Guest Post: Adventures of an American Girl in America, by Fish of Gold

Continuing on the Guest Post series on Aussie Girl Adventures, it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to Fish of Gold. Goldfish is another of my favourite bloggers. This girl has seen some s**t in her time and isn’t afraid to talk about it.

I love her posts because on the one hand, depending on her subject of choice, they can be heart-wrenching, honest, raw and eye-opening and on the other they can be hilarious, fun, whimsical and awe-inspiring.

She uses her experience to raise awareness of things we should be aware of and she uses her wit, humour and ninja-like writing skills to entertain. If you don’t already follow Fish of Gold I highly recommend you check her out.

But before you do, please read on as she graces Adventures of an Aussie Girl in London with a tale of America and what we travellers might find there…

Adventures of an American Girl in America

Fibot asked me to guest post. She gave me the über-specific instructions that my post must “be about anything.” Since she writes about travel, I don’t often get to write internationally and I’m not very good at following such detailed directions, I thought I’d write about my adventures being an American in America.

I was born here and I’ve never lived anywhere else. I don’t know what it’s like not to be American. I’ve hardly even traveled outside of it, other than the bordering countries of Canada and Mexico. I visited the lovely city of London when I was fifteen years old, but that was a long time ago and I didn’t know any of you yet.

One thing people don’t really appreciate about America until they explore it is just how big and diverse it is. That little landmass at the top that’s just a few sizes larger than that boat was what they thought all of North America, including Mexico, The United States, Canada and all the other North American countries looked like, and boy, were they wrong:

The earliest known map of north America from 1540. Image from helmink.com

The earliest known map of the Americas from 1540.
Image from helmink.com

The United States is roughly as wide across as Australia, though it is larger than the entire Australian continent. I’ve seen tourists who visit one city here, thinking they have a pretty good handle on what it’s like in America, but even I don’t know a lot, and I’ve visited every state in the the continental U.S. and have lived on both coasts and in the middle. America has a little bit of everything: deserts, mountains, oceans, lakes, plains, forests. There are parts that have perpetual summer and others with perpetual winter. Name a geographical feature and we’ve got it. The only thing we’re not well stocked in is fjords.

There are some countries that you can drive across in a day. America takes about four days to cross by car and that’s without really stopping. I’ve done it. I packed up all of my stuff and moved from one coast clear to the other. This was my route:

map

Credit: Google maps

That trip is 3,132 miles (5040.47 km). My best friend and I did it in just over four days with one stop at Elvis’ house, Graceland, in Memphis, Tennessee.

I’ve lived in Boston, Massachusetts (point A on that map), Los Angeles, California (point B) and I was born in Detroit, Michigan (that mitten looking thing up top surrounded by water).

I was born in Detroit, an industrial city that has real winter and borders on Canada. The city of Detroit is actually north of Canada. If you look at the map where the mitten is, there’s a little spit of Canada sticking out on the right that is south of Detroit. It doesn’t make any sense, that any part of the continental United States would be north of Canada, but that’s how it is.

Detroit, even when I lived there, was a dying city. The automotive manufacturing business that had once made it the Motor City was on the decline. There were entire buildings downtown that were abandoned. Years ago, I explored a 36-story abandoned building there owned by a friend. Near the 20th floor, there were apartments that still had furniture in them covered with a thick layer of dust. It was as if the owner stepped out for a minute and just never came back.

Detroit isn’t a very old city compared to some. The oldest house in Detroit is the Charles Christopher Trowbridge built in 1826. The house I grew up in was built in the 1950s.

I moved east to Boston, Massachusetts in the mid-1990s. Boston, by American standards, is an ancient town. I lived down the street from the oldest house in Boston, built around 1661. By European standards of old buildings, that might as well have been built a decade ago.

The James Blake House, Dorchester, MA. Image from wikipedia.

The James Blake House, Dorchester, MA.

The house I lived in there was a mere 325 years old, which was really old by Detroit standards, but not by Boston’s. Boston holds a lot of American history. Plymouth, the supposed (but not actual) landing place of the first settlers on American soil was not too far away.

From a seat of storied American history, I moved to the west, just as many of those settlers had done centuries ago, searching for a better life. I landed in Los Angeles. My four day trek took considerably less time than that of the original settlers, and once I got here, civilization already existed. Yay me!

