Journey across a Nation of Nature

Five years ago this month, Carol and I drove across the land known as America.  From San Francisco, California to Asheville, North Carolina, we made it a month-long adventure into nature, history and the open road.

“You road I enter upon and look around, I believe you are not all that is here,  I believe that much unseen is also here.”

“I inhale great draughts of space.  The east and the west are mine, and the north and the south are mine.”

“To know the universe itself as a road, as many roads, as roads for traveling souls.”

~Walt Whitman, “Song of the Open Road”

Scenes from the journey:

Samuel Taylor State Park (CA)

Redwood National Park

Crescent City, CA (leaving CA)

Falls along the Columbia River (OR)

Sunset over the Columbia (WA)

Glacier National Park (MT)

National Bison Range (MT)

Yellowstone National Park (WY)

Open Country near Boulder (CO)

John Brown House (KS)

George Washington Carver National Historic Site (MO)

Historic Central High School (Little Rock, AR)

National Civil Rights Museum/Lorraine Motel (TN)

First View of Blue Ridge Mountains (NC)

Categories: travelTags: , , , , , ,


  1. Hello Chris. I wish we were in a restaurant or your front room with these pictures as when I see so many memories of past trips particularly out West fly fishing alone or with my brother ( a retired minister in the Church of the Nazarene for 50 years and a helluva nice evangelical I’d like to introduce to Dawkins and Harris) I want to share so many things. My family made a similar trip from San Luis Obispo to Virginia Beach in 1980 as I was hired to start a clinic in Portsmouth. Didn’t really work out as the year contract was cut short by my going to bat for black women worker who had been injured and they refused to allow her to return to work. I got a letter of termination from the GM and a thank-you note from worker Polly, the later which I still have. So I trekked back all the way to Vancouver, Canada. I am now a “dualie” (citizen of both the US and Canada) and we have some outstanding road trips up here especially along the US-Canadian border which I do every year.

    BTW. I just started you new book on Simply Secular as I am taking a short break from writing on my book. Your publishing is inspiring to me and I may pick you brain down the road with the promise I will do no damage. Just inquiry. Just a quick thought on the word “secular” which we know is the opposite of sacred and transcendent. This old world word for the here and now has an eternity of possible experiences which can include the sacred as an awe inspiring view of Mount Robson in the Canadian Rockies which will make you want to fall on your knees (not too hard) in a posture of worship.

    I like that you index all the major ancient world religions as starting in a context of nature and its engaging and challenging beauty. Most of the prophets including cousin John of baptismal fame lived in the “wilderness” and avoided the city clothes of the day and kosher food like most of the Essenes he hung out with. I look a bit like him when I immerge from a week long fishing trip in the High Sierras, Grand Tetons, or Unitas Mountains of Utah. Bedraggled and need of a quick dip in the Provo (Jordan) River. We all started our evolution in nature which shaped our nature which is secular and not given to an anthropomorphic or theistic definition of our universe. Darwin and Freud took care of this illusion of exceptionalism. I could easily live with the bonobos instead of most of the elite and tarnished in our species. It must be wonderful to solve all your discord by some not- disgusting non-puritanical sexual act of mutual groping. No wonder it was considered a sin by the early church and giving way to one’s passions by a few repressed human sages. They often spent too much time meditating in nature alone with only birds and bats in the caves. I like road trips or open hikes in the expanse of the wild like you.. Okay you can throw in a museum or two. Cheers,

    • Aren’t the images and memories to be cherished, Marty! I’d love to do that road trip along the border.

      Glad to hear you finally received the book! Happy to have you pick the brain on publishing at some point. Yes, “secular,” like “nature,” covers pretty much everything except the non-secular (super-natural).

      Ah, the great living museum of our natural home!

  2. Oops I forgot one landmark that I remembered when looking at your picture of Glacier National Park. Have you ever been too or hiked to the Triple Divide in the park/ One of 3 locations in the world and one of 2 location in North American where rivers feed 3 oceans. East to the St. Mary to the Saskatchewan River to Hudson Bay and the Artic Ocean. Or Southeast to the Birch, Marias, Missouri, and the Mississippi to the Gulf of Mexico, and my favorite which I fish regularly, to the Southwest to the Flathead, Clark Fork, and Columbia River and Pacific. I have stood on a spot where a drop of water one hundred yards either direction ended up in 3 different oceans. I emptied my canteen and said…”get thee to the Pacific Ocean and I will dip my feet in your misty moisture once again”. Fish liked my addition I am told. You have to hike from two Dog Flats avoiding the plethora of grizzlies. Those less adventuresome just look and take a picture from the Going to the Sun Road that is now limited to bus tours and only a few cars. Most people miss it if they don’t read about the park. We also have a triple hydrological apex in Jasper National park called the Snow Dome on the Columbia Ice Field. Can’t hike to it for many reasons and it is less spectacular as it is an ice melt to 3 different river systems. I am told the other is in Siberia but never close to my previous trip to Novosibirsk in 1997.

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