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Harris Blackwood: Don’t wait, see the sights while you can
Harris Blackwood
Harris Blackwood

I’m guilty. About 22 years ago, I took my daughter and my nephew to Florida on vacation. I was divorced and it was just two kids and I in a car for about 9 hours.

I had recently purchased a TV with a built in VCR that would operate off the car battery.

I put them in the back seat and the only argument was about every hour and a half when they were debating which movie to watch next.

I did not stop in Cordele and show them the Titan missile at exit 101. It is right next door to the Krystal. There has not been an invasion, foreign or extraterrestrial, in Cordele since the missile has been there. By the way, it is completely unloaded or whatever you do to a missile.

I didn’t stop at the big peanut. I don’t even think we got free Florida orange juice.

When I was their age, my dad traveled at night. Our car was not air-conditioned and we would leave as the sun was going down. We would arrive at some destination near a beach about the time the sun was coming up the next morning.

I am now paying for the time I missed seeing roadside lore on the highways and byways of America.

I have been, not once, but twice to the Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Idaho. I have been photographed with the giant fiberglass baked potato out front. The second time, a Boy Scout took the picture for us. There wasn’t enough traffic on the street to assist people across.

I have been photographed with Salem Sue, the world’s largest Holstein cow, near New Salem, North Dakota.

I have made the obligatory picture at the signs various National Parks and historic sites across the fruited plain.

Katherine Bates, who wrote the poem, that eventually became “America, the Beautiful,” was inspired to write her poem on a trip to Pike’s Peak in Colorado. I’ve been there and have the picture to prove it.

By the way, it was first called the enameled plain, not fruited.

I’m an unabashed, flag-waving American, who has fallen in love with this country once again. I regret that 22 years ago, I didn’t go west and see the wide-open spaces with those kids. We did go to Busch Gardens and saw a bunch of wild animals.

I’m going to head out later this summer and visit a few places for a second time. There is a place in Custer State Park where you drive your car through a hole in the mountain. When you come out on the other side, you are at eye level with Teddy Roosevelt, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln and Thomas Jefferson. It is one of those moments that almost take your breath away. You’ll also see miles of unspoiled countryside under the clearest of blue skies.

If you have grandkids of school age, load them up and take them some place that you will be seeing for the first time.

We are going to crossover and see a little piece of Canada that we have never seen, just to be neighborly.

Summer is just getting here. Plan your trip now!

Harris Blackwood is a Gainesville resident whose columns appear on the Sunday Life page and on www.gainesvilletimes.com.

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