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  • Writer's pictureColin Phelan

RT Preface

Updated: Jul 8, 2021

Note: If interested in reading other writing from this specific road trip, please go to ‘Travel Writing’ tab and click any title that begins with ‘RT’which stands for 'Road Trip.'

In a (run-on-sentence) snapshot: from July 7th, 2020 through July 28th, 2020, we drove nearly 6,000 miles across and around the country; with Costco bulk foods in the back of our car, we travelled (always being safe though, of course, always with a mask on and cautious of the virus) to Chicago, through the corn fields encompassing Herbert Hoover’s boyhood home in West Branch Iowa, to Omaha and Fort Kearney, Nebraska, through Goodland, Kansas (home of the world’s largest easel, which features a massive Van Gogh painting), to the City of Sunshine Colorado Springs, camped in the Great Sand Dunes National Park, through the pretentious enclave of Vail, to the cheap-beer, corgi-infested place that is Fort Collins. Returning east, we made way for a small donut shop in Hays Kansas, Eisenhower’s boyhood home, and spent our final days in the beautiful river city that is St. Louis.

With our steeds ninja-ed onto the back of the car with bungee cords, we biked around all the cities mentioned (exempting the GSDNP), visited national historic sites, national parks, museums, and, in each of the cities we visited we attempted to find the pulse, or some semblance of a pulse during the coronavirus era: 2020, the year of the pandemic.

Despite the raging virus around our country, we decided there was no better time to travel across the country. For me, well my job was postponed a full year and while I originally intended to graduate and fly to India, the pandemic afforded me a little bit more time off – time between college and my career. For Christina, her clinical experience was cancelled because of the virus. Both free from immediate obligation, we decided to take this journey together. Gas was the cheapest its been in 16 years (exempting the high-tax gas sold in Pennsylvania), and we were vigorously safe, always wearing a mask, always sure to keep to ourselves and not facilitate the spread of the virus in any way.

We believe that in our new world — this world where the virus is currently spreading — there are still ways we can safely travel; as opposed to sitting at home job-searching or stressing or listening to the somewhat toxic news, we decided to go off and learn, eat, hike, and bike around our beautiful country.

As thrilling, productive, and eye-opening the trip was at points, the following writings are an attempt to make sense of the trip. Without writing or reflecting on this experience, this trip would merely be an exercise in futility. We did not intend to be consumers of our country, spending money to drive across and experience all it has to offer, only to return home and go back to our daily lives. Even now as I write this introduction, I have been home for a few days and have been wrapped back into my daily routine, the routine of being home. I have not yet forced myself to recap the fleeting experiences we had.

As discussed on the road-trip, excursions such as this one are a form of investment and that’s why I enjoy and, above all, value these experiences so much. As an early-20-something from a social-sphere which encourages long-term financial planning, I have tried my best to do just that; but as my parents remind me, investing in experiences and your own education is the often the best form of investment you can make. Although this trip did require spending money, the spending was by no means in vain. Seeing parts of our own country with our own eyes – not through a TV or a book – is an indispensable experience. Much of the following has been written in retrospect. Some of the following pieces together some notes or essays from the trip itself.

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things can not be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” – Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad

Note: If interested in reading other writing from this specific road trip, please go to ‘Travel Writing’ tab and click any title that begins with ‘RT’which stands for 'Road Trip.'

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