7 Things I Learnt Whilst Driving Across the United States


So after 5000 miles travelling West to East Coast I was home at the end of July. 
Sucks I know. I had fallen head over heels in love with the United States and am already wishing to go back for more. It is definitely an underrated destination. 

Travelling cross-country felt more like visiting micro-countries, each with their own distinct culture, identity, cuisine, geography and accent. 
Driving through the dry desert lands in Arizona was the polar opposite to the hustle and bustle of the traffic jams and sky scrapper jungle that is New York. 

It gave me such a wider appreciate for this country and can relate to how people may get offended if you mistake someone from a certain state or refer to everyone as a collective. Its too big for that! Its the same in the UK, just on a much much much smaller scale; being Welsh it is a pet-hate of mine to be called English. I'm not. 

The United States is huge 
Anyone can see that from looking at a map. But to actually be there, driving 7 hours and to still only be in the same state is crazy! A road trip across the states isn't a quick weekend job. It is a big country! We travelled coast to coast in 24 days which was impressive and managed to get a taster of loads of amazing cities and states along the way. Enough to know where I would definitely want to return to and explore more. The vastness of the country is pretty overwhelming and some of the landscapes we drove through were out of this world.


When its hot its hot
I don't know why but I never really gave the temperature or humidity much thought before the trip. I assumed the hottest places for obvious reasons would be Death Valley (which we didn't actually go to because, well, it was too hot ha) and after that it'd be you know mid-20s (Celsius), maybe into a 30 if we were lucky. 
It was hot, basically everywhere we went! We burnt so badly the first 2 days in San Francisco when it was low 20s and cloud cover. The more South we got the hotter and more humid it got. The worst and most unbearable places were New Orleans and Memphis. You would get out of the shower and within 10 minutes you'd need another one to cool off. And the fact we were stuck on a mini bus for hours at a time during travel days the air-con just wouldn't make a different in the southern regions; I've honestly never sweated so much in my life from just sitting down doing nothing.


America loves its country music
I go through phases with music. Before the trip I was all into EDM and the odd Celine Dion ha. But being on a bus for hours listening to other peoples music and pre-made playlists for specific states and cities opened my ears to this great music. So much country! 
In Nashville we went to a few bars and live bands would play and the cool twang was so upbeat and inviting you just couldn't help dance long. & who's going to say no to a hoedown thrown down!?



Food glorious food
You can literally crave any type of cuisine from anywhere in the world and you will find it, and in big portions too! From the pizzas in New York City, the fresh seafood along the West coast, the spicy tacos in New Mexico to the home-cooked southern Cajun dishes in New Orleans. These are all locals dishes to each city or state. What I was most surprised is how good their world food is; Chinese food better than in China, Italian dishes, Vietnamese, Japanese, Mexican and so on. You probably can't find so much diversity anywhere else in the world. 
One of my favourite foods I tried whilst over in the states has to be the alligator sausage in New Orleans. I had two. It was delicious. I ate a lot of shrimp too, in San Francisco & in Louisiana.


People are friendly and happy to help
I suppose you find this wherever you go, you either have a really good experience with the locals or not. I found that the people were super friendly and so eager to help out especially when they heard we'd travelled over from Wales (and all over the world in our group) and doing a cross-country trip. In supermarkets or shops staff were keen to point you in the right direction as they could tell on our faces we had no idea where anything was. It made the trip less daunting and feel safe and comfortable knowing people were happy to help us. Even in New York City where everyone seems to be in a rush to be somewhere, we found people in the subway who helped us with our tickets and getting through the barriers with all our bags because we didn't know how to.  

The national parks are one of a kind
I prefer parks to cities. And this trip has reinstated that fact. The United States is beautiful without a doubt and all of the national parks were phenomenal in their own right.
Yosemite NP had some of the most amazing waterfalls I've ever seen and the panoramic views from Glacial Point and the Sentinel Dome were breathtaking. I really loved the hike a group of us chose to do, it was tough and nearly killed us in the heat but was so worth it! 
Grand Canyon was a special one for me. I got a little emotional and speechless at our first view of the Canyon. I have never seen something so beautiful in my life. The mix of colours and shapes of the rocks were incredible. As a geography graduate even I can't fathom how a flowing river could create something so spectacular. A few of us opted for a helicopter ride through the canyon from South to North rim and I would encourage everyone to do the same - it was mind blowing. 
Monument Valley was fantastic. Being able to drive through the valley in a Jeep with a Navajo guide showing us all the buttes and their names was amazing. We had such a culture shock visiting there and the landscape was like nothing I'd ever seen. Being able to sleep under the stars in this park was a highlight - although the sky wasn't that clear the lightning storm in the distance lit up the sky was beautiful to watch.

  
The architecture is on point
It actually surprised me how many buildings or bridges I fell in love with. Simply by their design. You find in major cities there is always a desire to have the biggest or tallest or longest of something and the skyline is constantly changing. 
Take New York City for example, only just before going on my trip I had read about the One World Trade / Freedom Tower - I had never seen or heard about it before and had thought that the Empire State was still the tallest building in New York. When we arrived I was obsessed with the One Trade building. The shape and colour of it was incredible. I am fascinated to see how the skyline of New York will change and grow over time and what heights will be possible in years to come. 
The memorial buildings in Washington DC were very impressive too. I didn't think I'd ever be that interested into going to Washington DC but then the more I researched about it the more keen I became and when we were there it was fantastic. I would love love love to go back and spend even more time exploring the different memorials and museums. 




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