Growing up in the UK I was heavily influenced by American culture and the stereotypes perpetuated by TV and film. My favourite movies as a child were The Goonies, Hocus Pocus and then as I got older, anything written by John Hughes. I grew up thinking that everyone in the U.S lived in a house just like Ferris Bueller or Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone and that everyone had a second house “at the lake”.
Movies were either set in wonderful East coast towns with clock towers and town squares or in the Californian sunshine with weekends at the beach.
Obviously as an adult I realise that many things in TV and film are idealised and exaggerated but I was still surprised on my first visit to the U.S to realise that the traditional small towns, quaint houses and mom and pop restaurants aren’t really the norm. They do exist and we’ve seen some wonderful examples but an awful lot of the U.S has been taken over by strip malls and estate housing as the population grows. The cities I’ve visited are stunning and vibrant but sadly small town America is definitely in decline.
One way to see the real U.S.A and an aspect of the culture that wholly lives up to its stereotype is the great American road trip. I’ve met a number of Americans on my travels that have fond memories of packing up the family car and heading west to national parks and the great outdoors, a tradition that they are now continuing with their own families. We’ve spent our last two summer holidays touring western parts of the states and taking in many of the national parks and we can’t wait to go back and explore more. We feel like we’ve gotten to know the country outside of the usual New York and Vegas trips and have great memories; [list style=”arrow”]
- The night we walked to hole in the wall at Rialto beach, WA and watched the most amazing sunset
- The time we saw a family of beavers building their dam in Glacier National Park
- The 4th July in Tahoe where we stayed at the dingiest casino but saw the most spectacular fireworks
- The view from the top of Mount Washburn in Yellowstone National Park
Top reasons to take a road trip
We plan do a trip this summer that looks roughly like this
View Larger Map
but the exciting thing is, we can change our minds whenever we like! There is no greater feeling than the open road when you have nowhere to be.
If you stay clear of cities it really isn’t that expensive, car rental can be reasonable if you shop around and fuel is much cheaper than the UK and the rest of Europe.
We’ve stayed in motels, hotels, B&Bs, Inns, lodges, cabins… some of the best service and hospitality we’ve ever had. Whether you’re spending $50 or $200 there is a higher proportion of service with a smile in the U.S. We’re branching out into camping this year so will keep you posted on how that goes.
[quote]Our battered suitcases were piled on the sidewalk again; we had longer ways to go. But no matter, the road is life [/quote]
We met some wonderful guys from San Francisco in Glacier National Park and they kept telling us that we’d seen more of the Western USA than they had. Americans, make sure you explore the beauty of your home country, it’s spectacular!
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