MBIn ManitobaWay up in the north woods, in the land of lakes, Kay and I have our earliest memory of Manitoba. It was early December, and the ground was covered with new snow, giving the forests in southeastern Manitoba a dreamlike appearance.

 

By the time we got into Manitoba’s primary city of Winnipeg, the cold of winter had seemed to intensify, plus I seem to remember limping into town in a severely disabled car.

Kay in Manitoba

Kay stands in the middle of a frosted prairie in Manitoba

With the benefit of successful repairs and a good night’s sleep in Winnipeg, we headed across the frozen prairie landscape in the light of day, watching the frosted trees grow scanter and scanter as we turned north at Portage la Prairie and made a northwest trajectory toward the adjoining Canadian province of Saskatchewan.

 

MDI remember when Kay and I first visited Baltimore and how we rode a paddleboat all around the Inner Harbor. And I remember how we immersed ourselves in the city’s culture when we worked on an intensive project there, working on location in Baltimore’s working class neighborhoods.  Summers, as we found out, can be really steamy, but wouldn’t you know that we made our business trip there in the midst of the worst heat wave in Baltimore’s history, where we endured 100-degree temperatures combined with 100% humidity. Oh, how I remember the dripping sweat.

 

Another business trip saw us making stops in all of the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. that include Prince George’s and Montgomery Counties.  Most of our Maryland stay took place in the classic middle-class all-American town of Frederick.

 

We experienced the steep hilly terrain in the western part of the state from Cumberland to Hagerstown that make up the last vestiges of Appalachia before we dropped off into the coastal lowlands of the Atlantic seaboard.

 

Along the upper Potomac River, we stood in memory of the Civil War dead at the battlefields of Sharpsburg and Antietam. But we made time for recreation, too, as I recall the time Kay and I endangered life and limb in treacherous Antietam Creek in a simple canoe just after the spring runoff, and continued our perilous waterborne journey for miles even after the creek dumped into the wide waters of the Potomac.

 

I recall each time we crossed the high and magnificent bridge spanning the wide waters of the Chesapeake Bay and escaped into Maryland’s Eastern Shore. The Eastern Shore, I think, is Maryland’s little treasure cove of natural beauty, both for its impressive marine setting and for the lush, fertile “God’s green acres” that lie between the Chesapeake and the Atlantic Ocean.

 

Kay poses on the windswept Maryland coast

Kay poses on the windswept Maryland coast

The former can be appreciated in the seaside resort of Ocean City, complete with its salty-air Boardwalk lined with restaurants enticing tourists with scrumptious Chesapeake Bay crabs, and the little ocean hideaway of Assateague Island, the first and only place that Kay and I have seen wild ponies galloping along the sandy beaches. That, I have to say, was a pretty splendid sight.

 

The latter can be appreciated all along any of the wooded highways that pass through towns such as Salisbury and Pocomoke City, where rivers, lakes and hardwood forests are the order of the day.

 

MAI harken back to all the times we’ve been to old Boston, the largest city in Massachusetts and without question the hub of all of New England.   Many memories center around the Greater Boston area. Many times we’ve frustrated ourselves by trying to navigate by car a city that is perhaps the most unnavigatable cities in the country, with all its winding, one-way streets that never seem to lead in any predictable direction.

 

Boston is rich in worthwhile sights, however, as Kay and I have delighted in partaking of the charming city on the Charles River. We’ve been downtown to see Boston Harbor and stared down upon the ship most renowned for hosting the Boston Tea Party. Kay and I have raised a toast to each other at the Bull and Finch Pub, better known as the inspiration for the long running TV series Cheers. Across the thoroughfare lies Boston Common and I’m reminded of the time Kay and I were pleased to come to Boston in the springtime and walked through the legendary park holding hands by moonlight near the middle of the night. We’ve driven along and stared up at the big Green Monster at Fenway Park and imagined Babe Ruth in the early days belting one out of there and onto a Boston street. On the opposite bank of the Charles from Fenway is Harvard University in what’s actually Cambridge, one of the oldest educational institutions in America, where we’ve driven by a couple of times. Out on the water sits Boston’s Logan Airport, where I welcomed my 13-year-old daughter Jenny for her 1997 New England summer visit. And downtown is the bustle of Quincy Market where we indulged in the flavors and aromas of merry New England one summer day.

