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By Staff | Apr 26, 2013

My wife and I enjoy trips traveling one road to our destination and returning home on another. The trips can be one night or two weeks in length.

Of course, the destination is its own reward.

To get to these places and everywhere in between, we drive the miles there and back home.

I believe the last time we traveled by plane was 1995. I have nothing against flying. It is the best way to get somewhere in a hurry, especially if crossing an ocean is required.

My first choice when traveling is driving. We frequently talk about places we stopped at that were not planned such as Virginia Beach, Va., and enjoyed those places so much we say we should go back.

We have stood at Niagara Falls, wearing raincoats, that could pass as garbage bags, because the mist is constant.

And we have been in Monument Valley on the Arizona-Utah state line, where many Western movies have been filmed using the mitten buttes as background.

We were there in June when the heat seemed to suck the moisture right out of your body and wondered what this must be like in August.

I bought a kachina (a spirit of southwestern Indian mythology that has the power of protection) painted on a red rock from Howard, the Navajo, who was selling them out of his pickup in front of one the mitten buttes.

Our trips are characterized by me looking for the next photo stop which could be anywhere and my wife thinking about where to get our next meal.

We have eaten Indian fry bread at Elko, Nev., knoephla (pronounced nef-lah) in Bismarck, N.D., and Peruvian chicken in Silver Spring, Md.

According to my wife, her favorite barbecue was in Wichita, Kan., at a converted gas station and the best Thai food was at (you won’t believe this) Jackson, Wyo.

Me, I look for the hamburger. I look for the black and blue (as in blue cheese) burger. The best one I had was in Bayfield, Wisc., with Indianapolis, Ind., a close second.

It does not take very long, once we are on the road, to learn that this country, while having its own failings, remains a great place to live. The best is always the people we meet along the way.

There is no denying the events of the past week made it a tough time. Just as we were trying to explain to ourselves how the horrific ending to the Boston Marathon could have happened, an explosion at a Texas fertilizer facility resulted in an even greater loss of life.

Adding to the bad week, here in my hometown we lost two members of our community. One, in his early 60s and a friend of mine since grade school, to cancer that was only diagnosed last December and the other was a retired 85-year-old farmer, a former neighbor and friend of many years.

The gloomy days emotionally were accentuated by the gloomy weather from the winter that won’t end.

Most Aprils we have the windows open at least a little, but not this year as the windows are shut tight and the furnace runs regularly. Snow still gets mentioned in the weather forecast.

All these things when added together make it hard to be positive at the beginning of each day. It is the absence of sunlight that is the final blow.

So, rather than succumb to a mental funk, look for something in the future that is positive and remind yourself that better days are coming.

The tulip bulbs we planted last fall have started to emerge and I count the tips each day. There are eight so far.

These green tips tell me better days are coming. They’ve never been wrong in years past.

Our seed potatoes are sitting in a bag in the house because the garage is too cold. Their eyes have green tips that tell me they are preparing for spring and another year.

My job is to get them in the ground as soon as it is fit.

So don’t let the sad times overwhelm us. There are plants waiting to grow, places to see and food to enjoy.

This remains a great country populated by wonderful people.

Someday I may even get to complain about having to mow the lawn.

Rye is a Farm News staff writer and farmer from Hanlontown. Reach him by e-mail at crye@wctatel.net.

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