Dave describe the Europeans’ cluelessness about how big America is. (Really big, when you combine the U.S. and Canada, who — someday — will just have to merge in a de jure recognition of the de facto unity between our two peoples.)
And I have to agree. Playing with that map, I find that:
Cincinnati to Saginaw is the same distance as London to Edinburgh.
Cincinnati to Indianapolis is roughly the same as London to Cardiff.
(And both UK trips are — it should be noted — international, with very different languages and cultures at either end.)
Cincinnati to St. Louis is roughly equivalent to a trip from London to Land’s End — essentially the full width of the country.
And, for our Western compatriots, who routinely travel much longer distances on their daily commutes, the distance from Sandpoint, Idaho, to Lewiston-Clarkston (in the Washington-Oregon-Idaho tristate.) is about the same as from Hamburg to Frankfurt. Take it to Boise and you’ve made it to Munich. Salt Lake to Denver is roughly the distance between Munich and Paris. The area that WWI was fought in, in northern France and Belgium, might almost fit within DC’s famous Beltway.
But my point is that this same failure of the imagination is to be found in a vast number of Americans.
Even though it takes five hours and forty-five minutes to flyover Flyover Country, for some reason, your average bicoastalist thinks that, somewhere in the wildest of eastern Pennsylvania, they flip a switch and miles are worth a tenth or a hundredth of what they are in the megalopolis.
Only thinks it’s a really big city. Mostly it’s just an overcrowded hive.
I maintain that you could induce a sort of a catatonia in your typical fashionable Upper East Side liberal by plunking him or her down in the front passenger seat of an SUV trekking across Montana on a bright spring day. The sky alone would oppress.
And yet, these consider themselves fit to rule.