All the news of Europeans not traveling to the US anymore couldn’t have been proved by our recent cross country expedition. Almost everywhere we stopped French, German, and Spanish were apparent — and in some cases, dominant.

At the small visitor’s center (a trailer, really) on the north end of the Blue Ridge Parkway only two groups of travelers were present: ourselves and a German family trying to find a guide for a walk in the Appalachians. They listed all the places they had seen in the last couple of weeks with fingers on both hands and then looked up with a smile, “American’s don’t have everything better,” they said, “we have more vacation.”

“American’s don’t have everything better,” they said, “we have more vacation.”

With the tour group of 20 at Ruby Falls, Tennessee, there was a German couple present. On the tour of Jack Daniels (also Tennessee), there were Scandinavians and Germans. Pulling into the RV park at Graceland in Memphis, we were in a campsite next to a van with a license plate cover from our home town. Though the van was purchased from a local dealer, the small group sleeping in tents were young adults from England, Germany, and Australia, all college kids on a cross-country trip from San Francisco to New York.

During our Mesa Verde tour of Long House more than half of our small group was European — Italians, Germans, and others. And we negotiated a trade for matches with laundry soap that evening from two German girls on a 10-day SF to Las Vegas road trip at the Ancient Pines RV park outside of Mesa Verde.

On the trails at Arches National Park, French was so dominant that it almost seemed like the only language on Landscape Arch trail. And at Delicate Arch every forth or fifth group (frequently with small children) were Asians.

Travel, exploration, and taking in the natural wonders all transcend politics, and daily human hurdles. When sightseeing we use one language: the language of awe.