The Heart of America - Your three- part guide to the most exciting destinations in the US
Simon Calder’s career in travel started at Gatwick Airport, where he cleaned aircraft for Laker Airways and later worked as a security officer. He became The Independent’s Travel Correspondent in 1994, and is known as “the Man Who Pays His Way” because he does not accept free travel facilities. He writes across the Independent titles, as well as for the Evening Standard.
Saturday 05 February 2005
The East and West coasts act as a kind of insulation, allowing the heartland of the US to develop in a quintessentially American manner (and, it must be said, to vote for an arch-conservative president). Happily, these are porous boundaries, which is why on the lands stretching out for hundreds of miles on each bank of the Mississippi you will find people who still count themselves as African, Scandinavian, Italian, Polish and Indian - often, in the case of the Midwest's amazingly cosmopolitan cities, in the same street.
Scenically, much of middle America is as flat as a pizza or a naan. You can see just how flat from the top of one of Chicago's skyscrapers, or - upside down at ridiculously high velocity - on the world's finest rollercoaster in Ohio. Climatically, too, much of the heartland seems unfit for human habitation; the Midwest, in particular, is implausibly cold in winter and absurdly hot and humid in summer - when you can also expect excitement in the shape of tornadoes straight out of The Wizard of Oz.
This is the America that gave the world symbols of global uniformity: McDonald's (as first franchised in Des Plaines, Illnois, 1955) and the Holiday Inn (opened Memphis, Tennessee, 1952). So why do I keep going back? Because the heart of the US is also where the skyscraper was invented and where Frank Lloyd Wright flourished; because in South Dakota, where a mountain (Rushmore) became the symbol of a new nation, Native Americans are at last reclaiming their heritage; and because, like most people, I travel to meet people. And the folks from Mississippi to Michigan are even better characters than you find on TV.
Simon Calder, Travel Editor, The Independent
Life & Style blogs
Astrological signs are almost all wrong, as movement of moon and sun throws out zodiac
PTSD photo series documents what the disorder is really like – as study reveals suicides of 22 US veterans every day
The distress of some Zayn Malik fans is real, and they need support, say experts
Chair-bound workers 'should move around every hour to reduce physical and mental health risks'
The truth about student sex workers: it's far from Belle Du Jour
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Revealed: Putin's army of pro-Kremlin bloggers
Germanwings plane crash: Co-pilot Andreas Lubitz wanted to 'do something people would remember him for'
Andreas Lubitz: Knee-jerk reaction to 9/11 enabled mass murder
- 1 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 2 Watch: Man takes selfie every mile of 2,600 mile hike, creates amazing timelapse video
- 3 The day I starred in Only Fools and Horses
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Scientists have discovered a simple way to cook rice that dramatically cuts the calories
£6 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity to join a gro...
Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A Service Delivery Manager is required to join...
£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...
£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...