5 December 2016

A road trip through the US of A - part IX: Niagara Falls, NY - Des Moines, IA

Just above the Niagara Falls
The legendary Niagara Falls. Why are they legendary? Because the Americans know how to do marketing. Properly. Too much! When we arrived there we expected the Niagara Falls to be bigger than we could ever imagine. We expected to be blown away. When we arrived from the Canadian side, we looked at the American part - and had to smile. The Canadians mention the Niagara Falls, maybe, sometimes. And when you see their part, well, we actually were impressed. But the American part is a waterfall, not that impressive. But we had the impression it would be super big and important as it is in every movie and advertized a lot.


Driving westbound
And we experienced it once again: in the US nothing is as big as marketing. But also nothing is as disappointing as the truth when you actually see it. There is nearly always a hook, a bad part, something that makes you feel bad. And that is very unpleasant. You better don't expect anything, and might still get a bit disappointed. At least from everything one can consume. Luckily the people we met were still very real and very different. We were extremely happy about that.

Clocktower in Bern, Indiana
After the (once more) desillusioning exprerience of the waterfalls, we crossed the border and entered the USA again. It was my first time crossing a border while steering the car. That was pretty cool. Not that anybody in the world would give a f*** - I crossed my first landborder by car, driving, from Canada into the US. And that gave me a huge kick, as we all probably know what the customs officials of the US can be like. I was shaking a little when I had to sit there with my hands on the wheel and then hand the guy the keys. The Jeep right in front of us with a Swiss number plate didn't really help, but it distracted a bit... But all went well, and we were back in the 'murica.

We drove on. Very far again, through a crazy amount of - nothing. Well, there were fields. But nothing really grew visibly on them. We decided to drive through Indiana, quickly visit Bern and Geneva there, as this appeared funny to us.
Menonites on horse carts
There is even a clock tower in Bern, Indiana. A copy of the one we have in Bern, Switzerland. And there were families with Swiss names. And they still speak a weird language that might have the same roots as Swiss German. But we read somewhere that we wouldn't understand them anymore. And those who speak it were Amish people. We didn't want to disturb them with a weird language test as probably enough other people already did. On the other hand, it is so far in the middle of nowhere, that they were super friendly and appeared extremely happy that we came to visit at the tourist office. There was a guest book. I signed it. Because I can.

With Florian in Chicago
We saw those Amish (or Menonites, I actually didn't exactly see the difference to be honest) drive around with horse carts. That looked funny, and we thought they would really take it serious -  until we went to McDonalds. It was the only place with an internet connection within hundreds of miles, so we decided to quickly check in there. And what we saw was flabbergasting but weird and fun and... McDonalds Bern has a parking lot specially for horse carts. And it was full of Amish people. Too weird. We had fun.

We left, as there was no chance to sleep. So we drove through to Jilian and Niels' place, where we stayed for a bit. They were fantastic hosts. We really enjoyed a break at their stunning place with a huge backyard, directly on the river. And they live close to Chicago. So we slept in a calm and relaxing place at theirs but didn't have to drive to far to meet our dear friend Florian downtown Chicago for an afternoon. He flew there to visit us and enjoy the breweries, which we did. A great city discovered with a great person. But it was too short to judge it yet.

Fun on the pier
We had to drive on way too soon. For the people in the region it is obvious: Idaho is the potato state, Iowa is the corn and chicken state. And now we know why. You can't miss that. We drove for hundreds of miles through potato fields and for another hundreds of miles through corn fields. Nothing else! What is also obvious for the people there: everybody hates Nebraska. Because there is nothing. Well, we skipped it, as those who said there was nothing lived in states where we thought there is nothing, as we saw nothing. So, well, that was enough nothing for this time. Iowa is six times bigger than Switzerland with half the amount of inhabitants. Wyoming, where we drove through and camped a couple of nights is about the size of Switzerland with only 650k of inhabitants. And about the same amount of deer, sheep and other animals. We were lucky not to drive over them as they suddenly jumped into the street.

Iowa
After a couple of nights and adventures in the wild, our friend Katy and her family were waiting for us, providing a perfect home for a couple of days. Her dad started planning the menu for our visit when we asked them if we could stay there - two months before. When we arrived there was a cute welcome sign, and the whole family was waiting for us. They all welcomed us warmly and we could really relax and enjoy. It was such a wonderful feeling. Her mom and dad spent a lot of time with us. They listened to our stories and we had discussions with all of them about very interesting topics. They got far and work very hard. For good causes, every single one of them. We were very impressed by all of them. I really hope we will have another chance to meet at least part of our wonderful Des Moines family. I think we'll have to go back there. Even though there is a lot of nothing, we really fell in love with the place, because of the amazing people we met.


More pictures from our road trip between the Niagara Falls and Des Moines, IA

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