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June 8, 2005 [ More archived home pages here ]

Out In The Country

The 1970 song of the same title by the group, "Three Dog Night" is the background for this message. It is one of those songs that moved me when I first heard it that Summer 35 years ago. I was driving on the way from Chicago to Grand Marsh, Wisconsin with my friend, Bill Artus, to spend the weekend at his small cabin in the woods. It remains one of my favorite songs of all time because it reminds me of so many places I've been in my country over the last 33 years.

I have visited every state except the following:

  • Alaska
  • Connecticut
  • Hawaii
  • Maine
  • New Jersey
  • New Hampshire
  • Rhode Island
  • South Carolina
  • Vermont
  • West Virginia

I have driven in every other state not listed (shown in red). In many states, I have been from East to West and North to South in them. I have seen a lot of very beautiful places including mountains, canyons, desert, the plains, the shoreline. I have been in the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and the Gulf of Mexico.

My favorite places are the National Parks. To camp in those wonderful places is the best experience I can imagine. I've camped with my wife and daughter (when she was a child), just with my wife alone, and also by myself. I have many photographs of trips that maybe someday will get scanned and presented on this site. I have photo slide shows from extended camping trips in the early 1980's that are also part of my collection. They are considered by me to be family treasures.

There are six trips from Chicago in particular that stand out among the others:

  • The 6,000 mile honeymoon trip in July 1973
  • The 4,000 mile camping trip to Yellowstone and Glacier National Parks in 1978
  • The 5,000 mile camping trip To Little Bighorn National Monument Wyoming, Denver Colorado, Las Vegas Nevada, Grand Canyon and Mesa Verde National Parks in 1981
  • The 4,000 camping mile trip to Yellowstone National Park, Snake River Idaho, Grand Junction Colorado, Durango Colorado, Colorado Springs Colorado, and Kansas City Kansas in 1983
  • The 5,500 camping trip to Dodge City Kansas, Phoenix Arizona, Las Vegas Nevada, DisneyLand, San Francisco California, Salt Lake City Utah, Sheridan Wyoming, Badlands National Park, Wall Drug South Dakota (it's only 1,500 miles from here), Minneapolis Minnesota, in 1985
  • The 4,000 camping trip to Memphis Tennessee, Shreveport Louisiana, The Alamo in Texas, Austin Texas, El Paso Texas, Carlsbad Caverns National Park, Tucson Arizona, Phoenix Arizona, Truth or Consequences New Mexico, Albuquerque New Mexico, Amarillo Texas, Oklahoma City Oklahoma, and St. Louis Missouri in 1986

There were other driving trips to the South (from Chicago) for Christmas holidays when our daughter was in college. I didn't describe my trips to California and back before I was married, those stories are for another day. Suffice it to say, I've been around.

I paid attention to what I observed, who I spoke with, how I used that knowledge in various ways over the decades. Many times I was called upon by people planning trips to places in the country where I had told them about. I tried to encourage them to seek their own path, to see not only the main tourist spots, but also the back-country places as much as they could. I didn't think they could go wrong with that advice.

I learned a lot about America on all those trips. Americans living in different regions of the country have their own unique aspects about them. Around the campsites the composite collection of Americans and foreigners encourages entirely new enlightenment. Some, but not all things should be considered from a global view.

I'm glad I had to chance to exchange so many views with people in the years before the War on Terrorism started. Most topics weren't so easily polarized then. The flickering lights of a park ranger's campfire back then induced good feelings between people of all races, beliefs, nationalities, and creeds who together, watched the campfire burn.

It isn't the same anymore. But it was great while it lasted.

Don


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