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Thread summary:

America: college, university, cross country travel, downtown, affordable.

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Old 06-08-2007, 07:12 PM
232 posts, read 690,712 times
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Why not try leaving the roads altogether, at least temporarily. A few days traveling on a riverboat certainly would give you a new perspective. Most of the major American rivers have all sorts of cruise opportunities: steamboats, paddleboats, etc.

You also might enjoy trying your hand at amateur prospecting. There are many places where you can rent equipment for the day and try panning for gold, digging for gemstones, etc. North Carolina, northern Georgia, Nevada, and California are some places that come to mind. In fact, there's a prospecting club, I forget the name, that includes free access to a national network of camping sites as part of its membership package.

Okay, I'm out of ideas now. Next...

Last edited by Sleestak; 06-08-2007 at 07:12 PM.. Reason: typo
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Old 06-09-2007, 01:26 PM
Location: The Heart of Dixie
7,823 posts, read 12,330,814 times
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Originally Posted by j33 View Post
Not really irked, I guess that is too strong a word. I love driving through the country as much as the next person, I guess from a slight standpoint I sometimes wonder about the rural urban divide and wonder if the concepts of 'real america' plays into that, but there I go again, getting all social/political sciencey on people
The thing is that for the authentic American experience, I feel like its away from the cities, suburbs, or major Interstate highways because its what's been least influenced by the outside world. Like the "real Australia" isn't in Sydney but rather in the Outback with its large ranches and rural landscapes, and the "real England" is in the quaint little villages and not in London.

Cities around the world are becoming more and more alike. I can go to Tokyo and stand next to a McDonald's and a Pizza Hut with a 7-Eleven across the street. I think the authentic experience in any nation is in the smaller towns and more rural areas that hasn't seen that much influence from the rest of the world.
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Old 06-09-2007, 09:10 PM
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Originally Posted by francowell View Post
Well said jazzlover!

francowell, I'll second that! Have ridden Amtrak's San Francisco Zephyr as well as several of the routes on the East Coast. I truly enjoyed the unhurried luxury of the train. And the people are SO interesting! I've met some really great people on Amtrak!
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Old 06-09-2007, 09:12 PM
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One of my favorite diversions is taking U.S. 90 from San Antonio to El Paso instead of I-10. Not sure you lose that much time and it's a little more scenic, IMHO. Yes, it's two lane but still good running.
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Old 10-18-2008, 10:50 PM
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if every place was exactly the same, even most bland suburbia, then this site wouldn't exist

The cultural landscape is always changing, and to some extent I believe the built enviroment isn't all the same either. Also I don't think the old stuff can ever die out as long as people don't want it to, for the simple fact that someone can at sell it. Sure a lot of things lose their relevance over time but maybe it's not wise to lament them unless your thoroughly enlightened on the the bad sides of how things used to be. Then again changes aren't always good either, but I think that when something good goes away eventually it's space must be filled by something, even if perhaps there is a gap of time in between.

With that said, we all feel like that sometimes, and it's cool. I wonder about if I can get into a study abroad program and I'm really curious about if whatever place I am visiting doesn't fit the stereotypical image, and if it's in danger of changing too much for anyone's tastes.

Last edited by boredinTX; 10-18-2008 at 11:16 PM..
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Old 10-19-2008, 01:31 AM
19 posts, read 78,794 times
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What's the real America?

Well, I think the real America is New England. Hold on, let me explain.


The country started in this northeastern corner. Well, it actually started in Jamestown, Virginia; but this is part of my argument. Despite the US having started in Jamestown, Virginia; for many years and to some extent still today, it has been taught that what lead the creation of the US began when the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts, and the rest is history as they say.

Right? Well, not quite. But, why has it been taught that American history started when the Pilgrims arrived? Why has it only been in recent times that American history was revised to mention that such history actually started in Jamestown and not in Plymouth Rock? What does this has to do with what is the real America?

Well, let me jump ahead for a moment and I'll conclude by coming back to answer those questions.

Everywhere you go in the US, there is a hegemonic economic, political, and cultural power that holds the diverse regions of the country together under one flag. It doesn't matter where you go in the country, whether its the South or the Midwest or the West or Hawaii or Alaska or anywhere; you will notice, if you put much attention, that in New England there is a very strong New England influence (duh, that's obvious) but influences from other parts of the country don't really exist. However, in every other region of the US, you have the local culture with a dominant New England influence. Hm, interesting.

The American elite is composed of mostly WASP (White Anglo Saxon Protestants), the vast majority with origins in New England. It doesn't matter if its the dominant class of Florida or California or Hawaii or Alaska or Illinois or Arizona or wherever. Most of the elite families that have tremendous influence over each of those regions at some point in their family tree derived from New England. Almost all are WASPs and almost all have a huge influence on the developments in each region.

Due to the hegemony of original New England families that rule the country from coast to coast, it should be no surprised that:

1. Everywhere in the US you will see a New England influence, but in New England there is a relatively lack of non-New England influences.

2. Everywhere in the US the dominant elite families are overwhelmingly WASP of New England origin.

3. New England has always been considered to be the "heart" of the country, the core, the center, the place that defines what is American and what is not.

Now, going back to the questions I asked earlier.

Why for centuries has it been taught that US history started when the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock in Massachusetts and not in Jamestown?

The answer is because New England's history started when the Pilgrims arrived at Plymouth Rock. Since New England is the source of the ruling elite that controls the country from coast to coast and define what is American and what is not, its obvious why it was taught for centuries that US history started in Massachusetts.

