I recently did a road trip across America. My husband, dog and I traversed for four long days across vastly diverse terrain and climate. The hustle and bustle of beautiful metropolitan Chicago greeted us first. This is what I would call “my” city. It is the place that our family frequents for long weekends and I can traipse around easily without feeling lost. We were annoyed by all the traffic, but unbeknownst to us we would be longing to see another car in a few days.
One thing we didn’t take advantage of early on in our travels was the diversity of food stops. We just zoomed by, thinking no big deal, we will catch you next time Panera. The first day of travel, we had a plethora of the typical fast food options and even some less disgusting options. The first night we collapsed in our dog friendly hotel on the outskirts of Minneapolis and walked to a shopping area that had everything from Pottery Barn Baby to Whole Foods. We feasted in our room on our organic goods and promptly fell asleep, ironically exhausted from sitting ALL day.
The next couple days were such a blur. The towns got farther and farther apart, farms lining the expressway, and finding a Taco Bell was a total score. The town we stayed in on our second night I would just like to believe doesn’t really exist. This particular town consisted of casinos, hotels, the inevitable Walmart, and a few lackluster restaurants. It was like the twilight zone, feeling like we had been dropped into an existence that felt so surreal compared to our days past.
The next day we slowly emerged back into a semblance of civilization and once again could eat food that didn’t consist of what we could find at a convenience store. Yet, where we had been is someone else’s civilized. We all have our version of what constitutes a normal existence.
I think everyone should drive across America at least once in their lifetime. It helps to understand many of the things going on in our country right now for me. We are vast and diverse, boasting such dramatically different towns, villages, cities, suburbs, urban centers, and boroughs that it’s hard to contemplate that we are all part of the same nation, yet also part of our own unique place of residence.
I may be baffled by how people live in the windswept desolation of North Dakota or the rough riding ruggedness of Montana, yet it is part of the country I call home. And guess what-I don’t have to call that blip on the map in the middle of North Dakota home.