What’s the Biggest Misconception about Your State?

 

Though no one seemed to notice, I didn’t blog once last week. My cruel taskmasters at Ricochet Global Headquarters allowed me out of my padlocked cubicle for a brief vacation. (Troy Senik made me wear an ankle bracelet; the last staffer granted time off vanished for a few months before reappearing at The Federalist.) After taking my family to a cabin in the cool pines, I posted the following image for my adoring fans on Twitter:

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People tried to guess where I was. Colorado? Montana? Some off-the-grid shanty so I could confuse the homing device? No, we were a few miles outside of Flagstaff, Arizona. Highs in the 70s, lows in the 40s, and enough cool streams and mountain trails to make us forget about our hellish summer in Phoenix.

People were incredulous, especially many on the east coast. “I thought Arizona was all desert!” “Where’s the sand and cactus?” “Are you sure you aren’t in Colorado?”

Arizona has a lot of desert, but also offers alpine cabins, ski resorts, and the largest stand of ponderosa pine on the continent. Adjacent to Flagstaff is a mountain that tops 12,500 feet in elevation, so there’s plenty of chilly weather to be found in this very southwestern state.

Every region has a stereotype and most are easily debunked with a visit. Every Texan doesn’t have an oil well in their backyard, plenty of Iowans have never lived on a farm, and Oregon isn’t all rugged coastline. So I open it up to the Ricochetti scattered hither and yon: What is the biggest misconception about your state (or city or country) and why is it a bunch of baloney?

P.S. Private message me if you have any tips on losing an ankle bracelet.

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  1. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    I live in Washington State.  The biggest misconception is that liberals are content to stick to their strongholds (the coast – Seattle) and leave the rest of the state alone.  Quite the contrary, they continually devise legislation that is as intolerant toward those with opposing viewpoints as is anyone who they have ever accused of intolerance.  The liberal mindset is “conform or be destroyed.”  We are lulled into a false sense of security when people who have proven themselves to believe anything but the following, say “live and let live.”

    • #1
  2. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Of course, I know you were talking about Geography.  My home state of Montana is the most beautiful state in the Union.  The biggest misconception, generally held by East Coasters, is that our mountains are like anything they have ever seen before.  They haven’t.  They’ve also never seen “country.”  The “big sky” really is bigger than they can imagine.

    • #2
  3. Kate Braestrup Member
    Kate Braestrup
    @GrannyDude

    Ryan M:Of course, I know you were talking about Geography. My home state of Montana is the most beautiful state in the Union. The biggest misconception, generally held by East Coasters, is that our mountains are like anything they have ever seen before. They haven’t. They’ve also never seen “country.” The “big sky” really is bigger than they can imagine.

    I felt that way about Colorado, too. Flabbergasted. Can’t wait to get to Montana.

    Maine…hmmmmnnnn…. well, until recently, there was a lovely, widespread belief that Mainers had unusually intelligent, reasonable, sensible politicians…

    • #3
  4. Aaron Miller Member
    Aaron Miller
    @AaronMiller

    Texas as a whole is conservative. Texas cities are not. The difference between Houston and its northern suburbs is the difference between Sheila Jackson Lee and Ted Cruz.

    • #4
  5. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    Virginia isn’t for lovers.  Trust me.

    • #5
  6. Jimmy Carter Member
    Jimmy Carter
    @JimmyCarter

    oklahoma ain’t even “ok.”

    • #6
  7. Casey Member
    Casey
    @Casey

    This has changed quite a bit recently but Pittsburgh is no longer a smokey steel town. Even if they insist on showing the Bessemer process during commercial breaks on Monday night football.

    Also, the city is becoming as much a hockey town as football town.

    And the Pirates. Don’t get me started on the Pirates.

    • #7
  8. Dan Mathewson Member
    Dan Mathewson
    @DanMathewson

    Everything you hear about California is true.

    • #8
  9. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    Maybe it’s that everyone’s a hipster here in California, which is not true. Away from the coastal areas the state is fairly conservative, and even on an LA. public television station the most successful program for years was done by the late Huell Howser, an Arkansan with a golly gee sense of awe about the state and its people.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4uAYcHUP2iE

    • #9
  10. The King Prawn Member
    The King Prawn
    @TheKingPrawn

    Second Washingtonian (though non-native) here, and I’d say the biggest misconception is how much it rains. It is believed that copious amounts of liquid fall from the sky into the Emerald City, but that’s not wholly accurate. Seattle gets less than 40 inches of rain per year on average which is far less than Houston (48), Miami (58), or even Boston at 44 inches per year. What the state does have, however, is few clear days and plenty of days of measurable rain. It rains all the time, but, being a very liberal state, it doesn’t do it very well. It can rain all [expletive] day and never fill the rain gauge to 1/4 inch. In fact, in the 23 years I’ve lived here, I’ve put my windshield wipers above intermittent only a few times, and the number of times I’ve had them on high can be counted on one hand. So, yes, it rains a lot in Seattle, but only regarding duration rather than quantity. When you watch TV shows based in Seattle and see driving rain and people running around with umbrellas know that it is a farce. No one who lives here even owns one because they are quite ineffective against a hard drizzle.

