As I approach 60 years of age, I sometimes think about places in the U.S. I’ve never been to. I suppose it’s a self-indulgent fantasy; I can’t afford to travel much anymore. The poorhouse is one place I’ve never been to, but I just might move in one day.
I offer this partly to ask you, What are the places you’ve never seen, but want to get to? I bet we all have a list; here’s mine.
• The Pacific Northwest. I hear it rains all the time, and seldom gets what I’d consider warm. But Seattle sounds like an interesting place, and a good friend of mine is a native Oregonian who loves that state.
Also, I think a person should visit every part of the country if they can, to see what’s unique and distinctive there, so someday I’d like to go to the Northwest.
• New England. I took a train from New York to Boston once for a memorable weekend with Avon “Pete” Gillespie, but we didn’t see much of the city. He was a music educator, one of the premier proponents of the Orff method, and what I most remember about the trip – well, besides what happened in the hotel – was his conducting, and my participating in, a workshop he held at a Catholic church. He taught me how to dance; he could teach music and movement to anybody. That weekend I saw what a star he was in his business. I miss him.
Besides Boston I’d like to go to the small towns. Recently a friend sent me his Beacon Guide to the Churches of New England, which I’ve always wanted to visit. The Episcopal Church, which I belong to, was given birth and nurtured after the Revolutionary War by the Diocese of Connecticut; I’d like to see Bishop Gene Robinson’s New Hampshire and meet all the Lesbians in Vermont. I’d like to taste real maple syrup for once; I’ve never had it. I’d like to get up to Maine and go to Acadia National Park. My first real mentor in life was married to a Cajun girl from Louziana, but the Acadian story starts in that area between Maine and Quebec.
• The Grand Canyon, which is on everybody’s list. I’d like to go through it rafting on the Colorado River, as well as see it from up top.
Recently the government build some kind of projecting observation point, which I’m really dubious about, but maybe I’d like it.
• Hawai’i. If there’s a paradise on earth and I know where it is, why do I not go there?
I’d like to visit places associated with King Kamehameha and Queen Emma, less because they were royals than because they were saints. I’d want to honor the Native Hawai’ians; every American should know and appreciate our Aboriginal peoples.
• The Gulf Coast. I’ve been to Central and South Florida several times, Jacksonville, St. Augustine, Gainesville, Orlando, Daytona, Miami and Fort Lauderdale, but I’ve never been on Florida’s west coast. Never been to Key West, for that matter. I was in Tallahassee once, taking a Greyhound after a visit to my father, and saw a Colored Only waiting room. I couldn’t wait for that bus to come to get me out of there.
Now I have a standing invitation from Calvary Church, Indian Rocks Beach in Southwest Florida, and I hope to get there. I’d like to visit Savannah and Mobile, too, maybe on my way to New Orleans and Lafayette.
• I haven’t really seen California very well. I’ve never been particularly attracted to Los Angeles with all its smog, but I’d like to see the redwoods and giant sequoias, so immense that they make a person feel very, very small and think about God.
I’ve been to San Francisco and Sacramento, but everyone ought to drive Highway 1. Big Sur would be nice, and there are lots of Gay visitors to Russian River, but I think the big attractions are the trees and the Pacific.
• Maryland and Delaware. I spent a night in Baltimore once, but it’s changed a lot since then. I think I’d like to visit Annapolis and eat my way through all the seafood shacks.
• U.S. Virgin Islands. I’m sending my fictional characters Jamie and Kent there on vacation, but all I know about the place is what I’ve gleaned online. Did you know that St. Croix has a national park with a snorkeling trail? It’s just a few miles from where Christopher Columbus first made land.
Finally, one place in the United States that I have no intention of going to: Alaska. I don’t care that it’s big and beautiful and has a wonderful Native culture and all the other great resources in the state. It’s freakin’ cold up there and I ain’t goin’, not even in July. The whole idea of Alaska turns me off, and I haven’t even mentioned Half-Gov. Sarah Palin yet. A body like mine does not do Alaska, I would be miserable there. My skin would itch all the time. Give me heat and humidity, which Alaska ain’t got.
Did I mention that on St. Croix it’s always 83º? THAT’s my kind of place.
Where do you want to go?++