America the flat

More philosophising from Andrew:

The L in the title is deliberate. The America we’ve seen has one common feature: it’s utterly flat. We’ve spent the past week in New Orleans, where most of the city is normally below sea level (hence the devastating flooding during Katrina). We’ve since driven north and east (save a slight detour west), and until almost the last hour of our two days motion, the land has barely budged up.

Take Los Angeles for example. From the high points on the highway, you feel you can see all 3.8 million inhabitants. You can then understand why the hoity toity fled to Beverly Hills in a bid to literally get above the mob. This is a country that celebrates its hills.

San Francisco certainly has hills, but for a city famed for them, we were surprised how easy most of them were to traverse. Any kid from the Eastern Suburbs of Sydney or Newcastle has had to learn hill starts on streets just as terrifying.

Likewise, Colorado has hills, but the view we got as we flew into Denver was also one of endless plains. I’d dismissed these views as just due to having seen so little of the country, but as mile after mile has stretched on, I’m reassessing. And starting to get a little bored. We’ve tried to move between smaller and interstate roads, but the big roads are so straight, flat and heavily wooded on either side that the idea of seeing the country from the car window is being, literally, blocked out.

There’s also the more mundane interpretation of this post’s title. Less than four months from the presidential election and most of the country’s reaction has been a collective “meh”. The economy is flat; both candidates are playing small, looking for cheap shots and hoping the fundamentals suit them.

The mood of the country seems to reflect much of the landscape. Flat.

(It’s hardly worth mentioning, but despite the stereotype, this applies to the stomachs for most Americans we’ve seen too. Maybe I’m just used to the more rotund Australia. )


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