Checking out the backyard

Why go overseas? From time to time, my wife and I engage in a debate on where we should travel in the future, if we get the chance.

Her standpoint is she would like to go to Europe to places like Paris or Rome or Athens or into the Caribbean. My counter is that the United States is so big, so vast, that I’d much rather just stay in here and see what our country is like.

Her contention is that she’s been to places like Boston, New York, New Orleans, Orlando and Las Vegas. I’ve not been that far west of the Mississippi River except for our honeymoon in Lake Tahoe or our last family vacation to the Black Hills in South Dakota.

A counter argument I give her is that Americans are thought of so poorly around the world, that it makes little sense to invite being treated poorly, or worse. Outside of the locals turning up their nose to a country bumpkin like me, those countries just don’t seem as safe as the United States. Maybe the only other country I would feel as safe is our neighbors to the north, Canada.

I’ve never been to Boston or New York or Los Angeles. We were in San Francisco for half of a day, but that was it.

I used to be able to say I had only been across the Mississippi River only a handful times in my life, but we moved into western Wisconsin, so a day trip into Minnesota changed that – many times.

I want to get out and explore my country. When my kids were smaller, we’d take a drive to places like Duluth, or Taylors Falls, or Red Wing, or Wabasha, just because. Gas prices hadn’t been astronomical at that point. Now that the gas prices are more manageable, they only help get me to my work and my kids to their events like hockey. We aren’t taking recreational drives (and, add in that medical bills are just killing our budget overall).

I’ve longed to go down old Route 66. I’d like to get to places like Pittsburgh or St. Louis or Kansas City. I want to take the Empire Builder from Chicago to Seattle just to see the country in that fashion. Denver would be kind of neat.

For me, it’s not even the cities. I don’t need the city life. Give me the smaller towns with small town baseball and diners and downtowns that are more than offices and eateries but have needs for the locals to get.

When we drove from western Wisconsin to South Dakota, I had fun just seeing the sights. The same thing happened when I had to go to Cincinnati to get my kids and I passed through some places in Illinois and Indiana I never went through before. I definitely will not forget the times I rode from southeast Michigan and South Carolina’s Golden Corner.

I just would like to get to other places, like New England, the Plains and the Southwest.

As my children continue to grow up, I’d like to believe that I may be able to get out and travel around the country, via car or train, and see anything from national parks to national landmarks to just the small towns and life from around this country.

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