Tag Archives: US History

America is… Diverse

A couple months ago I wrote a blog post called Changes in the Deep South. Now my dad asked me to write a second one. For my second America Is… project I have decided to write about how America is diverse and how this makes America what it is today. On our trip we have seen many different types of people, cultures, and religions in the states we have visited and the effect they have on an area. Some of the most noticeable were the Mexican influence in the southwest, the French influence in New Orleans, and the Chinese influence in California.


An Adobe House In New Mexico

When we were visiting Texas, the Southwest, and Southern California we saw a lot of Mexican influence in the food, people, and culture. Many of these states used to be part of Mexico.In 1836 Texas seceded from Mexico and became a republic and later its own state in 1846. Then in 1848 California, most of Arizona, about half of New Mexico, as well as other states became territories of the United States. Today many people in these places speak Spanish, especially in the more southern parts. Another Mexican influence on these areas is the architecture. Many of the buildings in New Mexico, Arizona, and Southern California are adobe buildings and houses. When we were visiting in Santa Fe almost every building was built out of adobe and in southern California there are many Spanish Mission style houses. Art and music are also influenced by Mexican culture. In many of these places we had radio stations in Spanish. In San Antonio, we visited a museum and saw the work of Mexican-American artists. One giant difference that is everywhere in the Southwest is Mexican food, such as tacos, quesadilla, sopapilla, green chillies, and my favorite, fajitas. Overall much of the Southwest is influenced by Mexico still today.

Floats Being Prepared For Mardi Gras

Floats Being Prepared For Mardi Gras

Another culture that influenced America is the French. New Orleans used to be part of France until 1803 when it was bought by President Thomas Jefferson. Besides the French there were also many Cajun people in New Orleans. The Cajuns were French speakers from what is now parts of Nova Scotia, Eastern Quebec, and Maine. Now there is a large French influence on the traditions, food, and many other aspects of life in New Orleans. When we were there Mardi Gras was only a few days away. Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is one of the biggest celebrations in New Orleans, one that was originally French. The food of New Orleans was influenced by the French and Cajun cultures for example we had French beignets and Cajun jambalaya. While we were in the city we went to look at the French quarter were we saw many houses and buildings that had a French style of architecture like wrought iron balcony rails. This combination of cultures creates one of the most unique cities in America.


China Town In San Francisco

When we were in California we saw how people coming from China have influenced the state now but also in the past. During the time of the Chinese Exclusion Act (1882-1943) very few Asians came to America. Today, people coming from China and other Asian countries make up some of the largest groups of immigrants to America. In California we saw the influence that Asian cultures have had on this region. In San Francisco we went into Chinatown. While we were there we went to a museum about how the Chinese helped to shape America and especially California. It showed how expansion of America was made possible by the Chinese laborers who built the railroads and then when gold was discovered in California ran undesirable businesses like laundries, restaurants and did manual labor. Even outside of China Town there were many Chinese food places and many Asian people in general. While we were in these Chinese parts of town it was fun to see food and gifts that we saw from China here in America. Overall I think that the Chinese have helped to shape how America has advanced by creating the railroads and influencing California.

These are some of the ways that our country is culturally diverse and how this diversity affects certain regions today. In America there are many other ethnic groups such as the Irish and Italians in New England, the Mormons in Utah, African-Americans in the Southeast and northern cities, and Scandinavians in the northern plain states. Overall I think that this cultural diversity is a big part in America being what it is today: a free, prosperous, industrious, and technologically advanced country with many opportunities for everyone in it.

Looking in the rear-view mirror…

For this blog post, since we are a little more than half-way through our trip, I thought it would be interesting to ask my fellow road-trippers (and myself) to reflect on the trip thus far. Our responses to the questions below are based on the time we’ve spent in the following states:

Maine (Acadia NP and Bar Harbor), New Hampshire, Massachusetts (Boston area and Cape Cod), Connecticut, Pennsylvania (Philadelphia area and Gettysburg), Washington DC (Maryland), Virginia, North Carolina (Outer Banks), South Carolina (Charleston area),
Georgia (Atlanta and Okefenokee), Florida (Titusville, Orlando, Tampa area), Tennessee (Nashville), Louisiana (New Orleans), Texas (Dallas, Austin)

The states we've spent time in so far

The states we’ve spent time in so far

What is one place we’ve visited that you’d like to go back to?

Miles: Washington DC - one of my favorite cities and so much to see there.

Miles: Washington DC – one of my favorite cities and there is so much to see there.

Owen: Disneyworld - cause we didn’t do all the rides.

Owen: Disneyworld – cause we didn’t do all the rides.

Rob: Tennessee - I would like to see more live music in Nashville and go to Memphis too.

Rob: Tennessee – I would like to see more live music in Nashville and go to Memphis next time.

