Britain's American colonies broke with the mother country in 1776 and were recognized as the new nation of the United States of America following the Treaty of Paris in 1783.
During the 19th and 20th centuries, 37 new states were added to the original 13 as the nation expanded across the North American continent and acquired a number of overseas possessions. The two most traumatic experiences in the nation's history were the Civil War (1861-65) and the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Buoyed by victories in World Wars I and II and the end of the Cold War in 1991, the US became the world's most powerful nation state.
In the Middle East, the USA moved from its relatively neutral initial position to siding with Israel during its invasion of Lebanon in 1982. The choice of supporting Israel's military supremacy in the region to the tune of 3 billion dollars a year and of systematically vetoing all UN resolutions against Israel's abuses, has made the USA the ennemy of the Palestinian people and of all their Arab and Muslim bretheren.
I once was in admiration of our great, freedom loving, democratic, southern neighbour. However, travelling around the world stimulated my curiosity about what shaped nations to be the way they have become today. Doing minimal research opened my eyes to history viewed by people who have been subjected to US influence and power. I discovered that the american ideals of freedom and democracy were for home consumption and not for export. I discovered that the US installed and supported the worst totalitarian regimes whenever it suited their purpose and turned against them when their usefulness was spent (I'll spare you a list of examples as I am confident you can think of as many as I can).
I have also lost my illusions about democracy in the US itself. Power in the US is definitely not "by the people, for the people". It is becoming more and more obvious that power in the US is "by the mercenaries of big business, for those corporations that have financed their elections".
This has been particularly obvious under the Bush administration that turns a blind eye on outsourcing because it is in the interest of big business and that seeks to curtail independent critical thinking in favour of confidence and blind faith in authority.
I am very sad about this for the sake of a few American friends that I love very much. During Dubwa's first mandate, I could excuse Americans for having been tricked into electing a Napoleon but now that they have done it again, there is no excuse and they collectively deserve the negative feelings that their behaviour on the world scene generates.
Americans like to say that people hate them, not for what they have
done, but for what they are. This is as ridiculous as saying the Palestinians
hate the Israeli for what they are and not for what they have done!
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In 1955, I hitchhiked back home to Ottawa from my summer job in Fort Saskatchewan in Alberta via Colorado and Pennsylvania but I took no pictures. The followng year I decided to hitchhike around the continent instead of working.This was taken in Washington.
I have now learned to travel with no more than 10 kilos in my backpack but I had everything you can immagine with me on that trip to Mexico (tent, sleeping bag and air mattress, a stove and pans and even a dress suit for formal occasions. It was quite ridiculous actually.
I took a week's rest and recuperation in Fort Lauterdale in December '76 but found that the weather was not warm enough for my taste and have not returned to Florida since.
In preparation to taking over Quebec's "Régie de l'Électricité et du Gaz" I spent three weeks learning all about public utility regulation in a course prepared for prospective regulators by a major consulting firm.
Here I am with other alumni one day we took a day off to visit New York.
I took a boat tour around Manhattan starting in the Hudson river...
... around its southern tip in front of the Statue of Liberty...
...and up the East river past Wall Street...
...past the United Nations buildings...
...all the way up to the Harlem River.
The next trip in the USA of which I have photos occured in February '92 when I visited my sister Suzanne who was then living in Los Angeles. We went together to see her friend Sandy who was valiantly struggling with terminal cancer in San Diego.
I rather liked San Diego, the weather was superb and it was less crowded than LA.
The only picture I have that is worth showing is of this tall training vessel, the Star of India. I did not bother to enquire about its home port.
After my visit, it was her turn to visit me in Montreal where I convinced her to move so as to be closer to me and our sisters Claire and Andrée.
My strongest argument was that I would handle everything. That meant getting rid of all the furniture and stuff she did not need from her Santa Monica appartment and bringing the few things she wanted to keep back to Montreal.
In August, I bought a van in LA, packed it chock full of Suzanne's things and took my time to drive it back to Montreal where I covered most of my costs by selling it later.
It was a fascinating adventure giving me the opportunity to meet a lot of average Americans in hotels, bars and restaurants along the way. The cold war being over, the conversations focused on the coming presidential elections everywhere.
I was surprised to observe that what people seemed to fear most were a serious illness that could bankrupt them or being sued maliciously that could have the same effect. To most of the people I met, doctors and lawers were bogeymen to be avoided at all costs.
I stopped in Las Vegas on the way to visit my ballerina cousin Corine that I had not seen for 35 years. Of course she did not dance anymore but she had enjoyed a successful carreer in Montreal and New York before retiring to an easy life in Las Vegas where her husband Dale made a good living as a professional gambler.
I used to think that professional gamblers were shady characters that existed only in grade B films but Dale explained that a good poker expert did not need marked cards to win consistently over players less adept at hiding their emotions.
Amazing all the strange people one can meet!
The old town of Albuquerque goes back to 1700. I wish I had taken more photos. There were so many interesting things along my route that I could show you if I had! (Grand canyon, Sunset crater etc.)
Here is another view of the touristy old part of Albuquerque.
A horse drawn carriage is always a good attraction in old cities and Albuquerque. is no exception.
Here is my van at the entrance of the Garden of the Gods Park near Colorado Springs
After Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs shown here, I turned east all the way to Albany where I headed north to Montreal.
That's it. St Louis' great Arch is the last picture I can show you of that two week voyage from Los Angeles to Montreal. I am sure I had more but I can't find them.
I have returned to the States several times since but it was generally in transit towards elsewhere and I took no photos.