Travel seems to be my latest chorus. In October and November I’ll only have been home for a handful of weekends. Business trips, vacations, and things you just have to do. I guess that’s the way it goes. Sorry I haven’t been around. Did you miss me? I hate to say, but I’m off again. See you on the flip side.
Nature is an amazing thing. It’s sad that we’ve spread so wide and deep across the land that there isn’t much wilderness anymore. Today I hiked a half-mile trail through dense undergrowth. The trail wasn’t well kept (which was intentional), and when I looked to either side I couldn’t see more 5-10 feet into the forest. There was that much vegetation. I could have been within snack range of a bear and I wouldn’t have known it.
It made for an interesting hike. But occasionally the wall of vegetation would break open and I could see across a clearing or a swamp. At one point the trail broke through and opened into this vast hidden lake. It was completely wild, no boat ramps or swimming docks in site. There was a beaver dam in the middle, and green slime coating half the surface. Forest, reeds, and marsh claimed the lakeshore–no sandy beach for the kids here. It was beautiful. A completely wild body of water like that is extremely rare.
The whole scene was stunning. It just reminds me how amazing the creation is. You go out into the wilderness and see something like, compared to man’s ideal: green lawn stretching into green lawn and houses butted up next to each other butted up next to the lakeshore with docks pushing out into the water from every other yard. Our way is so boring.
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.