    • #10
  11. Mike Rapkoch Moderator
    Mike Rapkoch
    @MikeRapkoch

    Not every Montanan looks like this guy:

    (though I kinda wish I did):

    • #11
  12. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    That Toronto is a nice place.

    • #12
  13. David Sussman Podcaster
    David Sussman
    @DaveSussman

    Californians reluctantly miss yoga to take Chairman Meow to the feline psychiatrist.

    That’s preposterous.

    They reschedule.

    • #13
  14. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    Mike Rapkoch:Not every Montanan looks like this guy:

    (though I kinda wish I did):

    The cat or the Lucky Luc wannabe?

    • #14
  15. MLH Member
    MLH
    @MLH

    Jon,

    You aren’t supposed to tell anyone about our mountains and pine trees. People will move here.

    I do get a kick out of folks who move to Prescott and call it the desert.

    For those who are wondering: it’s a transition zone at about 5000 ft. It’s not nearly as nice as Flagstaff.

    • #15
  16. DrewInWisconsin Coolidge
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    I suppose the biggest misconception about Wisconsin is that it’s all dairy farms and cheese factories and breweries.

    Or that Madison and Milwaukee are somehow representative of the state as a whole.

    But once you get north of Wisconsin Dells, . . . or better yet, north of Highway 8, it’s deep forests, cool lakes, and rolling blue hills, all the way to Lake Superior.

    There’s a “resort culture” in Northern Wisconsin that began disappearing when everyone who used to spend summers at resorts decided instead to build their own cabins. (Some of which are three times the size of my house.) It’s almost gone now. Where once there were twenty resorts around a lake, there are now five. Where once a lake was ringed only by forest and you had to drag your boat down old logging roads to go fishing there, now that lake has 12 mansions with water access.

    . . .

    • #16
  17. DrewInWisconsin Coolidge
    DrewInWisconsin
    @DrewInWisconsin

    But I still remember it. I remember watching the station wagons packed to the gills rolling into our little resort town. They’d stop by our grocery store and load up for the week. Then it was out to a little cabin along a lake. Communal campfires, rowboats bumping against a rickety dock. I can hear the squeak of the oars and the anchors plooping into the water when a good fishing spot was found.

    Kids gather around the fire, roast marshmallows, dodge between shadowed trees. Whippoorwills call.

    In the evening, the wide expanse of a deep, dark lake gives you a clear view of a star-filled sky. On a lucky night, the aurora blooms in the north.

    This is Wisconsin to me. This is where I grew up. This is why I don’t leave.

    • #17
  18. dnewlander Coolidge
    dnewlander
    @dnewlander

    Casey, surely you are referring to the “Buccos” (which only coincidentally is spelled “P-I-R-A-T-E-S”)?

    But iI agree, the Burgh gets a bad rap. I went to college there when Bonds and Bonilla almost got to the Series and Lemieux and Jagr were hoisting the Cup. (We will not discuss Bobby Bristol.) iI always spread the word about Pittsburgh, America’s most underrated city.

    Another city that gets a bad rap is Milwaukee. Summers there are great.

    On topic, the next person who assumes Albuquerque is as hot as Phoenix without actually having been here isn’t getting any Los Cuates salsa from me. We’re at 5000 feet. I live 1/4 mile from the 18th longest river in the world. We get snow every winter.

    • #18
  19. Misthiocracy Member
    Misthiocracy
    @Misthiocracy

    DrewInWisconsin:I suppose the biggest misconception about Wisconsin is that it’s all dairy farms and cheese factories and breweries.

    When I drove through Wisconsin I was taken aback by the copious number of tourist traps.

    • #19
  20. John Paul Member
    John Paul
    @JohnPaul

    Third Washingtonian ( lived in the Pacific NW for 20 years now). I live on the westside of the cascade mountains where it rains a lot but not constantly (misconception one). Second, Washington has a lot of high desert, and most of the state east of the cascades is relatively arid. Third, sasquatches are only slightly more rare than conservatives west of the cascades, but both do exist in small enclaves. Sightings of both are rare, but exciting when it occurs.
    Ryan is correct when he says the progressive drumbeat here in WA State is thunderous. Progressive politics is the primary religion here.

    • #20
  21. Mike LaRoche Member
    Mike LaRoche
    @MikeLaRoche

    Texas is not mostly desert, as anyone who has lived in either the San Antonio or Houston areas can attest. And I’ve lived in both.

