We’ve met quite a few people here in Ireland who take trips to New York City for shopping weekends because things are so much cheaper in America, particularly with the weak dollar.  Actually, that should probably read took rather than take because with the economy crashing here, I suspect fewer people are travelling across the Atlantic to shop.

Because so many of the Irish think (thought) nothing of flying to New York, they are often shocked to hear that Amy and I have never been there.  How can two Americans not visit New York City?  The thing is, most people over here just don’t realize just how big the United States is.  It’s 2449 miles (3941 km) from Portland, Oregon, to New York City.  Get on a plane in Dublin, fly that distance east, and you’ll arrive in Ekaterinburg, in Siberia, Russia.

Flying from Portland to Houston, Texas, is 1834 miles, almost exactly the same distance between Dublin and Istanbul (1833 miles).  Oregon is more than three times larger, Texas is over eight and a half times larger, and the United States about 120 times larger than the Republic of Ireland.  To give people here a sense of the scale of America, I sometimes tell them a person can start the morning in Houston, Texas, drive all day west on highways and freeways, and around 12 hours later (with a couple of breaks) still be in Texas.  Texas is just plain big.  Amy’s dad (a native Texan) used to ask people where they were from.  They’d say something like “Maine,” and he’d cock his head and ask in a strong Texas accent, “What part of Texas is that in?”

I may need to point out for our Irish readers that Maine is a state, and a beautiful one, I hear.  I’ve never actually been there, though, since it’s about 3000 miles from Corvallis, Oregon, where we lived before moving to Ireland.