Sometimes I find myself so eager to travel the world that I forget the wonders that surround me in my own (figurative) backyard. Of course it is my dream to backpack through Europe, hike the Great Wall of China and catch a glimpse of the Great Pyramids of Giza, but the United States has its fair share of sights to see as well.
This summer, my dad wants to take my mom and me on an “adventure out west.” We’ve driven down the coast of California before, but that was my only experience west of Iowa up to that point. Since then, I’ve explored Dallas, Texas, which was not as southern as I expected it to be. I have also had my fair share of the east coast, driving through Pennsylvania, New Jersey and New York when I was in middle school. Florida had always been a family vacation destination because of Disney World and my grandparents’ old condo, and any state touching Illinois was also fair game.
If my memory and math are correct, then I have visited 19 of the 50 states. That’s roughly 38 percent, which is simply unacceptable. My favorite aspect about traveling throughout the country is the drastic difference from state line to state line. Although two locations may be next to each other that certainly does not mean that they have anything in common. I distinctly remember my awe of the Pacific Coast Ranges in California, the Statue of Liberty in New York and the Fort Worth Stockyards in Texas.
It is not only the sights to see in these places, which interest me, however, it is the culture found there, the food to be tasted and the ways of life. I refuse to eat at chain restaurants when I travel to a new place, and I always strive to dine at a local eatery. You can gather a lot from simply paying attention to your waitress and eavesdropping on the tables around you.
I think that what makes this country so unique is its ability to contain so many differences, but still remain united under a common goal. While Europe and Asia consist of dozens of different countries, which are also very distinct, the United States thrives on its variances. This is why I am so excited to travel to the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas in the coming months, rather than resenting the fact that my family has never taken a vacation abroad. There is still simply so much to see here. Why complain?