25 Things To Love About America

Nascar is a big deal

I have been on a hair pulling rant for the last 48 hours.  I recognize that. I am taking off my Calamity Politics Editor’s cap, and putting on a ball cap, and getting the hell out of this office. The blogger’s life is a good life, most of the time. Sometimes, however, U.S. politics and political rhetoric can just sap the energy from a person, no matter how earnest their intent.

So, let’s take time, lighten up, smoke one and check out, ‘25 Things To Love about America.’ These strange bits of illumination were partly supplied by Bowers’ and Gottlieb’s amazing book ‘1,000 Things To Love About America.’  Although I have used some of their text, but I have changed the numbering.

1.) Monopoly: Life’s lessons on a board.  Stay out of jail, do community service, pay your bills, amass real estate wealth, and collect your rents.  Monopoly has sold more than 200 million games in 37 languages.  It is without a doubt, the most popular board game in the world. It was created in 1934 at the depths of the depression by Charles B. Darrow of Germantown, PA.  He originally marketed his homemade copies of the game at a Philadelphia, PA toy store. In 1935 Parker Brothers bought the game.  We all have our favorite properties, and our favorite pieces.  Monopoly is part of my childhood memories and consumed many rainy afternoons.  The properties are named for locations in Atlantic City.  The fundamental lesson to take from Monopoly, is that the guy with the most money wins.

The Guy With The Most Property And The Most Money Wins!

2.) The Indy 500: This mega event held every Memorial Day is probably the most famous and certainly the largest racing extravaganza in the world, entertaining an estimated 400,000 fans each year at the track, and millions more on television. The event, held in Indianapolis, Indiana started in 1911.  Fans watch 33 cars roar around the Indianapolis Speedway for 500 miles to the cheers of enthralled onlookers.

3.) Duct Tape: Ties that bind.  First developed during WWII for heating and air conditioning ducts. It is reported to have quickly gained a following and was used to seal ammunition cases, repair jeeps, weapons and planes.  This super strong, cheap vinyl, fabric-reinforced, pressure-sensitive tape is a staple at my house and most other American households.  I’ve read people join duct tape clubs and make wallets and clothing.  Hmmm.  I’m good, until people start to wear it.

4.) Window Screens: First line of defense against insects. This ultra easy non-polluting system, made of mesh wire stretched over a metal or wooden frame, keeps bugs outside.  What’s amazing is that the rest of the world has yet to embrace this low-tech breakthrough.

5.) Bigfoot: Also known as Sasquatch, the creature roams the rugged back country of the Pacific Northwest.  Reportedly the creatures are big, hairy, humanoid, avoid human contact and smell extremely bad.

NW Smelly Guy

6.) Chapstick: Invented by a Virginia pharmacist in 1870. It would be wonderful if every ailment could be soothed as easily as chapped lips. Great stuff.  I’ve carried at least one in my pocket since I was 12.

7.) The Catcher in the Rye: Best American novel never made into a movie. Holden Caulfield is the center of a coming of age story first published in 1951.  The seemingly ageless piece has enjoyed incredible popularity since its original publication, selling an amazing 35 million copies. J.D. Salinger has doggedly resisted a screen version and it is unlikely that we will see it on the big screen until after his death.

8.) The London Bridge: The most beautiful British bridge in the United States.  Originally built in 1831 over the Thames.  The bridge was determined to be inadequate to support the weight of 20th century traffic and was scheduled for demolition.  An American, Robert McCullock who made a pile of money in the oil fields wanted to bring a little bit of tourist interest to his beloved Lake Havasu City, Arizona, so in 1968 he purchased the bridge, had it dismantled, shipped and then reassembled at Lake Havasu.

9.) Acoma Pueblo: Ancient dwelling. A few Native Americans still live in this historic pueblo, built on a massive sandstone mesa 55 miles west of Albuquerque, NM.  The pueblo dates from the early 9th century and is considered the oldest continuously inhabited village in the United States.

Hell's Canyon

Hell’s Canyon covers 652,488 acres and is the deepest gorge in North America

10.) Hell’s Canyon National Recreation Area: The area covers 652,488 acres of breath-taking beauty.  900 miles of trails wind through spectacularly beautiful wilderness region straddling the Oregon-Idaho border.  Hell’s Canyon is the deepest gorge in North America and the Snake River cuts through it.  The fishing is great, too.  I’ve spent a lot of incredible weekends enjoying this wilderness wonderland when I lived in Eastern Oregon.

11.) The Two Best Days in a Boat Owner’s Life: Hello and goodbye. Approximately 8 million boats are registered in the United States, ranging from small runabout to multi-multi-million dollar yachts.  Donald Trump had his first best day when he bought a 110 foot cruiser and called it the Trump Princess.  He had his second best day in 1991-and so did the creditors of his gambling empire-when he sold the Trump Princess to a Saudi Prince for 40 million.

