Monday, 18 June 2012 8:39 AM
If you want to spend your gap year in the USA, it is likely that you are in love with Americana. With this in mind, it's worth taking a tour of the country that embraces the weird, wacky, big and brash side of the US and really get under its skin.
Here's our guide to some of the places you must stop at during your time travelling around the States.
In the summer of 1947, an incident happened that changed the future of the city of Roswell forever. William 'Mac' Brazel was working on a homestead around 30 miles north of Roswell when he stumbled across clumps of debris. He soon returned to the area to gather up the mysterious material and reported his findings after hearing on the news that "flying discs" had been spotted nearby. This term later evolved into flying saucers.
There is an army air force base near Roswell, which is what lent the incident its name - despite the debris actually being closer to the town of Corona. Major Jessie Marcel was sent out to investigate further and it was officially claimed it was the wreckage of a high-altitude weather balloon.
That should have been that, and the story was soon forgotten - until 30 years later when Major Marcel, the only person named as having moved some of the material to Fort Worth, was interviewed by scientist Stanton Friedman and claimed the debris he had recovered was extraterrestrial in nature. Thus, a legend was born.
According to Major Marcel, the metal that was found could not be bent or dented, despite being the thickness of a piece of foil. In addition, he said the beams he saw appeared to have been covered in hieroglyphics. Sceptics say the material is consistent with a high-tech balloon, which may have been tested secretly with the view of using the vehicles for spying, hence the military's reluctance to comment on it. There have even been suggestions the strange hieroglyphics were left over from patterned sticky tape used at the last moment to patch up the balloon! However, many continue to believe what Mac Brazel and Major Marcel found was a spacecraft.
You can quench your curiosity by visiting the Roswell UFO Museum, where there are exhibits dedicated to getting to the bottom of the mystery.
The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame
As a musician, being entered into the Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame means you have really made it. This Cleveland museum is dedicated to archiving the history of the most successful and influential artists of all time.
The accolade of being entered really cannot be underestimated. Many of the world's biggest selling acts have yet to receive the honour, while others - like Guns N' Roses, The Red Hot Chili Peppers and the Beastie Boys - have only been inducted this year.
Founded in 1983, some of the first artists to be honoured included Buddy Holly, Sam Cooke, Ray Charles, Robert Johnson and Elvis Presley in 1986. Since then, new members have included ABBA in 2010, Madonna in 2008, Queen in 2001 and The Beatles in 1988.
At the museum, you can receive an in-depth education on all things rock and roll by exploring the seven storeys of displays. If you have been before, it's worth coming back as the exhibitions are always changing.
As you make your way through Amarillo in Texas, as well as singing along to Tony Christie's Is This the Way to Amarillo?, you must also stop to check out Cadillac Ranch for a quintessential experience of the city.
The public art installation was created in 1974 by members of a collective known as Ant Farm. It is made up of a line of the luxury American cars, each brightly painted and buried nose down in the dirt. They are covered in graffiti added by people wishing to make their own stamp on the iconic landmark, while countless more pose with the cars for photographs that will forever remind them of their time in Texas.
Of course, the installation is also located on Route 66, probably the most famous stretch of road in the US, and including a trip down some or all of it is well worth doing on your gap year in the US, so you can really soak up the charm of Americana.