The summer of 2009 my family took a Great Expedition across the United States and I, having the opportunity of observing the different climates of the country, was able to choose my favorite out of them. We drove past the much-like-New-York scenery of Ohio, through the fields of whatever-they-grow-in-Wisconsin (they do love their cheese, so probably dairy farms), the noisy and crowded fields of highway in Chicago, up and over the rolling hills and Badlands of South Dakota, mountains in Wyoming, potato fields in Idaho, down past the tumbleweed-filled deserts of Utah, the cactus-filled deserts of Arizona, and back up via Colorado and Nebraska. There, the hot and sparsely vegetated land gradually became less hot and more vegetated, and we continued to South Dakota, where, surprisingly enough, the scenery was exactly the same as it had been two weeks before.
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My favorite of all of these was the rolling hills and Badlands of South Dakota. The farmed hills were very serene and relaxed, as if they didn’t have to fight hard to be what they were, and they didn’t force themselves on you either, as I felt the orange dry deserts did. It was easy to imagine someone living out there, miles away from everyone and being content with just staring out their window all day. After we passed the more populous parts, the farms were fewer in number and more spread out, and you could see what the land looked like before the settlers and farmers came. It seemed like the farms, not all that different from the surrounding land, seemed to have been accepted by the lazy, smiling hills. More than once I contemplated what it would be like for me to live alone way out there, barely connected to the world and so close with nature that it would eventually accept me too – how I would think that I could conform it to me, but would barely make a shadow of an effect on it that I would soon learn that I had to conform to it. Of course, I could safely contemplate this while sitting comfortably in my car, with the AC blasting and the radio and internet literally at my fingertips, but it was a nice thought. The Badlands, on the other hand, contrasted so fiercely to the calm hills, it was hard to believe they were so close to each other – the huge, rough, striped rocks seemed to think that they had to provide some balance to the copious amounts of green mild hills that you had to travel through to reach them. But they were beautiful in their own way – you couldn’t resist their dramatic ostentation.
The whole trip was very fun and satisfying and, albeit a little long (the whole thing took a month), strangely enlightening. I almost feel like I didn’t really know my country until I went on this trip, and though it’s true that what makes this country is the people more than the geography, it was nice to connect with the land, to experience it in all of its different moods and temperaments.
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