Living in North Dakota and Minnesota my entire life has given me a very limited glimpse of the beauty and vastness of America. Don't get me wrong, I haven't been chained by my ankle to the Red River Valley or southwest Minnesota, but when I have traveled it was mostly destination travel.
When I went to Alaska I, took a plane. When I went to Seattle, I took a plane. When I went to California, I took a plane. When I went to Florida, I took a plane. When I went to Mexico, I took a plane and then a Cruise ship.
I have not seen the vistas from eye level. I have seen the United States, or I should say, I have seen the tops of the clouds above the United States.
I did take one trip one July to California looking through the windshield of a U-Haul truck. The first hours in Colorado were wonderful as I literally pushed that loaded U-Haul up into the Rocky Moun-tains. The higher I traveled the more attention I paid to the pavement of the highway rather than the spectacle of the mountains. After two days of bearing down on the gas and holding my breath I was ready for the Rocky Mountains to be behind me. (In explanation, I was traveling with my daughter, my two elementary age grandchildren and my older brother Richard.)
I was not the only one who was tired of driving through the mountains, we all were.
On the second day, about 1:00 p.m. we stopped at this restaurant just off the interstate someplace in Utah. Our plan was to make North Las Vegas that night. As we finished our lunch, I asked the waitress how long it would take us to get to Vegas. Her response, "It's not really that many miles, but you've got to get through the pass, and sometimes that can be pretty slow going depending on the truck traffic."
My response was, "A pass? Do you mean there is another mountain range we have to go up into?"
She said, "Oh ya. But the road is pretty good. You just gotta look out for falling rocks."
Another mountain range? Another mountain range! Falling rocks!
I wish I would have paid more attention to my geography lessons in grade school. But I digress.
Last winter and this winter David and I have driven to Phoenix, Arizona. We do not put the pedal to the metal and travel day and night. We take our time. We stop. Mostly we take in the vast panorama and contemplate what it must have been like 100 and 200 years ago. What types of vehicles were used 100 years ago; two hundred years ago? Why did the people stop and settle in the different areas?
Page 2 of 2 - The fertile soil of Nebraska and Eastern Kansas attracted Western Europeans who wanted to turn that rich soil into productive farms. Farther west, the land is better suited for cattle and so cattle ranches began to dot the landscape. Now gigantic fenced feed lots have replaced the free range cattle ranches.
Moving into New Mexico and Northern Arizona, the influence of the Native Americans dominates the terrain. When I look at the casinos, the small groups of housing mingled with the ruins of missions and hogans, instead of a decimated culture, I see the conviction and perspective of the people who lived in these areas for thousands of years. In my mind's eye I see a peaceful people who honored the land, the sky, water and each other.
America truly is a kaleidoscope of vistas, cultures, and people rich in history.