Ode to America

Hanna Masri

In the midst of 2020, one can often find it hard to see the silver lining of the year. The COVID-19 pandemic, California wildfires, and the tumultuous political scene have caused many to lose their love for America, rightfully. This year has been a mess and I’m sure I can speak for some in that the idea of moving to Canada sounds pretty great right about now. But, putting the social issues aside, which are completely valid, America is still quite a beautiful country. Often Americans get dazzled by the richness of European culture and art and forget what a beautiful country we live in. This summer, I went on a road trip across America and saw the beautiful landscape that this country has. In southern Utah was where I saw the most amazing red rock formations and geological structures. Unlike anything I had ever seen before, the canyons and dazzling landscape went on as far as the eye could see. There was no civilization for 200+ miles  — it felt like a different planet. The new art teacher here at Laguna, Ms. Ballenger, also went on a similar road trip across the country to come to Santa Barbara from Georgia. Ballenger Travelled from Atlanta through Kentucky, Kansas City, Colorado, Salt Lake City, and Las Vegas on her travels and had this to say about the experience: 

What was your favorite part of the drive?

I enjoyed the smooth tarmac and the lush green scenery of the Flint Hills outside of Kansas City, on i70 Westbound. It was a beauty to behold in the misty rain; passing all of the rolling hills and farmland was magical. It was a well-constructed road and the easiest to drive with relatively little traffic. I also enjoyed the scenic farmland of North Georgia, Tennessee, and Kentucky as I noticed the differences between the geographical landscapes. I love trees, so this part was the best, in my opinion. 

Have you ever seen geological structures like this? 

Seeing the slot canyons in Southern Utah for the first time was quite an experience. I stopped off the highway outside of Zion to do a short hike. It was 105 degrees! I got to walk into an amazing red rock 

slot canyon! It was incredible to be surrounded by the magnificently tall rock! As an artist, I found it completely inspiring to see the lines and space created by such unique forms. I had seen Moab’s red rock arches before, but the slot canyons were new to me! The area around Zion is a must-do as it is so shockingly unique!


Would you recommend others to take this drive? why or why not?

If you do not mind sitting in the car for hours upon hours, then yes, a drive across the country should definitely be on your bucket list. My trip planning suggestion is to break the trip up into manageable days and allow time to get out and explore each city, if you have extra time to spare. I did not stop to explore as much as I had planned because I was so eager to get the day’s travel finished. The drive from the outskirts of Southern Utah to Southern CA was pretty bleak, so make sure you have good company and some great music or podcasts. The drive across the bottom part of Wyoming had very limited access to gas stations and places to eat. It was a pretty barren landscape, yet still fascinating. My regret is not getting to drive i70 through the Colorado Mountains, as there was a massive forest fire in the area. It is an exquisite, dramatic part of the country that should not be missed! Be prepared to re-route, like I did last minute, and always check for road closures.