Cross Country Trip
My wife, Lee Ann, and I took a cross country trip via plane, train and bus this past summer to California. I'm not going to regale you with stories about where we ate, or nice places we stayed, although those places were very good and the food was too. However, I am going to tell you about the things we saw and the greatness of our country. Now, before I start, we can debate many things about where our nation has failed: The relocation of Native Americans, the enslavement of African-Americans, and the internment of Japanese Americans during World War Two, just to name three. All of those are legitimate for a discussion about American failures. However, for this discussion let's look at American greatness. We boarded a train in Denver Colorado. That train took us across the Rocky Mountains and the deserts of Utah and Nevada. The building of the railroad through the mountains of Colorado was an engineering marvel. The selection of roadway through the mountainous terrain that would accommodate train travel was astounding to me. The reason for that is a train cannot pull its load up an incredibly steep incline, and believe me the Rockies are incredibly steep. The railroad twist and turns around mountains to get over the Rocky’s peaks and rivers. Where they couldn't get around a mountain they went through the mountains by way of tunnel. I don't know how many tunnels we went through but the Moffat tunnel, built in the 1920s, is a little over 6 miles long. As remarkable as that is, it is even more remarkable the building of the railroad through the great deserts of Utah and Nevada. When you come out of the Rockies, on their western side, Grand Junction is the last large town in Colorado. In fact, it is the last large town from there to Salt Lake City, nearly 300 miles and from there on to Reno, nearly another 600 miles. The geography from Grand Junction to Reno is desert. I had no idea how big and uninhabited it was. Mile after mile of lonely open spaces and sand. When we got off the train in Reno we went over the mountains to Virginia City Nevada. Virginia City is a rustic place that is filled with western nostalgia and buildings. The sidewalks are made of 2 x 6 boards. However, as interesting as that is the most interesting thing about the town are the stories about the men and women who built that city. There were stories about gun fighters, saloon girls, gamblers and the religious leaders who tried to tame the city. However, the most compelling was the story of the miners, who in some cases, went down over 3000 feet in the earth and worked in terrible conditions and temperatures. Sometimes those temperatures reaching 130°F just to dig gold and silver out of the earth. I say all this because those men and women: the miners, railroaders and all the other people who went west, made America great. I've always believed that America was and still is great. I believe that America is great, no matter who is in office or at what every period of time during our history. Sure, there are many blemishes on our record, we all acknowledge that. However, there are many more things to be grateful for in our wonderful country. So I acknowledge the greatness of our past and look forward to the greatness of our future.