Over Christmas, Holly and I spent three weeks traversing the American South, from Oklahoma to Tennessee and Georgia, down to Florida, then through Alabama and Mississippi to Louisiana before heading home. The main purpose was to visit family for the holidays, but we purposely took extra time to relax and meander lazily through some areas one or both of us had never seen before.
During these three weeks and over 60 hours of driving, having just come back from 6 months in Europe, I couldn’t help but ponder my home country, and I tried to do this with as much of an outsider’s perspective as possible. Here are the results.
1. One of the best things about the US is its nature
I was reading a forum one time where a British guy was asking other British people what he should see on his upcoming trip to America. One comment after another, the main thought was simply, “nature”. At first, that kind of surprised me. That’s your number one thing you want to see in the US? But after some thinking, it made sense. Europeans (generally) don’t have the wide open spaces we have. Nor do they have as much natural diversity. There’s beautiful nature in the UK, but it’s all very homogenous and compact, due to the high population density and size of the island itself. The same goes for the Continent. Europe has beautiful nature, for sure, from the Swiss alps to the Norwegian fjords to the Tuscan countryside. But it’s not as open. It’s not as diverse. And there’s really not that much of it, comparatively. Europeans have to live somewhere, right?
This is one of the major advantages of the US. Sure, we have a large population. But our country is that much larger. Our wide open spaces are more wide, and more open, and have so much more space. As I drove, I kept noticing the miles and miles of complete emptiness, from the Florida forests to the Georgia farmland to the Louisiana bayou. We have not even begun to scratch the surface of filling up America with Americans. Not that I’m not advocating we do. This is one of our great accomplishments, that we so far have been able to settle a continent from coast to coast yet (for the most part) have kept nature natural. We have kept civilization away from the wilds, and let wilderness flourish. With one of the lower population densities in the world (177th, behind countries like Madagascar, Afghanistan and Kenya), we can afford to do this, and it’s one of my favorite things about my country.