Otherworldly landscapes

Last summer while I was traveling abroad, I had a frustrating conversation with another girl about my age. It doesn’t matter where we were, and it doesn’t matter where she was from. We were talking about traveling in general, and the conversation went something like this:

Marisa: Really? You’ve already visited more than fifty countries? What were some of your favorites?
Girl: I particularly enjoyed countries x, y, and z.
Marisa: What about the US? Have you been to the US?
Girl: Heavens no! What do I want to go there for? It is so boring. I don’t think there’s anything to see there.

Being American, it’s hard for me to be completely objective when thinking back on that afternoon’s talk. However, putting all emotions aside, if one has been to 50+ countries, isn’t the US sort of hard to miss? I mean, look at a world map. The US takes up kind of a lot of room, and such a seasoned traveler might have had the occasion to pass through.

Also worth mentioning is that this young lady, despite being so well-traveled, is breaking the cardinal rule of traveling; that is, she is ruling out an entire country without even giving it a chance. It’s one thing for a traveler to go somewhere and proclaim that she will never go back; it’s quite another thing for a traveler to say she will simply never go.

Rather than starting a pointless argument with this person whose mind is already made up, I was happy to be feeling a tad smug. This girl is truly missing out. All she needs to do is glance at the following pictures, and she would inevitably realize that with 58 national parks and more than 390 “nationally” designated areas, there is plenty to do in the United States. The following pictures also are proof that the US offers plenty of photo opps.

Moreover, the climate of the US itself can satiate the demands of a traveler wanting to be awed and entertained at every turn– if she wants the tropics, we’ll send her to the Everglades. If she wants to test out her brand new parka, we’ll send her to Gates of the Arctic National Park, if she wants the desert, we’ll send her to Death Valley National Park. What’s that you say young lady? In the mood for some mountains? Allow me to suggest Rocky Mountain National Park. I really could go on all day with that list.

For someone with such low expectations of what the US can offer to a traveler, this girl, during a hypothetical visit to the US, would probably assume that she has crash-landed onto another planet before realizing that she is actually at a US national park.

She scratches her head trying to digest this one. Alien attempts at architecture on Mercury? You’re looking at rock formations at Arches National Park in Utah.

She asks herself: Canyons on Mars? You’re taking in the landscape at Badlands National Park in South Dakota.

She wonders aloud: Is this the water on one of Jupiter’s moons they were talking about? You’re looking at Crater Lake at Crater Lake National Park in Oregon.

Now her jaw drops in disbelief: Oh come on! They even have truffula trees?! * stamps foot* These are the famous Joshua trees at Joshua Tree National Park in California.

Now throw in some magic, or rather, just some volcanic science:

Our visitor can see brilliantly colored bubbling sulphuric cauldrons like this one at Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, which is coincidentally the first national park ever to have been established in the ENTIRE WORLD in 1872.

If this is still not enough entertainment, she can watch Old Faithful do its thing many times each day (usually erupting every half hour to two hours, with eruptions lasting 1.5 to 5 minutes generally), often reaching heights around 100 feet. Shane recorded this video:

I rest my case.

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3 Comments on “Otherworldly landscapes”

  1. Karen February 4, 2011 at 17:43 #

    What a wonderful blog! This is my favorite yet!


  1. Photo of the day 9/27/2011 « 256 Days in a Pickup Truck - September 27, 2011

    […] at my previous post about US national parks that make you feel as if you are no longer on Earth: Otherworldly Landscapes. LD_AddCustomAttr("AdOpt", "1"); LD_AddCustomAttr("Origin", "other"); […]

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