Below are my personal impressions of a few of these states. Everyone's experience is different, so if you have been to any of these places and have your own thoughts about it, please comment below or through Facebook to further express the many outlooks we have collectively.
Cicadas buzz in deciduous forests surrounding trailers and cabins where hunters hang their stuffed prizes on their walls. Quaint homes with blossoming petunias decorate their porches which overlook the rolling green hills where cows roam and grasses whisper in the late summer breezes. Missouri is a hidden gem, but more like a piece of smoky Ozark quartz stuck in the mud, shrouded by the rain, surrounded by moss and insects that fly, crawl, and slither.
Sometimes the place is humming with the wild chorus of a jungle, and sometimes it’s quiet, like lazy summer fields and farms. Peaceful, inviting, its beauty can be found subtly sparkling for those who look for it, while others who just glance, only see the mud.
As we set up camp near yet another local high school football field, the local drunk reminisces about his bull-riding days, and glorifies his years working on oil rigs. He wears a blue plaid button-down shirt that may have once looked formal at best, but now is just as dusty and faded as everything else here. I thought because of his spitting that he was chewing tobacco, but then on closer inspection I realize that he’s just spitting, like he walked out of a Clint Eastwood movie.
He plants his hands in his jeans, and claims our motorcycle is just a modern version of his traveling cowboy days. And as we head off again under the cloud-speckled blue sky, our belongings strapped tight to our saddle bags, and the bike struggling to make headway against the incessant wind, I have to agree.
Texas: northwest corner near Dalhart
So I lay in the tent hoping to hold it down with my weight, but not sure that would work. I was silently praying for the storm to pass, wringing my hands over our phone, and impatiently waiting for the weather page with the doppler to load.
At last it did, and it turned out that we were in a narrow alley between two great arms of torrential fury. The storm passed, we survived the night, and I found that everything certainly is bigger in Texas.
The state has been trademarked and published, as if every road and street sign was carefully planned by a team of expert advertisers. Every little town has been marketed with slogans, logos, stickers, and t-shirts, as if each village is a destination in itself, its trophies are cleverly advertised in billboards and brochures.
And all this marketing must be working, because even in summer off-season, the shops of Telluride are bustling with the blond, rich, and wannabe rich (and wannabe blond) who have traded their down ski jackets for stretch yoga pants and tanning lotion. But these are the foreigners come for envying views and facebook photo-ops. The true people of Colorado are one-of-a-kind, down-to-earth, practical, rooted, and even with their high altitudes and legalized pot, I find their heads are not in the clouds. And though some may be a tad snobby about the glories of their state, maybe they have reason to be.
My relationship of Colorado has been shaped by years of venturing into its valleys and up its peaks, of meeting its unique people, some of whom have become wonderful friends of mine. Though I almost want to hate the state for their clean streets lined with four different types of recycling bins, their perfectly quaint fair-trade coffee shops, their heavenly ranches where grazing horses look just as wild and a part of the landscape as the mountains themselves.
But then we turn a corner and my breath catches in my throat, and I realize that if I lived here, I would be overly-proud, too. Maybe I have also been sucked into the great big commercial that Colorado is, because whatever it is they’re selling, I think I need one.