Being from Canada I’ve crossed the border into the States A LOT. Like, a lot a lot; I honestly couldn’t even count the amount if I tried. To give you an idea of the sheer number of times I have visited the good ol’ US of A, I used to go there for dinner…yes…for fucking dinner. When visiting my sisters at Brock University in St. Catharines, ON (super close to Niagara Falls/Buffalo), we would drive over the border to go to The Cheesecake Factory. Why? Well because we are a bunch of oinkers and their deep fried macaroni and cheese balls would be my last meal if I was on death row. They are THAT good. I know I said I wouldn’t post stuff about food, but these things are just so delicious-gross that I couldn’t resist.
A few of our extended family members also jumped the border and became full blown American citizens, so we make family pilgrimages every once in a while to show face. I’ve ticked off most of the East Coast States, but have specifically spent a good chunk of time in North Carolina and California. I once dated a boy from UNC Chapel Hill (I only date foreigners…I like to complicate my life), so I became an honorary Tar Heel for a bit. It was on one of those trips to Chapel Hill where I was introduced to The Cheesecake Factory. Funny how things work.
I also spent a summer on a J1 working as a ‘pool bar server’ at a resort in Lake Tahoe, California, so at one stage even had an American bank account and all that jazz. Life was good.
A lot of people have mixed feelings about the States, Canadians included, but I do believe it is pretty great. Maybe not ‘I’m Proud to be an American’ great, but still pretty damn cool.
In a very lazy cop out, I am going to clump my tips of the US into a generalisation of the country as a whole. Shameful, I agree, but if I were to sit here and type out each and every place I have gone for you, it would be 47,500 pages about the States only. No one wants that. Not even Donald Trump.
So here we go…
- The States is a really big place. Ok Captain Obvious, but what this means is there literally is something for every taste. They have deserts, ski slopes, beaches, geysers, forests, rivers, rolling hills, canyons…EVERYTHING! What is also means is you can’t do it all. Well, you can, but you need to have a lot of time! Those traveling to the US, and North America in general, for the first time may not realise just how far apart landmarks are. Do some homework. Map it out.
- Learn the difference between miles and kilometers/Celcius and Fahrenheit. They use the Imperial Scale in the States, so just make sure you do not mistake that little dial on your dash. You’ll either be going way to slow in the States, or if crossing into Canada way too fast. Nek minute you’ll be in a real life version of Super Troopers, sans the wacky tobacky.
- Massive portion sizes are not a thing of urban legends. They exist, and they will make you a porker. It is important to indulge in the local delicacies, like a $5 KFC Buffet, but remember, everything in moderation. Including my beloved macaroni balls.
- Not everyone with an accent is from Texas, ya’ll. There are many regional accents in the States, the next just as amazing and different than the first.
- Eat at The Cheesecake Factory. The food is fab and diverse, the ambiance is swanky without being expensive, and they have over 35 kinds of cheesecake. Not my thing, believe it or not, but for those of you with a tooth for the dessert, you’ll be in carb heaven.
- *Make sure you have an enhanced bio-metric passport before you travel!! They are now required to board any plane/cross any border into the States, so don’t ruin a well-deserved holiday by not knowing the rules. Rule of thumb: if your passport is older than 2007, you probably don’t have an enhanced one. Give your local embassy a ring and sort that shit out.
- Drive the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) at least once! I’ve had the pleasure of doing it twice now (San Fran to LA), and it does not disappoint. Attempting to do it in a day is tough though. The roads are windy, which means you’re going quite slow (30mph), so it will take your full day. Monterey is a good place to spend a night, or Big Sur.