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Perkolations: The American road trip

Pack it up, load it in and hit the road — that was the morning routine for two weeks in which I embarked on the American road trip, composed of eight states, three national parks, five various other parks and monuments, more than 4,000 miles and countless slushies (due to no air conditioning in the car).

I find this sort of road trip to be an American classic, touring national parks and making the classic journey of the land-locked to the edge of the continent to see the ocean.

Road trips require several things: You must eat fast food at least once. The purchase of ice for the cooler is a never-ending task. No matter how cold, an inland dweller must get into the ocean. The art of packing tent and sleeping bags will be down to a science by the end of the trip.

I will proudly say I accomplished all of these things.

The iconic American road trip would not be complete without a visit to Yellowstone National Park. This is my perception of the place following my first visit: It is a beautiful test of patience.

Buffalo are fascinating at first, and then they quickly become the cause of road blocks in which tourists park their cars in the center of the road to walk up to the 2-ton animals and take photos — reckless behavior.

Driving around the park proved good for the endless photo ops of scenery, geysers, distant spots one can be fairly sure are animals and other natural wonders, but it is horrible on everyone’s patience.

Nonetheless, I’m glad I saw it. I heard the whole thing might blow its top one day (it is a volcano, after all) and then Old Faithful would be given a less endearing name.

I think it is an amazing quality of the United States to have the space and road system to see the countryside while making good time to your next destination. There is so much to see here in one country.

Which brings me to our next major location: the redwood forests of northern California. They are everything they are cracked up to be, from the mossy branches to the gigantic tree trunks. The fairytale nature of the forest leads one to believe that every nook and cranny could be the home of a gnome, and every flower could be a fairy’s hat.

One finds herself standing a bit straighter among the example left by the trees, some of them 1,500 years old.

And that’s the goal of road trips, isn’t it? To see something new and, even better, to find yourself standing a little taller by the end?