America is beautiful.
Some people don't realize this. They've only seen one side of her; the side that is given to fame and excess, gossip and shallow behavior. They know only of Britney Spears and the paparazzi, movie stars, the rich and famous, and Disneyland. America needs a new public relations person.
When people ask me why we go to America every year they often roll their eyes and act hurt, as if being Canadian I should stay in my own country. As if somehow, just by my very act of going, I'm betraying my roots.
I try to explain, because after all they don't really know her.
They haven't seen the early morning rays of the sun glinting over potato fields in Idaho at dawn, turning the sky into a fiery swirl of pinks and oranges.
Nor have they seen herds of pronghorn antelope grazing in the golden rolling hills of South Dakota.
A Texan trucker has never stopped them to say "Hello, welcome to our country" and shared with them stories of hunting wild hogs.
A US soldier hasn't warmly shaken their hand when thanked for their service not only to their country, but Canada as well.
They haven't experienced being out in the middle of the Utah canyons; completely alone and surrounded by stark, red rock, so amazingly beautiful it literally takes your breath away.
They haven't met time and time again, amazing ordinary people like us who are genuinely warm and friendly, as if we are some how connected even though we're from different countries.
Nor have they witnessed the awesome power of a thunderstorm in Arizona deserts.
They've never driven along lone country roads in the middle of nowhere, passing ramshackle houses where 2 elderly men sit on a front porch swing, sipping lemonade and waving to the cars passing by.
This, my friends, is America.
And she truly is beautiful.