Not Just a Bowl of Stew

It may have been the best bowl of stew I’ve ever eaten, but what caused the flavor to be even better was the ambiance and local conversation. Perhaps the crisp, cool day and light rainy mist enhanced the flavor and experience. Whatever the reason,  dining in that small, southern, country café still causes my heart to stir with a tremendous love.

When visiting the Midwest, reading the story of what we had just experienced with the Bridges of Madison County allowed my then husband and I to extend this event for several hundred additional miles. If I didn’t have bags full of audio books from our local library, then I was delighted to read aloud from printed pages.  More than once our “drive way moments” were halted at our garage or continued as we walked inside our home.

The recollection of the taste of warm cider donuts and a cup of hot cider while traveling the rolling and colorful, tree- filled, hills of our northeast still brings a smile to my face. The smells and visions while traveling along the costal highways of both the Pacific and Atlantic linger in my heart and mind.

I love Europe with it’s vast array of history which our magnificent country can’t boast. However, I’m deeply saddened when I hear fellow travelers say they really haven’t gone too far beyond their own state’s borders. When well-traveled Americans know very little of our own country, but tout visiting other countries multiple times, I feel they have deprived themselves of an incredible gift-our USA.

Years ago, it became my goal and desire to visit all fifty states. God has allowed me to visit forty-eight of our fifty. I did “drive by” a small corner of Oregon, but desire to go there and spend some time to experience its’ beauty. Hawaii, remains my final state and then I will have visited them all.

When my then husband and I  became empty nesters, my desire to become our own private travel planner and tour guide accelerated. My opinion was we hadn’t truly visited a state unless we were there for at least a couple of days. Just driving by on the highway didn’t give us an opportunity to learn about it’s culture, its’ people or its’ uniqueness.

All states have gorgeous trees, streams and lakes. Yes, even memorable local diners. But every state also possesses its’ own “language” and vibrant stories of its’ history. From the glistening, golden aspens in Colorado to the splendor of God’s creation in the Grand Canyon or other National Parks, this land is truly “our land.”

The older I’ve become, the more careers I wish I could have experienced. Certainly being a “professional traveler” is at the top of my list. I miss those road trips across our vast expanse of varied landscape. The car was loaded with not only our necessities, but audio books, snacks and the desire to “behold” what God had created.

It was a gift! As the old 50’s commercial used to tout, “see the USA in your Chevrolet” or I might say, “see the USA any old way,” but enjoy what awaits you. Psalm 104:24 NKV, “O Lord, how manifold are Your works! In wisdom you made them all. The earth is full of your possessions.

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