Sunday, July 19, 2020

Trans-USA Road Cruise: a visual recap

I imagine a time where, like on sea cruises, we'll be able to sleep in a self-driving RV and wake-up each morning at the door of a National Park or Monument for a full-day visit! With a shower available after a daily run! Paradise on Earth! :-) And this futuristic hope should be available in just a few years. Well, it our world doesn't fall apart in the meantime, meaning that we stop the dumbest behaviors we see within our country!

It has been 2 weeks we quarantined ourselves again just to make sure. As a matter of fact, I'd rather being tested for antibodies now since I believe I might have contracted COVID-19 back in February when I came back from Vegas with a super bad and dry cough and without any voice left. Of course, that would be called a mild version since I was still able to win my age group at the 50K Road Nationals in New York a week later but, still, running has been super painful because of chest/lung pain in the first 2 to 3 miles of every run. 4.5 months and, unfortunately, still counting...

One more reason for Agnès and I to wear a mask, to protect others. Although I don't think we would transmit it after all these months. And, again, assuming we do carry antibodies. When will we know... My doctor says that the test is still so off, it's not worth it. Every day I see long lines at local testing sites, but I'm stunned we don't hear much about antibody testing on official or social medias.

With this new quarantine behind us, and a new confinement order anyway, I feel more comfortable turning the page on this amazing American experience. Coast to coast road trips are more popular among college students but there must be many less with the current distance learning mode. At least we didn't have any issue find rooms.

To connect the dots of my eight posts, here is a visual summary. Another picture worth many thousands words!
There are so many different options for crossing the US. Many people would take the shortest path along Interstate 80. Do the whole crossing over 3 or 4 days without stopping and seeing much. Others would spend several months and camp. With this itinerary, the first question we got was: "why going so far North?" The key reason is that we had already visited South Dakota several years ago and it was taken by Trump and his fans around our dates so we much welcomed keeping our distance! We have also spent much time in the Southern States and their parks (Texas, New Mexico, Arizona) and even Colorado, but we were dreaming of visiting Yellowstone and Grand Teton. In between these key landmarks, there are fewer options to pick from, yet a few very worth ones.

Overall, that represented about 55 hours of driving and limited time in each National treasure, but still enough to get some good taste of the many Americas of our Federation. Including the many different Americas with regard to our handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. From this vantage, the worst experiences included:
  • Several stops are rest areas and gas stations;
  • The Chicago crowd invading the narrow beaches at the Indiana Dune National Park (we left promptly at 10 am to avoid the healthcare crisis!);
  • And our stop at Austin, Nevada.
While we love Austin, Texas, for its liberal, relaxed and open-minded atmosphere, Austin, Nevada, seems to be the anthesis. We had tried to book a room there at the last minute but there isn't even a hotel, only less than a handful bed and breakfast. After our aerial stop by Great Basin National Park, we had quite a few miles and were hoping to get some quick dinner around 7 pm on Independence Day. We found a bar which was quite busy but were bluntly told they weren't serving any food. We stopped at another one to be told that the kitchen was closed. And that we looked dumb with our masks. That they didn't have 5G so no risk of corona virus. And we got asked if we had noticed the Trump sign on the side of the road which they proudly maintained for the past 4 years. Dang, we were just asking for some food, why did we deserve such a hate in the middle of nowhere??!! Another big American disappointment...

Two more personal anecdotes before turning the page and moving to relating new adventures.

First, a weird picture which, no, isn't about Black Lives Matter (although, yes, as I reiterated in the first post of my road trip series, they really really do).
I had just woken up from a nap while Agnès was driving through Montana when I see a sign "Yellowstone River." I quickly open the window, take a shot while going at 80 mph over the bridge and want to frame it better... Dang, lost my iPhone only to see it flying high up in the air. The time that Agnès got to a stop on the emergency lane and started carefully driving backward toward the bridge, a big truck passes by the bridge and I thought that was it. I finished the few hundreds yards by foot and was happy to see the phone had landed in the emergency lane, not on the highway nor in the water, first sign of luck. As I approach more, I see the phone lying on the protective case, not on the screen, phew! Now, I'm close enough to see that the screen doesn't even look broken. As I grab the phone, the display comes up, wow! I'm happy to report that everything is in order, except for small silent mode switch which doesn't hold the lower position (but I can still do a soft switch). Frightening experience...

Back to that black picture: it may interest Apple to see what one of their iPhones experienced while flying 8 to 10 feet above the ground while spinning at 80 mph. I'm adding the details below. Also, pointing out that, if you click on and open the above picture, you'll still see traces of lighted pixels...

The second image is more personal. If you followed every post of this journey, you recall I badly twisted my ankle while coming down Death Canyon in Grand Teton National Park. That was on Thursday afternoon. I didn't run on Friday, just hiking a couple of miles in Fossil Butte National Monument. Thanks to a lot of icing in the car, I managed to run 10 hilly kilometers, part of the climb up Wheeler Peak in Great Basin National Park. Including technical trails with loose rocks. At least I was double careful this time. Well, as I stepped out of the shower on Sunday evening, Agnès points to my ankle, noticing something...
Typically, when an hematoma forms this way after a few days, it means something broke. A bone possibly. Touch was a bit sensitive at the top of my foot but I still don't exactly understand what happened. I ran 118 miles since the incident, all good, phew! As we joked with the friends we stopped by in Salt Lake, their dog having had at least 9 lives, my ankles survived many lives too; I'm quite proud of their flexibility, a gift for trail running!

There are many other anecdotes to recount from this 10-day adventure, but you don't have time so I'll just conclude with a cool encounter with a bison as we were exiting Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We saw more from a distance between Yellowstone and Grand Teton but that one was just on the other side of the road. A few days later, medias were running a story of a woman injured after she approached one of these beasts. Be careful out there! As for bears, still no luck but it's another animal I dare to get too close anyway...

With that, let's be grateful for the wonders our country has. Hopefully we manage to agree our environment is worth protecting (hint: that means reviving the EPA and rejoining the Paris Treaty; and fixing our judicial system too!). Hopefully. Not only for our generation (selfishly) but for the many generations to come (selflessly). PLEASE ALL!

1 comment:

Robin said...

The USA is amazing. Alison and I have been in all 50 States and about 40 of the 50 National Parks in the lower-48. The endless variety of the country is extraordinry. I think you agree. We have never been bored on any of our 20 road trips. From the New York Island to the Gulf Stream waters, this land was made to you and me!