In June, I was fortunate enough to take a road trip through the South West. I am a Jersey Girl born and bred, and while I’ve traveled around the country for work, this was my first chance to truly explore some of the country’s most beautiful national parks.
Over the 9 day trip I came to a number of realizations, ranging from the importance of public land to the importance of proper hiking footwear. We flew from Newark, NJ to Los Angeles, CA where we spent the night with family. The next morning we woke up early to drive over to Las Vegas, NV where there was more family time, gambling, and swapping stories with locals. Then over the next 7 days we drove through Zion National Park, the Grand Canyon National Park, and Arches National Park. I left with three key takeaways.
Silence is Powerful
Surprise, surprise, but silence can be hard to come by in the most congested state of the country. Call this one a no-brainier, but in the wild of our country’s national parks I was refreshed by the pure silence you can only find in the middle of nowhere. It is worth the effort to find solitude to reset, and most importantly, reflect. Since my trip, I’ve incorporated silent meditation to my mourning routine to ensure I start the day with intention.
If You Want to See the View, Put in the Effort
Over the course of the trip, we did a considerable amount of hiking. Of course in the spring I promised myself I’d get in shape so that I could conquer the hikes with pride. And of course I put it off forever. So I was out of shape and facing a 5 mile hike up one of the most challenging peaks in Zion National Park, Angel’s Landing. I was worried that I was out of my element on such a challenging trail. I’ve never been to in shape but that June I was the heaviest weight I’ve ever been. But I didn’t give up – didn’t even consider turning around as a true option. And of course, all of that hard work paid off with a spectacular view! Hard work equals a reward, so don’t give up on yourself or your task.
We’re All on a Similar Journey
“All men are created equal & independent, that from that equal creation they derive rights inherent & inalienable, among which are the preservation of life, & liberty, & the pursuit of happiness.”
As I’ve traveled around the country, one thing remains the same. People are weird no matter where you go. There really isn’t any sugar coating it – the country is filled with weird characters. They’re funny, nice, crazy, beautiful and ugly all at once. But they’re all on their own version of a pursuit of happiness, and what’s beautiful about the United States is that we are all free to pursue our happiness…
…except for in areas of the country where there are people trying to take away the voices, rights, and agencies of entire demographics of the country. At its purest, America truly is Great. But we haven’t been able to achieve that greatness that our forefathers promised us because bigotry and injustice can get in the way. But we’d benefit from remembering our origins. Of letting our neighbors be their goofy, weird selves. So what if they define happiness and success differently than you? That’s what makes America Great.
View more photos from my road trip on my Flickr.