I know that one shouldn’t perpetuate stereotypes about a place (believe me, I’ve had a lot to say about that), and generally I don’t like to focus on difference, but there are some things that are just SO quintessentially AMERICAN and you just don’t fully get it until you go there. On our recent trip to California and Nevada, there were several moments where I just sat there thinking, only in America…

Item: Leaving Reno, we saw the following glorious sight (one of my friends is convinced it is Britney Spears in disguise):

Item: Sitting on the beach at Santa Cruz, watching giant pelicans soaring everywhere and listening to the waves crashing, barely discernible above the shrieks, pings, and flashing lights of the giant amusement park RIGHT ON THE BEACH BOARDWALK.

Item: Walking around a replica of a 12th century Italian castle built in the Napa Valley by someone with too much money and too much time.

Item: Hungrily consuming cheese enchiladas, broccoli, spring rolls and other odd assortments at Toucan Charlie’s All You Can Eat Buffet at Atlantis Casino Resort (in itself something that felt very stereotypically American) and seeing a guy, without irony, wearing a shirt that said God Guns Country.

God Bless America.