 

As for the area surrounding Boston, there are more memories forthcoming. Like the time we stood in the November stillness and surveyed Thoreau’s Walden Pond near Concord and took a glimpse into the back-to-nature lifestyle of the mid-19th century. Or the more contemporary scenario of standing outside the stadium in Foxboro on a chilly October night, the smell of clambakes and italian sausages permeating the autumn air, trying in vain to get tickets to see the marquis NFL matchup between the beloved hometown New England Patriots and the visiting champion Green Bay Packers.

 

Kay and I have spent some valuable sightseeing time on the North Shore (north of Boston, on the shore) in places like Salem, where we once dropped in at the museum that depicts the persecution and eventual hanging of accused “witches” in 1692, and the Atlantic coastal towns of Gloucester, site of the Fisherman’s Memorial statue-by-the-sea, and the quaintest little harbor village you’ll ever seen on canvass, Rockport, complete with boats of all sizes and shapes bobbing up and down in the waters at the town dock, seagulls crying as they glide in endless circles overhead.

Gary deliberates on what to write at the solitude of Walden Pond in Concord

Gary deliberates on what to write at the solitude of Walden Pond in Concord

I’m not forgetting the South Shore and the Cape, either. Remembering the Thanksgiving that Kay and I spent near Plymouth Rock on the ocean in the town of Plymouth, makes me wonder if we did in fact dine with pilgrims. We gazed longingly at their 1620 landing site, at the replica of the Mayflower and at the rock where they first set foot on North American soil.

Gary in front of a replica of the Mayflower on Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, Mass.

Gary in front of a replica of the Mayflower on Thanksgiving Day in Plymouth, Mass.

Gary on Cape CodLike any self-respecting visitor to the Bay State, Kay and I made sure we conducted our own exploration of the windswept sandy shores of Cape Cod. We’ve made the long trip out past cranberry marshes to the very tip end of the Cape at Provincetown, and we’ve stopped along pretty Cape Cod locales such as Hyannis Port, Sandwich and Falmouth.  Just off the coast of Cape Cod is Martha’s Vineyard, where Kay and I decided to take a day ferry and see what the fuss was all about. We found out that the island is made up mostly of exceptional beach front scenery. The ferry took us to Vineyard Haven, but we wasted no time in hopping an island bus to Edgartown, the very charming and beautiful resort town where the movie Jaws was filmed. From there, we took a pedestrian ferry the short distance to grassy Chappaquiddick Island and walked around for a while. Our Martha’s Vineyard trip ended in adventure as we didn’t get back to the ferry terminal in Vineyard Haven in time to catch the last ferry back to Cape Cod. We ended up hitching a ride on a Falmouth couple’s yacht traveling home. Skipping across the ocean waters under the moonlit night sky was fun and relaxing – until our yacht masters got lost for about a half hour in the dense fog off the coast of Cape Cod. After a few moments of apprehension, we floated into Falmouth’s port all safe and sound.

Gary vacationing on Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast.

Gary vacationing on Martha's Vineyard off the Massachusetts coast.

Across Buzzards Bay from the Cape is the former whaling city of New Bedford, where Herman Melville’s novel Moby Dick was set and where Kay and I conducted a lot of our business in our several Massachusetts work projects. And just a few miles to the west is Lizzie Borden’s hometown of Fall River where she supposedly took that axe. In fact, Kay and I dropped by the house where the Borden murders took place.

Gary wields an imaginary axe in front of Lizzie Borden's former residence in Fall River, Mass

Gary wields an imaginary axe in front of Lizzie Borden's former residence in Fall River, Mass

We’ve also spent a fair amount of time in Worcester, New England’s 2nd largest city in the center of the state, and some time in Springfield in western Massachusetts.

 

Gary on the Mohawk TrailWestern Massachusetts is a quite different thing, especially when autumn comes on the Mohawk Trail and in the Berkshires. It’s not surprising that Norman Rockwell called Stockbridge, the little town tucked away in the Berkshires, home. After the flaming colors of autumn are gone, winter brings its own wondrous touch to this area. The first of December might be covered with snow, as well as the Turnpike from Stockbridge to Boston, making the Berkshires seem dreamlike on account of the frosting, to James Taylor paraphrase.

 

 

  

MII can remember our coming back into the USA from Canada and crossing that Ambassador Bridge into Michigan’s urban center of Detroit. I can also recall entering Canada from the USA at the Lake Huron city of Port Huron.  But the most interesting place to do a US/Canada border crossing is at snowy Sault Ste. Marie, at the watery junction of Lake Superior and Lake Huron.   Great Lakes waters abound in the state of Michigan. I remember the windy day we crossed the Straits of Mackinac over the great Mackinac Bridge, viewing water as far as the eye can see.  On the one side was the vast waters of Lake Michigan, while on the other we witnessed the expansive Huron, while the big bridge swayed in the gusts.

