Tag Archives: america

Witnessing the American Landscape through my Car Window

By Amber Heldreth-Miller

The United States is a large country in terms of physical size. Many countries throughout the world, especially in Europe, are small and you can drive from one side to another in a single day–but not America. Not only is it physically large, but there are many different cultures, ways of living, and people scattered across the land.

The summer before last, I drove cross country from the West Coast to the East Coast, an experience that gave me the opportunity to see the vast change in landscape throughout the country, visit small towns and large cities, and really see the country that I live in. It was a long drive that I did in five days, so I did not have much time to explore each place that I visited, but I got a glimpse of the country through my car window.

We started in Arizona where it is hot–hotter than LA most days–and where saguaros (tall green cacti) sprinkle the desert with their beauty. From there, we drove east towards New Mexico and then headed north to the city of Santa Fe. It was crazy how even this relatively small distance took us from a view of saguaros as far as the eye could see to their sudden disappearance as the land became more rocky. When we reached Santa Fe it was like being in a whole new world–even though we were technically still in the desert, we were now viewing evergreen covered mountains instead of cactus country. We then drove east again on small little roads that felt like we were in the middle of nowhere (that is how many of the roads in the middle of the country made me feel.)

We drove through northern Texas, where it was flat dirt and farms, and then into Oklahoma, where more flat dirt made way to flat grass. Then, all of a sudden, small hills and trees started to appear and, for the rest of the trip, there were big trees lining all the roads. In Oklahoma, we passed through many Indian Nations, which is another example of different cultures that make up this melting pot of the US.

East we drove on, through Arkansas and Tennessee. Since we were on the highway and we were not driving through towns–we were surrounded by wilderness for most of the way. Trees and trees filled my vision in the car.

My favorite part of the entire trip was driving from Tennessee to North Carolina through the beautiful Smoky Mountains, a subrange of the Appalachian Mountains. We literally drove through the mountains, with the road winding back and forth surrounded by the beauty of nature. We stopped in Ashville for the night, which is a beautiful, hilly, artistic town in North Carolina. I ate the most amazing shrimp and grits I have ever had in my life–actually it was the first time I have ever had it–but it is a specialty of many southern states. I highly recommend it!

We continued our journey through West Virginia and through Maryland and then Washington DC. For most of the country, there was wilderness surrounding the area. As soon as we drove to Washington DC, and through Delaware and New Jersey–the roads became much more crowded with cars and the trees and, just like that, the wilderness gave way to houses and supermarkets. New Jersey is the state in the US with the most population density, a fact made apparent from just driving through it.

Even though I was not able to spend a lot of time in each city that I passed through, driving across the country was an incredible experience where I was able to see all the terrain and diversity that the US has.

Featured image from NeedPix

Amber is from southern Arizona but she spent the last year and a half in upstate New York. Even though Amber is from the desert, she loves the ocean and hopes to one day live on the beach. She is studying environmental science and hopes to minor in the dramatic arts, as she is interested in creating films, especially for social change. Amber love cats, eating food, swimming, sleeping and laying in the grass and staring at the clouds. She loves traveling and exploring the world– so far, she has traveled to Costa Rica, Canada, and all over Europe.

“Welcome to Texas, Y’all!”

By Chirsten Ellis

Two years before coming to Los Angeles to study at USC, my family and I moved from Chicago, Illinois to Dallas, Texas., a state where two things are undeniable: 1:. That barbeque is doggone good. 2. That the infamous slogan, “Everything is Bigger in Texas” is an understatement! I also quickly learned that Texans are not ashamed of greeting anyone with a hearty ‘Hey Y’all’!  Y’all is an American slang word, an abbreviation of the term “You all,” and is mainly used in the southern parts of the U.S.

Photo by SETShots on Flickr

I was also surprised at another phenomenal here: fried food!  Sure, I had heard of fried chicken and fried shrimp, but never in my life had I ever come across fried butter!  Lo and behold leave it to Texans to transform the butter you spread so smoothly on toast into a fried dish worth writing about. I found out about fried butter and other remarkable treats when I spent a day at the Annual Texas State Fair.

Every fall, the Texas State Fair takes place in Fair Park, near downtown Dallas. After living in Dallas for two months, my family and I decided to go out and take part in something new and entertaining. On a warm and sunny Saturday afternoon in October, we were in for a very amusing treat. On this particular day, the fair hosted the Red River Rivalry Classic Football Game which is a historically, well-known matchup between the University of Texas Longhorns and the University of Oklahoma Sooners in the notable Cotton Bowl Stadium.  For those of you who are unfamiliar, this two team matchup has the same intensity and energetic fan base as a USC vs UCLA rivalry game. Many in the crowds were dressed in either orange for their support of the Longhorns or red for the Oklahoma Sooners. I wore a gray Texas Longhorns shirt to show some love for the home state.

When I first walked into the fair entrance, I was amazed at the array of tall flag poles arranged in a semicircle each representing a flag of a different country. While walking through the fair event, there were food booths located on each side. In the air I could smell a variety of many flavors, not one short of pure deliciousness. On our sightseeing and food tasting journey, we also made a stop at the animal farm, where I saw live chickens, geese, roosters, and turkeys right in front of me. I had actually never seen these animals up close before. We also visited small shops selling a unique collection of handmade jewelry, paintings and cowboy/western clothes and memorabilia. The highlight of my afternoon was taking a picture of the grandest Texan of all named Big Tex (pictured above). He’s a cultural icon for both the city of Dallas and Texas in general and he stands an incredible 55 feet tall.

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A Grand Visit to the Grand Canyon

By Kamille Robertson

The last time I went to the Grand Canyon, I was six years old.  The visit came about because my family was moving from Nevada to Texas and we wanted to check out this wonder on the way.  I remember walking to the edge of the canyon after sitting in the car for hours, staring down into the infinite abyss, and then looking back at my dad and thinking, “This is it?”

Photo is author’s own

Fast forward 17 years later and I am standing at the edge of the Grand Canyon for a second time. It is breathtaking. There is snow on the ground, couples walking their dogs, and very few kids running around (must be something about the edge of a canyon that scares parents). The canyon is quiet in sound but loud with color and depth. It is a bright rustic red and orange but, in the crevasses, it is a dark purple. The South Rim shows melted snow running down the side of the canyon and patches of solid ice where the sun has not yet touched. I found a flat rock where not many people were. My boyfriend and I had just begun to meditate when a woman interrupted us to ask if we could take a picture of her. She was from South Africa; so is my boyfriend. They began to speak in Afrikaans and he learned that she has a safari in South Africa and teaches at the same elementary school at which his mom teaches.  He misses his home in South Africa, so to meet someone who tells him how beautiful it still is makes him happy, which in turn, makes me happy.

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