In June 2013, we decided to go to the U.S.A. We had been dreaming about it for years, and we finally realized it. And it was really worth waiting for.
We returned filled with emotion, the head full of images. And above it all, shared between the blues of the end of the trip and this very cheerful certainty of having finally made it. We started with Los Angeles and its surroundings, and then San Diego, then a long tour of most of the national parks in Arizona and Utah, the bustling with life Las Vegas, where we took a flight to Chicago where we spent the last two days of this unforgettable trip.
For me, Dom, beyond a teenager's dream, this was in addition some kind of artistic pilgrimage. Indeed, the novel "Enjoy the ride" takes place in Chicago, at least for its American part. My third novel "The Twilight Hotel", completed twenty years ago, takes place in Flagstaff, Arizona and the national parks in the surroundings. Finally, a part of my fourth novel, “Swan song”, completed eighteen years ago, takes place in the Southern California coast.
The first thing which leaves its mark on you arriving in the U.S.A is hugeness: first of all, landscapes, and then cities, roads, vehicles... Everything seems to have been built in proportion to this country, where nature shaped sites with a breathtaking vastness through millenniums.
The sensation we have is indescribable: we feel small, and especially, we take up again childhood emotions we thought we had lost forever. How many times did we return a few years after to places we used to find huge in the first bloom of our youth, and that suddenly seem tiny, bringing some disappointment? Well, ending up in that great wide open allows us to look again at the world with eyes filled with wonder, in an indescribable joy.
Moreover, there is this sense of freedom, of infinity, which transports us beyond time. This impression that everything is still to be made, to be invented, that history is still to be written. Then, happiness is new and refreshing.
Therefore you’ll have to accept not to be able to see everything. Indeed, distances are sizeable and each trip takes more time than you expected, even though traffic moves freely most of the time in the U.S.A. Considering hugeness, diversity and beauty of landscapes, you’ll be tempted to make many stops and to linger. However, you’ll have to make sacrifices, choosing some places to the detriment of some others, which will seem frustrating if you don’t get used to this reality. But as soon as you understand it, there will be almost nothing left from this frustration and you’ll only remember enchantment. Thus, you’ll realize with happiness that this country both fulfils you and makes you want to be back for more.
There, the road culture is genuine, vibrant legacy of the "beat generation". We think of Jack Kerouac and his aptly named novel "On the road". Even decades later, this road-movie spirit is still deep-rooted in minds. Often put forward in arts, including literary and cinematographic works, it seems to be made to last. Naturally, the legendary Route 66 is the most significant symbol of it all. We had the luck to found ourselves at its point of departure (Chicago) and its point of arrival (Santa Monica). We covered some of its sections in California and Arizona. We drove more than 2000 miles in all in 11 days, before giving back our rental Chevrolet Impala at the Las Vegas Airport and taking a flight to Chicago. It was our own road-movie. We'd been dreaming about it for a long time, and we finally lived it.
We've also been touched by the sympathy of American people, often cool, welcoming, happy to meet new people, helpful, and very enthusiastic... sometimes excessively, but it's much nicer than blasé people, isn't it ?
And what about American girls? Fresh and twinkling, with a touch of guilelessness, their charm is undeniable, and can quickly become irresistible for those who can speak a few words in our language with their adorable accent. It seems that American girls love Frenchies. Legend or reality? In any case, we love you!
As far as catering is concerned, be aware that contrary to generally accepted ideas, it is possible to eat well in the U.S.A. You can even find organic products, particularly in California. Junk food is essentially due to the temptation of very nice prices offered by fast-food chains. But there are many quality restaurants for slightly higher prices than in France, tip included. Besides, the latter must be between 15 and 20% of the total amount of the bill, for the waiters and waitresses wages are low. They rely on customers’ generosity, so play the game! The more as service is often very satisfying.
Of course, we have no idea of what is life in the U.S.A. But with regards to vacation, traveling, the American dream exists.
We first touched it with the tip of our fingers, then it caught us, and we let it carry us away.
The country where dreams come true? In any case, our dream came true.
We thought in detail about American movies and series that rocked our childhood and our teenage years, and those from nowadays, who carry on making us dream. And a phrase keeps running around in our head, intoxicates us, like a sweet obsession: "everything was real."
Thank you America, we love you.
We will come back.
Published on August 13th 2013
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