Thursday, September 6, 2012

19 Cities: Final Thoughts

Each push pin on this map shows a place I stopped on my travels to snap photos.

Since I began this blog about a year and a half ago, I have had the privilege of visiting and learning about nineteen cities in this great land of ours. And because traveling is an excellent way to expand one’s knowledge about people and places, I have dramatically increased my understanding of the United States and its amazing cultural and geographic diversity. Excepting my ventures to Juneau, Alaska and Honolulu, Hawaii, I chose to drive to each city from my home in Virginia so that I could see more of our “spacious skies, amber waves of grain, and purple mountain majesties above the fruited plains” as the song, “America the Beautiful” describes. I would have driven to both Juneau. Alasks and Honolulu, Hawaii as well, but neither is accessible by car. The map above, covered with red pushpins provides a snapshot of my travels.

As a result of maintaining this travel blog, I have now fulfilled a lifelong goal of visiting every one of our fifty states. In the past eighteen months I’ve driven over the Rocky Mountains, dipped my toes into the Great Salt Lake and the Pacific Ocean, witnessed a glacier calving, watched whales spouting, ridden a ferry across Puget Sound, viewed the Hollywood sign from atop the Griffith Observatory, learned how TV news is created each day, stood in the room where the First Continental Congress met, took a paddle wheel ride down the mighty Mississippi River, zoomed across the Everglades in an airboat, motored across the Golden Gate Bridge, went face to face with a saber-toothed cat skeleton, strolled amongst ancient majestic redwood trees, commanded the view of a huge city from atop a towering skyscraper, enjoyed a breathtaking live performance at the famed Lincoln Center, stood on the very spot where legendary Motown hits were recorded, sped on an express train from the suburbs into the heart of a major city, and zipped to the top of the largest man-made arch via a tram. And that was just for starters.

Traveling is one of the best ways I know to learn and have new experiences while broadening one’s horizons. Getting bitten by the travel bug affords a person a multitude of opportunities. Although places may vary, people across our nation share much in common. In each and every location I visited while writing this blog I learned that everyone has the same basic needs and desires: a safe place to live, high quality education, excellent affordable healthcare, access to nutritious food, as well as clean air to breath and pure safe water to drink. So, no matter how different each of us thinks we are, basically we Americans are all the same across the far flung corners of this nation. And in my vast international travels, I have found this to be true across our globe, too. In every place I have visited over my long life—including a multitude of foreign countries—I have found people who are kind and caring and respectful of others, people who freely reach out to help a stranger. I believe it is important to keep this as our focus as we learn more about our world.

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