Journey Surprises Part 1

Here’s the video:

The sculpture park in South Dakota was still one of the oddest and definitely most surprising experiences. It ties in with the more general unexpectedness of all the roadside things people have built in this country. Even though I had seen a few of the roadsideamerica.com type things when I last lived here, I had no idea they were part of a larger pattern, especially from the Midwest and Texas westward, Americans like to build weird and wonderful stuff by the side of the road:


South Dakota

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Abilene, Texas

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San Antonio, Texas

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Houston, Texas

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Phoenix, Arizona

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Portland, Oregon


Cut Bank, Mountana

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Minot, North Dakota


Jamestown, North Dakota

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Western Utah, near the Bonneville Salt Flats

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Groom, Texas

Juts how much of the east part of this country is a giant forest surprised us both. So much of this country is still wild in all parts of it.wpid-wp-1446689122242.jpgWe were both also surprised at how undeveloped some parts of the country were. The South is still quite empty even being older and even some of the North East had dirt roads. Somehow, I had thought there would be more in the East than in the Midwest. It’s not to say the Midwest has no dirt roads, but parts of it do feel much fuller than the South did to me. For instance, the towns were more spaced out in the South than I thought they would be.


Middle of Nowhere, Alabama

We were surprised at how much bigger the sky could feel. From about Oklahoma west to Arizona, the sky felt ten times bigger than it does in England or the rest of the country. It meant that you could get the feeling people get looking up at the stars at night during the day and that you could see weather systems and sort of ‘steal’ sun from 50 miles away, so a cloudy day would rarely feel as cloudy as it does in much of the world: 
wpid-wp-1446694350675.jpgWe were surprised how amazing the nature of the West was:


Red Hills in Arizona

Things there were bigger:wpid-wp-1446694483944.jpgWeirder:

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Joshua Trees in Arizona

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Saguaros in Arizona

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Other cactuses and/or spiky things in Arizona

And generally more epic:

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Twin Falls, Idaho

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Twin Falls, Idaho

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Eastern New Mexico

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Albuquerque, New Mexico

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Near Seaside Creek Beach on Route 1 in Northern California

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Jedediah Smith Rewoods State Park, California

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Near Patrick Creek in Northern California


Marias Pass, Montana

A conviction we’ve both come away with surprised me at the very least. We are now both massive fans of the state system. If anyone wants to impose something on the whole country, no matter how fab the idea, I’d be wary. The state system means that 300 million people can live at least 50 different ways and if they don’t like the way things are done in their state, they can move to another with it just being ‘moving’ rather than ’emigrating’ (i.e. visas, new language, completely new system to have to plug into, etc). This is a great thing. Making 300 million people live the same way is never going to work brilliantly, but the fact that the people in Vermont can live one way which looks very different from how many people in New York live which looks that much more different from how the people in Alabama live, which are all entirely different from how the people in California live, this is wonderful! It means someone who doesn’t like being a Californian hippie can move to Alabama and become a conservative baptist (Ned Flanders anyone – it probably has happened), while someone who grows up in Alabama and finds it not fitting can move to California to be a counterculturalist or go to Philadelphia and just more comfortably be a democrat or whatever this person happens to want within the 50 options. This is excellent. State lines do matter. This is and isn’t one country. In some ways, the states are like little countries of their own.

At any rate, we were thrilled to know the options we wanted do really exist. The UK is much more centralized which meant meaningful variations were harder to come by. We know if our first choice state doesn’t work out, we have several different options in terms of laws, culture and weather.

Stay tuned in the near future for part two of what surprised us and several more analysis videos before we blog about Christmas in Britain and actually moving to our chosen state.

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