The beauty of travel
As you can imagine, and have heard/read from my communications, this job comes with a lot of travel. Being gone 90 nights a year and hanging out in commuter airline concourses may not be appealing, but other aspects of the travel is rewarding and exciting. It can also be beautiful.
Unforeseen vistas and touching small scenes have stuck with me throughout these eight years of wandering. Because it's Thanksgiving, I'm especially grateful for the opportunity you've provided me to see some wonderful and wonderous sights. This is a little long -- hope you'll indulge me.
From over the flat plains of the west, I drove toward the unexpectedly luminous skyline of Tulsa in twilight. I don't know what I was anticipating on this first trip there, but it wasn't the Oz I saw in the distance that night. The city rising up from the flat plain, lit by a nearly-set orange sun. Stunning.
Another surprisingly beautiful road experience occurred in the Rio Grande Valley. Thousands of yellow flowering cacti speckled the roadside for 100 miles, standing out in what would otherwise be a monochromatic desert scene.
Urban art forms -- Mickey's Diner in St Paul has been placed on the national registry for its historic authenticity. I just think it's beautiful.
Golden Gate, Centennial, Olympic, Stanley and Central Parks . . . the Commons in Boston . . . the Grassy Knoll in Dallas . . . Temple of Heaven in Beijing . . . the botanical garden in the Bronx . . . the olive tree canopies on the campus in Tucson . . . the Arch. Iconic city green spaces with pasts and presents and presence. I've been able to enjoy the landscape/topographic artistry and life of all of them.
I've seen a hundred sunsets through plane windows -- over the snow covered Rockies, the impossibly blue Pacific, white-capped Lake Michigan, Red Rocks of Utah, the swollen banks of the Mississippi and endless wheat fields of Saskatchewan. The view from up there gets old.
Getting lost in small towns on the way to chamber offices has presented me with chances to see beautiful neighborhoods in small towns across North America. A tulip filled Victorian street scene in Holland Michigan and a snow lined college avenue in Mankato. I've seen the glorious homes facing the surf in Carmel and the cobblestone lanes overlooking Gloucester's harbor. If I didn't miss my turns, I would have missed the white fenced front lawns in Niagara on the Lake and the canal nieghborhoods of Fort Lauderdale. From Glens Falls to Cedar Falls, you live in some Rockwellian places.
I have also been privileged to see an endless tapestry of people in space -- scenes I'll never forget. Amish kids bouncing on a backyard trampoline (yes, it's allowed). The sea of hats in the grandstand at the Derby. Solitary runners on a Sanibel beach. A million Chinese in the lights of Tiananmen Square for the centennial's final night. 500 proud smiling faces looking back at me in Nashville when I delivered their Chamber of the Year Award. Dejected young ballplayers walking beside the road after being eliminated from the Little League World Series in Williamsport. Fiesta on the street in New Mexico, art show in Waterloo, election demonstration in Istanbul, inauguration in DC. Wow.
The travel sometimes seems hard, but there are so many rewards -- among them the chances to see and feel the beauty of countries, cities, towns, panoramas and neighborhoods. I am very thankful that you're still inviting me to visit. Onward.