Americans v. Europeans, and a rant on mileage

Mrs. du Toit is a homeschooling mom who uses a bit more profanity than I do. She also writes complete essays. (My excuse is I'm too busy grading.) But I found a great essay she wrote on the differences between Americans and Europeans.

She did have a statement I have to disagree with. (It's a theme, I think.)

“Like most Europeans, many Americans never travel farther than 100 miles from their home towns?ever. Packing a suitcase and a picnic basket for the 120 mile journey from New York to Connecticut is not that unusual. We knew quite a number of people (most in fact) who lived in New Jersey, who had only been to New York City a dozen or so times in their lives. They were really uncomfortable traveling THAT far (all of 30 miles). As a tourist, I?d been to Manhattan more than they had. They just weren?t interested in leaving the comforts of known territory.”

I did go to a comedy club and one person admitted never having left the state of Texas. But Texas is a big state. Drive for fourteen hours most places and you'll go through a couple of states. It was less than ten hours from NW Indiana to Pennsylvania, and that was when the speed limit was lower. In fourteen hours from Houston, TX I can get to my aunt's house in a miniature town not too far from Lubbock, TX. It's only four to get to Dallas. Three and a half to get to Austin. Six solid hours to get to Abilene. Nine to get to Midland. About fourteen to get to El Paso. Four to get to San Antonio.

I made the trip to San Antonio four times this summer. That's 186 miles from where I live to the first sign about it. I actually drove almost 250, because first I had to drop the kids off at my parents. According to them that is 62 miles from my house. But the straighter way is about 48.

I went to Austin twice this summer. Once to take a girlfriend out to lunch for her birthday. That was fun.

I'm older and I don't like to drive as much, but back in 86 I made a seven hour one way trip every weekend for eight months. I drove about 16 hours one way two or three weekends one school year.

I may not be typical, but I don't think I am that unusual.

The tutoring program I am in has students coming from up to 60 miles away. That's for school twice a week.

One of the heads of the homeschooling program's extracurricular classes is from New Jersey. She and her family make the trek up there at least twice a year.

When my boys were first born, my folks lived in New Jersey. The folks came every month to see us. Dad would fly into Houston for work and then he and mom would drive from Houston up to see me. Every month. For two years.

I obviously come from a traveling family. My grandmother went to California in a wagon. (She's much older than I am.) My mom was born in CA, raised in AZ, married a Texan and followed him all over the country. They retired from New Jersey to south of Houston.

My best friends… My best friend from college grew up in Andrews, moved to Midland, then on to Abilene, and now lives in Houston. I know she's been more than 120 miles from home because it is way more than that to get home to see her folks every holiday.

My best friend from grad school grew up outside of Abilene and that's where she lives now. But between then and now we were in grad school in Indiana together and she and her husband moved between Austin and Hawaii after that. Way more than 120 miles there.

My best friend from NC is from Kentucky. A bit longer than 120 miles to where she lives now. Plus they vacation in Florida twice a year, also more than 120 miles.

My two best friends from Austin… One was a military brat and she's been to Japan several times. So she's probably done more than most people. The other was an immigrant's daughter. She was the first in her family to go to college. When I met her in Austin she was nine hours drive from home. (540 miles.) Now she lives in NC. Another 20 or so hours from here.

My friend Deb who I met here is from Iowa. Iowa is way more than 120 miles from here.

My husband is from where we now live. And about six other places, all farther than 120 miles away. His best friend is also from here and back again. He went to college 14 hours from home and then 6 hours from home. Then he went to California, two solid days of driving. Then to Ohio for his residency. His wife is from Ohio, but they met in Texas. At least 12 hours drive from her home.

My husband and I dated while he lived in New Mexico and I lived in Texas and while he lived in Ohio and I lived in Indiana. Definitely not a close relationship there.

I do have one friend who lives here, grew up here, went to school here, etc. But I am fairly sure she has been outside the state at least.

So what do you think? Are you one of the people who stays close to home? Or do you travel? I really want to know. I'm wondering if “like attracts like” and I just know the only people in America who still travel.

One thought on “Americans v. Europeans, and a rant on mileage

  1. I think it also depends how much extra money you have to be able to travel. I'm not American, (Canadian) but I have only left my province something like 7 times in my life; and that was because I lived 15 minutes from the border… my province is huge as well… i havent traveled anymore than 6 hours at a time.

    Anyways, I'm sure that women never meant that all Americans don't travel very far-just most of them; i.e. the poor who make up most of the population.

    But you could also include the poor who are forced to be in “work for welfare,” who have to get up early to make the bus taking them to wherever they're supposed to go (which is quite far away). And then not getting back home until really late, not being able to see their children…

    What I'm trying to say, is you can see it from a billion different viewpoints… but I still think she's right, not exactly, but close enough I guess. Excuse me for rambling, I just got out of bed.

    Sherry [crackpot_goddess@hotmail.com]

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