After we recently conducted a rough runthrough of our timing during the trip, and how long we're planning to stay in each stop on our route, we discovered that we had a considerable amount of time to expand upon. 36 days, to be exact, we left unaccounted for in our initial count. This large block of time seems absolutely perfect for a deepening venture into the woods, caves, mountains or whatever natural edifice we might be within the vicinity of.
Ahh, nature. Its innocence is a constantly diminishing thing in my life, as I've grown up in Chester County, Pa. watching piece upon piece of beautiful, unspoiled land disappear into office complexes, housing developments and golf courses. But I understand that there is still a rather expansive portion of our lovely United States that has not yet been touched by the cold, dark hand of "the developers."

I wouldn't begin to brag of being any kind of outdoors type of person. Quite the contrary. I'm a lazy, lazy man, when I'm not working or writing. If I've got time to myself, with absolutely nothing to do, I don't strap on hiking boots and hit the trail. I bought a bicycle back around April that has been used four times, maybe.
But that's not the intention here. We're not going to have couches to lie on, televisions to watch, or other such generic leisure activities available to us on a regular basis. And we'll be spending a healthy amount of time in campgrounds for shelter, especially in strange, unusual cities where we're unfamiliar with the people as well as the territory.
But from humble beginnings in sprawling Valley Forge, I'm looking to blast courageously into plenty of nature-heavy areas throughout the country. As I mentioned last week, we're rolling our way through Badlands National Park in South Dakota during a considerable expansion of our original route. On top of this, however, we're decided upon a glorious "Canyon Tour" day near the end of the journey, when we'll visit Zion, Bryce and the Grand Canyons all in a row. This specific sequence has been described to me by my roommate's father as "the coolest [expletive] thing you'll ever do in your life." I can't really argue with a diagnosis like that.
In the meanwhile, it'll be a top priority for me in my planning sessions to pay particularly close attention to nature - in places like Yosemite National Park, the Adirondack Mountains and...who knows? Maybe even distant Acadia in Maine. A possibility, but gonna be a hard sell. I'll keep you posted as our Where We're Going page expands.

-Tom Stanley

(From top) Photo by Ray Mathis courtesy; photo courtesy

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