Discovering America: The Roadtrip. Track 5: Way of life
Driven by the desire to explore, we did not limit our curiosity to the â€śmustsâ€ť. We wanted to experience things that were average or typical, become secret agents for a minute and study the insiders by pretending to be one of them. Of course, some of the tourist traps could not be avoided. Ironically, while craving for the typical, you inevitably bump into the fake, especially when your time is limited.
Take this diner in Phoenix, that Lonely Planet describes as classically American, because itâ€™s old. When we came in, we were impressed at the view of the juke boxes and waitresses dressed in pink and black, with hairstyles you will not see on the streets of Phoenix unless you have a time machine. As we sat down, we noticed the place had a whole lot of shelves, all of them packed with objects that suggested â€śold styleâ€ť. It was an imitation of a restaurant in the sixties, another Disney Land for adults, though totally enjoyable. Nothing to do with Chrisâ€™s movie extracted phantasy of a poorly lighten diner on the board of the road with a fat truck driver sitting at the bar.
Apart from eating burgers and drinking milkshakes, we wanted to experience cinema the American way. We watched two movies from our car in one of Phoenixâ€™s drive ins. I was skeptical at the idea, but finally I liked it, especially considering that it was much cheaper than normal cinema. People who came by trucks sat outside to enjoy the movies in open air. We were fine just looking out of our windows. It felt kind of private and â€śat homeâ€ť. In fact, it is so private that there is a rumor going around saying that half of the American population was conceived in a drive in.
Nothing else to report about Phoenix, as the city by itself did not enchant me at all. Its soulless downtown made me miss narrow European pedestrian streets, that make it pleasant move on your two rather than on your carâ€™s four.
The next destination, San Diego, was a whole other story. The fact that itâ€™s located on the coast of the Pacific ocean gives it everything that Phoenix doesnâ€™t have. Itâ€™s fun to watch the surfers trying to conquer the amazing waves, while the sun is setting. The picture is dynamic and charmingly peaceful at the same time. At another spot, the ocean is completely quiet and we benefited from this to do some canoeing.
San Diego was the place where I played my first golf game, which was tiring, but fun. Apparently we were too slow for the experienced players behind us, so they began playing on our field while we were still there, risking to kick our asses (or heads) really badly. Nobody got hurt, but as we were so impolitely in somebodyâ€™s way, we got the unique opportunity to hear an American explain what the French word â€śetiquetteâ€ť means. How valuable.