I love to travel, especially by car. I’ve been to all fifty states, most of them more than once. In fact, I think Alaska is the only state I’ve only been to one time. I’ve been to a lot of state capitols – gone through security (for the few that have them!), signed their guest registers, taken tours, taken tons of photos, and marveled at the grandeur of some and the simplicity of others.
I’ve lived in four states – Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas. A couple of years ago, my sister and I, who grew up in Kentucky, went inside the Kentucky state capitol in Frankfort for the first time ever. Care to guess three other state capitols I have NOT been inside? Bingo – Tennessee, North Carolina, and Texas! Why do we do that? Why is it that we make it a point to see the unfamiliar while we ignore what’s in our own backyard?
I’m on the road again, with my sister, and we spent the past day or so touring eastern Kentucky, traveling on roads through counties we’d only heard of (our whole lives!) but had NEVER been near. We sat through a traffic jam (due to a bad wreck) in Hazard (yes, that same Dukes of Hazzard Hazard!), stopped at farmers’ market in Corbin (home of the Colonel Sanders Cafe and Museum), sat down and listened to Loretta Lynn in Butcher Holler, gazed at the strip mines and the stuff that came out of them, passed through towns like Eighty-eight, Rowdy, Sassafras, Seventy-six, and Dice, and we started our day the best way – admiring a spectacular rainbow caused by Cumberland Falls.
We traveled on US highways, state highways, county roads, roads with four numbers that are barely over two lanes wide and are very curvy, parkways, scenic byways, and even a few miles (less than twenty!) on interstates. We dodged critters – deer, dogs, cats, and raccoons – and saw (and smelled) plenty of evidence of those that didn’t get out of the way fast enough. We delighted in the thousands of lightning bugs we saw last night, and we noticed that even the smallest of towns in eastern Kentucky seemed to have Dollar General Stores, Arby’s, McDonald’s, Subway, Long John Silvers, KFC, and of course, Wal-Mart. A dismal commentary, in my mind!
We traversed the Daniel Boone National Forest, much of which probably hasn’t changed since Daniel Boone passed through, and we rode up the Country Music Highway. We have a new appreciation for the other end of our home state, and I wouldn’t be surprised if we come back some day. So what’s in your backyard that you haven’t explored? What is it you don’t appreciate or that you just take for granted? I’ll bet that if you made it a point to treat your home town or state as an exotic location, you’d find jewels just like we have!