I had never driven across the United States from coast to coast until a couple weeks ago, after driving from Maryland to Los Angeles with plans of moving to San Francisco. The United States is comparable to India in the sense that each state has entirely different dialects, foods, cultures, and mindsets. Driving through Missouri and Kansas, the rolling agricultural hills were paired with a diet consisting of lots of corn and meat and dairy products. Giant crosses lit up the sky during the day and through the night. We stopped in Kansas City to visit my cousin Ellen who serves at Fort Leavenworth. At a rest stop, a Christian motorcycle group gave us food and water as they had a cookout in the grass and asked us about our travels. It was refreshing to be able to talk to these people without feeling like I was trying to be converted.
I was talking to one of the motorcyclists and he said this, “Everyone needs something like Jesus in their life- something to believe in that makes us all realize we are connected through spirit and Faith. Faith in something which works in the good favor of all of us”.
Although I’m not Christian myself, I agree with his statement- we all are connected through energy and what we choose to believe in. Manifestation of what we want to see in ourselves and others works if we hold true to the belief that it will. My cousin is very religious, and I believe that this gives her strength as a woman in the male-dominated security branch of the military.
The Rolling Hills of Kansas
Going into Colorado, the green mountains and forests harbor a wide array of outdoor activities such as rock climbing, hiking, and whitewater rafting. There tends to be a lot of healthy food here, as most people are very interested and invested in health and wellness through both food and exercise. We stopped at my uncle’s house. He is a member of the FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) department in Denver.
As we walked around his neighborhood, he was telling me about how he and his wife had started cutting the kindling and small branches off the bottom of their trees to decrease the likelihood of the fire spreading up the trees and then across the sky canopy, and to increase the likelihood of the fire spreading on the ground brush and needles instead. This helps prevent wildfires, and many of their neighbors did the same to their yards to help keep their community free of wildfires. My uncle shows that you can combine the good morality of helping others and nature around you in both your personal and professional life with ease.
The Rio Grande River, New Mexico
Close to the New Mexican border, we kayaked through the Rio Grande to take a short break from our driving. It is no question why the Rio Grande is a top destination for adventure activities: it flows through some of the most beautiful areas of the Southwestern United States; starting in south-central Colorado and flowing to the Gulf of Mexico, it forms much of the Northeastern border between Mexico and the United States. The Rio Grande has marked the boundary between Mexico and the United States from El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua since 1848. Mexico abolished slavery in 1828, and many Texan slaves crossed the river as an escape route. Many United States’ slave owners were upset that Mexico would not give their slaves back, and many slaves earned money and went back to the United States after the Civil War ended. In this way, the Rio Grande has served very important in international relations between Mexico and the United States.
The lush green of Colorado fades into dark brown, sandy grey, and red pillars of mountains when crossing into New Mexico. There is less white people, it’s much warmer, and the architecture consists of many adobe houses with cacti abound. New Mexico has a unique cultural fusion of Native American, Spanish American, and Anglo-American. Its art, music, and food go from bright paint decos, woven rugs, and turquoise jewelry to fresh fruit, tamales, and calabacitas (a mix of onions, squash, corn, and chiles). There are many hiking trails, and Native American reservations and heritage sites which teach about the nomadic ways of many Native Americans before one well-known group in New Mexico, the Anasazi, settled and started farming the land.
New Mexican Art, Cafe Pasqual’s, Santa Fe
One of my dad’s friends Mike lives in Santa Fe, the capital of New Mexico. He helps people create permaculture systems for their homes. Permaculture is a system which seeks to create a flow of energy from one being to the other, rather than just farming and not using the waste products of each individual animal. For example, using the waste from a chicken on a property as compost for a vegetable garden, and using the vegetables to feed the chickens. This creates an interactive system which eases the burden on the land and creates a sustainable system. Pinterest has some great permaculture inspiration for beginners.
Mike looks at people’s homes and helps them to design a perfect system for their property. Recently, Mike is working on a small ground-level greenhouse that he built out of a glass door for his own home. (below)
“Granted, I deal with people who have money to spare, and lots of land to work with, so it is easy for them to pursue permaculture because they have the means to get started. But that doesn’t mean that people living in an urban, city environment can’t use permaculture as well. It can be as simple as keeping a plant inside, and using compost from your everyday food waste to sustain that plant, and it sustaining you in return”.
After New Mexico, the drive from Flagstaff, Arizona to the Californian border (going through about half of Arizona), took much shorter time than driving through Los Angeles (about 4 hours). When Drake references, “LA traffic, how the city slow”, in his song “Only”, he’s not exaggerating! Like in New York City, this congestion is attributed to immense population and excess of cars. It was a relief to reach our destination (to say the least). It was fun, but I can definitely wait until I need to drive three thousand miles in four days again.