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Old 06-23-2009, 06:01 PM
Status: "Nobody's right if everybody's wrong" (set 22 days ago)
Location: New Albany, Indiana (Greater Louisville)
9,827 posts, read 21,130,434 times
Reputation: 9413


We've got the "What shocked you about the US" for foreigners list on here. Since America is so big it's like being in a different country from one area to another I thought I'd start a thread for Americans about what surprised you when traveling to another part of the US.

I'll start. I'm a lifelong Kentuckian. When I went to South Carolina and SE Georgia for the first time I was shocked at why there were no farms on all that flat land - in Kentucky all flat land is cleared of forest and farmed, only creek beds and hillsides are left to forest. I actually asked someone at a restaurant if something was wrong with the land around there

When I went to Pennsylvania I was shocked that there were no name brand gas stations - everything was named "Wa Wa" or something else equally stupid. How do people up there know they're getting good name brand gas from Shell or Chevron and not lower quality stuff from Speedway or BP?
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:23 PM
4,247 posts, read 9,709,147 times
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We drove 1,000 miles in California on vacation last year, mostly off the freeway, and drove by only 5 churches (including one of Scientology). You can't spit in south-central PA without hitting at least 3.

It is my understanding that PA has no gasoline quality standards. But Wawa and Sheetz are great! They have their uses for sure. Can't seem to exercise bodily functions in the South anywhere other than Walmart. (Maybe that's the secret to their success...)
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:31 PM
Location: Dayton, OH
1,225 posts, read 3,960,063 times
Reputation: 536
California was pretty shocking.

I had never been much west of the Mississippi (Hot Springs Arkansaws on a vacation from Chicago, which was shocking in its own way).

But moving to Calfornia was quite a shock. I got a job offer there, took it, and travelled cross country to get there. So the wide open spaces of the West was already pretty forboding...taking hours and hours to drive across Wyoming during a very very long sunset.

California was shocking becuase you had to go through customs to get there...in other words, that fruit control station. Oh dear...taking "California Republic" really seriously.

Then down through the Sierras into the Big Valley on the way to the Bay Area. I guess what suprised me was how dead the grass was....hills and hills of rolling yellow grass. And those oak trees that didnt look like oak trees back in KY. And the use of palm trees. I had though California (the part I was going to live in) was more Redwood Forests and pine trees...wetter. Not a semi-desert.

And the weather. The perfect wealther without humidity and that blue blue sky. For day after day after day after day after day....until the fog and clouds finally made it in over the coast ranges and it got cooler and that tule fog set in.

Not just a different country, but a different planet almost. So, so different from Kentucky and Southern Indiana.

I could go on and on about what a special or unique place Califas was.
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:37 PM
4,925 posts, read 9,774,488 times
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I'm too old and well-traveled to be shocked by anything now, BUT, that's certainly wasn't the case when I left home in the rural Pacific Northwest for the east when I was right out of high school...

I was shocked at how dirty it was back east. I'd never seen homes with roofs and siding streaked black from air pollution washed out of the air when it rained. (It was the mid 1970s.) But not just the air pollution, but trash along the roads, everywhere.

I was shocked at how crowded it was.

I was shocked at how rude people were.

I was shocked at how "diverse" people were.

I was shocked at ignorant people were about where I was from. Of course, that ignorance was a two-way street, but I at least knew their state existed. (Washington? I thought that was still a territory." "Do you still have Indians out there?" [It was always "out there".] "You mean they just let the bears wander around loose!?" Do people still ride horses and wear six-guns?")

I was shocked at how you could have very nice neighborhoods or houses right next to very poor, run-down neighborhoods or houses. I was used to at least some kind of transitional neighborhood.

Of course, most of my shock was due to not having traveled much outside of the PNW at the time and being young and naive. It was Gomer gone to the big city....gooooooollllleeee!

