This supplemental installment of things I’ve noticed in my American travels brings me to vacation spots, places where I have stayed for one week on average and more touristy spots, so the experience does not reflect the area per say but the experience of being a tourist in that area. That being said, if you want to feel amazingly and dynamically put in your place, the Grand Canyon will certainly help you. The name does nothing to compliment its naturally majestic beauty and enormity. I have been there twice, hiked half of it once and the whole way once, each time in one day. Every time you go, you know that the rocks are still carved the same but it always looks different because of shadows, clouds and variances of reflections from the sun. It is spectacular! Both times I went, I drove there from across country. Once from Michigan and once from California, the road trip was phenomenal and insightful also. I would highly recommend driving there from where you are (so long as you’re not on the other side of an ocean) for the full experience. I also never did the donkey or helicopter thing because to me it takes away the rugged feel and experience of it on your feet. You remember better when you’ve worked for it some, I think. Life is like that too. St. Augustine, Florida is my favorite place on earth. Why? It is rich in history, beautiful, has wonderful beaches and is gorgeous. We stayed in a bed and breakfast there for a week right down town and it was incredible! I love the vibe there. It is culture rich but feels very intimate and very old time feel with horse and buggies available to ride in. So much to do! Loved seeing the fort and watching them fire the cannon, loved seeing dolphins diving along as you watch the waves go by. Excellent place, despite their stupid ghost tours they started at night. It is good despite that! Watkins Glen is a picture perfect and easily maneuverable waterfall heaven in upstate New York. It is gorgeous! Picture perfect at every turn and pristinely kept and manicured. If beautifully polished natural landscapes and amazing scenery is your thing, you would never regret going. On the flip side of that, if you love God’s amazing natural creation a little more natural and raw and challenging, you could alternately go across the border to the south into Pennsylvania to Ricketts Glen. This place has about 15 natural waterfalls, some a trickle and some rushing but all different and natural and beautiful! If you park at the bottom and hike up the moi gain to see all the falls, you have a real treat at the top of a lake and beach there. Then it’s all down hill from there. The high point about New York, New York for me was the pretty lady, the wonderful Statue of Liberty! What a wonderful piece of art and symbol of strength and freedom that epitomizes America and captures her greatness! Wow! Everything else was hustle and bustle and dirty and overpopulated, like all major cities. However, everything is right there. Better wear depends, though, or take extra money because unless you buy something, you are not getting into a bathroom! People there are very capable and helpful to tourists but wary at exactly the same time. It seems a pensive helpfulness, if that makes sense. Great place to visit! You could never pay me enough to live there though, but again, I’m a country girl. Another place I am fond of and again hiked and been several times is Yosemite National Park in California. It is breathtaking to see such natural beauty in the mountains and enjoy the waterfalls there. It is a healthy place and somehow you just breathe better there. Rewarding spot. And lastly but worth mentioning was Reno, Nevada. I don’t gamble but there is plenty to do there and the most interesting of which is to go to nearby Virginia City. You step back in time there to the old west, full of history and stories-some true and some with a flourish. There is an old store museum and cemetery of some well known names and celebration that the great Mark Twain ( Samuel Clemens) spent some time there. Ooo. There are certainly other places I have driven through and enjoyed and taken day trips and road trips, but these I know well enough to speak of them. I hope you’ve found it helpful and encouraging to know that our courageous forefathers and appreciators of God and His masterpiece here would still want us to cherish this country! We have a responsibility to know it better and honor it well. Happy travels!
Glendale, California (just a tad northeast of Los Angeles and right next to Burbank) was very different. The people there are truly brilliant or even if they are not brilliant, they hope and aspire to be. The culture there is rich and diverse and full of art and singing and life, busy, busy, busy. There is a sense that people are only important if they can get you something or somewhere. Hope is very high as is faith and drama and never have I seen so many people hoping to be discovered. I jammed with some folks on Sunset strip and wondered why everyone makes a big deal about it- studios are much bigger and cleaner elsewhere. Great musicians! No parking. Very expensive place, though, in many ways. I found myself alone though surrounded by scenery and people. I guess I like open spaces and time alone to think. Unique experience. Onward to Lakeland, Florida (half way between Tampa and Orlando). Here is where I hang my hat now. It is a big city with small town feel only Southern. There is a mix of snowbird (retired folks who come down to avoid winter and fly back north when spring comes), transplants and natives (of which I have maybe met 20 or so). It has a blend of redneck and non-redneck and I have never seen so many people driving trucks and large SUVs in my life. Inland enough to avoid most tropical storms, it is lovely year round weather, all things considering. Mosquitoes will about kill you and many more kinds of bugs are here than I’ve ever seen in my life. However, the non-fragrant flowers and tropical plants are colorful and amazing year round. And I get a kick out of seeing alligators in every lake. For that reason, you only swim in pools here. Big Bible belt here and you can find a church about anywhere. The best friends I’ve met here were actually old friends from up north. Funny thing really, most folks have their little groups established and you just can’t seem to get in. Bustles of activity and many people would rather go broke than miss a year of Disney annual passes. Large (hundreds of families) home school here, so there is a lot of support for that here. I need to go back to a couple places I missed on my travel reminiscences. I spent two summers at Beechwood Lake Camp in Bloomfield, Indiana, which is in southern rural Indiana. It’s beauty and clever trickery of the imaginative road designs boggles the mind. It is a place you would love to relax in but always are compelled to work in. There is peace and calm there. You don’t go there for the intensive busyness or intellectual conversations (no offense) but for stimulating natural beauty, getting back to nature and Spiritual roots. What amazing people are there! So loving and welcoming! On to Johnson City, Tennessee on my next installment. Continue reading “Things I’ve Noticed Across America 2”