    • #21
  22. Doug Kimball Thatcher
    Doug Kimball
    @DougKimball

    Here’s one, again Arizona, that we are gun lovin’ nutcases.  True, we like our guns and we distrust transplants, but we only shoot the ones from California.  Ok, and maybe the ones from back east, and those from the big Midwestern cities.  But we only try to kill the Californians; the others, we go for extremity shots.   We get a lot of practice and rarely miss.

    It’s easy to pick out the Californians.  They drive hybrids and give you the evil eye when you put your empty beer cans in the trash.

    Gotta go.  I think I see one coming down the street.

    Honey, where’s that new case of 320 grain?  Oh, and get me another beer.

    • #22
  23. Ryan M Member
    Ryan M
    @RyanM

    Mike Rapkoch:Not every Montanan looks like this guy:

    (though I kinda wish I did):

    Although… My wife has family in Conrad that very much looks like that.

    • #23
  24. Paul Dougherty Member
    Paul Dougherty
    @PaulDougherty

    Ryan M: My home state of Montana is the most beautiful state in the Union.

    You can’t fool me, I’ve been to Havre.

    • #24
  25. tabula rasa Member
    tabula rasa
    @tabularasa

    Native Utahn here (no, it’s not spelled “Utahan”: write it that way and you’ll be escorted to the border).  As always, when a post asks for one thing, I give them two.

    First misconception:  That Utah is about 95% Mormon.  Yes, Utah is majority Mormon (58%), but Catholics are 10%, evangelicals 7%, and mainline Protestants 6% of Utah’s population (unaffiliated comes in at 16%).  So, if you’re a not a Mormon, you can actually live in Utah and not be swamped by the Mormons, though you may feel a bit surrounded.  I have a lot of non-Mormon friends who semi-reluctantly took jobs here and now won’t leave. (And you can get a mixed drink here).

    Second misconception:  That Utah is a rural state.  It’s true that there are lots of rural areas in Utah (some spectacularly beautiful).  But, in terms of where people live, Utah is one of the most urbanized in the nation (nearly 90 percent live in urban areas).  The vast majority of Utahns live in a strip about 100 miles long and five to twenty miles wide, with Ogden on the north and Provo on the south:  though the urbanized strip is getting a bit longer each year.  The St. George area in the far southwest corner is a new, and growing, urban area. The rural parts of Utah are large, but they’re very, very empty.  I grew up in one of them (Wayne County:  population 2,700).

    • #25
  26. radicalbiochemist Member
    radicalbiochemist
    @radicalbiochemist

    Ryan M: s that our mountains are like anything they have ever seen before.  They haven’t.  They’ve also never seen “country.”  The “big sky” really is bigger than they can imagine.

    I know exactly what you mean.  I grew up in Colorado and lived for a few years in Utah, too.  Made a road trip to Montana, and I couldn’t put my finger on exactly what it was about it, but there was a grandness to the landscape that took my breath away.

    • #26
  27. Percival Thatcher
    Percival
    @Percival

    Misthiocracy:

    Mike Rapkoch:Not every Montanan looks like this guy:

    (though I kinda wish I did):

    The cat or the Lucky Luc wannabe?

    That there is Hipshot Percussion, Misth.

    One of my favorite comic strips growing up. Not many words.

    • #27
  28. RushBabe49 Thatcher
    RushBabe49
    @RushBabe49

    Fourth Washingtonian, born, bred, lived here 64 of my 66 years, and agree with everyone else.  I believe it is a misconception that Seattle residents are nice.  They are emphatically not, and every once in a while the local newspaper will run an article on how, for newcomers, Seattleites are very standoffish.  I try my best to stay out of Seattle if I can.

    I do have a comment on Montana.  In the summer of 1971, driving alone from Seattle to Minneapolis for grad school, my mother’s car broke down, in Eastern Montana, not far from the little town of Stanford.  Lucky me, Stanford had a Chevy dealer, and with 6 days to get parts, was able to make repairs.  I decided that Judith Basin County was some of the prettiest country I had ever seen, and I might have missed it but for that.  I made a point to pay attention to my surroundings, and I still think that.  Ryan, it somewhat resembles the shrub steppe landscape around Yakima.

    • #28
  29. radicalbiochemist Member
    radicalbiochemist
    @radicalbiochemist

    Jon Gabriel, Ed.: People were incredulous, especially many on the east coast. “I thought Arizona was all desert!” “Where’s the sand and cactus?” “Are you sure you aren’t in Colorado?”

    Grew up in Colorado Springs, and the area around Flagstaff reminds me so much of the foothills near the Air Force Academy.

    • #29
  30. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    I think the biggest misconception about Texas is that it isn’t as great as Texans think it is.

    Seawriter

    • #30

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