Los Angeles is the newest place I’ve ever lived. While Mr. James Blake was building his little house in Boston in 1661, the west was wide open and free, but not devoid of people. It used to be part of Mexico. The city of Los Angeles was settled in 1781. Nowadays, I live down the street from another historical landmark, Campo De Caheunga, where the treaty to end the Mexican-American war was signed in 1847.

Like everything else in America, the government isn’t that old; just over 200 years. It’s just a fledgling country compared to Europe and Asia. Yet, in 237 years, America has managed to put its name on the map. My government has done some awful things; I cringe when I think about them. We’re a big schoolyard bully keeping everyone in line through intimidation. I’m not very proud of my country or the people in it at times. I pretend to distance myself from them, but the thing is, the people in this country are just as diverse as the geography. We all have the right to voice our opinions, whether we say stupid things or not. That freedom makes the cringing worthwhile.

I’m glad that I live in a country with a thousand different languages and cultures intermingled in a great big… ahem, melting pot. It would be very boring if we all looked alike and thought the same things. While sometimes I am ashamed of America’s actions on the world stage, in the end, I’m glad I was born here.

The land here is just as ancient as the rest of the planet, even if people only began traipsing on it 11,000 years ago. We have buried dinosaurs.

Fauna at the La Brea tar pits. Image from wikipedia.

Fauna at the La Brea tar pits.

We have The Grand Canyon, which could almost maybe be classified as fjords in a non-strict sense if you squint.

The Grand Canyon. Image from wikipedia.

The Grand Canyon. It’s pretty grand.

We have Niagara Falls (Well, half of of the falls anyway. The other half is technically in Canada).

800px-3Falls_Niagara

The Niagara Falls. They’re called the falls because there are two of them. Fancy.

We have 2.2 million acres of unspoiled land that make up Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming with its ever popular geyser, Old Faithful:

I saw Old Faithful as a kid and it looked just like this. Image from Wikipedia.

I saw Old Faithful as a kid and it looked just like this. It still does. That’s why they call it faithful I guess.

We have the great plains and mountain ranges. We have two oceans and five great lakes. You can watch the sunrise over the ocean, and thousands of miles later, watch the sunset over the ocean. We have anything and everything you could possibly conceive of (except real fjords) and maybe even some things that you haven’t. You can get in a car, drive a few hours in practically any direction and come across a completely different landscape. If you come visit, plan on spending a lot of time, and even then, you probably won’t get the total experience. I’ve lived here all my life and I’m still exploring.

As an American, I ask that you, please, refrain from making too many assumptions about my country. Yes, there are some real assholes here, some of them even have a lot of power, but there are assholes everywhere. I like to think that I’m not one of them. In any event, I don’t have much power.

So, rest of the world, come on over and I’ll tell you where to get the best Ethiopian food in Detroit, the best seafood in Boston and the best Mexican food in Los Angeles. We’ll start off in Los Angeles, where I live, and visit Hollywood (I was going to link Hollywood, but I’m pretty sure that even people who have never seen a movie have heard that term before). You can go surfing in the morning and skiing in the afternoon. Drive through the Mojave desert and explore 277 miles (446 km) of The Grand Canyon. Stop off in Las Vegas and gamble some money. It’s all family-friendly now. Then go on up to Yellowstone and see Old Faithful. From there, you can see hundreds of square miles of some of the richest, flattest farmlands in the world. Then which way? Left or right? The options are endless and I guarantee you, that whichever direction you pick, you’re bound to see something interesting.

All images from the wikipedia link on the subject unless otherwise specified.

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27 thoughts on “Guest Post: Adventures of an American Girl in America, by Fish of Gold

  1. That was a wonderful summary of America!
    I’m a bit gutted though – I was planning a holiday to go touring the American fjords. Thanks for putting me straight 😉

  2. Hi Goldfish, I’ve been to your country 3 times and I wish to go there more. One of reasons are the same thing that you’re talking about ‘The diversity of your land’. I was fascinated with how each part has different landscape to others. You’re right, America is very big country but I hope someday I will go there and have a road trip driving from the East to the West or vice versa.

    Another thing that I have to agree with you, it’s better to live in a country where you can say whatever you want or believe. I knew that from my own experience as I’m living a life without freedom of speech but that’s the way it is and I have to accept it.

    Anyway, Great post as always.
    🙂

  3. If you can only stop once on a trip across country, it should be for Elvis. It’s patriotism and common sense all rolled up into one. 😉 Yay for diversity, dinosaurs, and a family-friendly Vegas!

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