Let’s hear it from the Heart of America

No, this isn’t an extra bonus #SongLyricSunday track, although people of a certain age might recognise this as a line from ‘For America’ by Red Box. This post is actually an announcement and a request for ideas – particularly from my American blogger friends.

The truth is it’s all change for me this year. By mid-February, if all goes to plan, we’ll be moving house for the first time in 13 years. On top of that I’m giving up a steady job and going freelance, refreshing my qualifications and finally trying to write that novel that’s been bugging me for years. So what better time to do a little traveling too? That’s right, America I am coming to you!

I was brought up on John Ford movies, and the music of Johnny Cash and Glenn Campbell. One of my earliest memories is of holding on to my Dad’s thumb as he danced me round the room with Rhinestone Cowboy on the reel-to-reel player. American culture is the default option, the status quo, almost as familiar to many Brits as our own culture. But apart from one brief visit for each of us (my Dad as a teenager, me for a wedding in Maine a few years ago) we’ve never visited the country that looms large our consciousness. So we’re planning a little trip. We’re still researching our itinerary, and trying to find a package tour which can combine both Monument Valley and Graceland (which I have to tell you guys, are inconveniently far apart). I may even stay a little longer than my Dad, to do some solo traveling and see some sights that he’s less interested in.

I’d like to get under the skin of this country that has assumed such a dominant position in world culture, and find out what it’s really about. What I know is a mish-mash of popular culture, literature, history and geography: Hollywood films, Bruce Springsteen, Elvis, Buddy Holly, the novels of Toni Morrison, Mark Twain and the Mississippi, Steinbeck and the Oklahoma dustbowl, Walt Whitman, Isabella Bird’s ‘Lady’s Life in the Rocky Mountains’,  Harper Lee, Arthur Miller, the Grand Canyon and that picture of Monument Valley. Is this the sum total of a country that virtually spans a continent? It can’t be. For one thing, it’s an almost entirely white perspective, and that really can’t be right.

Which is where you guys come in. Since I started this blog nearly four years ago, I’ve connected with a lot of lovely people in the USA. I’d love to get your ideas on which bits of this enormous, sprawling country are worth visiting. Where do I go to connect with the America that inspired all those artists? How do I get away from the white-washed Hollywood representation of America and hear other voices, other stories? What else do you think I should see? Or not bother with?

I was inspired to throw this question out there partly because of reading this lovely blog by JoAnna recently. Her photos are of Carolina Beach State Park, one of the many, many places in the US that I’ve never even heard of. How many more unknown gems are there like this? Too many to get round in one holiday (sorry, vacation!) that’s for sure, but it would be good to start putting together a short list to narrow down. So give me your suggestions! You can add your thoughts in the comments, or – just an idea – if you’ve written a post which highlights a particular area of the US which you’d recommend, why not send me the link and I’ll reblog it?

Look forward to hearing your suggestions!

9 thoughts on “Let’s hear it from the Heart of America

  1. Well, the very best of luck with the new ventures! Can’t help you with the US of A, I’m afraid, as I’ve never been and don’t really have the inclination to go. If I did, I’d want to drive Route 66. Channel 4, in its first week of broadcasting back in 1982, had a stunning documentary about doing this, which I’ve tried several times to track down, and failed: as far as I know it’s never been shown again.

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