Cross-Country Road Trip: Bryce Canyon National Park

Travel typically involves movement. A physical, material shift from one location to another that reveals the glory of this world. The vistas of the Alps versus the Andes versus the Himalayas. The striking contrast between the eastern and western banks of the Bosphorus Strait. The Pacific Coast Highway repeatedly taking your breath away with each successive bend in the road. But, sometimes, you can find a place that allows you to stand perfectly still and let the world reveal itself to you, with each passing moment your view morphing into something new and unique and never to be seen again. Bryce Canyon is one of those places.

Cross-Country Road Trip: Drive-Through Tour of Capitol Reef National Park

The copper-colored sandstone monuments of Capitol Reef National Park were stunning against the sapphire blue sky, and we were in awe as we wound our way around the park's driving tour. That's the beauty of America's national parks — there are so many different ways to explore and enjoy them.

Cross-Country Road Trip: Magical Moab and Canyonlands National Park

Perfectly positioned between Arches and Canyonlands National Parks lies the quaint and quiet town of Moab, Utah. While it's name doesn't conjure the same metaphysical tones of a Sedona, Arizona, or a Ringing Rocks, Pennsylvania, it is a magical place nonetheless. Hiking, climbing, and photography pilgrims flock to its campsites for a taste of small-town civilization before, between, and after deep excursions into the wild backcountry that literally surrounds the town on all sides.

Cross-Country Road Trip: Watching the Rockies Rise

I have to make a confession about this road trip. Apparently, I have trouble judging both linear distances and the height of mountains. Yes, we were on our way to Angela’s childhood home in San Diego. Yes, we were all excited about visiting ten national parks during the journey. Yes, we eagerly anticipated the hiking, swimming, and camping in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. But, as I've said before, I'm all about the journey itself. Especially when that journey involves some kind of epic crossing or transition from one thing to another, very different thing. And, on this trip, I just wanted to watch the Rockies rise out of the horizon as we rolled west across the Great Plains. I had this romantic notion that something so tall and imposing as the Rocky Mountains would loom over the surrounding land and be visible from a hundred miles away.

Cross-Country Road Trip: Near-Miss Twisters and Burnt Ends in Kansas City

At the risk of being cliché, Kansas is flat. The kind of flat that can cause agoraphobia, with your line of sight rushing out to a blue and green split-screen, no matter which way you turn. Standing outside the ring of trees surrounding our KOA campsite in Salina, Kansas, I experienced a delicious vertigo. Like the lush infinity of the rich midwest soil could slip out from beneath my feet at any moment. A green silk scarf sliding off the edge of a glass table.

Cross-Country Road Trip: Thirteen States and Ten National Parks

We had taken some interesting trips before, finding the lost corners and unexplored regions that could be easily reached from our home base. But we were looking for something more. It was time to pull the trigger on a family vacation greater than a weekend getaway and experience what it would feel like to be truly gone, with the very real possibility of never returning.