Los Angeles, California
As a kid, I spent a lot of time indoors surrounded by books, as anyone who has seen me attempt any outdoor pursuits will implicitly realise.
And chief among them was a Rand McNally encyclopaedia of American states.
The rich history and geography of this diverse place – imagery of bears and bison, cowboys and Indians, pioneers and pilgrims – were just as magical to me as anything conjured up by Tolkien or C.S. Lewis.
Later, as a student of political philosophy, I became acquainted with America’s founding fathers not as the fabled men with powdered wigs and pink cheeks in my picture books, but as some of the most important writers and thinkers ever to advance the causes of liberty and freedom.
As a result, travelling this vast land – meeting its people and reconciling what I had read with real tales of my very own – became a life goal.
Sitting here at LAX about to depart for home, turkey sandwich and cranberry juice on the table before me in a nod to tradition on this Day of Thanks (or as close as I can get in an airport lounge), it is a goal I can satisfyingly say is now firmly achieved.
In particular, I am thankful for the following highlights:
- Driving more than 20,000 miles from east to west, north to south.
- Listening to speeches by a Pope, two Presidents and a President-Elect
- Jumping and jiving at SXSW, Lollapalooza and Burning Man
- Spectating multiple college football, NFL, NHL and MLB games
- Taking in the serenity at Yellowstone, Yosemite and Arches National Parks
- Cheating death while hiking in the Rockies (and tailgating in College Station)
- Mustering cattle in the Texas Hill Country
- Hunting for gators with swamp guides in the Louisiana bayou
- Off-roading (by accident) in the desert expanses of Utah
- Door-knocking for a political campaign in rural Montana
- Testifying at an African-American church in Natchez, Mississippi
- Picking cotton and listening to blues in the deep south
- Hosting a conference of Aussie execs in Silicon Valley
- Covering the Libertarian National Convention with MegaCon nerdfest next door
- Hours of live action from the gallery while working in the US Congress
- Observing the Olympics and Super Bowl from a very different vantage point
- Chronicling Colorado’s thriving recreational marijuana industry
- Live-blogging the final 72 hours of a presidential election
- Ingesting more sugar, salt and plastic orange cheese than should be permissible by law
- Hanging out with childhood chums in New York City
- Spending quality time with my great aunt, her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
These are just a few of the delightful memories of a year and a half well spent, some of which made it into this thread, while others were overshadowed by opinion pieces and political rants which I hope have been of value.
On that note, sincere thanks to all of those that read these posts over the past 18 months, your continued clicks made all the research and effort (not to mention significant debt and pending litigation) all the more worthwhile.
And sincere thanks also to my dear American family and friends. For all of the conclusions and analyses contained throughout this thread, one is more certain than all of the others:
American hospitality is alive and well.
Happy Thanksgiving and cheers for having me.