Tuesday, November 11, 2008


Vacations are wondrous adventures, because you experience new sights and sounds. They are very therapeutic with hours of grand relaxation. Some vacations afford an opportunity to renew old friendships and visit distant relatives. With all this said…there is NO PLACE LIKE HOME, and the expression HOME SWEET HOME is most appropriate.

After an absence of one month and one day, my wife and I have just returned to cold, rainy, spitting snow showers and dark gray winter skies in northern Indiana, but home certainly looked very good. Our travels covered just over 4,100 miles and some 16 states plus we experienced a life long lasting adventure. Surprisingly, lower gasoline prices followed our travels, with the exception of unconscionable tax driven prices of $2.44 per gallon for unleaded gas on the Pennsylvania turnpike. Adjacent states were selling the same grade of gasoline for $2.08 or even $1.99 per gallon.

While the Presidential election and the general economic problems were the major topics of conversation everywhere we traveled, we noted a strong economic climate across the many southern states. In Dallas construction work is evident everywhere from roads to buildings, and there was a very strong optimistic attitude with everyone we encountered. Clearly, the foreign automobile companies with their numerous southern plants are a significant influence to this development. More importantly, the southern states are becoming more and more influential as more northern citizens move south for the weather or employment opportunities.

Texas is not as we remember it from the movie GIANT, because it has become a huge business-focused center that sees no bounds to its real potential. People of all colors blend into a smooth functioning Texas economy that continues to boom while the economy of northern cities experience rusting plants and population loss.

While being long term mid west residents, we are used to hearing of the historical racial tensions in the south, but certainly in all of the public places we found ourselves we did not see real evidence of it existing today. Quite the contrary, we sensed a convivial atmosphere, and only courteous situations when meeting with people of color. People in the south just seem to be happier or more content than they do up here in the north.

Our visits to South Carolina Low Country are always special with great hospitality, and the magnificent golf facilities are beyond belief. In addition to being a beautiful place with unbelievable live oak trees, it is most relaxing.

Our last stop was in historic Baltimore where we dined with our grandson who is a math teacher in the Baltimore inner-city elementary school system. He’s in a two-year program sponsored by Johns Hopkins University, but the stress levels and lack of support cause needless frustration with unbelievable working conditions. He’ll stick out his commitment, and may even elect to continue teaching, but few, if any in this kind of environment, can continue long-term under demanding conditions with 7th and 8th Grade students reading at the 2nd Grade level. We are most proud of his commitment to improve the lives of his underprivileged students.

We love Texas and South Carolina and feel we could live there quite comfortably. The advantage of weather and affordable costs of living are most attractive, but we still love our home in northern Indiana. We love Hoosier Land, because of our wonderful friends, and a strong bond to our Doctors. We have everything we need for a good standard of living, with wonderful food stores, shopping, and superior health care facilities. The latter becomes more and more important with each passing year, as do our bonds with good loyal friends.

After a 600 plus mile drive from Baltimore our bed felt wonderful. With winter setting in we’ll have to remember the great hospitality we experienced to help keep us warm, not to mention the great Mexican food, seafood, and golf until we see our out of town family and friends again.


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