There’s nothing quite like seeing America from the freeway. Of course I’ve been doing that for the last four years, since I started attending college in Minnesota and drove back and forth from Detroit. Of course the scenery isn’t that spectacular between Detroit and St. Paul.
But this past weekend I traveled a lot farther and saw a lot more interesting scenery. I traveled through Pennsylvania for the first time in my life. Wow. The mountains were beautiful. Western New Jersey was also really mountainous–of course by that time it was dark so I couldn’t see that much. The next day we drove through Massachusetts and again I was amazed at the huge rolling hills on the horizon.
Granted you can’t see much from the Interstate. You whiz by at 70 mph (while the governor on your rented truck starts kicking in) and can only glance out each window and look to the horizon and back to the road. It’s not much of a glimpse, but it was enough to make me want to pull off the highway and explore some back road deep into the mountains.
It really made me appreciate this country and God’s creation. When you live in the Midwest, it’s really a shock to see mountains looming ahead on the horizon.
So where have I been? Eleven states in four days. Including five states I’d never visited before and the two best-named towns in the country: Schenectady, New York and Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. Although I passed up the Bong State Recreation Area.
This weekend we went camping at Lake Louise State Park.
Were you expecting words of wisdom as well? You’re probably pushing your luck. But do you know what I like about camping? Aside from the fact that you get to burn things, you’re free to do whatever you want. If you feel like sleeping in until noon, you can. If you feel like going on a bike ride, you can. If you feel like reading a book all afternoon, you can. There’s no pressure to do anything. I like that. I think I need that once in a while.
Hear the hum of the mosquito, smell the smoke of the campfire, feel the grit of the sand on your hot dog. Ah, camping. Last night my wife and I took our first official camping trip. It was a one-night trial run, since neither of us come from a long line of camping experts. My dad laughed when I told him we were going camping.
There’s nothing like Dinty Moore Beef Stew cooked in the can over the fire. Especially when you top it off with s’mores. We went to St. Croix State Park and didn’t really do a whole lot. Which I think is exactly the point of camping.
My favorite part was watching the other campers. One guy brought a giant inflatable couch. I guess he’s not into roughing it.
If it only cost you $250 to fly to a foreign country would you go for the weekend? That’s what I love about being in college. You can legitimately consider such last minute lunacy. I received an e-mail tonight advertising a round trip flight to London, Paris, Frankfurt, or Amsterdam for $250. The only stipulations were that you had to purchase your tickets before January 30, fly between February 1-29, and stay at least one Saturday night. In two weeks Interim is over and we have a five day weekend. Wouldn’t that be fun?
“So what’d you do over break?”
“I went to London.”
But alas, I don’t have $250 to throw around, and if I did, I need a passport. And good luck getting one in two weeks. Oh well, maybe next time.
Three weeks ago I was in Chicago. Two weeks ago I was in Detroit. Last week I was in Kansas. This week I’m in Detroit. Next week I’ll be in Minneapolis. I’ve crossed state lines 16 times in 14 days, and I’ll cross four more next week.
So I’ve been kind of busy.
I’m some kind of traveling road tramp. Maybe I’ll come visit your state. In all that traveling I have noticed a few things (aren’t I always “noticing” things). Iowa and Indiana tie for best state motto’s: “You make me smile,” and “The Crossroads of America,” respectively. We must make them smile because we actually came to (or through) their state. And the crossroads of America? There’s a good tourist campaign waiting to happen.
But if I seem a little harsh, never fear, my own state probably has the worst slogan that greets you as you cross the state line: “Michigan – Great Lakes, Great Times.” It’s about as creative as their last slogan, “Yes Michigan.” But enough cynical bashing of state motto’s.
Kansas. My girlfriend and I just returned from a trip to the land of Dorothy and Toto. Six months ago my mother commanded me to be in Kansas on August 15th. We were celebrating my grandparents 50th wedding anniversary, and it was mandatory that I be there–no excuses accepted. So my girlfriend, Abby, and I squeezed into my truck and journeyed 13 hours from Chicago to Central Kansas. Quite a difference, let me tell you.
