Devils Tower


Devils Tower was a unique place. Apart from being the first national monument in the United States, it was featured in the 1977 movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind". The campground we were staying at right next to the monument had screenings of the movie right in front of the tower every night. Even though the movie did not age well, we still enjoyed watching it where it was filmed.

We noticed an interesting pattern while traveling for so long - everything we visit and every sight we see is supposed to be the best, the biggest, the longest, etc. in some large area of the country or nationwide. Every place is trying to position itself as the greatest place you will ever visit. In reality this is, of course, not true. But even if something is not the largest thing in the world, does it really mean that you will not enjoy it?

United States is notorious for its obsession with size: heavy gas-guzzling trucks, large empty mansions with lots of unused space and 45 feet travel trailers with multiple slide-outs, entrances and kitchen islands inside. Most people seem to be unfamiliar with the concept of "less is more". Compared to the other most popular travel trailers we see, our 23 feet home seems tiny, maybe a third of the size. And instead of the three of us living inside it, the large trailers contain only a single retired couple.

I certainly do not feel that we need more space. Our relatively small trailer has everything we need, we can park it almost anywhere and is easy to tow. We also have the advantage that the exterior of our trailer comes in one piece and does not leak water through cracks in slide-outs during the rain. Even though the Airstream is smaller in size, it does make up for it somewhat in quality and longevity (basically a lifetime vs. ~15 years for the non-aluminum trailers).

On the other hand, I do not want this to sound like an Airstream commercial (I am not getting paid for it). While the exterior seems to be of higher quality, all the interior parts are essentially the same between all the brands and break down extremely often. I have about a 15 point list of things that I need to fix at any point in time from the water heater to rivets that are constantly flying out. It seems like there is not a single brand of travel trailers that is built to last and that is the state of American manufacturing - shiny on the outside, garbage on the inside.

Which brings me to my last observation - shiny American muscle cars with big engines, like Chevrolet Camaro. Again, toys mostly for retired people or tourists that break down within a coupe of thousand miles. These cars are the icons of the nation, however, most of what they can do is drive straight and make a lot of noise.

Where does this obsession with size and shiny toys comes from? This is a complex answer that, I am sure, could fill multiple books. But what is unique to United States, in my opinion, is that people here are much more used to endless landscapes and extremes in nature, such as the Grand Canyon. When everything around you is huge, it becomes normal to inflate yourself as well.