Serendipity is the thing on road trips. The theater of driving and seeing such natural and social diversity is remarkable. It is unpredictable and ever-changing.
We visited a Code Talkers exhibition in a Burger King, drove through an incredibly narrow one-mile-plus tunnel built in 1929, and studied the Glen Canyon Dam, an extraordinary public policy and engineering accomplishment.
We developed a number of stray observations about what we saw, sort of like the observations of amateur domestic anthropologists:
- Out west, water issues are the big thing. Billboards, bumper stickers, and homemade yard signs argued water issues and positions. The consequences are observable: we saw abandoned parched vinyards and farms that clearly were victims of this massive water and irrigation challenge.
- Never underestimate the scale and beauty of open spaces in this country, even in winter.
- Wow there are a lot of junk cars and trucks in yards in rural America.
- The roads that allow access to places like Yosemite and Zion are engineering marvels, as are the trails that enable exploration within the parks.
- Wow there are a lot of RV dealers and unsold vehicles, both new and used. (I unsuccessfully tried to find out the exact inventory). Order of magnitude, there are 420,000 RVs sold annually, which explains why there is such large inventory sitting in places like Denver, Eugene, Fresno, and Tulsa. Overall, the industry claims this is a $50 billion economy.
- The human diversity of our national parks is amazing. In Bryce, we were told that 60 percent of the visitors are international.
- International entrepreneurs can be met in the darnedest places, like the Asian Indian Truck Stop and Diner in Sayre, OK.
- Route 66 has some very forlorn stretches, such as Gallup, NM, on a Sunday morning (especially in contrast to the booming casino off Interstate 40).
- Geographic and cultural differences in driving are real.
We can’t wait to be on the road again. New Orleans here we come!