42 Things I Learned in America

I just came back from a two-week road trip through the good old U-S-of-A. I went with three friends, and we traveled through Washington, spent most of the time in California, then went back north through Utah, Idaho and Montana. During our journey I kept track of little things I noticed; whether they’re wisdoms or not is entirely up to you to decide.

Man standing next to Golden Gate Bridge
Me standing on a very nice cobblestone wall, with some famous bridge or something in the background.

  1. Americans aren’t as “‘Murica” as the internet would lead you to believe.
  2. December in California is like August in Edmonton.
  3. Don’t drink the tap water in Stockton.
  4. The number of stars a hotel has are irrelevant; the real criterion is whether or not they have complementary breakfast.
  5. Canadian oranges can’t cross the border.
  6. In Hollywood, there are dozens of shops all hawking the same cheap souvenirs for the same price.
  7. If you’re walking in LA and someone hands you a “free” CD, don’t take it. In fact, don’t take anything anyone hands to you.
  8. Hollywood is where you can get paid to cosplay.
  9. If people cared about a starving woman and her dog as much as they cared about famous names on a sidewalk, there wouldn’t be starving women and their dogs.
  10. McDonald’s is the closest equivalent America has to Tim Horton’s and that’s sad.

    Plaque with the names of the Apollo 11 astronauts
    One of the few “real” stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
  11. In San Francisco, you’re almost always within eyeshot of an iPhone 6 ad.
  12. San Francisco is the hipster capital of the world.
  13. Park the car. Rent a bike.
  14. There’s really not a lot to do in Los Angeles.
  15. If you’re looking for wisdom, you’ll find it in an old man sitting in the mosque after fajr prayer.
  16. Itineraries are just a well ordered list of suggestions.
  17. Running and exercising on a beach is just as cool as it sounds —depending on how much you like running, exercising and beaches.
  18. If you work at Facebook, everything on the campus is free: from snacks to meals to electronics.
  19. You could, theoretically, live on the Facebook campus—complete with health care.
  20. Selfies are acceptable but only if it’s with friends.

    Sun rising over a beach
    Just another winter morning at Laguna Beach.
  21. You can find almost everything in a vending machine, even keyboards and mice.
  22. Don’t take pictures inside the Google campus.
  23. Long Beach is so chill, even the dogs don’t bark at you.
  24. Halal Chinese food. Halal Chinese food. Halal Chinese food.
  25. Every ride at Universal Studios is worth waiting in line for.
  26. The farther south you get, the more Mexican the buildings and culture feel.
  27. You are in the middle of your own story; if something bad happens, you may not know why until later.
  28. No one’s life is free of problems; so don’t think anyone’s as miserable as you.
  29. There will always be people who criticize you; so if you’re going to be criticized, it’s better to be criticized for trying to do something good.
  30. Las Vegas is a depressing adult carnival built on flashy lights and broken dreams.

    Jurassic Park Gate
    I waited 15 years to get on this ride at Universal Studios. Worth it.
  31. Starting in Utah, within a day you can drive through desert, mountains and prairies.
  32. There are two Canadian cities most Americans know off hand: Toronto and Vancouver.
  33. There’s a harsh and beautiful serenity in the landscape of the Nevada desert
  34. Americans really, really love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups; there are at least 5 variations of Reese’s that aren’t in Canada. Kit Kat comes a close second.
  35. Everything is bigger in America, from flags to snowflakes.
  36. Americans are often just as polite as Canadians.
  37. You learn a lot about your friends by travelling with them.
  38. There are few things that taste as amazing as home-grown blood oranges.
  39. Sometimes it’s better not to take the picture; just let the moment soak into your soul.
  40. Idaho is like a miniature Alberta, complete with fields of cows.
  41. If you need munchies while driving, get a bag of carrots, pretzels and apples for healthier snackage.
  42. Even if home is a -30 C icebox, you still miss it after a while.

    Beach at night time
    Long-exposure at a beach just outside San Jose.

3 thoughts on “42 Things I Learned in America

  1. Wahab Gondal

    Omggg so many true but one thing forsure recess and kit Kat are both #1!!
    Anyways hope to see you down here again 🙂
    Love yah A A Ron lol

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