I recently returned from a five week holiday travelling around America. It was a great trip that covered snow and cold, to hot and humid, mountains and valleys to plains and flats.
We landed in Los Angeles and drove north through Sequoia National Park with the giant trees; even if you are 50 metres away you still can't fit them into the frame for a photo, yet they grow out of such a small seed—remarkable.
From Sequoia National Park we drove through to Yosemite National Park with its Half Dome Mountain, to the top of Glacier Point, just spectacular scenery.
It's no wonder Ansell Adams set up shop here to do photography and his photos 50 years ago look better than what we can do with our digital cameras.
After Yosemite, we moved on to San Francisco where we looked around the city and enjoyed the harbour, which is similar to Sydney. We took in a baseball game and we caught a ball! (One to display in the pool room one day.)
We flew north to Seattle to spend a few days with our family friends. They took us to visit Mt Rainer as well as Olympia National Park—lots of green forests and rivers.
From Seattle we flew to Denver, and that is where our driving started. We left Denver and headed to Colorado Springs and Aspen where the Rocky Mountains begin. They have snow on them year-round due to the altitude.
Once we had driven through the Rocky Mountains, we arrived in Wyoming, where the mountains stop abruptly and the plains begin. Flat, flat and very flat, also very windy but strangely beautiful driving across the endless freeway with blue skies, yellow grass and a good book to read in the back seat.
After Wyoming, it was into South Dakota and on to Mt Rushmore, where the four presidents—Washington, Jefferson, Roosevelt and Lincoln—look out over America from their mountain perch.
Only a 20 minute drive away is the Crazy Horse memorial that has been under construction for around 70 years. For size, the four heads of the presidents are equal to Crazy Horse's face, and the rest of the mountain is slowly being chipped away to reveal him riding a horse, pointing south-east to point where Christopher Columbus landed.
From South Dakota, we drove through to Minnesota and Wisconsin where the spring time flowers were on full display. Most people think of Wisconsin as a bleak, frozen tundra, but it was quite the opposite when we were there.
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, we stopped by the Harley-Davidson Museum. It was great to see all the old and new motorcycles. They even had the first motorcycle they made on display, or as it's known to them: 'Genesis'.
From Milwaukee, we moved on to Detroit, Michigan, and visited the Ford Factory. It was fantastic to see how the production line makes the cars and puts them all together. What starts as a simple chassis ends with a worker hopping in the driver's seat and driving it out into the parking lot.
The Henry Ford Museum also held a lot of old cars, not just Fords, but unique makes and models of all kinds. They also had a huge miniature railway and a once-working giant steam train. I don't know how they got it in, but suspect it will not be moving anytime soon.
After Detroit, we moved on to Chicago, Illinois where it is very similar to New York: the sidewalks, the traffic, and the skyscrapers. It's no wonder they call it Second City.
Sports and culture
After a few days in Chicago, we drove through to Cleveland, Ohio where we stayed with our family friends. We went to a sports bar to cheer on the Cavaliers in their basketball playoffs and got taken through the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame—a lot of great music, guitars, drum kits, and hand-written notes, and you knew every song that was being played on the sound system.
Our journey went south after Cleveland to the main reason we went to America—the 100th Indianapolis 500. It was a terrific event: 360,000 people in attendance and the pre-race entertainment was unique.
I don't think anything sums up America better than when the entire 360,000 sung 'America the Beautiful', 'God Bless America' and the national anthem including a fly over by a squadron of F-18 hornets that screamed overhead with red, white and blue smoke following behind.
The race was fast, loud and very exciting. The two favourites to win the race were going lap for lap, overtaking each other and trying to build a lead. But a pit-stop error toward the end meant it was anyone's race to win, and a rookie American, Alexander Rossi, took the chequered flag and place in the history books.
After Indianapolis, we flew back to Los Angeles. After a couple of days taking it easy and visiting Disneyland before the flight home, it was finally time for the 'holiday' part of the holiday after five weeks away—sleeping in our own beds and being home for a day or so before returning to work.
Christopher Archibald lives in Sydney and is a Youth Leader at New Life Christian Church in Blacktown. A voracious reader, he ploughs through many books in a calendar year, with a bookcase that is constantly being rearranged to accommodate new additions.
Christopher Archibald's previous articles may be viewed at www.pressserviceinternational.org/christopher-archibald.html