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Wednesday, August 24, 2011

What a Country!

We packed my third-eldest daughter off to college last week. The family decided that we would make a road trip of this necessity, so we packed up the Volvo wagon, loaded in the rat dog, and headed east from Chicago at a fairly leisurely pace. Our destination was Boston, then back around to Worcester, Mass, home of Clark University. I had quite a lot of windshield time, and we paused to take in a few tourist destinations. The picture above comes from our quick visit to Niagara Falls (the U.S. side). I expected this over-hyped location to be a disappointment, but it was not. My girls, wife and I were all amazed by the scene - noise, stunning falling water and mist. Many, many Japanese people, too.

We also stopped at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland and spent a night at a wonderful B&B in the Berkshires. We ate at a restaurant in a converted railroad station in Le Roy NY (birthplace of Jello) and hung out at Ralph's Diner in Worcester MA. (a rock club/bar/diner with awesome burgers). We slept in an out-of-the-way motor lodge in central Massachusetts and got up at 3AM to watch the Perseid meteor shower from the field behind the country motel, free of light pollution. We hiked in a wonderful state park outside of Worcester and saw a small lake full of water lillies. We visited a dive bar in the basement of a Quality Inn outside of Erie PA and heard an incredibly cheesy "lounge lizard" band. We were generally treated with great kindness by total strangers everywhere we went.

Yes, the USA has lost its AAA-rating from S&P. We may be heading into the second part of a double-dip recession. The political environment in our nation's capital is poisonous. It has been a hot summer, too wet in some places and too dry in others. There is turmoil, war and bloodshed in a couple of dozen locations around the world. It is easy to feel uneasy. But after my road trip, I can't help but marvel at the vastness and variety of America. What a country!

In spite of strong evidence to the contrary, I think we will be OK.

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