Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Feeling Comfortable Away from Home

I was smiling to myself today as I got in my son-in-law's car to drive home from the Hy-Vee store. Smiling because I felt comfortable enough to venture out to the store by myself without a Garmin providing directions. I enjoy getting to know places I visit. Since 2000 I have gotten to know four very different places- thanks to my children and their educational or work pursuits.

Carlisle, Pennsylvania is the county seat of Montgomery County, PA and home of Dickinson College. During the four years my daughter attended college there we would drive the 3 hours from our home in NJ to visit or drop her off for a new semester. I loved the downtown with its antique shops and Market Cross Pub which had the best chili cheese fries around.

Four years later my son was off to Blacksburg, Virginia home of Virginia Tech. Blacksburg is in Montgomery County, Virginia. ( I wonder how many Montgomery counties there are in the US?) I really like the eight hour drive to Blacksburg. Most people would cringe at the thought of driving 8 hours anywhere but not Nick and I. We think "Road Trip"! We take Rt 78 to Route 81 which takes you through the Blue Ridge Mountains. The colors and mountain scenes you can see during the drive are incredibly beautiful. We have our favorite stops along the way like exit 298 with a pet friendly McDonalds. Sometimes on the way home we stop in Carlisle for a bite to eat. Blacksburg ( BB) is a wonderful college town. In the six years that my son has been in Blacksburg ( 4 years undergrad / 2 years grad school) I can easily find my way around campus , downtown and neighboring Christiansburg .We have some favorite hotels-Hawthorn Suites and Holiday Inn with their free breakfasts- and restaurants- Bulls and Bones, El Rods, & Outback. I love being a Hokie Mom and cheering on the football team.

When I was in remission the first time and halfway through my son's undergrad program, my daughter attended the University of South Carolina for her masters. USC is located in Columbia, the capital of South Carolina and is a twelve hour drive from our home in NJ. Outside of the NY/NJ metropolitan area this has been the largest city we've gotten to know so well. Terry lived about 4 blocks from the Capital Building, one block from campus and an easy walk from the Vista area and Five Points. My favorite side trips included the historical homes in Columbia and the Riverbank Zoo. St. Patty's Day in Five Points is a lots of fun. I always felt that southern hospitality when we would visit.

Seems like my kids keep moving farther and farther away. Today's excursion was around Manhattan, Kansas where my son-in-law and daughter live. This is part of Riley County in the Flint Hills of Kansas and not far from Fort Riley, on of the largest US Army bases. It is a long road trip to Manhattan from NJ. Twenty-two hours driving time but 2 days with a much needed overnight stop. This trip I flew from Newark to Kansas City. KC is a two hour drive from Manhattan on Interstate 70. There is a small airport in Manhattan but there are limited flights from KC or Dallas. Manhattan,fondly called the Little Apple, is another nice college town, home to Kansas State University and the Wildcats. This mid-western town is such a friendly place and St Thomas More Church is especially welcoming. Even a trip to the food store makes you feel welcome. When I walked down the aisle of the HY-Vee in search of tea the store manager stopped and said hello and the young lady at the check out took the time to chat.

From the farms of Pennsylvania, to the Blue Ridge mountains of Virginia to the prairies of Kansas - what a beautiful country we live in. It is wonderful to be able to visit different towns and really get to know the people and the area. I like to go off the beaten path.

Every Day is a Blessing! I have been blessed these past five years since diagnosis to visit and get to know so many different places.

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