We had now lived in the concrete jungle of New York City for over six months, and we needed a break. We felt like reconnecting with the greener side of life where things seemed simple and easy, so we decided it was time for a camping trip.
Once again, we packed up the car but this time we included a few camping supplies, then we set off towards New England. Our destination was a patch of woods in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Our mission was to catch the spirit of the American wilderness.
We had now been in the United States of America for over a month, but I still felt like I knew nothing about the place. I’d had a taste of the American dream in LA and NYC, but who was running the show? Who called the shots here? It was time to head to America’s central nervous system – the brain of the country.
Soon enough, we had a bus ticket to Washington, DC, and I was on a mission to visit the president.
This is an update to explain why I haven’t updated in a long time, what’s been happening, and what’s going to happen.
My travel plans have changed in a big way. I was supposed to be finished with the USA in July after exploring this vast land, but something happened. It involved mumbling crackheads, an Amish dairy farm, the Declaration of Independence, US Visa forms, and the Boston Red Sox. Now, my planned stay of 6 months has turned into exactly eight months and counting.
After spending a total of twenty days in the region known as Southern California, staying in places around Orange County, Los Angeles, and San Diego, I already feel like I’ve been dipped into the hot chocolate fondue that is American pop culture.
I’ve experienced the glorious palace that is the Cheesecake Factory, and I have tasted America’s obesity epidemic. I’ve met the mouse, bought the souvenirs, and stood in the concrete footprints of the rich and famous. I’m pretty sure I was even accidentally initiated into a Mexican gang at one point.
Allow me to explain, as I recall my adventures of Southern California in blurry detail. Let’s begin with the beginning, in Anaheim, Orange County.
It was about 9AM on the 23rd of January, 2011, and I was officially in Los Angeles, California. After around thirteen hours of overnight flying with a brief stop in a very dark and rainy Tahiti, I had finally touched down on American soil for the first time in my life (this does not include the make-believe American soil of the US Embassy in Auckland, where I applied for my US Visa).
What better place to start seeing the world than the seemingly self-proclaimed centre of the globe, the United States of America. Everything I knew of America was what I’d seen and heard in films and music – cops shoot first, blow things up, and ask questions later, everybody is entitled to a gun and a house in the suburbs with a white picket fence, and most black people are rappers.
I wondered to myself – is America really as sensational as it makes out, or is it all just a bit of movie magic? It was time for me to go behind the scenes and find out.
The following is a very summarised version of my first-hand research into American life.