All along Michigan’s Upper Peninsula we’ve driven, seeing one enchanting vista after of another that included the pure blue waters of Lake Michigan, as we’d make our way from Sault Ste. Marie down to Wisconsin.  The legend lives on, on the other side of the Peninsula, at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore on the lake they call Gitche Gumee.  Well, that’s what the Chippewa call Superior, anyway.  And I’m talking about shipwrecks, lots of them, on the bottom of the lake.  But I’m really talking about it pristine and staggering natural beauty and Lake Superior has it.

 

 

  

Kay leans in at Pictured Rocks on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

Kay leans in at Pictured Rocks on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula

The Great Lakes around the state of Michigan can seem cold and imposing about any time of year, but never so much as that cold February day when we sat in our car and looked out at the frozen sheet of ice that covered Huron’s Saginaw Bay.

 

The deep bellowing of the ship’s horn told us that we were setting sail out of Ludington and crossing Lake Michigan, bound for Wisconsin.  That was in the summer, part dusk, part night.

 

Kay reads as we cross Lake Michigan on the SS Badger

Kay reads as we cross Lake Michigan on the SS Badger

In crisscrossing Michigan via land in our handful of trips through the Great Lakes state, we’ve seen the cities of Lansing, Flint, Saginaw, Ann Arbor, Grand Rapids and Kalamazoo.

  

MNIn the Land of 10,000 lakes, there must be reflections somewhere of Kay and me in Minnesota’s North Woods, driving along forested highways chasing the legend of Paul Bunyan and his Blue Ox.  With or without the help of sky-blue waters, I can see, in my mind’s eye, us playing at Lake Itasca, a classic little deep woods Minnesota lake.  What makes this lake so special, however, is the little stream of water that leaves the lake, winds through the forest getting bigger and bigger, until huge tugboats and barges can navigate it quite easily as this “little stream” rolls by the industrial centers of St. Louis, Memphis and New Orleans on its way to the Gulf of Mexico.  Little Lake Itasca, all soothing and pristine in the summer, is the headwaters of the Mississippi River, so narrow at that point you can easily throw a stone across it.  Paul and Babe did actually greet us in nearby Bemidji, on the shores of Lake Bemidji.

 

 

Kay at Lake Itasca, headwaters of the Mississippi River

Kay at Lake Itasca, headwaters of the Mississippi River

Yet we’ve rolled through northern Minnesota in the quiet stillness of a snowy winter, too.  Like the time we were driving northbound from Duluth on huge Lake Superior headed for the Canadian woods and saw a timber wolf dart in front of us and go prancing through the whitest of snow.  That time we left Minnesota at the record-setting paper mill town of International Falls.

 

Kay at Mall of AmericaFarther south, we’ve blended into the traffic in the greater Minneapolis/St. Paul area, where we saw our old friend the Mississippi River in much more viable shape than up north, checked out the largest shopping center in the USA in the Mall of America and passed by the Metrodome where the Vikings and Twins play their ball.

 

To the south of the Twin Cities, Kay and I saw not much more than endless prairie. On Interstate 90 in southern Minnesota, we stayed overnight in Austin, the Spam capital of the world, and Rochester, where the famous Mayo Clinic is.

 

Green GiantWay far south, in Blue Earth, we figured we were in the “Bread Basket” when we spotted statues of two famous “food” icons – the modest Pillsbury Dough Boy and the OMG towering Jolly Green Giant.

 

 

 

Gary bundles up going into International Falls, Minn.

Gary bundles up going into International Falls, Minn.

  

 

 

MSIn my mind’s eye I can see Kay and me on the Gulf Coast, years ago, looking out over the dark and stormy night sky at Gulfport and at Biloxi, where mighty hurricanes had once pounded the land.  I remember the time Kay and I were staying in Mobile and drove over to nearby Pascagoula to escape Alabama’s sales tax on food…only to discover the hard way that Mississippi, too, taxes food!  I had forgotten that all the poorer states try their best to starve the people.

  

Kay stands in the deep woods on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.

Kay stands in the deep woods on the Natchez Trace Parkway in Mississippi.

