Dorothy Was Right, There Is No Place Like Home
by James Glaser
July 26, 2011
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It was two weeks long, a bit over 3,000 miles of driving, and I did enjoy it. I saw almost everybody on my list and did everything I wanted to do, but as I pulled back into our driveway here in rural North Florida, all the stress of the road seemed to wash out of my body and mind.

I walked around the yard putting in more steps in the next hour than in any one day on the trip. I looked at every flower, tree, bush, my vegetable garden, the workshop, the tree house, and the new horseshoe pits. The intense green of our grass and growth of our plants told me the drought is over.

I slept so well last night in my own bed, and the quiet of our rural home was just what I needed.

The only thing missing is Wanda, who is on a business trip to Chicago. We did meet up in Atlanta this weekend, and I felt bad that we were parting again so quickly, but I could tell she was pumped for the workshop she is going to lead this week, and we will see each other again this next weekend. Then she is off to Washington DC to give another workshop. Such is the life of a man married to a brilliant woman, who is at the top of her chosen career.

Driving from Florida to Minnesota is a long drive, but I always try to take a different route. That way I get to see and do new things, things I would never see or know about if I flew. I met so many interesting people, like the four-tour Iraq/Afghan veteran who did 15 years in the Marines and was retired for his wounds. The man is still young and is working hard, while trying to get his time in the combat zone out of his head. We talked for hours, and I think we both left feeling better about ourselves. Somehow, Marines have a way of bumping into each other, and it does not matter where or when you served, as it is still the same Corps.

In Minnesota I stopped by and saw my oldest and best friend, a Marine who served in Vietnam at the same time I did. We didn't meet until after the war, but we have stayed close ever since. He is starting out all over again, taking in his two year old grandson to raise. I saw him on his first day with the boy, and I bet he does a great job. Nothing he ever planned on, but he rose to the occasion when he was needed. As I left, I said I would say a prayer for him, and he said maybe more than one would be better.

Just a couple of things I'll always remember: without a doubt, Wisconsin has the worst roads, and Atlanta has the worst traffic.

I hear all the doom and gloom coming out of Washington, but in middle America, the people who are working seem pretty upbeat. However, when you get in a real conversation with them, they are worried about their future and the future of their children and loved ones. As I drove cross country, I saw so many hard working Americans, and also so much work that needs to be done. We have some scary looking bridges that were built before World War II. Some before WW I. From my driving trip I can see that we most likely have thousands of miles of roads nation wide that are in need of repair.

Right away, when driving down the highways of America you can see that the government is cutting back on road side grass cutting and the pick up of litter. Many rest areas are looking shabby, and I did notice that many states buy their restroom equipment, like hand blow dryers from China.

I spent all my time in the Twin Cities of Saint Paul and Minneapolis. While I was there, the State of Minnesota's government was shut down. All I can tell you is that driving around Saint Paul, without the tens of thousands of government workers on the road, made driving a pleasure. You could find a parking place, and the freeways were a dream come true, even at the normal rush hour. I have heard that things are back to normal now, as the Democratic Governor caved into Republican demands and signed off on everything the Republican controlled Congress wanted before the impasse shut down the state.

I drove my 1996 Cadillac and averaged 27.4 miles per gallon over the whole trip. On the way up, with just highway miles, I got 28.6. I sure can't complain about that.

The highlight of my trip was seeing my children and grandchildren. All my children and their spouses have jobs. They all seem to be happy, and all of their children are healthy. Who can ask for more than that? I wish I lived closer to them, or they lived closer to me, but it took me only one Florida winter to get over the 50 plus Minnesota winters I had living up there.

It is hard to explain North Florida to a Minnesotan. People who live in Minnesota can not comprehend seven or eight months in a row of nice weather. In fact, as unusual as it was, Minnesota was way hotter and more humid than Florida has ever been when I was up there this time. The truth is, two weeks of good weather in Minnesota is remembered for a long time, and a perfect month is remembered for a life-time. I have been in Florida almost five years now, and I have had more perfect weather in those five years than I had in fifty up North.

Perfect weather does not necessarily make for a perfect life, but it sure does help. Wanda and I are so very happy with where we live, and not everyone can say that. When I lived there, I loved Minnesota and its people, and I still do, but Florida has more to offer me at this time in my life, and I am happy to take it.

As the song says, "You can't always get what you want." So I will miss my children and grandchildren, but the song also says, "But if you try some times, you might just find you get what you need." So I'll have to be satisfied with taking trips back home when I can, and have my children visit when they can.

I guess I can thank the Lord for what he has given me, and for sure that is more that I ever imagined I would get.

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