North Cascades National Park is the least visited park in the continental United States, with fewer than 25,000 visitors per year. This number is minuscule compared to 9.4 million visitors the Great Smoky Mountains or the 3 million nearby Olympic National Park receive annually. I suspect, as was the case for myself, few people outside of the Pacific Northwest even know this place exists. Indeed, it seems that the North Cascades has bit of a public relations problem. While iconic images of its better known cousins are splashed across travel magazines, featured in documentaries, and make it on the bucket lists of millions, the North Cascades stand waiting for a few adventurers to embrace its solitude, wilderness, and beauty.
During conversations with people who are curious about our lifestyle, we are often asked what places we have enjoyed most. Below is a list of some of our current favorites in different categories. Keep in mind we have not seen the entire country, only about 28 states, and still have plenty more to see. For the next few months we are going to travel to some new places including 7 National Parks, and we are certain this list will change.
The more Alayne and I travel around this country, the more I realize that there are many different Americas. As I write this we are in the town of Cedar Key, Florida where the local mantra is, “If it can go well, it will.” This is a very optimistic view for a town that most would consider sleepy with limited options. Yet, the residents and visitors alike smile, wave and laugh with regularity. This remote island town, almost an hour away from any “real” civilization, is contented to go its own way. In places like this that resist “Starbucking,” the homogenization of America, where the locals feel little need to keep up with the Jones’s or anyone else for that matter, feel authentic and real. The American spirit of freedom and independence is alive here. Often it seems the further one is away from “civilization,” the more civilized and community oriented the people are.
Life is too short to hang onto unpleasant circumstances that can be changed. While change can be scary and takes work, the willingness to do so often beats the willfulness it takes to remain stuck in state of familiar, yet comfortable dis-ease. In 2013, we stepped off into the unknown that we hardly planned for, and ended up finding adventure and making new discoveries along the way. I guess it could be said that 2013 was a pioneering year.
As a non-retired couple living and travelling in an RV fulltime, we are bucking convention and it has allowed us to have an outsider’s view on ourselves and the culture we live in. We have been able to recognize the many good hearted, creative and adventurous people doing inspiring things, and have seen cultural ills too. There are many different Americas, each is unique and worth taking the time to appreciate.