Stuff I Learned Whilst Putzing Around The USA For A Month

feat-usaA couple years ago I had a great little road trip around the USA. Nothing epic, but we started in Fort Lauderdale, Florida after flying in from Haiti. I then puttered my way around: Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri (just St Louis), and finished in Illinois. I then later on hopped over to New York, New Jersey, and that one that starts with P that I always think is Philadelphia, but is actually Pennsylvania.

I had at the time considered trying to write up some nice play-by-play of the places I experienced, so I’d made some notes on my thoughts at the time. I left those notes untouched for a couple years. Then this morning I came across them and was about to delete them when I instead decided to put them up here. For posteriors, or the kiddies, or what have you. Sorry about all of this, but I love lists more than I love quality writing.

I’ve been to the USA plenty of times before. Hell, I even lived there for a while. This particular visit though was a road trip, with a couple flights and a train ride tacked on the end, that took me to 11 states. Most of which I had never been to before. Along the way I saw a lot, ate plenty, and even learned some stuff …

I’m not certain how to organize the stuff I learned into categories, so let’s just wing it. In no relevant order:

  1. Did you know that Meriweather Lewis had a Newfoundland dog with him all throughout the Lewis & Clark expedition west ward across America. And back! I think the Newfoundland is my favourite breed of dog. His was named Seaman, which is unfortunate for marketing purposes.
  2. Dollywood is in fact rather fun. You just have to make your peace with mullets and beer shirts before you go. Which you probably have already done if you managed to make it all the way to Pigeon Forge, Tennessee anyways.
  3. A human isn’t actually meant to consume a significant amount of cheese in every meal they eat. Coming from a rice and beans country to the USA I felt grossly full for about 2 weeks straight.
  4. There are some lovely areas in surprising places. For example, Peducah Kentucky has a really charming downtown area with loads of historical buildings, neat shops and tasty restaurants. Who knew, right? You should check it out if you’re ever in the area.
  5. A lot of freeway side scenery looks identical regardless of where you are in the country.
  6. America should genuinely regret how badly they trampled the native tribes as they expanded across the continent. Native American culture seems like it was/is really awesome. However, most of what I came across was kind of commercialized into souvenirs or tacky tourist traps. Seriously horrible when you think about what happened and what could have been.
  7. Americans get around America. In a month on the highways we saw 47 different states license plates. Never did spot the coveted Hawaii plate though.
  8. It takes all sorts of people to make America into what it is. Now if only they could get along a bit more.
  9. The Aerosmith roller coaster at Disneyworld is quite fun and well designed. Disney is homogenized culture gruel, but that roller coaster is well built.
  10. There’s a damn lot of Americans, but for the most part, as individuals they’re nice folks. It’s the country as a whole that seems to be such a bastard. It’s unfortunate that the perception of the country can’t more closely reflect the individuals within.

Thanks for the good times, America. Keep on truckin!

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// Shawn

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