At the beginning of the summer, I embarked on my journey back to Ireland after being given a taste of expat life for three years in the United States of America.
Moving at the age of fourteen to the land of green chile, hot air balloons, and Breaking Bad, I experienced a major culture shock as I started my first year of high school in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Despite being in school and the 3.80 million square miles of terrain open to exploration, I still managed to see a lot of the states. I could probably write a short novel on my travels, but fortunately for readers, I’ve decided to hone in on one extremely memorable experience: my road trip of relocating from Albuquerque to Portland, Oregon.
A 21 hour drive excluding traffic and sight seeing in a car with my other four family members, the pet fish, and the majority of our belongings does not paint a pretty picture. Having fallen in love with the New Mexican lifestyle, its stunning landscapes, and endless blue skies—I left with a heavy heart. Fortunately, the attractions of the famous West Coast and what came in between it were a welcome distraction.
We began our journey on Route 66 and eventually found ourselves in the seemingly unremarkable city of Flagstaff, Arizona. The Grand Canyon stop the following day made up for its mediocrity.
Pictures do not do this landmark any justice. Described to me as “a massive hole in the ground” by an apathetic friend, I was slightly apprehensive in my expectations. However, its vastness and vivid colours were nothing less than spectacular.
From Arizona, we traveled on to sin city. For someone under 21, Las Vegas, Nevada does not have a lot to offer in the entertainment sector but in dining options it is not lacking—the breakfast buffet at The Bellagio was comparable to that of a Hogwarts feast.
Before reaching the final destination, a brief stay in two of California’s most famous cities Los Angeles, and San Francisco followed. A devout Gleek at the time, I was only delighted to see real life Sue Sylvester, Jane Lynch exiting a vegan cafe in downtown L.A and equally impressed with the movie-like, foggy drive over San Francisco’s Golden Gate Bridge.
Nearing the end of the trip, we passed through the Shasta mountains, and Eugene before making it to our new home in Portland. A city of hipsters, coffeeholics, and all things strange, the city’s laid-back and positive vibe aided in it quickly becoming a second home. But I will admit I would trade the New Mexican weather for its cloudy skies or that of Ireland’s any day.
While any stay in America wouldn’t be long enough to see it all, my many road trips and daily life in the two states I lived in gave me enough insight to realize I loved life in America and whether or not I return, I will remember my experience for years to come.