The Road To Happiness…..

Kathy and I left Denver on Sunday in what is supposed to be Ted’s Magical Mystery Tour of Florida and environs. With a “rocket box” installed on the rooftop of the trusty Subaru Outback we set out against the elements. Yesterday morning in Columbia, MO brought with it sheets of ice and sleet. We like driving but this was a white knuckle job until we got south of St Louis. The car was covered with ice which with the turret up top looked like the war machine from Animal House. I am trying to figure out if I was “D Day” or Belushi at the wheel in search of the accursed Dean Wormer. I have been on double secret probation my whole life.

As we got under way there was an airing of “Ted” on NPR. They were discussing happiness and how to achieve it. If only it were so simple. But there were truisms and they didn’t revolve around things but rather a state of mind. The gist of the conversation revolved around outreach and a nice thing called gratitude. Not particularly looking for the next good hit but realizing how really fortunate we are. That’s a good concept. I’ll let you know if it works.

We like driving for a couple of  reasons. The first is that is really enjoyable to see and experience different people and their cultures. Wait TTG, you sound like you are visiting different countries. In a way we are. Sure we could fly and ship the car as someone suggested but the view from 30,000 is a bit jaded. The second part is the best. As you put things on cruise control you can really just sit back and think. You let your mind wander as long as you keep the wheels on the road. There is no CNN or FOX per se but rather a bit of reverie that is not only stimulating but refreshing.

I find myself looking at the dark and rich soil of Kansas and seeing just good people. A lot of our leaders past and present have grown up on those farms. I mean the good ones that remember where they came from. Eisenhower, Truman, and Dole to name a few. I see cities like Kansas City and St Louis and wonder how they will fare in the future. The brilliant skyscrapers last pushed to sky twenty years ago and they look a little dated. The glitz has gone elsewhere and now they have to get creative. I see the vast and remote fields of Arkansas and Mississippi and I wonder how we can possibly get education and healthcare to these people without even considering Obamacare.

I see the huge Burlington Northern and Santa Fe container handling yards  in Memphis and you have to marvel at our countrywide distribution system. Who knows where the goods in those boxes originated but you have to bet on the far east  or some other haven of cheap labor. Besides that as you pass this little town or that you are blown away at the number of ways people earn a living. Health care is big as are personal injury lawyers if the billboards are any indication. Widgets and whatchamacallits abound. And that also is a good thing. But there are so many fallen down shacks and deserted storage buildings you think of dreams that blew up in someone’s face. Then again that really is the beauty of the American landscape. No blame. No shame. Just get in and try it all over. Bully for you.

We spent last night in Birmingham, Alabama. The beauty of road travel allows you to mooch off some wonderful people. Ed and Kendrick are the best. Neat but not gaudy is a phrase designed for them. They have everything you could want in life but there is not a scintilla of over the top. They took us into their home and shared their life long city with us. There is a gentility and graciousness of the South that has been tarnished by a thing called prejudice and that is not altogether fair.

Ed and I spoke of this. We both agreed we could not look at another human being and hurl invective and rage but it was there. Ah, before ye judge think of your own little world. Tell me you are without this bias or that. Italians? Jews? Women? Not in my country club you say. Sometimes the bigotry in our heart far outweighs the race riots of long ago. That’s not absolving people but just don’t be so smug. I try not to be.

Even though it is February you can feel rivalries as you wander through. The Wildcats. The Jayhawks. Does Missouri as a whole really hate Kansas as a whole? Roll Tide. No way I am Auburn through and through. The Seminoles and Gators shine up their armor for next year’s war at opposite ends of the interstate. We drove through Nebraska one time in the middle of May. There was a woman in a red car with a red dress on and I am sure she was humming the Nebraska fight song. These are sicknesses for which there is no cure.

Our 2,000 miles are drawing to a close but there is a lot more ahead of us. I hope you don’t mind if I share thoughts with you from time to time. About people, places and most of all life. Get out of the road for an hour or two. Even if you are doing 80 things go slow. Turn on some good music and think about this world we live in. If we ever figure it out it is a pretty cool place to be. Road to happiness? I hope so for all of us and not just the few.

As always

Ted The Great.

Factoids:

Animal House was made in 1976 for $2.8 million and grossed(no play on words) $141 million at last call. I try to watch it and Fletch at least once a year.

Vestas is a wind turbine company with many installations in Kansas. There is a startling array of 111 of these monsters on Interstate 70. This one company has over 48,000 in operation worldwide providing power for some 25 million people. The height of each unit is over 300 feet and can rotate at a speed exceeding 150 miles per hour.

The Interstate system was championed by President Dwight D Eisenhower. Construction started in 1956 and now accounts for over 47,000 miles of interconnected highways. The highways are kept up by a 18.5 cent tax on gasoline. There is no new money for construction and the Highway Trust Fund is in trouble. Not enough money is causing the creation of toll toads which of course everyone is against. So let’s see. We don’t want to increase taxes and we don’t want to pay tolls. Sounds like gridlock to me except the roads need work.

With Division I, II, III  combined the total number of  college football teams comes to around 1000. There has to be somebody you can root for.

There are 23,000 inhabitants of Itwamba  County, Mississippi. Think of all the county services provided by this and thousands of other counties in the US. Then think of redundancies with adjoining small counties. Do you think there is a whole lot of waste.?  Sorry, I was just thinking.

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