Now I'm older, more mature, and married. Now, it's Ma and Pa Kettle gone to town...
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:43 PM
7,848 posts, read 18,263,628 times
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There is an abundance of farmland all over the state of Georgia...South Georgia is covered in farms - yellow indicates crop or pasture land:

File:Georgia Landuse Map.png - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Brooks County

Bales of Hay - Dairy Farm - Brooks County, Georgia on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/40656071/ - broken link)

Pierce County

A Southern Sky Smiling Down On A Field Of Peanuts. on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/kazoot/1447650553/ - broken link)

Dodge County

Ben Giddens Road on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/rayrod1/2187932919/ - broken link)

Turner County

cotton fields on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/7551705@N04/1780674335/ - broken link)

Irwin County

IMG_0286 on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/mla2520/479774704/ - broken link)

Lowndes County

My Impression of a Late Summer Thunderstorm on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/1233870780/ - broken link)

Coffee County

Farmer Mows Down Previously Cut Cornstalks on Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/judybaxter/43616852/ - broken link)
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:47 PM
Location: 30-40N 90-100W
13,856 posts, read 22,953,196 times
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When we moved up North as a kid I think what shocked us was that people would be publicly drunk in town. That might sound odd to be shocked by, but in the Northwest Arkansas town we came from it wasn't like that. I mean there was people who got drunk, but they did so at home or went to another county. Up North it was like drinking was almost something to be proud of and parents would actually be disappointed if their child didn't go to keg parties. (Seriously one parent asked my Mom something like "She's not going to keggers, do you think she's sad or has no friends?" Another kid tried to start a "Students Against Drunk Driving" chapter in the High School and pretty much got booed)
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Old 06-23-2009, 06:49 PM
Location: Chicago, IL
1,954 posts, read 4,503,111 times
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The first time I drove across country I was taken back by how little development there is between major population centers out west. In the eastern half of the country there are small towns all over the place, and this is what I was used to growing up. I also did not expect the lack of vegetation/greenery in much of western U.S. I know these observations are not true across the board, but this is in comparison to the eastern U.S. which I was much more familiar with before exploring the western States.
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:04 PM
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I was a little surprised when I saw how many casinos were in Carson City, NV a few years ago. But then again, it's Nevada.
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:06 PM
Location: US Empire, Pac NW
5,008 posts, read 10,788,165 times
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When I went East I was shocked by the density of the cities vs. the Midwest ... and then compare that to the West, where it seemed you could drive for hours and not see a town. Especially Wyoming ... I saw more dead cattle or animals than people. I was actually literally happy to see a gas station, which meant I got to see people!

I was awed at how beautiful some towns in Montana are. Absolutely gorgeous.

I was shocked at first when I moved to Seattle. I was helping register people to vote during what's called the Fremont Fair, held every summer solstice. Little did I know it should be called the "naked parade" as that's exactly what it was ... hundreds of people walking around with no clothing in the parade. Funny story is my first girlfriend in Seattle was a participant.

Another thing that shocked me in Seattle was the fact that the first time I went to a normal looking bar nearly half the females there were actually dudes, or transgender. I guess I had always been accostomed to seeing some sort of clue in the name or exterior appearance. I didn't think it was wrong or anything (one TG woman had me fooled real good), but it was just ... different.

In Phoenix I was shocked that people felt like it was their god-given right to have green grass lawns and demand that water from the coast get desalinized and sent to them, or that water be diverted from the Great Lakes (!) to them. Screw that. You're in the desert, get real. Also, people there were the most rude, obnoxious, gun-toting, crazy-driving, ultra-conservative, and self-important people I've ever met. In my short time (3 months) there I made friends with only transplants (a girl from CA, a girl from MI, and a dude who I worked with while I was there who was from Texas).
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Old 06-23-2009, 07:07 PM
Location: Youngstown, Oh.
4,893 posts, read 7,652,237 times
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The first time I travelled far from home, I was 15, and I went to Charlotte. At the time, I was most surprised that bare earth was red. I even brought home a sandwich bag full of red clay as a souvenir.
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