Saturday, October 3, 2009

Pleasant Surprises on the Road

Since hitting the road to model full-time this past spring, I've gotten to see, and become at least somewhat acquainted with, quite a few parts of the country. Some I had already lived in, some I had driven through, and others have been completely new to me. I'm pleased to report that several cities have blown my measly expectations for them completely out of the water.

Salt Lake City was the first city to really catch my attention. When I had told friends of my route, SLC was often met with a smirk and something along the lines of, "Have fun with all the Mormons." That was pretty much my impression of what it would be like, as well. I mean- Utah! Really, what else is there in that state?! What I found instead was a city full of uber friendly people, fabulous beer(!!), and Sage's Cafe, which quickly earned a spot on my list of all-time favorite restaurants. Were it not for the fact that SLC gets horrifyingly cold and snowy in the winter, I would give some serious thought to making that city my home.

A couple of weeks later, I passed through Lincoln, Nebraska. I'll admit, my expectations for Lincoln were even lower those I had held for SLC. Come on now- Nebraska? Ain't nothin' happening there. Right? Wrong! As soon as I pulled off the interstate, I found a town with a shockingly high density of friendly, charismatic coffeeshops. My host during that time had made a google map of points of interest in town, and I was floored at how many points there were. And they all were genuinely interesting, at that! Since then, I talk up Lincoln every chance I get.

On this past trip, I spent a night in Detroit. I had never been in Detroit proper before, and I found the residents of the city to be a fascinating study. Prior to arriving, I searched for couchsurfing hosts in the area. I noted that several of them made a point of declaring their love for Motor City. During my time in the area, I heard a range of opinions on the city. One thing was clear, though- everybody had an opinion on Detroit, and none of those opinions were lightly held. With how hard Detroit has been hit economically in recent times, many eyes seem to be turned toward the city to see what its future holds. After my brief visit, my eyes are amongst them.

I often hear the areas in which all of these cities are located written off as fly-over country. There's a definite trend toward elitism on the part of coastal residents, and I will readily admit that, after living in western Washington, I had acquired a streak of it myself. But time and time again, I catch flashes of what all that fly-over country as to offer. I can't wait to find what other landlocked, hidden gems are tucked away.

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