visiting nature

A couple of weeks ago, I returned from an epic trek out west. So far, all I’ve mentioned is that it came to a fitting end. Now you’ll know the rest of the story.

Here’s a quick, bulleted overview of the fantasticality* that ensued:

  • A friend and I set out in my car for three national parks (Grand Canyon, Sequoia, Yosemite) on a Saturday morning.
  • The trip was a little over 4,000 miles – 4,106 miles, to be exact. In total, we were driving for about 2 days and 17 hours (not counting some time spent driving around parks, etc.).
  • We hiked around the three parks for somewhere between 28-32 miles, including hikes to the bottom of the Grand Canyon (and back up) and to the top of the largest waterfall in the United States, Yosemite Falls (and back down).
  • We had to use bear-proof lockers because black bears were “highly active” in both Sequoia and Yosemite, but we never saw an actual bear.
  • In the same day, we saw lush green forests in low-60 degree weather, as well as snowy mountainsides and low-30 degree weather.
  • We witnessed two sunsets at the Grand Canyon and a sunrise above a California orange grove.
  • We stayed in a haunted hotel in Flagstaff, AZ.
  • We saw the world’s largest single organism by volume (a giant sequoia named General Sherman that was over 2200 years old).
  • We walked on the strip in Las Vegas, went through a casino, and promptly left.
  • We drove over the Hoover Dam (at night).

Basically, we lived life and experienced some of the best that nature has to offer without putting ourselves in a position where we could have easily died. That’s not to say that we didn’t take any risks, but overall it was a leisurely (though sometimes grueling) escape from the stresses of being an unemployed college graduate.

More pictures can be found in the nature gallery; of course, I took several hundred and only one out of every 35 or so turned out decent. Some interesting things that I discovered during the course of the trip are that the Grand Canyon actually has some cell phone reception at the very bottom, depending on where you are. More impressive is that the top of Yosemite Falls (in fact, nearly all of Yosemite National Park, as far as I could tell) has cell phone coverage. at&t is doing that aspect of its job, at least.

There’s a lot of beauty out there that people are missing every day. I think the government should give incentives to people that would persuade everyone to visit these places more often. We’d need more preserved land due to the increased traffic, but I believe it would make America a much better place if people just got away every now and then to see God’s creation. Being dwarfed by giant sequoias and redwoods, or just peering over into a mile-deep canyon, can have a profound effect on a person’s outlook on life.

I would definitely recommend that everyone visit Sequoia and the Grand Canyon, even if just once. Yosemite, on the other hand, is forgettable, but they all do a great job of preserving our nation’s idyllic heritage and offering respite for those who have become entangled in the urban jungle.

* Coined here first.

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