 

  

 

 

More recently, Kay and I drove through Mississippi far from the ocean, beginning on the riverboat town of Natchez on the wide and muddy Mississippi River. From there, we took the unspoiled and undisturbed Natchez Trace Parkway, a really scenic byway that cuts through the middle of the state all the way to near the Tennessee line.  Not a commercial business in sight, we saw magnolia blossoms, tall pine trees, Spanish moss covering huge weeping willows and live oaks, all along our route from Natchez to the bigger city of Jackson and from there on to Tupelo, where we stopped in and saw the little square white house where Elvis Presley was born.

Kay stands outside Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, Miss.

Kay stands outside Elvis Presley's birthplace in Tupelo, Miss.

On one of our trips down to New Orleans, we did get through Meridian and Hattiesburg.

 

MOThe Ozark Mountains of southern Missouri were at their most splendid when Kay and I came through, in the cool of an October afternoon, as we wound our way through scenic and lively Branson.  We discovered that much of southern and eastern Missouri was quite hilly, as in the area we toured around the capital of Jefferson City and the little isolated spot near the Missouri River we visited where Daniel Boone is buried.   And we found out how steamy hot Missouri can be that time we crossed the Show Me State, especially down by Joplin and Springfield.

 

We were still in Illinois headed west when we got our first sighting of the Gateway Arch in the distance, telling us we were coming into St. Louis.  We made a pretty thorough tour of that city that sits on the banks of the historic Mississippi River.  Upstream from St. Louis, we relived fiction as guests dropping into Mark Twain’s hometown of Hannibal, where we got to see “Tom Sawyer’s” house.

Gary whitewashes for Tom Sawyer in Hannibal, Missouri

Gary whitewashes for Tom Sawyer in Hannibal, Missouri

On the other side of the state as we were about to leave the state, we rolled into the bustling cowtown of Kansas City, gateway to big western skies.

Gary poses in front of the Gateway Arch, with the St. Louis skyline in the background.

Gary poses in front of the Gateway Arch, with the St. Louis skyline in the background.

 

MTI remember when Kay and I stood on the Great Plains at Little Big Horn in eastern Montana, where over 100 years ago, Custer and his men met their demise.   I remember how travel in eastern Montana was fast and smooth, and how the posted speed limit signs suggested anything that was “reasonable and prudent”, enabling us to whiz by Montana’s largest city of Billings and past the notorious Freeman headquarters of Jordan in no time at all.

Kay does the rugged outdoors look near a mountain stream high up in the Rockies in Montana.

Kay does the rugged outdoors look near a mountain stream high up in the Rockies in Montana.

I recall the Rocky Mountain area of western Montana to be better to look at. The western towns of Livingston, Butte, Missoula, Bozeman and even Great Falls were nice enough towns to tour. The prettiest of those were Missoula, an artsy, folksy college town in the shadow of the mountains, and perhaps Livingston, in cowboy country in the foothills, where the bubbling Yellowstone River flows on its way into Yellowstone Park down in Wyoming.  We did catch one passing glimpse of the resort town of West Yellowstone.

Gary points the way to Missoula (above) and then stands near the classic ‘M’ on the mountain in Missoula, Mont. (below)

Gary points the way to Missoula (above) and then stands near the classic ‘M’ on the mountain in Missoula, Mont. (below)

Gary in Missoula

We found the real rugged beauty of the Rockies emphasized most in the northwest corner of Montana, in and around Glacier National Park and in Kalispell to the west, where we marveled at high, jagged rocky peaks wearing large patches of snow and ice.

 

 

NEO.K., we’ll admit it: Nebraska is our least favorite of the states we’ve visited. 

 

Beyond its largest city of Omaha on the eastern boundary and the capital city of Lincoln, just 60 miles to the west, there’s not a lot to write about.

 

Kay and I have come to Nebraska a few times for work projects, mostly working out of the aforementioned cities, plus attempting to have success in the outlying towns of York, Grand Island, and North Platte, but never really getting anything going in terms of either work or worthwhile scenery.

 

Three-fourths of Nebraska is just worthless scrubby rangeland – not much to look at.  We almost found some redemption in a quasi-scenic drive from Chadron to Valentine.  But Nah.

 

 

 

 

Kay in Grand Island, Nebr.

Kay in Grand Island, Nebr.

 

 

Turn the page:

https://libertycrusader.wordpress.com/libertarian-crusader-diary/archived-back-issues/special-wish-you-were-here-postcards-from-all-50-states/page-five/

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