Jen: Florida - I really wanted to get to the St. Augustine, the Keys, the Everglades, and Miami but we just didn’t have time to fit it all in before heading back up north for our ‘winter break’.

Jen: Florida – I really wanted to get to the St. Augustine, the Keys, the Everglades, and Miami but we just didn’t have time to fit it all in before heading back up north for our ‘winter break’.


Something that made us laugh along the way…

Miles: I got locked in a bathroom in an RV park in Maine and some lady finally heard me banging on the door and had to get her husband (who worked there) to let me out.

Owen: watching Dirty Rotten Scoundrels – “May I go to the bathroom please?”

buceesRob: Road/store signs seen along the way like “Stop at Buc-ee’s – clean bathrooms – we gauranpee it!” “Go to church or the devil will get you!” “King Tut’s Wiener Hut”

Jen: …the thought of all of us being filmed while living together in a submarine for an extended period of time. Believe it or not, we were contacted by a tv production company to see if we’d be interested in being part of a new submarine reality show that they are considering making.


What do you like to do on long car rides?

Miles: Read, think, listen to music (although not always the music that my parents choose to put on the radio).

IMG_7764Owen: Read and sleep.

Rob: Drive! and listen to NPR and country music.

Jen: I used to love to read and sleep but now I usually try to get photos posted on FB, respond to emails, check out the upcoming destinations in Lonely Planet to get an idea of what might be good to see/do, and read to the boys from A History of US (a great series that we are using to teach US history).


Best new food you’ve tried…

Muffaletta Sandwich

Muffaletta Sandwich

Miles: fajitas (Dallas, TX)

Owen: alligator sausage (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Rob: muffaletta sandwich (New Orleans, Louisiana)

Jen: Shrimp and Grits (Charleston, South Carolina)


Person in US history that has interested you and how did s/he influence/impact our country…




Miles: Ben Franklin because he did an incredible amount of things without very much education.  He helped create the Declaration of Independence, he invented many things, and he created the library system.





Owen: Abraham Lincoln because he was a farmboy who became the President. He was kind and a strong leader and he tried to end slavery.






Rob: I have a new appreciation for John F. Kennedy. I was impressed by his big thinking and the articulation of his vision to regular citizens. His goals and values for the country transcended ordinary politics.




Jen: I know he’s already been “taken” but I have to go with Ben Franklin also. I was truly amazed at all that he accomplished in his 84 years. He is described as a leading author, printer, political theorist, politician, postmaster, scientist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, and diplomat. His impact on our new nation was immeasurable. And to top it all off, he’s given us some great quotes like “Do not fear mistakes. You will know failure. Continue to reach out.” and “Fish and visitors smell in three days.” (true? I hope not for the family that have housed us for more than three days!)


An experience that inspired you in some way…

Miles: Kennedy Space Center – I liked listening to the astronauts who talked there. Their experiences were very interesting and they were very courageous to go into space. And I think it would be very cool to see earth from outer space.

Owen: Plimoth Plantation – It was inspiring that they could get through the dangers and sicknesses and stuff that they weren’t familiar with and still survive.

Rob: Spending a day in Washington DC touring the Capitol Building, Supreme Court, and White House – because of their historical significance and influence.

Jen: National Center for Civil and Human Rights – I was struck by the courage of the many, many people all over the world who have taken action in the past, who do so today, and who will likely still be needed in the future in order to ensure that all people on this planet are treated with dignity and basic human rights.


Educational place(s) that you would recommend to a friend:

Miles: The Franklin Institute (science museum) in PA, Perot Museum of Nature and Science in TX, Kennedy Space Center in FL

Owen: Plimouth Plantation in MA, Kennedy Space Center in FL, The Franklin Institute in PA

Rob: National Center for Civil and Human Rights in GA, Kennedy Space Center in FL, a revolutionary war re-enactment (various locations)

Jen: Pequot Museum in CT, Plimouth Plantation in MA, Freedom Trail guided by a National Park Ranger in MA, National Center for Civil and Human Rights in GA, Kennedy Space Center in FL, The National World War II Museum in LA


Recreational place(s) that you would recommend to a friend:

Miles: Disney World in FL, Flight (indoor trampoline place) in CT, Cape Cod National Seashore in MA

Owen: Disney World in FL, Skyzone (indoor tramp place) in DC, Sandy Beach in Acadia National Park in Maine

Rob: Cape Cod National Seashore in MA, visit a honkytonk in Nashville, TN, biking in Acadia National Park

Jen: Acadia National Park in ME, Ziplining The Gorge in NC, listening to the Brass Bands at Jackson Square in New Orleans, Disney World


For the boys only…favorite books you were assigned to read:

Miles:to kill a mockingbirdjohnny tremain

Owen:keeping roombud not buddymighty miss malone


What topic/time period so far has been most interesting to you and why?

us history 2

Miles: Revolutionary War – I think it’s very interesting to see how America rebelled against Britain, even though Britain was incredibly powerful, and won their independence.

