A couple of weeks ago, I made my fourth cross-country drive and my first trip along Route 80, traveling from Chicago all the way to San Francisco. Aside from a fairly traumatic outbound flight experience, the trip was great. I got to see some states that were new to me (Wisconsin, Iowa, Nebraska, Nevada) and nudged myself a little closer to my goal of seeing all fifty states before I turn forty. Only five to go!
Certainly there were some highs and lows along the road. No offense to anyone reading, but I can safely say that I really never need to return to Iowa and Nebraska, and if it weren't for Las Vegas, a city I have no interest in but feel I probably need to experience at some point, I could say the same for Nevada. A combination of the miles of nothing and "the more the merrier" gun laws just had me feeling pretty uncomfortable and like a fish out of water in those states. I'm really glad I passed through, but I don't think I'll be chomping at the bit to return, either.
Since moving to Seattle, I keep hearing people complain about "west coast superiority" - that they're sick of seeing their lefty friends' gorgeous photos and holier-than-though status updates. Here's the deal, though - I've lived all over this country, and the west IS freaking amazing. I'm not saying the US doesn't have a laundry list of other beautiful and interesting spots worth a visit or even a permanent residence, but I really don't think there are greater states in this country than California, Oregon and Washington for beauty, opportunity and quality of living.
Crossing over from Nevada to California only exemplified this for me. Literally the second you cross the state line, you go from brown, harsh desert landscapes to the beauty and majesty of the Sierra Nevadas, loaded with evergreen and vistas too gorgeous to describe. Not only that, but people were noticeably happier and friendlier.
My new novel project is partially set in California, so I have been doing a lot of California travel and research. Believe the hype, my friends. The west coast is legit.