The Things I’ve Seen
From Joplin, MO to Hot Springs, AR, via KS, NE, SD, WY, MT, ID, OR, WA, AK, WA, OR, CA, NV, UT, CO, KS, and OK. For 7,000 miles, less than 300 of them on an interstate, I feel privileged to have seen some beautiful country.
“From the mountains, to the prairies, to the oceans, white with foam.” This song played in my head, more than a few times as I took in the sheer beauty of this great land.
I shed melancholy tears thinking about how we are not being very gentle with her, and are actually destroying a big part of her. Thankfully, some wise people saw the need to preserve some lands for future generations. For that we have John Muir, Teddy Roosevelt, and others who have set aside great parks for us, and our children.
I passed through the vast loneliness of the plains of Kansas, and Nebraska, where on the back roads that stretch for hours you feel as if you are the only person in the world.
I gaped at the majesty of the Rockies in Montana and Idaho, the eerie loveliness of the Craters of the Moon in Idaho, the awesome wildness of the Badlands in South Dakota.
I drove across Oregon with the Cascades in front of me, and north into the greenery of Washington.
I stood on the deck of the ferry that took 3 days from Bellingham, WA to Juneau, AK, and again for 6 hours from Juneau to Skagway AK. The trip back to Bellingham from Skagway took 4 days. The ferry stops at various cities along the “Inside passage” (The ferry will be a blog all its own later).
I came to realize “small town” America looks pretty much the same everywhere you go. There are the same brick facades of the buildings in the old part of town, where the storekeepers and their families lived above their stores, and houses scattered around along the roads.
Some of the best, “down home” food can be found in the small diners along the highway passing through these towns. In these diners, with the old fashioned décor, you meet friendly people who populate the towns, you see old men gossiping over cups of really good coffee, and look at the proud displays of local heroes, and sports stars
Empty storefronts and vacant houses abound. Farmland or forests surround them, depending on where you are. But the towns themselves, they are pretty much the same. Only the flora and fauna change.
Filled with people who choose to stay or those who can’t leave for reasons of their own. Small town America is in danger of disappearing forever from our land. It’s very sad to drive through some of those that are taking the last gasps of life.
To experience real America, get off the interstates and find your way along the “secondary” roads. You will see a lot more of what America was when life was slower, when people knew, and could count on, their neighbors, and when families lived closer than a 5 hour plane ride.
Sure, it will take you longer to get somewhere at slower speeds, but I can guarantee you will see a lot more of America this way.
Love and Light