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Why I'm Making This Trip

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So why drop everything and just take off for several months?

Well I've always loved to travel, which certainly helps. I also like driving – it seems that when you fly - everything looks the same. You go from one airport to another, both in big cities with hotels, strip malls, gas stations and traffic. Of course, there are some differences, but pretty soon it starts to seem as though things are pretty much the same everywhere.

When I drive across the country, I start to realize (or remember) just how beautiful and rural this country still is. I also see how much variety there is from one region to another. (I’ve never done a trip as big as this, but I have done some long distance trips!)

The last few years, I’ve been working a lot to pay bills (with lots of overtime), working on estate issues (ugh), working on projects I’ve taken on (and never seem to finish). All those things will still be here when I get back, but in the meantime this trip will give me a break and help me get back in touch with where we come from.

At the same time my mother has also always liked to travel but is no longer able to undertake a trip like this on her own. She is 80 and while in generally good health, has some trouble walking and keeping her energy level up throughout the day. Her driving is increasingly limited to local trips and only during the daytime.

This trip is for and by both of us, but I’ll let her write about her own reasons for going (she is a separate author in this blog – but sometimes is a little intimidated by ‘blogging’ I think). As for myself, a little background might help set the stage:

In 1804 the United States completed the Louisiana Purchase from France. This was a huge increase in the size of this country and included a great deal of land about which little was known in Washington D.C. President Thomas Jefferson wanted to know more about this land that now constituted the larger part of America. He especially wanted to know if there was a practical land route to the Pacific Ocean across this vast expanse of unexplored land. So he commissioned the Lewis & Clark Expedition to explore the land between the Missouri River and the Pacific Ocean. Merriwether Lewis and William Clark left Pittsburgh on August 31, 1804 with 11 men. Congress appropriated $2,500 for the expedition, which became so successful, they become known as the ‘Corps of Discovery’.

Using the Lewis & Clark Expedition as an inspiration, our trip will help us ‘Rediscover America’ - not the strip malls, hotels and gas stations we have begun to believe are everywhere, but the vast and interesting country we believe is still out there. So while we’ll visit some towns and cities, we also hope to drive the scenic routes, visit parks, vista’s, grasslands and badlands, and get a sense of just how big and beautiful mother nature can really be.

In addition, I like to understand the ‘how’ and ‘why’ of things. History and geography as taught in school rarely seems to get to the heart of things. Perhaps this is because there is just so much to cover that it’s not possible to teach enough to really grasp the scope or meaning of some events. Perhaps also reading printed words in a book is just too limiting to convey the real experience of a place or event very well. Perhaps it’s just me - maybe I didn’t pay enough attention in school (I don’t think so, but I must be fair here).

However, in the past when I’ve visited places I’d learned a little about in school - the real place was often quite different and more interesting then some dry passage I’d forgotten about from some ancient textbook. Sometimes the differences are almost scary. For example, I’d heard about ‘Custer’s Last Stand’ and knew he and his Army unit had been massacred by Native Americans. It wasn’t until I visited the Little Bighorn National Battlefield (NB) that I learned the truth was quite something else: Custer mounted the surprise attack on the native encampment (not the other way around); He’d been ordered just to scout and report back; his unit was wiped out by Native American’s that were just reacting to his attack. There’s more to this story of course, but maybe even a short summary illustrates how much more (and sometimes more correct) history can be when it’s explored - not just read about!

Finally, although I’ve traveled some, there are many places I’ve heard about and wanted to visit, but never had the time to do so. I’ve always wanted to see Mount Rushmore, Gettysburg, Plymouth Rock, Kitty Hawk, Key West, Grand Canyon, the Oregon Coast etc., etc., etc.. Recently it occurred to me, at the moment I might just be able to do the whole trip now. The stars seemed to be aligned and I decided if I don’t do this now, I might never do it. I have an RV (small, older, needs some work - but serviceable). I have some time (I’m taking a few months off between jobs, why not extend it a little to fit in the trip of a lifetime?), and I had someone available to rent the house for a few months (my brother’s lease was ending and he really didn’t want to renew it.)

There are also a thousand reasons NOT to do such a wild and crazy thing, so at some point you have to just make the call - to do it or not. I made the call to take the trip.

Posted by jl98584 23:21 Tagged preparation

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Sorry I can't spare $2500 or I'd give you a congressional appropriation. Hmmm... wonder how many millions that would be in 2007 dollars?! Kathy read the first person account of the Lewis and Clark expedition a couple years ago and loved it. She read sections aloud to me, and it was really amazing to read about how some parts of the country we've traveled through were like back then. The encounters with wild animals, the medical emergencies with no help, the rivers and falls to cross, etc. You might really enjoy reading the book on (or before) your trip; it would give an entirely different perspective on what you see.

by TexasRTJ

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