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Jewish World Review
June 27, 2008
/ 24 Sivan, 5768
America the Beautiful
Well, we just got back from our excellent cross country adventure and I'm here to report
that all went rather nicely. Even though we drove through the country's mid-section during all those horrendous thunderstorms, floods, and tornados, providence was with us and we escaped any and all mishaps. Sure, we had a few days of thunder and lightening, and there were times of pounding rain, but we got through it and it really didn't impact or alter our travel plans at all.
This time we took US route 50 most of the way across and what a pleasure it was! We drove through small towns and villages and encountered very few big trucks, no traffic to speak of, and enjoyed the beautiful countryside. Quite a different experience than taking the big nerve-racking, super-duper interstate highways like 70 or 40. It was actually relaxing!
US 50 is known as "the Loneliest Road in America," and for much of it, it certainly is. 50 is one of the longest highways in the country, stretching from Ocean City, Maryland, to Sacramento, California, and passing through Washington D.C., Cincinnati, St. Louis, Kansas City, Carson City, Lake Tahoe, and Central Colorado. A sign at Ocean City declares this coast-to-coast highway is 3,073 miles long.
Once upon a time Route 50 extended all the way across to San Francisco, but California legislation in 1972 shortened it - stopping the route at Sacramento. Even so, Highway 50 is still regarded as one of the last coast-to-coast highways that remain intact -- since the road to San Francisco was merely replaced with Interstate names. Time Magazine called Route 50 "the backbone of America" and after driving it I can understand why. It is a great way to see Middle America first hand.
Driving across on the Interstates, you begin to think that America is made up of nothing but Holiday Inn Expresses, Marriott's, Burger King's and Denny's. By contrast, talking Highway 50, you definitely get a sense of small town America with its beautiful rolling hills, green pastures, quaint small towns, and family farms. It's a trip every American should take at least once in his life.
And what a wonderful drive for animal lovers! We saw deer, elk, opossums, rabbits, sheep, llama, goats, lamb, even a mamma duck with her ducklings following behind, and more dairy cows than you can imagine, and a load of bulls. Horses, horses, horses everywhere - some of them magnificent looking as they grazed and pranced in lush corrals.
As we drove through the Rockies and into the Painted Desert our hearts swelled with wonderment at God's beautiful handiwork. The incredible red rocks which make up much of Moab, Utah can take your breath away. The forests of West Virginia have another kind of beauty all their own. And Kansas has a quiet pastoral landscape that is unlike any other place. Even the corn fields and wheat fields seem to have a different appearance from state to state. I know it sounds corny, but really, each state has its own unique charm.
I don't know how any American could make the drive we did, and not feel engulfed by patriotism. How could you not feel pride? Pride in the country with its glorious mountains, deserts, plains and forestland. Pride in the people who work their farms, ranches, and small businesses. Pride in the whole American ethic that has made our country what it is - the greatest country on earth.
As we traveled along, we couldn't help but recall the words of America the Beautiful, each line of the song proving to be absolutely true as we witnessed the beauty with our own eyes.
O beautiful for spacious skies,
For amber waves of grain,
For purple mountain majesties
Above the fruited plain!
G-d shed His grace on thee
And crown Thy good with brotherhood
From sea to shining sea!
How lucky we are! How blessed! America the Beautiful. Indeed she is. May we always do right by her and may God keep her and guard her always.
Happy Independence Day to you all!
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JWR contributor Greg Crosby, former creative head for Walt Disney publications, has written thousands of comics, hundreds of children's books, dozens of essays, and a letter to his congressman. A freelance writer in Southern California, you may contact him by clicking here.
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