The 10 places included the Grand Canyon, The National Mall (D.C.), Redwood National Park, Ellis Island, Niagara Falls, Yellowstone National Park, Colonial Williamsburg, Craters of the Moon National Park (Idaho), Independence Hall, and Alcatraz Island. The Beast, Frankenbutt and I saw most all of those places because of BMX. Captain Oblivious and the Editor saw about 1/2 of the list during the Beast's early BMX years, too.
FYI, there are no BMX races at those locations ... But think about it. Wouldn't a BMX race at the Grand Canyon be amazing??
We saw 9 out of the 10 of those places either en route to or on the way home from a BMX race. We always tried to combine either a historical stop or a natural wonders visit amongst our BMX travels. We absolutely love the national park system and the Beast earned several Junior Ranger badges during our stops. Even when there wasn't much of a budget for travel, like in Hawaii, we made it priority to stash away the park entrance fees and visit Hawaii Volcanoes National Park 3 times during our stay there. We walked through lava tubes and across spongey recent lava flows. We star gazed on Mauna Kea and we also visited Pearl Harbor.
Each of us have felt emotional connections to the places we've visited. While visiting Pearl Harbor, the Editor asked a Park Ranger about the names engraved on the wall of the memorial. He told us they were the names of all the military members who died aboard the U.S.S. Arizona. Then the Editor inquired about a separate block of names with recent dates next to them. The Ranger explained that they had survived the Pearl Harbor attack, lived long lives and chose to return to Pearl Harbor and be buried with their mates at the memorial site. I was so moved by that, I found myself and my daughter in tears.
While visiting Arches National Park in Utah, the Beast was walking through the "fins" that have been carved by the wind and sand for many years and suddenly sank to the ground. We were concerned when we noticed tears coming down her cheeks. We asked what was wrong and she said "nothing. It's just that I realized THIS is what I want to be when I grow up". That might not quite make sense to most people but it did to Frankenbutt and me. The Beast had found her connection.
Captain Oblivious made a different connection during our trip to Williamsburg, VA. While visiting one of the historical buildings, a silver smith's shop I believe, the historical actor told him to hurry up and close the door so as not to let the a/c out. Without missing a beat, Captain Oblivious said, "I thought they were supposed to stay in character. That must be the little known colonial air conditioning we didn't learn about in history class." Frankenbutt chuckled and the two of them pointed out each and every "violation" of authenticity throughout the day, making up advertisements and jokes for each one. Even the Editor got into it when she told a couple of the mud brick demo guys to wrap up their conversations, put their cell phones away and "get stomping" on the mud and straw.
During our visit to the Grand Canyon, Frankenbutt decided to go off on a walk by himself. He left a trail of popcorn so he could find his way back and also took some beans and franks in a flashlight, in case he got hungry. WAIT! That wasn't us! That was an episode of the Brady Bunch. GOTCHA!
Honestly, Frankenbutt did something almost as crazy. He convinced the Beast and the Editor to scare the life out of me. While I was on the cell phone with a client, he set up his plan. As I was hanging up, I turned to see the girls jumping off the ledge, into what I thought was the canyon itself. As I gasped and started to scream, they poked their heads up and called me over to show me the landing with the guard rail around it that I couldn't see from where I stood. Frankenbutt stopped laughing when he realized all of the blood drained from my face. MEN!!
My friend, Zoe, took her son, Zach, to the Johnstown Flood museum following a Pennsylvania State race and told me how much they learned that they'd never known before. From that point on, I researched small, lesser known places to visit, too. During a trip back from one of the Virginia races, I found a small plantation site online (Admiral Byrd's plantation, I believe) and decided to add it to our itinerary. What I didn't realize was that you practically needed a bush whacking tank to make it back to there. AND... Once you started down the winding dirt road in a 36' foot RV, there was nowhere to turn around. Frankenbutt had to do an Austin Powers style turn around, reversing and driving forward inches at a time while he turned the wheel side to side. Don't worry, he thanked me again and again for that experience.
FYI, if you're going to the Grands, you might want to check out Mammoth Caves National Park in Kentucky. Besides the fact that the caves are a constant cool temperature, over the years they've served as a church and as an experimental hospital at times, for tuburculosis patuents. There are lantern tours each day and if you arrive at dusk, you'll see an incredible number of bats who make their home there.
We also visited Woodward Cave in Pennsylvania during a regional BMX championship and saw awesome calcite formations that resembled bacon and bagels ... YUM!
I like all the places and paths BMX has taken us to and I can't wait to discover the new places we'll visit during our bike ride. So far, on our agenda is a visit to Gettysburg National Park. We plan to ride our bikes over the same terrain that the soldiers of the Civil War marched over. Although we may not hit 88 mph, I am still looking forward to a ride back through time.