As I type this, you might be interested in knowing, I find myself (with family in tow) on the return leg of a cross-country trip that began in Santa Rosa, California and extended as far as Ottawa, Canada! At the moment, I’m in Kansas City, Missouri sampling the local “board of faire” (Arthur Bryant BBQ) and enjoying every bit of it!
Traveling this Country by vehicle is an absolute delight. The contrasts in geography, weather and most importantly, People, is not to be missed! Though this “entry” is not meant to be a travel log per se, I must say, from a view from the Mid-West (at the moment in central Kansas), I have two overwhelming thoughts. The first is: Who eats all this Corn? I’ve been in five Mid-West States and every where I turn, acres, acres and more acres of Corn! The other? Good Lord this Country is huge and so little of it occupied (except for Corn that is)!
As one might expect, being a Realtor, I find myself driving neighborhoods in various Cities looking at homes, commercial buildings and apartment complexes comparing and contrasting values. It’s a well formed habit the result of which fascinates me! For instance, driving through Indianapolis, Indiana and viewing an eight year old 5 Bedroom all brick and stone home (4,700 square feet), indoor pool, 5 car garage and full basement situated on a beautifully manicures ¾ acre parcel in a “higher end” neighborhood. $875,000! This home, in Santa Rosa (similar neighborhood) would challenge the $3-4 Million price range! Or, for that matter, a 2100 Square Foot “Suburb Special” 4 bedroom/2.5 bath (full basement) home in Kansas City @ $169,000 in Santa Rosa (similar neighborhood) would capture $765,000!
Then, of course, you can take the dramatic City tour of “rue d’rustte” through South Michigan (btw: the Northern peninsula of Michigan farmland is spectacular!) and on into Ohio (the old “ribbon of industry”) and see thousands of industrial buildings in utter decay with a sobering epitaph that reads something like “….sorry, but you’re not needed any more…” and venture simply moved on to chase the cheep and malleable labor pools of Asia. So much industrial muscle left simply to atrophy and wither away, what a certifiable and tragic waste! For me, I find it noble to export an “idea”, but never ones “Ideals”. In other words, far better to teach a person to fish than to addict them to apathy!
Another interesting note and this one stood out like an empty field in Nebraska! We made a point in our tour of the Country to get off the Interstate system as much as possible and drive through as many small towns as possible. I saw, first hand, that Walt Disney’s Main Street USA was indeed a reproduction. The quaint and cozy demeanor of these small towns was absolutely captivating! Seems like every Town that we saw, without a Wal-Mart, continued to be a thriving “hub” of the community. From the local grocery store to the “Rexall” Drug and Soda Fountain and Hardware Store! Timeless! In one small town in Indiana, I even saw an operating “Schwinn Bicycle” store. Sadly, Schwinn Bicycle’s are no longer made in the US and the ones that bear the name are “Made in China”!
Okay, enough with the casual lamentations!
All this to say, find the time and travel this magnificent Country and stay off the Interstate System as much as possible and eat at only places where the person serving you is not uniform, her name is Grace, Betty or Mary-Anne, one of there Children is the “Bus-Boy”, there Husband or Son is “in the back working the kitchen” and while you’re waiting for your “cherry coke” , some nice Lady wearing a neatly pressed “print” dress and “pumps” walks in with Apple and Berry Pies fresh from her oven! Oh, and the Burger I ate, “freshly aged beef” obtained from “Gus the Butcher,…just 3 doors down!”
Now, to bring all of this to an end, let me say there is a price for all of this Mid-West charm and it is captured by one word and one word only! Weather! Being a former Southwestern “PA.” Guy myself I know you get used to it but for me, humidity, makes 80 degrees feel more like 100! Then of course, there is the winters and the sub-zero “wind chill” to consider. Chilling!
Being somewhat partial to Sonoma County’s glorious countryside, there is simply no substitute for the divine!
Speaking with the vantage point of “A View from the Mid-West”, I suppose, you’ve got to grow corn somewhere. I just can’t help thinking how fortunate our grape vines. I wonder, do they know it?
Curtis C. Greco, Founder