12.) Whale Watching: Thar she blows.  Boat tours leave ports like Seattle and San Diego to watch these ocean behemoths migrate the coast lines of  America.  Ships off of Massachusetts for example record processions of Humpback.  Off my coast, here in Oregon, annually thousands of Gray Whales are observed as they swim close to Oregon’s rugged shoreline on their 12,000 mile migration from the Arctic Ocean to Mexico, and then back again.

13.) Saint Cupcake: A little bit of  Heaven.  Three stores to serve your needs in Portland, Oregon.  Saturday is great when the bakers make their Red Velvet and Carrot cupcake specials.  OMG, Portland, I love you.

14.) Wyoming Dinosaur Center: Jurassic Park.  It is possible to actually participate in a Paleontological dig uncovering fossils from rock where dinosaurs roamed the Earth over 145 million years ago.  The center is located in Thermopolis, and the quarried fossils mostly on the Warm Springs Ranch regularly yield dinosaur and fauna fossils.  Don’t forget to stop. These guys can make any of us feel small.

Hot Air balloons

Hot Air Balloons Fiesta started in 1972

15.) The Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta: Up, up and away! The Fiesta started in 1972 and has become the largest hot air balloon festival in the world and lasts for 9 days in October.  During that time, the skies over New Mexico are filled with more than 500 floating orbs of brilliant color and design.

16.) The Sierra Club: Protecting our planet, one issue at a time. Founded in 1892 as a grassroots effort to protect our environment, it has grown until today,  it can be said to be “our environmental conscience.” 700,000 members join outings to natural wonders to remind us that this wilderness we love is worth fighting for.

17.) Frozen Dead Guys Festival: Call it weird, I call it wacky. You’ll have to head to Nederland, Colorado to participate in this silliness.  A now dead Norwegian gentleman, brought his grandfather’s frozen corpse to a cryonics facility he and his mother were intending to build in Nederland.  The building was never constructed and the dead granddad is stored in a local shed.  The event of course, led to a Festival. Only in America. The festival includes coffin races, a polar plunge and Frozen Dead Guy ice cream.

Will Rogers was a great American humorist

Will Rogers was a great American humorist known for his one liners

18.) Great Political One Liners: Will Rogers, a man I have only seen in old news clips. I wish he was here now, I think he would have plenty to say about today’s political scene.  “The more you read and observe about this politics thing, you got to admit that each party is worse than the other.”

19.) Phi Beta Kappa: Key to academic success.  The most prestigious academic honor society was established at William and Mary College 12/5/1776.  Currently, about 500,000 members strong. The Phi Beta Kappa society includes 17 former presidents and 131 Nobel Laureates.

20.) Unusual Town Names: It’s American for Christ’s sake.  There’s Ding Dong, Texas; Possum Grape, Arkansas; Lizard Lick, North Carolina; Dunmovin, California; Yreka Zzyzx, California; No Name, Colorado; Zap, North Dakota; Buck Snort, Tennessee; Gnaw Bone, Indiana.  If you are interested you can find Climax in Georgia, Michigan, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. If you are looking for Intercourse it’s been found in Pennsylvania.

21.) Skyline Drive: 105 miles of almost Heaven.  Skyline Drive runs the north-south length of the Shenandoah National Park through the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia.  In October the foliage is so spectacular it can create grid lock for miles on the 35 mile per hour highway.

22.) Gadflies: Shoot from the hip.  Gadflies frequently bug us with letters to the Editor, relentless questions at Town Hall Meetings, interruptions at shareholders meetings, but these folks may be what keeps our Democracy alive.  Where would we be without Ralph Nader, Bob Woodward, or pushy bloggers like me.

23.) The Oregon Trail: It sounded easy.  In the 19th century the 2,170 mile Oregon Trail was the path to the Pacific, opening the area to homesteaders, gold prospectors, fur traders, gamblers and adventurers. Even today, deep wagon ruts along remnants of the trail can be spotted.  More than 200,000 people died on this monumental journey to open the West to expansion and development.

24.) The Electoral College: The unresolved constitutional conundrum.  This anachronistic system for choosing the President of the United States really needs to go,  but meantime there are three pluses: it forces candidates to campaign in backwaters like Maine, Idaho and Oregon, it becomes the thing of headlines when the popular vote is overwhelmed by the Electoral College vote, and, the rest of the world remains confused.

The American GI made Hershey chocolate bars world famous

The American GI made Hershey’s chocolate bars world-famous

25.) Hershey Bars: Chocolatety deliciousness. Developed by Milton Hershey in 1900.  His mission was to allow the working class folks to taste what the rich took for granted.  He built the world’s largest chocolate factory, with an entire community in what is now Hershey, Pennsylvania.  American GI’s introduced the popular bar to war-weary Europeans during WWII.

Trivia is one of those great things you can save and use at opportune moments.  It’s fun to be the queen of weird information.  I didn’t say misinformation, I said weird information.

Join The Resistance
Darlene Mitchell

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