If you’ve never been to Kansas, there’s a few things you should know. The noon meal is called “dinner.” The evening meal is called “supper.” In Kansas, “lunch” and “dinner” are synonymous, not “dinner” and “supper.” Also, I drive a ’93 Ford Ranger. It is referred to as a “pickup,” not a “truck.” A “truck” is what I call a “semi.” If I were in Kansas and called my Ranger a “truck,” I’d get a few weird looks.
Aside from the lingo, there’s some other differences. Accents for one. My mother was born and raised in Kansas, and although she hasn’t lived here for over twenty-five years, she still slips into the old accent in a matter of days. Life is also a lot slower out here. Safer too. I never bothered to lock my “pickup.”
You can also see. There’s no hills or buildings or stores or lights to block your view. The horizon is all that stretches out before you, and quite seriously, it’s beautiful to see the vast expanse of open sky. Who would have thought that you’d see something beautiful in the middle of Kansas. God does have his surprises, doesn’t He?
Welcome to Michigan. Those words have never looked so good. After spending two hours in Chicago traffic, nothing feels better than finally flying across the state line, pushing the pedal 5 mph closer to the floor, and enjoying your home state. The two things I love about coming back to Michigan? Meijers and those plain, blue Michigan license plates.
What a weekend. You know it’s been a good weekend when your stomach hurts from laughing so much. My body is aching right now, not proof that I ran around too much this weekend, but proof that I don’t run around enough. Aside from the ticks, the cold, and having to actually go to nature when nature calls, I really liked roughing it this weekend. This morning it felt so good to splash cold creek water on my face. I could almost imagine kneeling down there and shaving–really roughing it. Of course we weren’t there long enough to worry about that. There’s so much I could say about this weekend. But my mind isn’t working too quickly right now. And my body is just screaming to lay down and die. So I guess I’ll save it for later.
For you Bethel people, here’s a sneak peak at tomorrow’s Table Tent article. For you non-Bethel people, here’s a sample of some Table Tent material:
So how was your weekend? Did you do any of that homework? Study for finals? Attack those end of the semester projects? I spent my weekend playing Trivial Pursuit in a field of dandelions, boiling creek water to wash the dishes, and waking up to a tick crawling up my leg. Six friends and I escaped to an unoccupied farm in Wisconsin. What does unoccupied mean? They tried turning on the water and it broke. Creek water for us. We decided to ignore the responsibility of homework, projects, and tests one last time before the true joy of finals set in. We ran barefoot in the green grass, tossed a Frisbee (some better than others), witnessed the dreaded Aerobe-eating trees at work, tromped through the marsh, and played a quick game of full contact croquet. Some of us scaled the heights of a tree, while others stuck wild flowers in their creek-washed braids. We laid on blankets soaking in the constellations and the dew, debating the answer to the ultimate question of life, the universe and everything. What did I learn this weekend? I learned that the double-O in “007” means that James Bond has a license to kill. I learned that old gas stations make really keen coffee houses. I learned that the answer is 42. And I learned that sometimes homework can wait. Maybe Henry David Thoreau wasn’t crazy. Cold creek water washed the sleep from my eyes Sunday morning, and I couldn’t help but shout, “Good morning!” Sometimes life flashes by in a mix of faces, assignments, and TV shows and we forget to have fun. We miss the beauty for fear of soggy sneakers, grass stains, or-God forbid-looking stupid. We fly so fast we think the call to live life to the fullest is cheesy, and we move on-only moving, but never living. Life is more. Be slightly crazy and ‘suck the marrow from life,’ stand atop your desk, flail your arms and scream as you sail down a hill. You have a standing invitation to the birthplace of apathy, but no one will care if you don’t make the social appearance.