The spirit of Kerouac and Steinbeck kidnapped me early in my teen years. Turning the faded pages of their books, my eyes poured over each word, my imagination happily lost between a desert highway and waking up to majestic mountains, scenes of raw beauty my young mind could only imagine. I wondered often what it would take for all the stars to align so that I could someday get in a car and simply drive into the horizon.
It took me a few years to learn that things unfold the moment you make a decision.
So I made the decision. Last October felt like a good month.
With the 50th Anniversary of the Wilderness Act the same month, it seemed like the perfect confluence of dreams to pay homage to as many US National Parks as the road would allow. The Badlands, Glacier, Yellowstone, Arches, Zion, the Grand Canyon, Death Valley, Yosemite… So many small dreams all rolled into one cross-country trip.
My adventure partner Eskil and I took the month off from work, threw on our Danner boots, hopped on a plane from Norway to New Jersey, picked up our ride from our partner Cadillac and made our journey West.
New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, South Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, Utah, Arizona, Nevada, California…
America was more than my young mind could imagine.
The sunsets were grander, the stars were brighter, the roads stretched more infinitely, the mountains rose taller, the truck stops cleaner (hello sweet, sweet showers), and the strangers we met weren’t polite. No, they were warm, curious, and some, just adorably funny. The colors bled deeper, the birdsong rang clearer, the wind cut sharper, the trails grew steeper, the views more terrific and terrifying.
America was more.
America was wild.
- Kym Pham with Eskil Digernes