On the Road Again
As I have already mentioned, this summer is my third summer serving with ACMNP. In 2008 & 2009 I lived and worked in Yellowstone NP, volunteering at the Lake Area. At that time, I did not own a car. Also, I was very much a poor college student not prepared to pay several hundred dollars for airline tickets. Because of that, I became very familiar with alternative methods of travel. For example: causually bringing the idea of taking a cross country road trip up with your roommate (who just happens to have a car). Success! Problem? I first had to make it to St. Louis from my home in Russell, KY – about 7 hours away. Turns out Amtrak runs through Russell, KY. So I bought a ticket for St. Louis. Nine bajillion hours later I arrived at my friend's door and soon after that, Yellowstone. What an adventure! My second summer was slightly less exciting, and significantly smellier. Still carless, my brother and I teamed up, risked our sanity, and boarded a Grey Hound. But you know what? It worked.
Thankfully, after working that second summer, I was able to purchase a car (proof you can actually make a decent amount of money in the parks if you work as much as possible, including babysitting on the side, and spend absolutely nothing). That August, I bought a 1994 Camry. Just a few weeks ago, that same car brought Blake and I all the way to Zion NP.
As this was our first cross country trip, confined in a car for hours on end, we decided to break up the trip into 3 days of driving, with ample stops. No, we didn't stop for “the largest spool of green tape” nor “the tallest sunflower sculpture”, but we did make a point not to be rushed. We packed a cooler full of sandwhich supplies and set off. We booked hotel rooms as we went, taking full advantage of completementary breakfasts. We stopped to eat our picnic lunches whenever and wherever we wanted – once at a small city park in Missouri, once at the New Mexico Welcome Center, and finally at Navajo National Monument in Arizona. We also stopped at Glen Canyon Dam, part of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. The Camry, now over 231,000 miles, did well.
Driving 1,650 miles across the country was a wonderful way to begin our summer. Because we had not traveled in northern New Mexico and Arizona before, we were constantely looking at unfamilar landscape. Although everything is a bit too brown for our leafy, green Kentucky standards, we were constantely in awe of the massive formations in seemingly endless deserts and the deep, twisting canyons. When we arrived in Zion, Blake remarked on how little we had listened to music during our trip, but rather spent our drive looking constantly out the windows. For 3 days we had simply sat and enjoyed God's beautiful creation, as well as our time together.
Driving across the country is not for everyone, just as the Grey Hound was not my favorite method of travel. If you have never traveled by train, I encourage you to try it once. Some of the national parks you can still get to by train. Regardless of the mode, transportation to a park is a necessary aspect of a summer with ACMNP. I am thankful that Blake and I enjoyed our trip and that we were able to arrive in Zion refreshed and ready to serve.