“America the Beautiful” and “Back Home Again” – West Coast Swing 2015 – Part 7


Welcome to the final post in our West Coast Swing series. For me it was great reliving this travel experience. The following is a paragraph from my last email to family and friends as we traveled back to our home in Madison, Wisconsin.

“The song titles in the subject line really summarize our thoughts on this last night of our six week trip. First, it will be good to be back home again, at least for a little while (more on that later). It will give us a chance to regroup and plan our next trip to somewhere! Second, we saw a lot of the country on this trip, some was new for us and some was a repeat, but nonetheless the beauty of the country, while varied, is breathtaking. The mountains, trees, water, ocean, lakes, prairies, desert, rocks, wildlife, plants, all provide us something to internalize and create a memory for long into the future. I recently read a quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson that captures our thinking on this subject “Our imagination is nothing compared with nature’s awesome reality.”

It continues: “A few observations from our trip. A big take away is how important water is to this country, yet is in short supply in most of the West. We didn’t realize how much of the agricultural production relies on water for irrigation having grown up in an area where it was almost all dry land agriculture. Most of the fruit and vegetables along with livestock feed is irrigated and if the water runs out one can only imagine how expensive and scarce our food will be in the future. To go along with water or the lack of it, we should all hope that the west coast has a lot of snow and rain this winter, not only for irrigation but to replenish the lakes, streams and rivers of the west. Many were dry or nearly dry. Another observation is what a treasure we have in our national parks, monuments and forest lands. We are grateful for the foresight of past leaders of this country to set aside lands that have historical and natural significance. On this trip, we were in Glacier, Mt. Rainer, Crater Lake, Redwoods, Lassen, Colorado National Monument, and Rocky Mountain National Parks. If you have the opportunity, visit as many as you can. For readers who are age 62 or older, purchase the senior pass for $10.00, it’s good for life, best deal in America bar none! A final observation, it was really fun connecting with relatives and friends all along our trip route. We are so grateful that you allowed us spend time with you. And a big thanks for to Val, Mike, Emmett and Colin Jackson, our neighbors back in Madison, for looking after our house and yard while we were traveling.”

“We are currently spending our last night at the Amana Colonies in Central Iowa and will be home by mid-afternoon tomorrow. We last left you on Saturday when we were at the Colorado National Monument at Fruita. On Sunday morning, we lallygagged around so didn’t get going until late in the morning. We should have left a little earlier because we got caught in the heavy traffic heading out of the mountains into the Denver area. Truth be told, it was the worst day of driving we had on the whole trip! But we eventually made it to Brighton, a northeast suburb of Denver, where my sister Janet, brother-in-law Phil and niece Ashlee live along with their three dogs, one cat and a bird. Had a great visit, Janet took us to Rocky Mountain National Park, we last visited this park in 1976 but don’t remember all the traffic and cars, it was way quieter back then. Since leaving Tuesday we’ve traveling towards home trying to make between 300-400 miles per day, spent last night in Grand Island, Nebraska.” The following are some photos from our visit with sister Janet and family and our day excursion to Rocky Mountain National Park.west-coast-swing-6-3986west-coast-swing-6-3958img_2072img_2068img_2065

While in the Park, Janet and I were goofing off and posed for a photo that is a through back to our youth, me as the older brother and she is the younger sister. You write the story line!img_0563

And a photo of Janet, Phil and Ashlee at their home in Brighton, Colorado.img_2077

Well folks, thanks for reliving this trip with me. A couple of final thoughts: we really enjoyed seeing not only the sites but all the people we reconnected with along the route, sisters, cousins, friends, and classmates. In addition, we enjoyed meeting people at our stops at tourist sites, parks, and campgrounds. We appreciate the kindness and hospitality shown by all alike. We spent every night in our travel trailer even when visiting friends and family, it made travel so much easier and fun.

As we neared the Wisconsin line, I looked over at my travel partner, Donna and said “I’m sad that this is ending. Where’s our next adventure? I’m ready.” She was ready to be home for a while but sometimes the fun is in the planning of the next adventure and thinking of the photographs that might appeal to readers.

Next week, watch for an article on our Thanksgiving travels and experiences.

Until then, travel safe.






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