WHY GO ON A ROAD TRIP IN THE US of A
The goal is first to have fun visiting a country that is one of the most fascinating in all of human history. It is in many ways a young country and yet has profoundly shaped the world that we live in. What makes the United States tick? Answering that question is both important and instructive. What we want to do is to have fun while learning. Actually, the most effective way to learn something is to have fun. Stories are fun. The aim is to learn the story of the US for ourselves by traveling through it.
We will be a small team. Half a dozen at most. More likely a permanent team of 5 people. Atanu will be the fearless chief of the venture (having spent over 20 years living, traveling and working in the US). Vivek will be the deputy chief. Vivek is studying engineering in Mumbai and will be 21 years old by the time the trip starts. Aside from the two chiefs, we will have three Indians. (We can’t have only chiefs and no Indians.) These will be chosen after a rigorous test. Applications will be available soon.
Temporary team members will be allowed. These are people who join in for a week or so. There are capacity limitations, though. You cannot bring half the town to join in.
The description of the trip is fun, comfortable, safe, instructive and exciting. The operative word is “budget“. We will travel in style in a big fancy rented van or SUV.
We will carry camping gear and sleep in tents in the national parks and forests. We will buy food along the way and eat well in the open. Once in a while we may end up eating fast food very slowly. And once in a while we may end up in a fancy restaurant — but that will only be when we are in some fancy city such as San Francisco or New York.
We estimate the upper bound on the cost to be $100 per person per day. That’s the upper bound for everything — car rental, gas, tolls, food, lodging (there are fees associated even with camping), entrance fees, etc. That means we will spend about $3,500 per person for the entire visit. (Air fare to the East coast and back from the West coast is obviously not included.) If you come to think about it, that’s a steal.
Here is a list of things we will do and places we will visit. This list will be updated as time goes by.
- Hiking, biking, climbing, kayaking, hang-gliding, white water rafting, para-gliding, motor boating, etc is naturally included in this trip. After all, we are going to be on the two coasts of the US — the Atlantic and the Pacific, and places in between. There are mountains and forests, deserts and salt beds, rivers and lakes.
- Maintain a multimedia blog. It will detail where we are, what we are doing, how much fun we are having, and what we are learning.
- Keep a video record. Of the places and people we meet.
- Watch movies and documentaries. Related to the places we are visiting. To learn the history, sociology and understand the culture of the place. For instance, we would like to watch Ken Burn’s The Civil War when we visit Gettysburg and read Lincoln’s address at that place.
- Read books related to the places we visit. Alexis de Tocqueville’s Democracy in America is on that list. And Mark Twain, of course. Not to forget Walden by Thoreau when we are in Massachusetts.
- We are looking into a media tie-up with some newspaper, magazine or TV company. We are not averse to sponsorship.
- After our trip, we will publish a photo-book of the most exciting bits. Lots of fine pictures, a bit of narration, etc. You will be able to display it proudly on your coffee table.
- Visit national parks, Monuments and other national sites. (Ref wiki for the complete list.) Among others, we will certainly visit these national parks: Yosemite, Arches, Grand Canyon, Redwoods, Crater Lake, Kings Canyon, etc. See below for examples of national parks.
- Visit interesting cities and towns. Naturally. New York, Washington, DC, Boston, Philadelphia, Chicago, Las Vegas, San Francisco, the Silicon Valley, Berkeley, San Jose, Seattle, etc. Take in a Broadway show, perhaps. And casinos in Las Vegas (and confine ourselves to only $10 worth of play on slot machines.)
- Visit universities such as Stanford, UC Berkeley, Columbia, MIT, Harvard, Univ of Chicago, etc. Even attend a lecture or two.
- Visit national labs and telescopes. Places where many of the things that gave us the modern world were discovered or invented. Example: Lawrence Berkeley Lab, Stanford Linear Accelerator, Mt Hamilton (telescope), etc.
- Industry. Such as the Boeing factory or the headquarters of Google, Apple, and Ebay.
- Visit museums. Air and Space Museum Washington DC, Museum of Modern Art NY, Exploratorium in SF, etc.
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There are 58 officially-designated National Parks in the United States. The national parks are one of “America’s Best Ideas.” You could say that the idea of national parts itself originated in the US. Here are some of the parks that we will visit (listed in no particular order.)
[Right click on the images below and select “Open in new tab” for more details on the park.]
Yosemite National Park, California
Bryce Canyon National Park in Utah
Zion National Park