Monday, January 12, 2009

There's No Place Like Home?

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.


Moms At Work said...

I've lived all over the East Coast and can say that there's nothing more pleasant than small-town life in rural Ohio. I've never resided in the true Midwest...but I'm sure it's just as pleasing.

Pat Montgomery said...

It occurs to me that whereever you call home is where you are most comfortable. Is one area better than another? Not really, just what you are used to. I have lived all over the county and each place had its charms.

Anne Mayhew said...

Home is where the heart is. I now live on Martha's Vineyard and have for 15+ years. I still refer to Vermont, where i grew up, as home. They are both my home. I've not been to the mid-west and will have to make the trip!

Heather said...

I read a stat once that said something like 75 % of people who move away from Minnesota move back to Minnesota. My parents were no exception. Maybe we're all gluttons for punishment.

Anne said...

I grew up in NY and I wish I could get back there. I agree that it depends on what you grow up with. I like to visit the mid-west, but I don't know that I could live there.

Sandra Foyt said...

I've lived in Albany, NY longer than I've resided anywhere, and yet, "home" is the island where I grew up - St. Thomas, USVI.

Usually, I don't spend too much time thinking about "home" but on freezing cold days of Winter, I can't help but remember my Caribbean home!

...and she lived... said...

My husband was in the Army and has lived all over the place before moving here to Minnesota. Out of all of the places that he's lived, Hawaii feels the most like home to him. He likes Minnesota a lot but he gets homesick for Hawaii sometimes. Especially when it's -22 degrees outside! So out of all of the places that he's lived...I'm okay with Minnesota being number two after a tropical paradise!