There are a lot of reasons to be cynical about the US government right now (and we’re definitely cynical about it!) This post is not about that. Our travels across the country have given us a greater appreciation for many of the things the government is doing right. Here’s a list of the some government institutions we now love even more.
We’ve been able to travel almost 30,000 miles in 9 months to some incredible places. It literally would not have been possible without the roads and highways. Thanks to all of the construction workers, civil engineers, and city planners than work hard to make sure we can all get around.
The National Park Service
Human beings don’t have a great history of thinking long-term about the environment. The National Park System is not one of those instances. The foresight of people like John Muir, Theodore Roosevelt, Marjory Stoneman Douglass, and so many others is something we can still learn from today. We have so many awe-inspiring places in this country with countless people working hard to “preserve and protect” the natural wonders of this world. Visiting the National Parks with children has given us an even greater appreciation for these parks – the Junior Ranger programs, visitor centers, and ranger classes have taught our entire family so much about the natural world and the importance of preserving it for generations to come.
State, County, and Army Corps of Engineers Parks
There are lots of awesome government-run campgrounds all across the country (plus tons of public land with free dispersed camping). We’ve been especially pleased with the affordability of the Army Corps of Engineers parks. While not quite as “glamorous” as the National Parks, these parks provide great opportunities to get outside and enjoy nature, have a barbecue with family or friends, or spend an evening camping under the stars.
The Affordable Care Act
We were a bit nervous about health insurance when we decided to quit our jobs and travel the country. It turns out the ACA is amazing! We were able to get quality, affordable health insurance in a process that’s way more convenient and easy to understand than it used to be. (Although our great experience with the ER in Canada reminded us that the US still has a long ways to go!)
The United States Postal Service
Did you know you can receive an email every day with scanned images of the pieces of mail that will be coming that day? We didn’t! Kimberlee’s mother has been kind enough to check our mail for us while on the road, and this feature has been great for helping us keep an eye out for important pieces of mail. Not to mention that there’s a post office practically everywhere that makes it easy and affordable to send and receive mail.
In addition to checking out ebooks and audiobooks with the click of a button, libraries have also been a great place to do some work while on the road (free wifi!) Every time we’ve been amazed at how many people are using the libraries – they’ve been packed! Of course we’ve seen lots of people checking out books, but we’ve also seen students studying or working on group projects, people of all ages using the computers (including using them to look for and apply to jobs), and some incredible librarians who seem like they’re working multiple jobs at once as teacher, researcher, social worker, IT support person, customer service rep, oh and librarian as well.
Our country still has a long ways to go to achieve the ideals upon which it was founded. However, these institutions give us hope, help temper our cynicism a bit, make us glad to pay taxes, and motivate us as we strive to form a more perfect union.