Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Arizona, Vegas, & Parting Thoughts

We spent most of the day on Monday in Arizona.

- We spent the morning in Sedona, AZ, home to the famous and beautiful Red Rocks formations. First, we drove up to a looking point that also serves as the site of a church that is built into the rocks. We then hiked up to the top of one of the Red Rocks, from which we got a stunning view of the vista in all directions.
- We spent exactly 0 seconds searching for the non-existent "vortex." Suck it, Craig.
- While we were hanging out on top, a family that we had seen along the way reached the peak near us. When they decided that they had seen enough and it was time to turn back, their young daughter was exasperated that this was it. She couldn't believe that they had come all this way and there wasn't even anything at the top. Apparently, one of the most magnificent views in the world doesn't excite an 8 year old, so I told her that if she climbs a little further, that at the top of the next peak there's a roller coaster and a castle.
- Desperately needing to cool off, we headed to a nearby creek, where people can chill and go for a swim. Additionally, the creek runs alongside a cliff that has a spot about 15 feet above the water that you can jump into the water from. It was incredible.

Grand Canyon
- The Grand Canyon was either carved by the Colorado River over a six million year period or by Paul Bunyan when he walked through the area and dragged his axe behind him.
- Words can not properly describe the magnitude and sheer awesomeness that you see when you look out into the Grand Canyon. The view and scenery are so surreal that you have to keep reminding yourself that you're actually there.
- We were next to two Israeli girls who we tried talking to, but they for some reason didn't believe us that we actually knew Hebrew. I decided that the one word you can drop to prove that you know Hebrew is "hitpael." If you know what "hitpael" is, you know Hebrew.

- We then proceed to my final stop, Las Vegas. We stopped at a rest stop to get gas and while chatting with the clerk, I mentioned that I had actually also been to Vegas a few weeks ago. She replied "I thought I recognized you. You passed through here a few weeks ago! That's where I saw you!" I informed her that last time I flew.
- Butch called the front desk at the Wynn to complain that our TV didn't have HBO. "Are you sure you don't have it? I'm just confused because every other hotel I have ever been to in my life has had HBO." Apparently, this was an homage to his brother.
- As for everything else we did here, ...

Parting Thoughts
I sit here in our hotel room, getting ready to leave to the airport to catch my flight back home. (Incidentally, because I booked a one way flight to NY through Vegas, for the last week they have been sending me emails with suggestions of activities to do during my visit to NY. Idiots.) Before I pass the blogging baton on to Butch -- who, with Ushi, will be completing the cross country drive as they continue on to Los Angeles tomorrow before driving back home over a few days next week -- I would like to share some parting thoughts on this trip as a whole.

Last Wednesday night, when we were at Mount Rushmore, the park ranger who led the presentation told us that when she worked in the Peace Corps in Africa, she was often asked "What is America like?" and spent a great deal of time trying to articulate an answer. Over the past few days, as we ventured across this great land and seen a good deal of it, I have given some though to this very question. Here's my answer:

America is a land that is both demographically and geographically diverse. It has places that are hot and places that are cold, regions that are flat and others that are mountainous. It has forests and parks, snowy peaks and deserts. America has a little bit of everything because its people come from everywhere.

America is a place where you can come to escape where you came from or to find a community of others that came from the same place. America is a place where people of different religions, ethnicities, and nationalities can become Americans without shedding their culture or heritage. Of all the verses in the Bible, the one that to me most defines the American experience is Deuteronomy 10:19, which reads
וַאֲהַבְתֶּם, אֶת-הַגֵּר: כִּי-גֵרִים הֱיִיתֶם, בְּאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם --"And you shall love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt." America is a country of immigrants. With the exception of Native Americans, every single one of us is from somewhere else.

America is a beautiful country. Many of you spend a great deal of time traveling all over the world and you should. The world is full of many incredible and exquisite destinations. But don't forget about the beautiful country of ours we have right here at home. To spend your entire life living here without taking the time to really travel it would be a tremendous shame.

Thanks to all of you for following along with us on our journey. Even more so, thank you to Butch and Ushi for joining me in what was an unforgettable two weeks. I made it to places I wasn't sure I ever would and it was truly amazing. Good luck on the rest of your trip.


P.S. Who the fuck is Matt?

No comments: