Crossing the pond to discover the USA is an unforgettable experience. Varied but united, the 50 states are worth so much more than endless anti-American clichés. Land of immigration for long, the USA are a country-world, a whole other planet in themselves.
In the US reigns a very strong feeling of belonging to an exceptional nation, with a promised-land, messianic destiny.
What do Arizona and the snowy peaks of Vermont have in common? Or Utah’s Mormons and Gay Key West? Los Angeles Latinos and Boston WASPs?
From Boston to Washington through New York and Philadelphia, the north-east of the USA is populated with cities of strong emotional pasts.
The American West evokes coaches, pioneers, cow-boys and Indians, saloons and gold-rushers, but also castaways fleeing the civilisation of cities. In the National Parks of the West, from Grand Canyon to Yosemite, everything is grand and wonderfully beautiful: the wilderness of the landscapes, the arid deserts, forests as old as time, giant cacti and sequoias…
California, from the freedom of San Francisco to the bling of LA, through the high tech of the Silicon Valley, perfectly embodies the American Myth.
Florida, covered in mosquito, snake, and alligator-ridden marshes, has become the America of extremes and excesses. It is a transition between North America and Latin America.
Louisiana springs memories of the first explorers, and evokes the link between people of France and those Acadians come Cadians then Cajuns.
A myth, a symbol, a « monument » in itself, indissociable from American culture ! It is the first path to link the shores of Lake Michigan (Chicago) to the Pacific coast in Santa Monica in California, after a 4 000 km long journey across seven states (Illinois, Missouri, Oklahoma, Texas, New-Mexico, Arizona and California – plus Kansas, on about twenty kilometres).
All along Route 66 a new culture quickly developed : that of motels, gas stations, diners and flashy neon signs.
At the end of the 1950s, as trafic had increased, so did accidents. The Mother Road was no longer adapted to its era. Authorities preferred new interstates with double lanes, skirting cities, faster, more secure. At the end of the 1960s, the daily flow of vehicles vanished. On the side of the road, shops closed down, lights shut off. In 1981, authorities even tried to have the path taken off maps.
But under the pressure of defense associations, Road 66 breathes nowadays a new air. Along the way, museums have been created, boards retraced the history of the road, diners and vintage motels have reopened, lively festivals gather adepts in fiery chromed extravaganzas. Plus, a new law for the protection of Route 66 has been passed!