TJE 18: On the road, in a Big Country

Road tunnel in scenic California road

This is a speech I prepared for a Toastmasters project recently.  I thought it’s an appropriate summary of my recent travel.  And for the past couple of months, I was able to make three videos about the trip. I’m sharing them here as well, one after each description.

Two months ago, I had a chance to go to the USA.  It was my first time to be in that part of the world.  With that I mean, first time outside Asia, first time in the western half of the globe, wherein there is a big time difference.  I was very excited! Yey, jet lag!

When I got in and out of the Los Angeles International Airport, it didn’t feel much different, apart from the blend of people around.  But when I got to the freeway, that’s when one thing struck me.  I thought, “Wow, this country is big!”  And that stuck to me for the two weeks I was there.

What better way to see and feel the size of that country than to travel on the road!  So for two weeks, I went to as much places I can go, meeting and spending time with relatives and friends along the way.

First, since I mostly stayed in California, I went around it a little bit.  And that little bit took days.  One fine Saturday, I left Los Angeles and started heading north.  One hour into that, my eyes widened in delight! “Wow, look at that beautiful coast!” The day was perfect, the sky was clear and blue, matching well with the ocean in darker blue.  The sand was smooth and light grey, which with the sunlight and water make it shimmer a little bit like silver.  I wanted to stay longer, but I still had to travel farther.

So I continued the journey, seeing greens and blues, mountains and fields.  I had a side trip to a small city, which seems to come out of nowhere in California.  In there I saw wooden buildings in bright colors and pretty details.  Oh, there’s a horse pulling a carriage with tourists.  And there was an old-style windmill.  All those make the place seem like it’s not in America.  I was in Solvang – a Danish city.  I had lunch there, and after walking around, I left and traveled some more.

More and more miles were covered, the landscape changed again and again, hours passed, the sky turned dark.  Finally, I reached my destination: the beautiful city, with the famous bridge.  But it was night time, and although the bridge looked nice, I wanted to see it by day.  So I went back to it the following morning and wow!  Again, the sky was blue, which made the orange-colored bridge look radiant. And as an engineer, I really admired its beauty.  I just saw for myself, the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco.

Let’s move on to the next leg of my trip.  This time, I was with friends.  From Los Angeles, we traveled about four hours to the desert.  This desert was big, you might think it’s strange that there’s a lively city in it.  Oh hello fabulous hotels and colorful lights!  We arrived in Las Vegas, Nevada.  And boy was it alive!  We spent a weekend there, appreciating stuff created by man, and simply put, having material fun.

(By the way, I was really happy to have another chance for a global meet-up!)

Let’s move again, this time to the final leg of my trip.  I traveled longer, 7 hours, and headed to a much bigger desert.  And not just that, there are mesas and giant cactii.  I was in Arizona.  My stay in that state was brief, but I was happy leaving because I saw one beautiful part of it.  Okay, since it was my first time seeing deserts, I was already contented with appreciating the view on the way to Phoenix, Arizona.  But two hours from that city, is the so called Red Rock Country – Sedona.  And I saw for myself why it’s called such.  Giant red rocks surround the area.  I was just in awe with what I saw!  So much so, that when a tour guide offered a discounted helicopter ride, I took the bait! So I also got to see the area from above.  What a great day that was.

The next day after that, I had to go back to Los Angeles.  And two days later, I had to travel by air, to go back to Seoul.  The trip was over.

That was my first version of road-tripping in the USA.  I sure want to go back for more.  And when you get a chance to visit that country, I really recommend that you travel around it, by land.  And see for yourself how wonderfully big it is!  I remember looking at the sky from time to time and wondering, “How come it looks much bigger too?”

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