I am driving my truck from a brewery in my brown leather Rhye boots, tapping to the rhythm of country music, performed by our new friends here in Florida. “Can it get any more American than that?” - I think out loud. Lukas giggles and says that he would not want that to be the only image of “America”.
From here our conversation took turns around what “American” means to us and what it is in reality. As much as I like to hold on to NYC, LA, SF, and Miami postcards in my mind, in reality much more of the territory is trampled by cowboy boots. On the other hand, territory is not the same as population.
While “country” culture is big in the United States, there is no good reason for rural southerners to hijack the identity of the whole country. That would ignore most of the coastal and urban life, technological, cultural and academic achievements and forget nearly half of the population who are not white Caucasians. Rather than glorify the past, it is much more beneficial to look at the present and imagine a better future.
Coastal life is undoubtedly different. Walking through the Wynwood neighborhood in Miami I felt like I was walking through the pages of a real comic book. Never before have I seen more massive graffiti murals than here. But neither have I experienced something more tacky than Venice Beach before - hello, Miami Beach.
Key West, Miami, Everglades National Park, Orlando all have their own charm, but, as usual, all the impressions fade when compared to real connections. For the first time on the road we met similar travelers, who live most of the time on the road and perform their songs. Ieva and Paul met us in Tampa, invited us to hear them live and shared dinners together. We can’t wait to see you again in Lithuania!
Overall, if I am sincere, it was great traveling through the red states so far. We did not expect much of Florida, but in reality we enjoyed it a lot. This has been our largest photo album from any state so far. Red sunsets and white sand beaches, jachts and cozy beach towns will always remain a “winter escape” plan for us.