July 15, 2023
As I write this on the eve of our country’s 247th anniversary of independence, there is a lot to absorb of what is going on in the U.S., from crime to economic uncertainty to Supreme Court rulings. It can be hard to see the good.
We just returned from a vacation in another great part of this nation, taking in the sights of Zion and Bryce Canyon national parks in Utah, enjoying the southwestern cuisine of Santa Fe, N.M., standing on a corner in Winslow, Ariz. (if you know, you know) and strolling along the southern rim of the Grand Canyon.
Such fine sights to see remind me of the beauty that can be found in this great nation. A flight from the Twin Cities transported us from the local landscape of corn and soybean fields of southern Minnesota to the heat of the streets of Las Vegas. They say “It’s a dry heat,” but sweltering is sweltering — regardless what the thermometer or the hygrometer say.
Beyond the sweating, the beauty of the national parks makes you forget about the outside world, for a bit at least. Though I’m happy to report that the television sets in our rooms were never turned on, our cellphones were always with us, reminding us that the outside world carries on.
Blended with the natural beauty of our country was the constant reminder that our world is so, so small — as the number of foreign languages we encountered boggles the mind, including a deaf-school reunion that we stumbled upon.
Outside looking in
One night at our motel, fellow travelers were enjoying a cold one outside their room, just a few down from us. The gentleman and I shared the universal sign of welcome — each hoisting our respective cold ones.
As soon as we joined them, I knew they weren’t from southern Minnesota, only to learn that some of their ancestors certainly could have been. Though our new friends had spent some of their careers in the United States, they were currently visiting from their native Sweden.
The gentleman had spent years working in the U.S. for Volvo, but the extent of travel here was for work. Now that they live in Sweden, the couple can visit our country and travel for enjoyment, and they enjoy every single minute of being here.
They see coming to the U.S., though only for a short visit, as a reprieve from the bleak situation lingering in their home country. Their true love of America showed through when I asked how long they were staying, and he shared, “A mistake on our part, but we’re leaving on July 4.”
I said, “Well, you don’t celebrate the Fourth of July anyway.”
“Oh no, we love America, and we want to celebrate this country, so much better than what we have at home,” he responded.
There appears to be truth in the old saying that no matter how bad you have it, someone has it worse.
With all the negativity in our country, we have to remember that there is beauty around every corner — physical as well as introspective. Our local physical beauty would definitely be enhanced by a little (or a lot) moisture, and certain external pressures paint a bleak picture; but as my new Swedish friends remind us, this land of the free is pretty great.
You just may have to look deeper to find the beauty.
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