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What All-American Culture Looks Like to a First-Time Visitor

By Algirdas Bakas

Aug 13, 2015

From the August/September 2015 issue

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Photographer Algirdas Bakas got a peek at van life along Highway 1 near Santa Barbara, California.

Photo by Algirdas Bakas

Photographer Algirdas Bakas got a peek at van life along Highway 1 near Santa Barbara, California.

During an epic U.S. road trip, a Lithuanian photographer discovers bluegrass, bagels, and classic Americana ways of life.

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On his first trip to the United States, Lithuanian photographer Algirdas Bakas took a ride from coast to coast with nothing but a motorcycle, a camera, and fresh eyes. “It’s a big place, this America,” Bakas says. “Driving through, it would often be over 100 miles of straight road, with beautiful blues and yellows meeting in the horizon.” During his U.S. road trip, Bakas “clocked 5,985 miles, 129 cups of coffee, 49 stops, 13 states, and two flat tires.” The result? An honest, up-close documentation of old-school Americana in all its glory, through the eyes of a visitor.

“I fell in love with the quirkiness of Santa Fe, New Mexico,” Bakas said. “This skirted male masseuse used to work for the local power company.”
Carlsbad, New Mexico, is known as the gateway to Carlsbad Caverns National Park. Here, a Carlsbad resident washes clothing at Clean Corner Laundry in the city.
The International UFO Museum in Roswell, New Mexico, focuses largely on the supposed UFO crash that took place in the town in 1947.
Nashville’s annual Al Menah Circus originated in 1944. Its “Saturday Morning Matinee” provides free entertainment for underprivileged children from low-income communities.
The 1961 Chevy Impala, pictured above in New Orleans, Louisiana, was once the best-selling automobile in the United States.
A man gives his brother a haircut in the garage where they work in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Philadelphia locals Seymour Seclow and Bernice Davis Katz, both 92 years old, have been a couple for one year.
A former military plane was repurposed as a public art sculpture in the Lenfest Plaza at Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts.
Vintage cars and motorcycles compete in “The Race of Gentlemen” on the beaches of Wildwood, New Jersey.
A plane leaving John F. Kennedy International Airport flies above a school bus parking lot on Long Island, New York.

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