My Journey, Chapter 1: Road Trip New York → California

My journey across the country was an amazing experience. As soon as I was offered the job to work in Yosemite National Park, “ROAD TRIP” came into my mind. I started saving up specifically to be able to drive across the country to visit some places I had only dreamed about. I was extremely excited to work in Yosemite and was thrilled I had 10 weeks to explore one of the most famous parks in the world, however I had very limited time to visit some other iconic places.

I started my road trip from Long Island, New York, driving through some beautiful places in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and finally arrived in Chicago. I tried some of the famous deep-dish pizza which was pretty good (New York pizza is still better), and then went to an Airbnb for the night. Unfortunately, it was raining in the morning so I couldn’t explore much of the city, so I decided to keep moving to my next stop at Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I decided to stop here for some cool waterfalls and, more importantly, it was the last place with a good and cheap motel before Mount Rushmore (expensive place to stay). Mount Rushmore was an amazing stop; learning of its existence in history books in elementary school could never have made me appreciate it the way I did standing in front of an extraordinary piece of human engineering, art, and dedication. It had a very informative museum and trail to get closer to the monument, which I highly recommend. My day still had more scenery ahead at Bighorn National Forest, which had the best landscape I have ever seen in my life. I stayed in Arrowhead Lodge for the night, which had some lovely trails with peaceful streams next to it full of signs of wildlife. The following morning, I was only a couple of hours from Yellowstone National Park, and while driving I saw a diversity of wildlife including moose, elk, and at the entrance of Yellowstone I saw my first wild grizzly bear! Yellowstone was an amazing experience, including driving through the east entrance which looked like a winter wonderland while it was snowing, seeing several bison cross the road, and with the west side looking like spring in full force the very same day. While I was camping I heard eerie howls of wolves in the distance, which was quite the experience. I woke up early in the morning to observe more wildlife before I left, and saw some coyotes, elk, warblers, and some bison calves which were adorable! Driving through the Grand Tetons was a very hard process because of how often I wanted to stop (pretty much every stop) and take pictures of the amazing landscapes in front of me. I was lucky enough to see a black bear for a while, forging in the distance before I left, and thought about how amazing Yosemite National Park was going to be. I was not able to explore more places along the way because of time, but I made peace with it because I knew there was plenty to explore at my destination. Driving through the desert landscape of Nevada did give some great views of some mountains in the distance that just made me want to get to Yosemite faster.

The following morning, I woke up with excitement and some nervousness about the unknown that was only a couple hours ahead. When I drove up to the booth I said, “Hello I am Sebastian Palacio. I am a new Intern and will be working here this summer; I am in Yosemite Valley, working with the bear crew.” As the National Park Service employee let me through and I drove away, it finally hit me that I will be calling Yosemite National Park home for the summer. As I entered the Valley I was without words as I saw several different waterfalls and the huge rock formations that surrounded me. I have finally reached my destination where I would be doing some of my favorite hobbies including hiking, wildlife photography, and trying new things. All that was left was to start my job as an intern with the bear crew, which was made possible thanks to the Latino Heritage Internship Program.

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