Road Trip Across America
Recently in my Real Life Stories class we have been discussing the topic of transcendentalism. As with any unit in the class, the reading of a book is involved. For this particular unit we were assigned to read the book Into the Wild by John Krakauer. The book involves a young boy by the name of Chris McCandless who gives up his life of normalcy and success for isolation and adventure. This expenditure leads him to South Dakota and eventually to Alaska where he dies. The majority of Chris' characteristics define his personality as being Transcendentalist. A Transcendentalist is someone who finds their inner-self by being connected with nature and living in solitude. As a conclusion for the unit, I was assigned a project in which I had to create a transcendentalist journey similar to Chris'. The majority of the background information required for the project is identical to Chris: such as age, amount of money, purpose, and other belongings. The journey that I am planning to go in involves a road trip across America. It will start on the west side of the country and expand across to the east. Throughout it, I will be spending time at some of the biggest national parks and locations. Before eventually confronting society once again. Each of the locations that I have planned along the way, I have already once visited during my life. This time around though, I will not be visiting as a tourist in a coach RV with my family but rather as a young adult searching for a deeper connection with nature.
The first stop on my Transcendentalist Journey was Las Vegas. This city is the located in south eastern Nevada and is the largest city in the state. The city was founded in 1911 mainly as a gateway to the west coast from the east. With a metropolitan population of roughly two million people, most people would not find the city to be one acquainted with transcendentalism. I however saw my visitation of the city not as a means of gaining a transcendentalist experience, but rather a way in which I could rid of all of my money, and being within a reasonable driving distance of my next destination. Similar to Chris McCandless in Into the Wild, I got rid of any money I did not need before embarking on the journey. Instead of donating my money like Chris did, I experienced the city during the final night before I left. I accomplished this by spending the night in a lavishing hotel with amenities, heavy gambling in casinos, and purchasing female escorts. Indulging myself with such experiences while being there was something I had never done in the previous time I visited the city. Las Vegas also served a purpose of being a great place for transportation. The airport is large enough where flights can arrive from across the country at a reasonable price. Delta is the airline I flew with, costing me just merely $500 for the one way ticket to LAS. Additionally at the airport I purchased a rental car through Hertz. The car I selected from the company was a 2014 Toyota Prius, which is traditionally thought of as economic friendly because of its 40 miles per gallon gas. Overall the city of Las Vegas served as the ideal location for beginning a journey across the country. Additional information about the companies used and Las Vegas can be found following.
The second stop on my journey was Grand Canyon National Park. The park is located in northwestern Arizona and is approximately nine hours southwest of my previous location in Las Vegas. The park was founded in 1919 by President Theodore Roosevelt who was a transcendentalist himself. The canyon first presented itself as a challenge to pioneers trying to reach the west, but eventually turned into a fascination of the Manifest Destiny period in American history through art and literature. On average about 5 million people visit the park per year, and about 90% of those go through the means of shuttle buses provided by the park. During my visit I stayed at the Mather Campground which is found at the South Rim of the canyon. There was no fee for camping at the grounds but there a $12 admission cost to get into the park was assessed. The majority of the time that I had in the park was spent hiking along the vast trails maintained by the Parks Service. The Grand Canyon is a must visit location for anyone due to its breathtaking landscape and also is described as one of the 7 wonders of the world. More information about the Grand Canyon can be found in the links below.
My third stop on my transcendentalist journey was at Yellowstone National Park. The park is located approximately 10 hours northwest of my previous location in Grand Canyon. On my way to the park I made one stop in Salt Lake City. The stop did not serve much of a purpose other than to replenish supplies and get rest. During my one night spent there, I slept along the shore of the Great Salt Lake which is the largest salt water lake in the western hemisphere. Once I finally reached Yellowstone, I planned out what I would do during the three days I intended to spend there. I knew that I would need as much time as I could possibly have to cover its over two million acres, 3,000 pools and geysers, and 500 waterfalls. Approximately 3.5 million people visit the park every year which makes it one of the most traveled to national parks in the country. Because of the large amount of traffic that visits the park, it is in large debate about the possible restriction of how many people should be allowed to visit a year. The park was established in 1872 and is referred as the country's first national park. Yellowstone is also widely known as one of the most volcanic active spots on the planet which is why there are so many geysers, pools, and earthquakes in the area. Some of the most notable places that I visited within the park were at the Morning Glory Pool, Old Faithful Geyser, and the Roosevelt Arch. This trip has been my third time visiting the park. Every time I visit, I get reminded of previous memories I made as well as also creating new ones. More information about Yellowstone National Park can be found in the links below.
The Black Hills
Explain The Black Hills… The next destination on my trip are the Black Hills found in the northwest region of South Dakota. The Black Hills are roughly 12 hours away from Yellowstone National Park. These mysterious hills cover only about 5,000 square miles but are home to many illustrious structures such as Devils Tower, Crazy Horse, and Mount Rushmore. The Black Hills are traditionally known as sacred Indian ground which is why very few people other than Indian tribes reside in the mountains. The geographic structures are also mysterious compared to the surrounding locations. The Black Hills area stands about 7,000 feet taller compared to the surrounding sea level plains. The first monument I visited in the area was Devils Tower. The rock formation stands more than four football fields tall compared to the flat landscape around it. The tower was the first ever National Monument declared in 1906 by Theodore Roosevelt. The monument is a must visit in the Black Hills area because of its vast distinction from its surroundings. The next structure I visited in the Black Hills are was Mt. Rushmore. About three million people visit the carvings every year. Presidents Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt, and Lincoln are the four displayed on the carvings. My urge to visit the monument lies in the preservation of national history etched into the natural mountainous beauty. The final thing I visited in the area was the monument of Crazy Horse which is fairly similar to Mt. Rushmore. Unlike Rushmore, Crazy Horse is privately funded by an Indian tribe running strictly on donations. After spending nearly two days surrounded by mans greatest creations using natural elements, I have a much greater respect for what the carvings symbolize and how the nature can create such sculptures of its own. Information about each of the monuments can be found beneath.
The last destination on my journey that I visited was the nation's capital. This was the location that was probably the least in tune with nature, but I still found a way to gain the transcendentalist experience. The D.C. area is the only federal district area in the country. It was created in 1790 to serve as the nation's capital. The biggest industry in the city is the federal government, which mainly serves the surrounding 5 million person population. Apart from many of the federal buildings located here, Washington is also home to some of the most important and biggest social movements and protests. The March on Washington and the Veteran's March are two of the most illustrious movements in the city. Because of the heritage in the city housing such events, I had to make sure I was apart of a movement or protest while I was there. I chose to partake in an anti-Obamacare protest that took place outside of the Supreme Court. Me along with hundreds of others, made signs and slept in tents to portray our message. Once the movement was done, I toured many of the other federal buildings like the Capital, Pentagon, Supreme Court, Washington Monument, and many others. Washington, D.C. is by far my favorite city each and every time I go.
Visiting all of these locations again was life changing. It was amazing how much different the experience was different once I changed the perspective from a high paying tourist- to a transcendentalist mindset. Not only did I learn new information about each destination that I visited, but also quite a bit about myself. Some things like being cost effective and planning a whole trip on my own were both things I had never done before. I also had never been part of a protest of any kind, driven more than 400 miles by myself, or even flew by myself. Going on this journey helped me envision similarly what Chris McCandless went through on his journey to Alaska in Into the Wild.