As my husband, Jeff, and I have traveled all across this country, even venturing to Alaska and Hawaii, we are astounded by the diversity of this nation.
It’s no wonder that politics get hairy and representatives wrangle for the interests of their citizens. As the U.S. has been populated by immigrants from every continent, they have tended to settle in climates similar to those they left. And since America has such a huge diversity of climate, there truly is something for everyone.
I grew up on the coast of California. When I was 15, my dad left coaching football to work for Rawlings Sporting Goods.
I had never been east of Utah. At first, as we ventured east, the desert landscape was not much different from the trek across Nevada. But when the landscape gradually gave way to the Rockies, the difference between the Sierras and the Rockies struck me.
Having traveled Donner Pass, it seemed that the mountain ranges should switch names. The Sierras were strewn with boulders and the Rockies were covered with flower-strewn meadows and cascading streams.
I think my nose was pressed to the window all across the mountains. I loved the story of Heidi by Johanna Spyri. But surely, Switzerland could boast no lovelier landscape.
Once through the mountains, we descended into Denver. The day we were there, the mile-high city was hot and thick with smog. Ironically, I’ve never seen the air so dirty there since.
The dry, flat course of Interstate 70 across eastern Colorado surprised me. Never had I imagined such a featureless landscape. Then again, we stopped that day at a small café where we ate the best fried chicken I’d ever eaten.
By the time we got to Kansas, the topography began to roll and trees nestled in the occasional streambeds. The trees increased as we travelled east, but so did the humidity. I began to think the humidity was quite unpleasant and looked forward to arriving at our new home in St. Louis, Missouri, to get away from it.
The farther east we went, the higher went the humidity. Nobody had told me that St. Louis is about the most humid place in the country. By the time we arrived at our destination, we had travelled 2,000 miles to the east, ending at the Gateway to the West. I could hardly believe my eyes when neighbors sat out on their front porches in the bugs and heat each evening.
For me, St. Louis was the gateway to the east. We traveled north into Iowa, east into Illinois and explored the far, seemingly-exotic reaches of Washington D.C., New York State, Indiana, Ohio and Virginia.
Towering cities gleam with steel, concrete and glass. Cars rush and horns blare as humans bump each other like bees in a hive.
I concluded that the east has lots of water. Niagara Falls astonished we westerners. Who knew there was so much water all in the same place?
The east has bugs and humidity, trees and verdant growth. The west has cool nights, vast empty expanses and gigantic vistas.
In the south, there are piney woods and mysterious swamps. Florida is flat, wet and full of interesting creatures and lovely beaches. The east coast has quaint, historic villages strung like pearls up and down the scenic coast.
There are sobering battlefields in Pennsylvania and Maryland. The woods are thick with undergrowth, mosquitoes and history.
California’s landscape is a microcosm of the entire nation, without the swamps. There are deserts and mountains, forests and farmland. There are beaches, volcanoes, dry plains and wet woods.
In the northern states, farmland and prairie give way to badlands that twist like complex mazes. The jagged mountains of Montana are still being sculpted by glaciers.
The old growth woods of Washington and Oregon are clothed with moss and quiet waiting.
In the south, the deserts of California, Arizona, New Mexico and Texas are stark in their thirsty landscape. The wind sculpts sandstone into fantastical shapes.
The rolling hills of the central states undulate with ripening grain.
We’re rich from this diverse and beautiful land.
Only in America, God Bless it.