Underrated Visual Gems Across the United States

It’s been almost a year since Steve and I set out from Vancouver across the United States, and more than seven since our rusty, faithful-but-not-very reliable junker of a van landed, flat tire and all, in my parents’ driveway in Philadelphia, and our road trip is still something I think about every single day. As I’ve said before—and as everyone I’ve told about it has said—it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience and one of the most amazing opportunities of my life.

I’ve shared tons of photos on here, facebook, and instagram, and I’ve talked about plenty of the incredible things we saw, but I want to get specific about a few of my favourite locations for visual inspiration. However, let’s take a look at the ones that are a bit further off the beaten path—you don’t need me to tell you to go take photos at the Grand Canyon or the Golden Gate Bridge. Here are five locations where I had a ton of fun taking photos and that I would recommend for anyone looking to explore.

Cumberland Falls State Park

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I love waterfalls. Big small, wide, narrow–whether it’s the rushing cascades of Niagara or little more than a ripple in the stream, they’re one of my favourite features in nature. Cumberland Falls is not the largest or most awe-inspiring waterfall you’ll ever see, even if it does call itself the Niagara of the South, but there’s something charming about it. Tucked away in a state park in a rural area of the state—the most notable town nearby is Corbin, known for being the birthplace of KFC—it’s a peaceful, relaxing place to hike and enjoy nature.

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Cumberland Falls is also the home of an amazing natural phenomenon: the moonbow. Similar to when sunlight passes through water and create a rainbow, a moonbow occurs when moonlight passes through water and creates an arc of light. While a moonbow can happen anywhere, there are only two waterfalls in the world where the angle and location are just right for the moonbow’s occurrences to be tracked. One is Victoria Falls in location, and the other is Cumberland Falls. We were lucky enough to be there for a full moon, when the moonbow was most likely to be visible. Although the early summer’s long daylight hours meant that the moonbow was incredibly low and faint, it was still an amazing thing to experience.

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Home is where… something.

This is the kind of post I always debate about posting on this blog, figuring maybe it’s better suited for my private journaling. God, Mateer, I think, don’t bother with this feely shit: just tell ’em what you think of the new Juanes album. (Look, friends, I haven’t listened to it yet; maybe I’ll do the double on Colombian musician CD reviews when Shakira’s latest comes out tomorrow. Also I know most of you probably don’t care but I’m sorry, I’m never going to write another entry about the term “ovaries before brovaries,” no matter how many times people find my blog by googling it).

Anyway, I’ve just had a friend from Ithaca visiting for the weekend while she studies abroad in London, and now I’m in the process of finding someone to move in to the house when one of my housemates moves out to go teach English in China. Between those two things and the upcoming launch of the NUIG MA in Literature and Publishing’s literary journal ROPES (check out the Facebook page for the launch party and enjoy how seamlessly/shamelessly I just plugged it), I’ve been thinking a lot about home. Not home like Bucks County, Pennsylvania, or home like this house in the Claddagh, but home, generally.

For the first 18.5 years of my life, I lived in one house, one town, one state, one country. Over the next five years, up to now, I’ve lived in four more cities in three more countries than where I’d been before. With only two weeks of classes left in the MA, I’m starting to get that “What will you do after this?” question again. First of all, don’t ask; it freaks me out just as much now as it did before I knew I was going to Ithaca in my senior year of high school, and as much as it did before I knew I was coming to Galway in my senior year of college.

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