In the summer before my junior year I discovered that there is life beyond the borders of this great land known as America. Until then I thought that the only way to get around was in a minivan, listening to tapes of the Beach Boys all the while restraining myself from dismembering my infuriating little brother. Our wonderful van took me across many a great body of water, namely the Mississippi, but ne'er did it take me across the Atlantic or Pacific Ocean.
And then, in one life-altering summer, I stumbled upon Europe and encountered more countries then I would states that year. A whirlwind tour exposed me to Poland, Czech Republic, Germany, Italy and Sweden. I discovered people who did not speak my language nor shared my customs. Recently I've had the great opportunity to go to Australia and Japan. One country seemingly similar to America, but oh so different, and one a far cry from anything remotely close to the US (except their equal fetish for American pop culture).
But a recent trip to Seattle has reminded me again of the treasure known as America. My friend Peter and I used to discuss what a great country it is that we live in, and not merely for its economic wealth that it has provided us. No, America is great because it literally contains a bit of everything. Every type of landscape you would hope to see out in the world you can find in some part of America. And you even find a wide array of culture too! You can bet the people here in Seattle, if we sat down for a chat over coffee, and of course it would be coffee here in Seattle, would think that I'm about the biggest good ole boy they've ever encountered and would tell me that I should have gone out of style at least fifty years ago (talk about a run on sentence!). And I would be horrified by their trendy viewpoints and moral stances as well, thanking God for the good ole Bible Belt despite its many misgivings.
No, America will probably never hold the same allure for me as the great ancient cultures of Asia, or the refined European nations, but it does hold a special place in my heart. And whenever a three day weekend does occur, it's probably a safe bet to put your money on Mr. Honda hitting the highways for yet another road trip.
Now if we could ever just get a rail system built...