I highly recommend road trips to see the U.S. for those who can swing it. Approaching the Rocky mountains, driving the Sun Road in Glacier National Park, watching the climbers at Devil's Tower in Wyoming, and camping in the Badlands of South Dakota are all memorable, unforgettable experiences.
One evening we pulled into Arches National Park in Moab, Utah--a point of interest for David. The sign said the campground was full, and we pulled up to the ranger booth to get directions to the next nearest campground. The lucky star my son was born under shone down, and the ranger said they just had a cancellation in the park and would we be interested.
The reason for the cancellation was quickly apparent as we put up the tent. No part of it was ever more than a foot off the ground in the ferocious wind. I had put that tent up many times but never in such a wind. Somehow we survived the night without being blown away. The next day and the day after we hiked throughout the park, taking in all the spectacular scenery.
Only recently I came across an amazing book recommended by a friend - Desert Solitaire. In this book, the late Edward Abbey tells of his experiences as a ranger at Arches. The writing is superb - Abbey was a poet with words - and his views are strongly held. For example, he was strongly against paved roads into the National Parks. He believed you couldn't experience nature looking outside from inside a car. For those who couldn't walk or bicycle in, he was for buses - a la Denali National Park in Alaska.
"Where's the Coke machine?"
"Sorry lady, we have no coke machine out here. Would you like a drink of water?" (She's not sure.)
"Say ranger, that's a godawful road you got in here, when the hell they going to pave it?" (They gather round, listening.)
"The day before I leave." ( I say it with a smile; they laugh.)
"Well how the hell do we get out of here?"
"You just got here, sir."
"I know but how do we get out?"
"Same way you came in, It's a dead end road."
"So we see the same scenery twice?"
"It looks better going out."
"Oh ranger, do you live in that little housetrailer down there?'
"Yes madam, part of the time. Mostly I live out of it."
"Are you married?"
"You must get awfully lonesome way out here."
"No, I have good company."
"No, myself." (They laugh; they all think I'm kidding.)
"Well what do you do for amusement?"
"Talk with the tourists." (General laughter.)
My recommended bucket list item: camp Arches National Park and read Desert Solitaire before you go.