Owen: Fight for civil rights – starting from the time before the Civil War, people were willing to die for freedom and to be treated equally.

Rob: Texas history – because this is something that I didn’t know much about.

Jen: I’m having trouble picking one but I will say that having never been all that “into” history before, I’m surprised at how much I’ve enjoyed the whole historical side of this trip. I’ve learned a lot!


What words would you use to capture your impressions of America and its people (from the past into today)? Note: the image below captures our combined choices.

taxedo 6


Choose 3-5 Highs and Lows of the trip so far…

Highs Lows
Miles Seeing people along the wayRevolutionary War re-enactment

Hiking in Acadia National Park

Dave and Busters

Orion Space Launch

Doing schoolwork in the RVLong, long drives

Doing so many ranger booklets

Owen DisneyworldSouth Carolina Aquarium

Plimouth Plantation

Kennedy Space Center

Ziplining in NC (the Gorge)

Our teeny, tiny shower and toiletToo much cold weather

I can hear Mom/Dad talking in the morning before we wake up

Rob Fall in New EnglandTime with family and friends

Awesome local foods

Incredible museums

Exploring new places

Low gas prices

RV/car troublesToo much to see and do in the time we have

Constant planning

Jen Spending time with family and friendsExperiencing so many new and different places

Live music experiences

First day at Disney

Those warm afternoons that we got to spend at the beaches

Really low water pressure in the showerThose moments when the boys push each others’ buttons, which pushes my buttons

Can’t really have routines – always deciding on a new plan for each day

And that just about sums up the past six months of road trippin’ for the Gold family! Hope we gave you some ideas for future trips you might take yourself, though we’ve only just scratched the surface so far of what this vast and varied country has to offer. And let us know any questions you’d add to the list and we’ll try to answer them!

Four Foto Friday – Boston and the Cape

Last weekend, the boys had a great time with their Aunt and Uncle (thanks Barbara and David!) while Jen and I enjoyed a relaxing couple of days to ourselves. On Monday, we resumed our family road trip with two days in Boston and another two on Cape Cod. Here are some photo highlights:

Practicing the muster drill at the Minuteman Museum

Don’t fire until you see the whites of their eyes!

Concord: Minute Man National Park was the main historical stop with Uncle David and Aunt Barbara. Here they spent the day learning about the Battle of Lexington and Concord. They also enjoyed a private lesson on how to “muster” like a revolutionary solider. The boys also had a chance to go apple picking, do a corn maze, shoot paintball guns, watch the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie, play in an arcade, win loads of candy, and ride a mechanical bull (seriously). Aunt Barbara and Uncle David are way too much fun… no way we can compete with that!


Rockport Harbor

Rockport: With the boys in good hands, Jen and I also had a nice weekend exploring the north shore (Cape Ann). Our first stop was the quaint town of Essex, where we ate at Woodman’s, a 100-year institution that specializes in fried clams, and checked out the a few antique shops. Then, we visited Gloucester to pay our respects at the Fisherman’s Memorial in the center of town. Finally, we hit Rockport, a wonderfully picturesque village that beckoned for us to just poke around the many art galleries and cafes. A very pleasant couple of days.

Outside Paul Revere's House.

Outside Paul Revere’s House.

Boston: By Monday, we were back together in downtown Boston to explore many famous sites along the The Freedom Trail and Black Heritage Trail. The historical info was flying fast, but the guides and park rangers did a great job of keeping things interesting and understandable. We toured Paul Revere’s House, climbed the Bunker Hill Monument, boarded the USS Constitution, learned Revolutionary-era printing, and visited the first African American school in the country.  We also had fun checking out the buskers in front of Quincy Market and eating some incredible Italian food in Boston’s North End.

Skim boarding the Cape

Skim boarding the Cape

Cape Cod: On Wednesday, we said goodbye to Boston and headed south to the Cape. Most of the day was spent along Cape Cod National Seashore, which provided opportunities to hike around a salt marsh, climb the Highlands Lighthouse, enjoy the secluded beaches in Truro, and checkout the sand dunes near Province Lands. Skim boarding was the boys’ highlight… we even had seals (and probably sharks) watching us from the waves just beyond the sand bar. Sunset and dinner in Provincetown capped off the action-packed day.

Our time in Cape Cod has been so fun, we’ve decided to stay one more day in order to visit the annual Scallop Festival in nearby Yarmouth. Tomorrow, we’ll move to our final stop, Charlestown NH, and checkout a Revolutionary War re-enactment at Fort No.4.

Our first leg of GFRT comes to an end on Monday, so we’ll put a pause on FFF until our travel resume in early October. It’s been an amazing start to our yearlong adventure. More photos and reflections on New England (and much much more) are still to come.