Monday, January 27, 2014

Travels in Tennessee

Hello Uncle Sam.  Please show me America.
The more I travel to other countries, the more I realize how hard it is to really understand a culture.  It has makes me want to dig deeper into America, because gosh, at least I should be able to to understand the nuances of my own country a little better! So in January, I set off to explore Eastern Tennessee, which was a great place to go see history, music, vast dramatic landscapes and eat lots of comfort food. I visited Nashville, Chattanooga and Knoxville.  I honestly didn't stay long enough to get a solid impression of each of the cities, but I enjoyed what I saw. You have to really dig deep to understand the subtle differences in American culture, but I did the best I could.  

Monday, January 20, 2014

The Extremes of American Tourism: Pigeon Forge and Dollywood

I hadn't planned it but it almost seemed like we were sucked towards Dollywood and Pigeon Forge, Dolly Parton's idea of how to bring prosperity to her home town. Even in the off season, when we had the roads to ourselves and the amusement park was closed, we found magic in the good old American excess: Mount Rushmore pop culture style with Roy Rodgers, Elvis, Marilyn Monroe and Charlie Chaplin; a possibly life sized Titanic with a big iceberg, that I guess you could go into and relive the story; a giant upside-down house imaging a crash after a tornado that is called WonderWorks. Anyhow, I doubt I can put accurate words to describe the craziness, but I enjoyed it in the same way that I love Vegas.  Americans are strange tourists!  I can't imagine actually paying to go into any of these places, but they were fun to look at from afar and certainly one part of the American travel experience.

Friday, January 10, 2014

My first trip to the New York State Capital

Yes, I know that it seems unfathomable that a person who has been to 56 countries and 40 states could possibly never have been to her own home state capital when she has lived in the state on and off since she was 7 years old!!! But its true.  So today I expanded a work trip to Albany into a tourist exploration.  I was up there putting on a forum about community college completion.  (Yes, yes, might sound geeky to some of you, but I embrace my geekyness and now get to work focusing on interesting topics like this.)  Anyhow, I digress, it was a chance to come to Albany and started me off on the right foot for any state capitol visit. At the event I made sure legislators and their staff, as well and other government and nonprofit folks learned about an important issue and hopefully were inspired to legislate to improve things.  So, by the time I set off on my Albany exploration I was in a legislative state of mind.