Cross Country Trip Highlights | June 22-24

Happy 4th of July! Today, I wanted to share with you the highlights of the first part of my trip (June 22-24). This mean’s I’ll share exactly what happened during the day and some of my thoughts about each experience. In this post, I mention my tour of the Grand Canyon. I took a lot of pictures of the Grand Canyon, and you can access them here. Later this week, I’ll also be releasing “Plane & Train” photo galleries, so be sure to check them out.


June 22

I woke at 4 in the morning and headed to Bradley. Once we got onto the plane, the pilot discovered mechanical issues with the left engine, delaying our plane for 30 minutes. We eventually took off, though, and I felt very comfortable as soon as the plane was level. I actually really enjoy the thrill of takeoff too. The views, especially the clouds, were breathtaking.

During our American Airlines plane ride, it felt as if I was in a moving car (just 30,000 feet in the air and a bit bigger), and so I imagined that. It helped, especially with the vibrations beneath me.

We arrived at Union Station in Chicago, and eventually boarded Train 3: Southwest Chief. We passed so much farmland, yet it never got old. We also saw several major bodies of water, including The Mississippi River. We finished the day with a golden sunset, bellies full of thyme-roasted chicken. That night, the train would stop in Kansas City and continue towards New Mexico.

June 23

Somewhere in Kendall, Kansas, we switched time zones! And all that corn from yesterday? We found where it ends up, seeing gigantic silos scattered throughout Kansas. The land is so flat- hardly any trees! We also saw lots of cattle- and I mean LOTS. Ever wonder how burgers are mass produced? Well, we also passed by a meat processing facility… 😬

At some point, nearing entry into Colorado, a front started moving in. The clouds were spectacular, though it only ended up raining for a few minutes.

In Hasty, we saw the Arkansas River, and its dam. The water was a bit choppy, but peaceful amongst the gray sky. I even saw two baby deer running in the grass (no picture though!), along with so many other forms of wildlife that I’d never seen before, like buffalo. We also saw a particular species of New Mexican Cows that are hardly ever seen, and that was exciting.

Besides farming and cattle, coal can also be seen as one of the bigger industries in this area of the country. We passed numerous coal cars on train tracks (pictures to come).

June 24

After a good nights rest (finally), we were picked up for a tour of the Grand Canyon. Our tour guide, Jason, was phenomenal. The scale of the canyon is just so vast, and it brings me to tears at just how beautiful it is. We could track the turquoise Colorado River, search for river boats, and view the canyon from four stunning viewpoints. One of the things I love about the Canyon is the color. We had a crystal clear blue sky, and so it blended off into the horizon of the cannon to form a misty, blue color. With the ages of rock, the colors change (that’s something I’d read up on before, but it was amazing to see them for real), especially with different hues of red. The shadows of the canon, the blue from the horizon, and the faded appearance of the cannon created a light shade of Canyon Purple (I made that up) that I absolutely love. I was also so impressed at the different plants found at the Canyon (some with medicinal benefits), especially when learning about its history and features. Like so many have said before, pictures couldn’t do the Canyon justice. However, if you want to check out some of my own pictures, click here.

We also saw the Painted Desert, though we didn’t get that great a view of it (nor good pictures). But the spectacular array of colors in the background reminded me of an Easter egg- the hues of pink and green, and yellow sand; it really felt like a painted desert.

At night we then boarded a midnight train (delayed again), though I slept well. We couldn’t fall asleep at the station though, as we would have been startled every 10 minutes by a BNSF train coming through. These trains were so long (and the engines loud!), and it gave me an idea of how big the shipping and freight industry is. We noted boxes from companies like Hyundai, but were left wondering at what else the freight trains were carrying, especially moving to and away from the Pacific Ocean.


And to think that all of this was only the beginning… I’ll be continuing these written highlights later this week, so stay tuned. Thank you so much for reading! Have a great holiday!

Gabe

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