America the Beautiful
During summer 2016, Yasmine and I departed from Boston for a circuitous journey to the West Coast. It was my third cross country trip but the first spent with a companion, which makes all the difference in the world. As Christopher McCandless states in Into the Wild, "Happiness is only real when shared." We left Boston for New York, where we dropped our belongings off at a storage unit in New Jersey. We set our course south to Richmond, VA, to see my father, and then to Virginia Beach to spend Fourth of July with my mother, sister, newborn niece, and stepfather. From there, the journey took us to the Smokey Mountains and Nashville, then up to Chicago. From Chicago, we beat west once more, cutting through South Dakota until we reached the Badlands. What marvelous rocks and open space, and what a night beneath the Midwest thunderstorm that rocked us in our sleep, as we clung to a flapping tent. Soon, we were in Yellowstone, which brought back memories of when I was a child, learning to use a Minolta SRT 101 with my father and brother. Then to Glacier and a joyful night of primitive camping on the northern side. This was the last night before the stretch to Seattle, where Yasmine saw and experienced some of what formed me in my adolescence. We headed south once more, stopping at Mt. Rainier for a hike in Paradise, before eventually heading to Portland. Onward we plied through Boise National Forest and then down to Dixie in Utah, for a beautiful night outside of Zion. Daunted by the crowds, we continued to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon, free from the swarms on the other side. Next was Sedona, Arizona for a bit of twisted magic. With a quick stop at ArcoSanti, we finally reached Phoenix, AZ.