Pages of my life…

Somewhere In America

Posted on: August 19, 2009

All across this great land of ours are tiny tributes to humor and patriotism.  Like offerings in a collection plate…they simply are…and have not been counted for quantity or rated for effect.  The picture of the tree above my writing is a feature in the landscape I have admired for many years.  It is not as imposing as a mountain…nor as graceful as wildflowers gently swaying in the breeze.  It requires no water in summer and does not seem to mind the winter snow.  As I drive along the highway just across the Columbia River…I catch myself smiling…looking forward to seeing landmarks that feel like old forgotten friends.  A man made lake beckons me to bring a picnic…and wade in the cool water on a hot summer day.  A bit further down the way is a store with a selection of unusual items intended to peruse and amuse.  As you make your way south …the road invites you to take in winding curves and drastic changes in the landscape from one mile to the next.  A bit further still…will be an unassuming hundred miles of desert and tumbleweeds laid out before you.  Tiny towns are few and far between.  Just as soon as you are thinking this stretch of road will be beyond boring… you spot the tree. What could be easily passed by as mundane and  ordinary… is in reality a virtual shoe tree.  Hanging from the branches are hundreds of pairs of shoes and boots in every style and color.  Aside from making jokes about the well heeled area or calling it the tree with sole… this unique sight has been around for many years and makes me smile every time I see it.  Some miles away you will pass by a sparsely populated bump in the road that used to have a sign that said Population 19.  Each year I would look to see if children had been born…and they must have had a bumper crop one year because they were twenty five in number.  I was disappointed on my last trek through to see no sign at all.  Perhaps someone thought the town was getting too big.   Not far away is a town with spirit and a half…as countless flags line the streets complete with a holiday parade.  The entire side of a farm building not far from there is a spectacular American flag created with metal and painted to perfection.  If you carry on into California you might encounter a fully decorated Christmas tree and display along side of a mountain.  Heading south from Fairbanks Alaska is a couch perched high upon a ridge above the road…fully occupied by an entire family of large stuffed animals.    There is another little town in Alaska where license plates are collected and posted by the town’s welcome sign.  License plates from all over the world proudly show the diversity of visitors.  I have seen cowboy cutouts on hillsides and wooden animals of every size and color looking like well behaved herds.  A while ago I suggested that a collection of sightings…which I aptly named the "Somewhere In America" series…be compiled into a book to benefit charity.  I think it would be a wonderful tribute to the countless men, women and children whose sense of humor and patriotic pride contribute to the quality of life for visitors and those simply passing through.  So…the next time you are on a long trip surrounded by seemingly sleepy scenery…look around…and I mean really have a good look around.  Beside the obvious games like car Bingo and I spy with my little eye…there are animals to spot…a multitude of nature’s surprises to explore…and occasionally a shoe tree in the horizon.  I used to bring bread for the ducks in the park…bubbles for blowing in the breeze…and now I pack an extra pair of sneakers…just in case. 

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