Wind-whipped hair shivers in and out of my field of vision as our silver Mustang cruises through South Carolina freeways - top down, of course, darling. It's the way I imagine Lana Del Rey would travel exclusively if she had the choice, and I feel nothing less than a superstar. It's early September on the east coast of the USA, where humidity clings like a teenaged lover and fast food joints populate the scenery like stars in the night sky.
It's my dad, my sister, and me, and our road trip begins in Atlanta, Georgia. Atlanta is humungous - more spread out than anywhere I've ever lived, in geography as well as the average waistline. After two days there, I realise I haven't seen a single jogger or cyclist at all. (In Denver, summer evenings will see more people exercising than not on the average footpath.) It's green, but green in an Edward Scissorhands way: more perfect than pretty. We have to go out of our way to find good food: after several weeks staying there, my sister texted to say she hadn't had a decent meal since she left Australia. Unsurprisingly, we soon discover that Atlanta was the birthplace of Chick-fil-A. But on the recommendation of an Australian friend, we find an unfussy Italian pizza restaurant that served the best slices any of us had ever scoffed down. (That's right, Adelaideans: even better than Etica and EST.) We also hunt out a couple of other things to do in the culture-starved megapolis.
From Georgia, we head straight to Washington DC. Idyllic blue lakes and green hills offer brief greetings to alleviate the discomfort of the nine hour drive. But turning off the freeway is like finding the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: the first glorious sight is the towering Washington Monument, and then, oh! Is that the long pool in Forrest Gump? Look, on the left! It's the White House! No, over here! That's the Capitol! The city slowly unfolds its history like a ballerina extending her limbs. And like the ballet, it's best seen at night.
New York state is the wide-eyed, enigmatic sister to New York City: if the city is Beyonce, the state is Solange. The state is so stunning that there's no need to draw attention to itself: those who know it, love it, and its gorgeous lakes and mountains are secure in that. Our cheeks leave marks on the Mustang windows as we admire the scenery. But first, a detour to Canada to see the Niagara Falls' better side. (Border security officers prod and poke at our stories for hours, but it's worth the hassle: the Canadian side is far more beautiful.)
Now, I'm back in Colorado, but within days, I'll be off again. This time I'll be landing in Barbados for nearly a week, with a quick stopover in Miami. Have you been there? Any recommendations for your girl?