So – one week after leaving Washington, eight weeks after I began, and 46 posts later, I’ve reached the end of my ‘travelogue’ – I’ve finally run out of things to say about my time in America (or at least, I’ve run out of blog-able things to say). It’s been a long trip, and my six weeks in Philadelphia seems to have floated away in acres of time. It has been a varied trip, as my erratic and fragmentary blog posts have illustrated! But then, that reflects my own broad interests, and I hope you can forgive me for jumping from town planning to a photo gallery to an article on the Civil War to something on the philosophy of travel. All I can say is that hopefully there has been something here for everyone (even if it was only the photos!).
This isn’t a trip I’ll forget in hurry. Not only because I had such an amazing time, but because my five-week research project on the history of tourism is merely the beginning of a very long process. Indeed, the hardest part is yet to come: I have another seven months of further research, analysis, meetings, write-up and deadlines. I currently think of Philadelphia with a certain amount of nostalgia: a city flooded with sunlight and history, full of fountains and friendly faces. How long before I start to think of the city as an intellectual millstone around my neck? Let’s hope my current enthusiasm for my dissertation topic can be maintained!
This blog post – my final one on America– must now act as conclusion, epilogue, and contents page. It is hard to categorise such varied blog posts on such a wide-ranging trip, but wordpress insists that I make an attempt. So for those of you who have joined late, a quick guide to the categories:
- ‘American Culture’ looks at various issues associated with tea drinking, accents, and food; some of the attractions I visited; and some observations on history.
- ‘American history’ looks more specifically at sites I visited and what they say about American attitudes to history (a topic I found particularly engaging). There are also articles on the history of Philadelphia and its buildings, and cultural snippets I found in the archives.
- ‘Dissertation research’ looks at what I did, what I found out, and how I went about finding out what I found out.
- The oddly named ‘Diary’ refers to days out and social events, including trips to the seaside and the cinema.
- ‘The Tourist’ looks at some of the tourist attractions I visited, with observations on anything from Charles Dickens and penal reform, to a civil war battlefield, to observations in an art museum.
- ‘Cultures of Travel’ is a more abstract section looking at ideas and philosophies of tourism.
- There are then categories for the different stages of my trip (Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and Washington DC) and another called (optimistically) ‘vaguely humorous’
As for the blog… well, I certainly didn’t envisage it turning out like this eight weeks ago. It has been far more wide-ranging, experimental, addictive and (therefore) prolific than I thought; I’ve certainly enjoyed rediscovering a buried love of writing, and hope it’s been similarly engaging to read. I hope you will forgive the misuse of language, excessive verbiage, and frequent patronisation/generalisation/stereotyping of America…
I don’t think there is any grand, sweeping conclusion – as I’m sure you’ve noticed, this blog hasn’t been particularly coherent with a beginning and end, but more of a stream of ideas. I could dress this up by saying that life isn’t composed of tidy compartments and conclusions… and perhaps I’ve just found the final observation on America. You certainly can’t pigeonhole America or Americans. Blow apart that national stereotype and those thoughts on the political climate, as America is a multi-faceted, diverse and astonishing country, and fascinating to visit.
This blog was created as a travel narrative, and I’ve reached the end of my arc. So what now? Well, I’ve enjoyed writing far too much to give it up. There will be a void in my life that would probably be filled by exercise or something, and we don’t want that. I will probably continue in some sort of format, but what? Well, time will tell. Stay tuned.