This Land is Your Land...This Land is My Land
Published: 03/16/2011 at Richard Gonzalez
We all took the same vacation growing up. Took us about 9 months to 'save up for it' and then in a few hours we were pulled out of a dark cave into the light of the world. Our parents, in a lot of cases, paid for it more then they would have liked too, but I think all things considered it was an eventful journey...too bad we don't remember much of it.
I think that this sensation of going to the unknown is engraved in a lot of our DNA's. In some it’s more pronounced then others, but I think if you are confined in the same space for any length of time, the natural desire for escape becomes too powerful. Sure, there are some babies that don't want to leave the umbilical chord behind...but I digress.
I reside in Florida, paradise to some that visit, but to the rest of us that go about our daily lives, its home. Separate from the winter months that plague the rest of the country, Florida has become shelter from the never ending climate that forms a fear of being barricaded in their homes for months at a time. Having experienced those frigid winters, I know the uncontrollable desire to conquer the bouts of cabin fever.
I have traveled throughout some great and interesting places in the United States. These are places that really stick out in my mind when talking about the country that I live in. 'A slice of Americana' is what I call these little forgotten places. Somewhere between reality, (what we in the big city call it) and completely off the grid, such cities are what make this country great.
Here I share some of the small forgotten towns in the US that still live large in my memory.. I hope that after reading it, you realize that there is more then just Rodeo Drive and Time Square.
5. Marblehead, MA. My home state has plenty of history behind it. I was born and raised in the capital city of Boston and am sad to say that I only visited the "Yachting capital of America" a handful of times. This is the result of living in a big city and being blinded by the fact that 16 miles away was the birthplace of the Navy. Marblehead boasts picture postcard images and a history all its own. Several small islands are contained within this small but explosive 19.5 square miles. If I could go back in time, I would have made myself more familiar with this place. I have been back three times since my departure from Boston, and every time I find more and more things to fall in love with.
4. Bethune, SC. Located 46.9 miles from Columbia, Bethune is exactly what I picture when I try to describe the charm of the United States. I visited a friend of mine who lives in another small town called Kershaw and to get there I had to drive through Bethune. As I was driving through this sleepy town, a population of just over 350, by far the smallest town that I have ever visited, I couldn't help to notice that there was only one convenience store attached to one gas station; which to my recollection, wasn't even selling diesel fuel. The people that I met are what really captivated my interest in this town. They were not only welcoming but ready to answer every question about the history of their small town. It might not be a national treasure, but don't even think of telling these people that.
3. Burlington, IA. Topping the list of reasons why I enjoy living in Florida is that it offers me the opportunity to make friends with people that are originally from other parts of the country. After living in FLA for 5 years, a good friend of mine moved back to his hometown of Bloomington, IA and invited my wife and I to witness his marriage. The town carries 26,000 people making it not really a 'small city' but not having an airport classifies it as such for me. Hills that seem to make cars coming towards you disappear and then suddenly re-appear made it more tricky to drive there then any other big city that I visited. Mom and pop stores, and small little cafes align the Main Street and a vintage Sears Roebuck store took the cake.
2. Austin, NV. I thought that Austin was reserved for the Lone Star state. Once again, a friend from this small place decided that he had had enough of big city living. Located on Highway 50 - I've been told that it is referred to as the longest highway in America; - although I have no personal confirmation if it is - it is right about in the middle of the state. Isolation is the key ideology when visiting Austin, as the next biggest city is a few time zones away. Outdoor living space is a must here, with those fantastic mountain ranges that offer themselves up for hiking, biking and camping. I love small towns that lend their image to old western movies...and Austin, NV is no exception. One other thing that I miss, a whole lot of sky...saw some of the best sunsets I have ever seen...and if you're interested in star gazing, the put on a show for free.
1. Key West, FL. Couldn't resist...there is simply no other place like this that I have come across. It’s a tourist trap that’s true, but the magnetic draw that it has on me is just too strong. Calle Jueso, is a tropical paradise that has everything a beach bum, or want-to-be beach bum desires. Mallory Square, Duval Street, Hemmingway’s House, and the laid back lifestyle are really all you need to fully experience this piece of land. Hard to believe that only 90 miles away, the country island of Cuba sees its mirror image of a free capitalistic government. My dad, a Cuban immigrant, used to tell me stories of ferry boats that used to sail between the two and how much different Key West has become since the early days. Live music explodes from Duval Street as patrons are teased to go in and have a drink.