The America Road Trip: Small-town Vs. Big-City America

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From San Francisco to NYC: the end of an epic adventure

We’re on the home straight!

Leaving the beautiful Chicago behind us, we headed east for one night to the beautiful, small town of Tecumseh, Michigan.

This place holds some great memories for me. I visited Tecumseh to stay with some close family friends for four weeks in the summer holiday of 2002…

There’s something about small town USA that I love. The north is so picturesque, in comparison to small town desert in the south, there’s a lot more to see, there’s a great soul to the place. I love it.

We had the privilege of a day off in Tecumseh so I caught up with my close friends. We had a blast, enjoyed a day of resting and of course the token ‘jam’ that all musicians must adhere to when socialising.

We spent a Saturday in Tecumseh and were treated to a show by the wonder that is Mr Jeremy Blaska, in a great local eatery in the middle of town. The town centre is classic, beautiful, small and reminds me of cowboy films, I don’t really know why. So walking into a restaurant to the amazing guitar skills of Jeremy was just incredible. Brilliant night had by all.

The next morning we faced an epic 12-hour drive to New York City!

The drive is long, not hugely scenic and I would be kicking myself if I didn’t show this picture below, we had tried about 150 times to get this shot:



Worth the wait in the end

Basically every HGV truck in the USA has these giant mirrors at the front that show a great shot of the vehicle you’re driving as you pass by the truck but capturing the image is another matter! This was the one shot we got in focus, out of the whole trip across the USA. I’m pretty sure trying to capture this made up almost all of the 12 hour journey to New York!

Now, of course, you don’t need me to tell you New York City is amazing, but it is surprisingly cool. The first sights you see of the infamous skyline just sets the heart racing, we were so stoked to be there.

We stayed just out of Manhattan in Queens. Bad idea. I would pretty much suggest don’t stay in any hotel outside of Manhattan. So avoid Queens, Brooklyn and The Bronx. Simples.

If you drive in to NYC then it will surprise you how quickly it can be done, it took around 15 minutes to get into Manhattan island and then into the central area. First things first, you hit the Empire State Building, we were taking a few snaps when this Aussie asked Brad to “work the camera” on him too…

I’d suggest one of the reasons Manhattan is pretty safe is due to such a high quantity of tourists; they’re everywhere.


Ground Zero

Ground Zero

We only had two days in NYC, so we had to make the most of the tourist trail. Having picked up a subway card we headed south from Central Park down to Ground Zero. This place is amazing. There’s a very moving atmosphere here from the tragedy that unfolded, but it’s beautiful also – a really great tribute to the innocent lives that ended so abruptly on that awful day in 2001.

The museum is definitely worth a look too, and of course, all of the area and the tours are free, but you do need to get a ticket for admission.

We really enjoyed looking around the southern part of Manhattan island and we headed over to the business district to get a view of the Statue of Liberty before working our way north again on 5th Avenue.

Times Square is epic. Brad bought some goodies from American Eagle Outfitters, so we took pride in getting our picture up on a huge screen in Times Square to celebrate the end of a long journey!


On screen in NYC

On screen in NYC


There’s a great atmosphere in Times Square, very European surprisingly, with everyone outside relaxing. It’s permanently light due to the screens too – which is bizarre late at night…

So New York brought the end to our wonderful journey across the USA – a great city to sign things off in.

Shortly I’ll be running a post based around what I learnt about the USA as a Brit visiting for a month, the things I didn’t get told in the tourist guides to look out for if you’re planning a road trip.

But for the time being – I’ll leave you with this video of some random Puerto Rican dude who hi-jacked one of my video diaries in Times Square:

Over and out for the last time.


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About Neil Johnston

Neil is the MD and brainchild of Store Van Music; a music-based company which is passionate about the next generation of musicians and heavily involved in music education. Along with his team, Neil is currently touring across the US armed with a stock of iPads in a bid to teach pupils how to write and perform their own music. Follow his journey here:

2 Responses to “The America Road Trip: Small-town Vs. Big-City America”

  1. Gemma Howe says:

    Sounds like a pretty epic (if a little tiring) adventure Neil, glad it all went well.

  2. Gerd says:

    Great video – the best is often the most unpredictable :)

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