Journey to the West

I had good intentions of blogging my way across the western US last week, but alas, was just too tired at the end of each day of driving.  We made it to California and I now have a bit of time and space to jot out a few thoughts, stories, and photos.

Just outside of Scott’s Bluff, Nebraska we visited the Scott’s Bluff National Monument, which preserves the history of the Oregon Trail, which went through this area.  It was a humbling experience to think of what the pioneers endured on their journeys west.  The Chinese have a phrase called chi ku, which means “to eat bitterness.”  It is often used as an adjective to mean endurance or perseverance, or the ability to bear up under immense suffering.  With 5000 years of history, the Chinese are known as people who can eat bitterness.  It is not a term that is oft
en today used to describe Americans, but a visit to this monument is a reminder that that was not always the case.  Certainly these pioneers who left everything behind and set out across the plains, deserts, and mountains knew how to eat bitterness.

In Southern Utah, we enjoyed drives through the bizarre canyons of Capitol Reef, Bryce, and Zion National Parks. Surprisingly, there’s another amazing spot that is not in any of the national parks, called The Burr Trail, which is to the southwest of Capitol Reef.  I think it’s my new favorite place in the country.  The various rock formationswere endless.  In China, rock formations seem to always have names thatdescribe what someone thinks the rocks resemble. In Guilin there’s a mountain that’s called elephant and horse.  Supposedly it looks like a horse coming out of a cave and an elephant going in.  I think you have to be a bit tipsy to see it.  Anyway, along the Burr Trail was a strange rock formation (photo above).  If it were in China I decided it would be called “The Imperial Chicken Contemplates the Meaning of Life.”

A special treat  was the peak of fall foliage in southern Utah.  This photo was taken along Highway 24, between Torrey and Boulder, Utah.

Our goal had been to drive from Minneapolis to Santa Barbara without taking any freeways.  We almost made it.  We ended up on freeways twice:  between Cheyenne and Laramie, Wyoming; and between Las Vegas, NV and Barstow, CA.  Not bad.  If you’ve got the time and enjoy road trips, take my advice:  GET OFF THE FREEWAYS AND SEE THE COUNTRY!