Rugged Individualism and Manifest Destiny

“Over the summer, we camped at small-town public parks and the public corrals dozens of times, across two thousand miles of America. We lived on the public space established by the pioneers. Rugged individualism and manifest destiny, for which the West is still celebrated, are fine things to believe in, but they never existed as abstractions. People were desperate and they needed free land and free places to camp, which government decided to supply, and still does. This national legacy was one of the best discoveries of crossing the Oregon Trail, but we never would have found it without detaching ourselves from the umbiclical cord of the interstates and the motel chains, forcing ourselves to forage every night for a place to stay.”