I taught myself over the break)
Food has become my frenemy while living on the road. I still enjoy a delicious meal, yet sometimes food preparation is simply a hassle.
My Yeti cooler has been phenomenal. It keeps produce cool and refreshing for up to 3 days. I thought I would miss my salads and raw veggie snacking, but I’ve been able to maintain my fruits and vegetable intake no problem. It’s a good thing, too, since McDonald’s cheeseburgers and vanilla cones have become a go-to (only $1 each).
Depending on my location, my eating habits vary drastically. Some days it feels like I’m just consuming energy bars, nuts, apples, and dried edamame. Other days I feast on local cuisine or my sister-in-law’s impeccable frittata. I’ve gotten pretty creative with my nourishment, as well. A Spam sandwich, or Spamwich, isn’t half-bad. Also, Siracha can spruce up even the blandest of ingredients, including a lukewarm can of turkey chili.
The bottom line: I feel good, healthy, and still haven’t had to dip into my emergency MRE’s.
“I’m sure that after all the national parks you’ve been to, this is underwhelming.”
“You’ve been to all these incredible places – what are you doing here?”
People I run into seem to believe that my senses have become dulled towards appreciating beautiful things in a “lesser” setting. Sure, I’ve gazed upon the Appalachians, snorkeled in picturesque waters, and watched the sun set over Colorado mesas. Yet despite all of the big nature moments I’ve experienced, I still thoroughly enjoy the simple things about being outside. Whether it’s feeling a cool breeze as a respite from the hot sun, or exploring a strange rock outcropping, I am not in the habit of comparing my natural encounters or rating my perspectives. If anything, visiting so many national parks has piqued my curiosity and honed my ability to pick out the most alluring views. I have learned to treasure beauty, regardless of the place or form.
Denver is a great example. This city is surrounded by a great outdoor playground. During my stay, I hiked in some local parks, marveling at the uniqueness of the area and its relative solitude despite its proximity to hundreds of thousands of people. My 2-day break from camping was ideal: I had all the amenities of a city, yet the ability to escape into nature for hours. My gracious Denver hosts, J.C. and Renae, are fellow nature-lovers and explorers. In fact, J.C. is a traveler/blogger who focuses on helping sojourners travel safely. I was able to gather some pro tips about staying safe while on the road.
In a couple days I’ll say goodbye to Colorado. The views have been spectacular, the people have been gregarious, and the beauty (big and small) has been absolutely extraordinary.