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Thursday, 20 April 2017

North America

Most of my vacations have been in the USA. I'm impressed by its beaches, canyons, distances, highways, magnitude, mountains, national parks, prairies, giant sequoia trees, and wildlife. At times, it's just too overwhelming and then you need to escape to a city. Or the other way around, depending on your preferences. The omission of the word people is for a reason.

One of my favourite movies about living in the USA is a 1991 romantic comedy, Doc Hollywood (IMDb). It features the opposites so well: Life in the Fast Lane (lyrics, video) versus Take me Home, Country Roads (lyricsvideo). Only 1 city ever offered a "combination" of both: Salt Lake City.  If my memory serves me well, teenagers were still cruising Main Street in convertibles on the weekend. It's also one of the few places where I had an actual conversation.

Approaching Las Vegas in the evening, and seeing that sea of light in the valley is unforgettable. At daytime, Las Vegas is boring and watching the many addicted people at the slot machines is pitiful. Nevertheless, I experienced rainfall on both my visits. Watching a raindrop fall on a hot Las Vegas pavement is weird. Within seconds, it disappears into steam and was never there at all.

One of my other lasting memories is sleeping in a motel at the Gulf Coast, at 10 meters distance from the ocean. I got awake by a peculiar sound. After an inspection, it appeared to be the sound of many crabs, emerging from the sand, and heading for the ocean.

The distances can sometimes be huge. Once I had to stop in the middle of the Wyoming prairies for a break. After exiting the car, I realised that I heard no sound(s). Yet there was "something" in the air that appeared to be colliding layers of hot air. Another lasting audiovisual memory.

While standing at the Grand Canyon and realising its length (446 km), width (< 29 km), and height (< 2 km), I had an epiphany. The Colorado river must once have been much bigger and higher given the canyon's erosion marks. That was the 1st time I started wondering about the impact of climate change, millions of years ago. Flying over the Grand Canyon was one of my worst decisions ever. The sound and smell of vomit, emerging from the front rows, is awful.

A visit to Yellowstone Park is a must. I didn't expect I would prefer the geysers and hydrothermal system over its animals (eg, bear, bison). The colours of the Mammoth Hot Springs terraces are beyond imagination. The sulfur smell of rotting eggs is sometimes overwhelming.

One of my favourite memories is visiting Redwood National Park and seeing a special kind of the giant sequoia trees: the California redwood trees which "are the tallest and one of the most massive tree species on Earth". It is worth the long drive to (almost) Oregon State.

The Dutch have a saying about France: it's a beautiful country apart from the French. Mark Twain once said: "France has neither winter nor summer nor morals. Apart from these drawbacks it is a fine country." The same applies to North America, excluding Canada.

What A Wonderful World (1967) by Louis Armstrong - artist, lyrics, video, Wiki-1, Wiki-2

I see trees of green, 
red roses too. 
I see them bloom, 
for me and you. 
And I think to myself,
what a wonderful world.