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Thread summary:

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

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Old 06-04-2007, 12:24 PM
 
Location: The Heart of Dixie
7,826 posts, read 12,333,377 times
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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?
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Old 06-04-2007, 12:30 PM
 
Location: By the sea, by the sea, by the beautiful sea
58,189 posts, read 41,002,133 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Terrapin2212 View Post
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.

The interstates may make everything the same..................along the interstate but...........................there's a whole bunch of beautiful two lane out there just waiting to be experienced.


Look for the blue roads on the map, hard to go wrong
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Old 06-04-2007, 12:31 PM
 
Location: Maine
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As someone who has been to many states and seen both oceans, I don't think the northeast is any less the "real America" as anywhere else. The most striking dichotomy is between life in the big cities and life in rural America. Cities are fun to visit, but I don't like living in them. I'm convinced that concrete sucks the life out of your soul.
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Old 06-04-2007, 01:35 PM
 
Location: Turn Left at Greenland
17,700 posts, read 35,627,629 times
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I always thought this would be a fun thing to do, it's the World's Largest Garage Sale and it goes through the south:

127sale

You'd probably see a lot of the America you are seeking. Plus you could go garage sale-ing!
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Old 06-04-2007, 01:47 PM
 
Location: The Great State of Arkansas
5,981 posts, read 16,327,576 times
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I have to say, even though I am not in Texas - that's the most diverse state to me - from the hill country to the coast and the deserts and the big old Houston and DFW area - and plenty of farm to market roads to make traveling quite an experience. I LOVE Texas (which drives my fellow Arkansans crazy)......but another experience is Georgia to Mississippi, where the South is really the deep south.

I've never been to many of the cities you have mentioned - and honestly haven't much desire to. But the south is home to me - we tried moving to the Caribbean and found we needed to be back where our solid blue collar roots were. My spouse is a pharmacist, originally from New Jersey - wouldn't live anywhere else now!
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Old 06-04-2007, 03:46 PM
 
Location: In exile, plotting my coup
2,408 posts, read 13,363,313 times
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Well, I too don't think necessarily that rural Midwestern America represents the "real" America considering the fact that the U.S. was started (well, by the Brits at least) in Massachusetts, and nearly 80% of the country lives in metropolitan areas, so I consider it a tad offensive when politicians especially pretend as if Joe and Sue Johnson, farmers from Ottumwa, Iowa are the "real" Americans, sort of indirectly slagging off the majority of Americans who live in cities or "blue" areas in an effort to increase their patriotic credentials and stroke the egos of people in these parts of the country. Every place in America is the "real America" and every American who lives in the country is a "real American" and shouldn't be made to feel less just because they live in a city or work in an office or listen to Eminem or drive a Lexus as opposed to tending crops or leading sermons and driving a beat-up Chevy in Kansas. The "real" America in the sense of the country that the majority of people live in, is multicultural, (sub)urban, has hip hop and pop music blasting everywhere, with miles of sprawl with subdivisions, chain restaurants and strip malls.

Let me step off my soapbox now...

I see what you're saying though about seeing a slice of America that is basically foreign to you. Politics aside, if you're looking for rural America, the type of America seen on CMT, just take lots of local roads. Purposely get lost. Take the interstate out of the DC area and then just wander around once you get to a place that piques your interest; sticking to areas most likely a few hours outside of a large city. Explore towns, go to local mom and pop stores and restaurants, talk to the locals, attend town/county fairs, etc. I've driven cross-country before, largely sticking to the interstates, and while I wasn't on the same sort of hunt as you were, I feel even then that I saw a good bit of rural and small town America in places like Arkansas, Oklahoma and Tennessee.

Also, as I'm sure you're aware, be prepared for stares that you'll receive if in any particularly small towns or rural areas, both due to your being an outsider, and due to you being of Chinese descent. Stares may be out of curiosity or may seem a bit more hostile, but whatever the case, they'll be there, much moreso than you're probably accustomed to in the DC area.

Last edited by dullnboring; 06-04-2007 at 04:03 PM..
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Old 06-04-2007, 08:51 PM
 
4,270 posts, read 13,973,174 times
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Hmm, "America" means a lot of different things to a lot of different people. It sounds like you want to experience the south, a specific part of Americana, and by "un-Americanizing" the areas you mentioned, I think you may offend people from that area. With that said, why don't you do a road trip? You can visit as many states as you want and see for yourself what the United States of America really is. I have lived in the east coast, the south, and now I reside in the west coast and I can tell you, every place I've been to is American to me.

It sounds like, with all do respect, you're suffocated being where you are, whether in life, school, or whatever choices you've made or has been made for you. If I am wrong and all you really want is to get a taste of "America", then my apologies. I sometimes tend to read into things that aren't there.

Places along the interstates are over-rated and all the same. As someone suggested earlier, take rural roads and explore if that's what you think will get you the "American experience" you are looking for. Yes, expect the stares. I am Chinese by race as well (we won't even go into politics of whether you are "Taiwanese" or "Chinese"!) and married to a good ol' Irish boy from south Texas so I have been to places that I think you are yearning to visit and have gotten the stares. It's no biggie and haven't had any bad experiences.

I'm a native Texan so I can suggest a few places here: Orange Grove, TX, Gruene, TX are a great start for you if you want to make a trek down here. Good luck to you and do a little research of the places you'd like to go. Visit each state's website that you might be interested in and get a free visitor's guide mailed to you and you can peruse and choose!
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Old 06-04-2007, 09:02 PM
 
4,270 posts, read 13,973,174 times
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p.s. Drinking sweet tea on the front porch in a rocking chair with spunky, old people is so much fun! I definitely recommend doing that if you get a chance. Maybe you can stay at a bed and breakfast in the south somewhere to get that experience. You'd love it, I think.

Last edited by foma; 06-04-2007 at 09:52 PM.. Reason: clarification
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Old 06-04-2007, 09:46 PM
 
2,432 posts, read 6,106,542 times
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Contrary to popular belief most people actually live in small towns in America. If you are in Washington, DC I would suggest getting a sleeping bag, and a motorcycle and point it towards the West Coast. Stay away from any large cities, and definitely stay at least 500 miles away from our southern border, sense that no longer in any way represents anything close to Americana.
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Old 06-04-2007, 10:08 PM
 
Location: Los Angeles
644 posts, read 3,110,137 times
Reputation: 334
Route 66 is a good one to follow.
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