The best strategy I know to experience and inhale the magnificence of America is to travel its paths for an extended period of time. Throughout many states, much of it looks essentially the same. But the diversity and honor of each region are visible if you are paying sufficient attention.
One of the variations that I find charming can be found on billboards for local establishments. In Pennsylvania and Ohio, I saw signs reading, “This exit, then turn left 2x and you’re here” or “Get off now, then turn left and left.” They don’t want us to miss Aunt Patty’s café, especially when she’s serving her world-famous chili. And you don’t want to wait to get your car lubed at Uncle Herman’s place.
New York homes and barns, particularly on country roads, are covered with the five-pointed barn stars. While I’m still assembling research on these ornaments, it appears that they trace back several centuries and are used as good luck gestures similar to horseshoes. They appear in an assortment of colors and are fun to notice.
Kansas, Missouri, Indiana, Illinois, Nebraska and Iowa also had their curious specialties and idiosyncrasies. In one case, it was a small, locally owned coffee shop with chatty owners and exotic coffee flavors. In another, it was an off-road store with handmade art and yummy fudge. And in Columbus, after enjoying a memorable lunch with terrific friends, we stopped for gas. The manager asked from what state we were traveling, adding, “Welcome to Ohio!”
Wherever we roamed, the highways were fastidiously maintained, thanks to the endless highway vehicles that scurried from shoulder to shoulder. The state and American flags were often visible, displaying local and national pride and allegiance. God bless the diverse and United States of America. Shalom.