In honor of Independence Day yesterday, this week's Travel Tuesday brings you home to the USA! Our nation is home to a wide variety of cultures, natural wonders and so much more. From our urban landscapes to the beauty of our national parks, there is much to offer in our proverbial back yard. Global Road Warrior (found under Encyclopedias on the Online Research page) can help you get your edge on travel, even when it's within your own country.

Here are some USA trivia bits thanks to Global Road Warrior that you might not know:

  • "The rose has been the official floral emblem for the US since 1986. Though roses are rarely consumed in the US today, pesticide-free roses are edible. The petals can be candied with egg white and sugar or sprinkled plain over desserts. Rose hips have long been employed for jams and syrups. Pastry chefs use the leaves as molds to create exquisite chocolate decorations."
  • "The standard Thanksgiving meal in the United States is roast whole turkey, usually basted with butter and stuffed with a bread and herb stuffing. Stuffings vary by region and personal preference... A green vegetable is usually served, though it is more often an afterthought. Pumpkin pie is the standard finish to the Thanksgiving meal. Many Americans serve a similar dinner for Christmas, as well."
  • "Rail travel is a widely overlooked mode of transportation in much of the country. When Americans want to cover short distances, they use cars. If they need to travel across the country, they will usually fly. Nevertheless, trains remain a mainstay of travel along the northeast seaboard, connecting Washington D.C., Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Boston. The rest of the U.S. is like a different country from the densely populated northeast when it comes to train travel. Generally, trains run once daily over a small number of long-distance routes. Chicago is the central rail hub, with routes fanning out over the rest of the U.S."
  • "Tipping is absolutely expected in the United States. Service providers in the US are often paid below minimum wage and rely on tips as a significant source of their income. You may adjust the amount you tip based on the quality of service you receive, but it is highly recommended to always leave something, even if the service was poor. Tipping with either cash or a credit card is acceptable."
  • "The materialistic Americans love to give each other gifts on all kinds of occasions. While gifts can vary across this multicultural nation, there is no strict protocol about giving and little chance of committing a faux pas if one takes the recipient's personal tastes into consideration. The liberal-minded and unfussy Americans have few gift-giving taboos. The few that do exist tend to be religious or cultural, even when that culture has successfully integrated into mainstream society. Knowledge of the recipient's particular culture and beliefs are important when choosing an appropriate gift."

    Language learners might be surprised to know that the USA does not have an official language, though English is most often used in government. For those who do want to learn English, Mango Languages and Pronunciator both have English as a Second Language learning modules.