I never really understood what the big deal was. In England, America was spoken of as the country of sunshine and dreamlike opportunities, but when I moved to Massachusetts at twelve years old, the place just didn’t immediately appeal to me. It wasn’t until three years later in August 2007, as we set off on a road trip to our new house in Washington State that I finally began to witness the magic.
With a family of six and three dogs packed into our Ford SUV, we drove away from our house, hoping that the box tied to the roof of our car wouldn’t fall off. We were equipped with sandwiches for the day, and were to be traveling to our first stop; Niagara Falls, New York. After sitting for six hours with the smell of the dog’s panting breaths in my face, I was more than glad to arrive at our destination. My camera in hand, I leaped out through the door, taking a deep inhale of the cool mist around the water. The thundering sound of the waves crashing below us created a sense of excitement within my stomach as my family and I walked towards the edge to get a closer look. At first glance I was impressed at what I was viewing. The falls themselves were beautiful, but then I noticed the neon lights changing behind the falls, all of the gift shops and the bus tours. Although I was taken aback by the fact that I wasn’t taking a glimpse at a well hidden treasure (as I originally dreamed it of being) I was slightly beginning to see a new side of America that I hadn’t yet distinguished.
From New York to Pennsylvania, we journeyed across into Ohio for the rollercoaster capital of the world – Cedar Point. Upon arrival we were dazzled by the height of rollercoaster’s that appeared to be touching the clouds, bracing ourselves for a day of nonstop thrill- and nausea. Following our stay we drove through Indiana, Illinois, Iowa, Wisconsin and Minnesota before stopping at North Dakota. The great State of ND is mostly known for its monumental sculpture carved by Gutzon Borglum, yet Mount Rushmore wasn’t something I’d heard of prior to traveling there. So when I was told that it was a great mountain with the faces of former American Presidents carved into its rock, I was both bewildered and convinced that my parents were either lying or going crazy. Even now, I can still remember the amount of amazement I felt as we approached the site. Oblivious to the flock of tourists fluttering around trying to give their best pose for the camera, I stood still and gazed up at the magnificent amount of detail and dedication I was witnessing. I found it breathtaking. It was at this point, after learning everything I could about this admirable piece of art, that I finally understood what America was all about.
Thereafter, as we visited Yellowstone National park and Badlands, as we drove up the mountains in Montana while I cried my eyes out for my dad to stop driving so close to the edge and as we entered through acres of evergreen trees amidst our new home of Washington, I appreciated the wealth of the land and its people. Looking upon winter green trees with the snow covered mountains along the skirts of my view, I recalled the only words I knew from the National Anthem; “And the Star – Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave, Over the land of the free and the home of the brave”.
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