As a hiker, your plan is simple: pick a direction that seems interesting and start walking. So I did just that, spending happy few hours just wandering wherever caught my fancy.
A short time later, I made it to the Rocks. They were magnificent, bands of colour shimmering in the sunlight and giving voice to the wind as it whistled through the spires.
A series of trails lead from their base, and I chose one at random and followed it. The rocks became stranger and more spectacular, more looming out of the earth at every turn.
As I walked, the long light of the setting sun brilliantly illuminated the scattered groves of trees huddling in the shadow of the Rocks. I climbed up to my perch, and settled down to wait for the sun to slide below the horizon. The view was sublime, and as I sat there I reflected and wrote about all I had experienced over the last few weeks...
Am I any closer to understanding this strange and fascinating country? Perhaps. If nothing else, this trip has shown me that America is as complex and exotic as you want it to be. I think it is easy for an outsider to be cynical about this place, to oversimplify, to see only the bad and discount the good as mere contrivance. What I have experienced over the past three weeks, however, suggests otherwise. Everything from the grandeur of Chicago to the warmth of small town Colorado has convinced me that for all its flaws and missteps on the global stage, there remains so much that is worthy and admirable about America, and Americans. I think the world would do well to keep that in mind.