New England families were the one's that expanded across the entire nation and molded each region, injected each region with a New England influence; enough to create, hold, and develop this great country.

So, what is the real America?

Its New England, if you ask me. Everywhere else is really something else, controlled by families whose origins are in New England and who injected the New England influence that stretches from Massachusetts to Hawaii. Each region has its unique culture and way of doing things, but each region is controlled and influenced by New Englanders.

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Old 10-19-2008, 02:08 AM
Location: Cushing OK
14,547 posts, read 17,549,506 times
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Originally Posted by jazzlover View Post
If you don't want a road trip, then take one of Amtrak's cross-country trains, before those get axed. They are a great way to see some of "real America" and meet some great people along the way. The western long-distance trains (the California Zephyr, the Empire Builder, and the Southwest Chief) have a lot to offer. Amtrak seldom runs on time, so "go with the flow." The joy is in the journey, not the destination, anyway. When you get there, you get there.

Enjoy the people, food, and atmosphere of America's small towns. They are what really built this country and were the source of its strength. And, before all is said and done, they will be again. Suburban America is an unsustainable and dying dream.
I took the Southwest Chief to Kansas from LA a year or so ago seeing the midwest for the first time. Earlier this year I took the southern route to Oaklahoma to visit friends. I didn't have to live in California and guess what, I don't anymore.

The most memorable moment of the trip out here when I moved was passing the sign that said welcome to Arizona. But the whole trip was sooo wonderful. Several days of no strip malls, not cookie cuter houses, no cities. There is so much of this country which is not cities and concrete and for me that is the real america.

And I agree... as the boomers get to retirement age and look at the cost of living in the suburbs, the small towns will again gain population. Its taken me a month to stop expecting people to show up and get stuff done NOW, but it sure is nice to be able to relax and enjoy without the stress of being on time.

So however you do it, come and see the part of america which hasn't been taken over by concrete and you'll see the real heart of america.
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Old 10-19-2008, 10:31 AM
Location: San Francisco
334 posts, read 1,179,939 times
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Originally Posted by Tom Lennox 70 View Post
I'm 22 years old and spent most of my life on the East Coast. I was born in the U.S. but my family's originally from Taiwan. After going to college and all I'm ready to leave here....my parents got us tickets to the 2008 Olympics in China and we've been to Europe and the Caribbean but I still feel like I haven't really seen America yet.

I mean I've spent the past 15 years in the Washington DC area, my university was only 45 minutes away though I lived on campus it was still in the area. I've been to New York, Orlando, Philly, Florida, San Francisco, Nevada, Utah, Arizona, Chicago, Wyoming (Yellowstone Park), North Carolina and Idaho but America still feels like some awesome mystery to me. My only glimpse of a real authentically, truly American experience was a Toby Keith concert. I think its not just me but a lot of people who live on the East Coast and California who feel like me. Before Maryland, I lived around New Orleans but that place is also completely different from the rest of the country.

I guess someday I really want to take a trip where I can really see America, like the REAL America, the Americana they show on CMT and GAC, the world they sing about on country radio. I mean I've never had an experience like drinking sweet tea in a small southern diner or having waffles at a a truck stop in the Midwest. I'm a big fan of country music Its often said its not really possible to have the real American experience even on a cross-country trip because the Interstates make everything the same. I don't want to sound political or intolerant (and like I said I'm not white) but I feel America is being lost as our towns fill up with illegal immigrants, like is happening where I live. Now even in Idaho adn North Carolina, small towns and farm country are filled with illegals. I kind want to see the real America before its gone. I'm probably going to pharmacy school in Maryland in a year and I feel so trapped here.

I get the feeling that the Northeast is just so separate from the real America of ordinary people that our nation is really about. Maryland's changed more from a half south-north state into a completely northern state. On the mix radio stations, esp around Washington DC, pop and country are losing ground to hip hop and Spanish music. We're losing farmland and rural land to suburban expansion at an alarming rate. The pace of life has increased so much around here. People from NY bring their rude attitudes and outlook here and now we're no different from New Jersey.

Is Route 66 overhyped or is it really worth a trip? Can anyone suggest where I can go to do get the experience I feel like I'm missing out on? Is it a good idea to take a trip to somewhere like Iowa, or Nebraska just for the experience rather than to see any particular sights? How does the heartland experience compare with let's say rural New England?
Hold on. Who are YOU to decide what is the real America?
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Old 10-19-2008, 11:12 AM
1,123 posts, read 168,726 times
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My suggestion would be to look up festivals or get tourism books from different states, and try to time your trip around those. Most people are very welcoming at events, but I do usually get looks and questions about where I'm from. That gets interesting. I usually turn to my husband.. smile, and he states with pride my background. (mom chinese/vietnamise, dad red head from Maine).

I love the blues festivals in AR, was just there last weekend. Always wanted to catch the Lobster fest in ME. Missed it when we headed up last month, hubby wanted me to experience where my dad was from. There's the Moon Pie festival, the Southern Folk art festival, and plenty of small town USA festivals.

Major cities have there upside too, for example Memphis. There are side street blues clubs, local art galleries, Memphis is May, just to name a few.
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Old 10-19-2008, 02:08 PM
Location: Chariton, Iowa
681 posts, read 2,772,073 times
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Wherever you decide to go, here are two rules for getting there. Don't fly there and don't take the interstate. Either get there by rail or stick to smaller highways. You'll see so much more of America by doing that.
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