I just found this post I wrote in late August on our way to Hillsdale. Never put it up, but it certainly was a great trip.
So as most of you may or may not know I’ll be starting the next big exciting step of my life at Hillsdale College in a matter of days, and I have been given the lucky privilege of actually bringing my car with me to school. And no, my car did not fit on the plane. That means – ROAD TRIP!
Say hello to PB&J’s, a car top cargo holder about the size of me, boxes in the back seat, Classic Rock (and don’t forget Phil Collins) on repeat, and some 2300 miles of driving with my parents in a 1998 Rav4 to Michigan. I never thought I’d be saying this, but let me tell you, it’s a blast.
Our route has been something like this: Las Vegas to Salt Lake City to Cheyenne through Nebraska to Council Bluff, Iowa, then through Illinois, Indiana, and at last on to Michigan. Driving cross country teaches you lots of things, like how to drive the Las Vegas Strip at midnight, avoiding motorcyclists, passing trucks, driving through wind gusts, finding amazingly clean rest stops, gas stations, and so on – but most of all it gives some…
Growing up in LA, and taking trips to Michigan here and there, or maybe a drive or two to Vegas, I thought I knew what this country was about. What I quickly found out was that I knew NOTHING. Whether you’re in the city itself, or a suburb, or basically in any sort of main part of California, we seem to think we know how to “live the life”. We know how Americans live, eat, sleep, breath. After all, we’re “eclectic”, “diverse”, and full of “culture” – which is all true in it’s own metropolitan sense of the words. In order to experience a different way of living or a new way of life we have to travel to Africa, India, China, some far away land that sounds nothing whatsoever like the United States. But when’s the last time you went: “I want to see how someone else lives? I want to see hmmmm….how about Wyoming.”
I’m going to take a little guess at never.
I think city folk could use a little prospective here, travel the country, and see places and people. Really, truly, see how little of America actually looks like LA, NY, SF, or whatever. Because like it or not, no matter how spread out they may be, that “fly over country” so many of us dismiss so often, has people living and working and thriving there. They raise the cattle for our meat, grow the corn, potatoes, wheat, and crops we eat.
Look, Hillsdale is a rural town with those back country dirt roads, and a one screen movie theater. Wal-Mart seems to be the highlight of the town’s slumming economy, and the rest isn’t much to write home about. This isn’t LA . But I’m excited. I want a new experience, a new prospective, a new taste of life. Perhaps we’re so spoiled by having every little thing we could want at our fingertips, that we forget that outside of our little cultural bubble, there are other people out there.
Next time you get the chance, jump at the cross country drive, instead of groan. Look around, here in our own country and learn from the people around you. Plus, it’s just drop dead gorgeous – the sights you will drive though are never ending and breathtaking.
I can’t believe all that I have seen and the beautiful country I have enjoyed – and I’ve only scratched the surface. Not until now could I truly understand “America the Beautiful”.
*Update: since this post was originally written, that Rav4 has been totaled by no fault of my own. Thank rural Michigan drivers for that one. I have learned to drive (and survive) in the snow, appreciate the sun, and long for a real “city”. Still after being back “home” in California, I can’t wait to get back to Hillsdale. It seems that’s where my heart is – or at least it rests with the people there.