Because my husband is a real-life farmer, his "busy season" at work lasts from March through November. This makes summer-vacation planning quite difficult. IF it rains a lot and IF he's caught up on things and IF there's nothing on the calendar, he MIGHT consider a last-minute weekend trip somewhere, but actually planning a good-old two-week family vacation is out of the question.
I don't give up easily, however. My sister moved to Ohio three years ago, and with a new baby in her house this spring, we were eager to go visit. Thus, we decided to take our "summer" vacation over Christmas break.
Ohio was our original destination, but once we looked at the map, we realized how close Columbus is to a lot of things on the east coast. (And yes, I realize that "close" is a relative term. Another 8 hours on top of a 17-hour trip to a midwesterner is not such a big deal. 8 hours to someone who lives on the East Coast is much more daunting.)
We went to Columbus, and then continued on to Philadelphia to see all the things that normal families visit on summer vacations. We even went to New York to see the Statue of Liberty since it was "only" another 2 hours away. (Truth be told, though, in true rural-Minnesota-I-don't-like-crowds-or-traffic fashion, we parked on the New Jersey side rather than attempting to drive in New York City.)
We were gone for 17 days and covered 3725 miles, giving us the opportunity to see a lot of the country and meet a lot of new people.
Before we left, we'd hear comments like "My brother used to live in Pennsylvania, but it's just not the same as the Midwest, so he came back here." At the church we visited near Philadelphia, we were told that most of their members hail from the Midwest and return there the first chance they get.
So what is it that makes the Midwest so appealing to one who grew up there? Do people from other parts of the country say the same thing? "I just couldn't wait to move home to Texas," or "The Pacific Northwest is where my heart will always be." Is it just because home is where your heart is, or is there really something special about where we live, with our fields of corn and soybeans, our "Minnesota nice" and wide open spaces with "the Cities" not too far away, our good work ethic and family values and wide-open spaces?
I don't know. We found people all along our journey friendly and helpful, polite and considerate. We saw beautiful countrysides and pieces of history, six-lane highways and winding back roads, just like we have here.
Still, after enjoying the trip and seeing many new things, it was good to be home again.
What do you think? Is there really something special about the Midwest? Or do we just love it because it's what we know the best?
If you've ever wondered what it would be like to travel halfway across the country with a minivan full of kids in the middle of winter, my blog has all the details.