The USA provides many surprises to the visitor. Before arriving for the first time, I thought that through the many Hollywood movies I have seen, I had a clear idea of how the cities look. In addition to that, articles read elsewhere, convinced me that in these times of global warming, I would find a huge wasteland among the scattered and polluting cities. Traveling in a big circle encompassing New Mexico, California and Colorado, I found a different reality. Nature thrives here - at least for now.
I saw many natural forests, wild mammals of different sizes and many signs warning of wild animals. I had a strange feeling of being in a northern version of an African safari.
Yet, the image of the place is different, and foreigners attribute an undefined sense of ugliness to the country. After almost completing the big circle of my trip, the reason for the cognitive dissonance became clear, at least in my eyes. When I wake up in Europe or in Asia, one look out of the window is enough to recognize the city I'm visiting. Amsterdam is Amsterdam, Rome is Rome and Vientiane is unforgettable. However, in the USA, vaguely, Berkeley is Albuquerque and Oakland is Phoenix. The places differ only in the way they mark their streets; in my tour, Sacramento won the insipidity contest with plain numbers and letters to name its perfect grid.
A downtown area with skyscrapers and no people living in it and many suburbs with nothing but houses describe many of the cities I've seen here. At the mornings, you need o drive a long distance to buy a piece of bread for breakfast.
Arvada, a western suburb of Denver, is not different. Beautiful houses amidst spacious gardens, wide streets, a spacious library with huge windows allowing bright light in, and not even one grocery store.
Is that all? Not exactly. Visiting large cities in the USA, usually means staying at one of its suburbs, far from the commodities cities have to offer; the art is to choose those with something special. Gorgeous mountains provide a wonderful background to two lakes within huge parks. The first is called the West Lake Park and is within the town limits; next to it is the Standley Lake Library and further toward the mountains is the Standley Lake Regional Park, which strictly speaking, is part of the City of Westminster, yet another suburb. Both offer wonderful opportunities for a stroll and maybe an afternoon picnic.