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Consider this quote from Abe Lincoln

"America will never be destroyed from the outside. If we falter and lose our freedoms, it will be because we destroyed ourselves."



     I spent the last week in Michigan at the Odyssey of the Mind World Finals. Of course, it would have been much more fun if I would have had a voice at all, but as it turned out a four-day stretch of squeaks and whispers would be all I could manage. I do love to travel though, and try to find some interesting things to see along the way.

     The competition was held on the Michigan State campus. I’m not going to disparage Michigan State, but I’ll be quite honest I felt their campus was kind of a cold and uncomfortable. The campus itself is very long and seemed to me to be more like an industrial park than a college camps. From the west end, which holds the Bresslin Center where they play basketball and Spartan Stadium which looks much bigger on television, the campus stretches towards the horizon to the east and is not a place where you want to be without a car or bicycle.

     The university did do it’s best to make us feel comfortable and at home. From the completely gluten free, if a little odd, menu for our meals, to the sugar cookies left in each room they certainly put their best foot forward. Although much of the campus and local business streets in the area is attempting to rebuild itself, the lack of good signage when so many streets were under construction made it a little hard to get out and spend money in the community.

    Never to fear, World Finals returns to Iowa State next year, and except for one person whose only complaint was that it was a long way to drive, everyone of the officials I spoke with were excited to return to the friendliness and beauty of Iowa.

     I got up early Sunday morning and started home, stopping in Kalamazoo to visit my cousin Jo and her husband Don. Kalamazoo is an interesting community, about the size of Ames and certainly has more than it’s share of interesting architecture and fascinating old things. Kalamazoo is also the home of the promise schools, which offer students in the Kalamazoo districts, tuition and book scholarships to attend any college or university in Michigan. What a great idea, and one, which will hopefully pay big dividends for the area.

     Michigan drivers tend to be aggressive and in a hurry so after a leisurely visit I stopped to fuel up and grab some Timbits at the local Tim Horton’s before pointing the van west towards Chicago. It started raining about the time I made it through the tri-state toll road and pulled off at Joliet to take a look around before the light completely faded. In that part of Illinois, they are starting to understand the historic significance of the Lincoln Highway and Route 66 and some of the older buildings are starting to be redone. The roadways themselves leave a little to be desired, but I’m sure it was probably because I thought there wasn’t enough road for me to drive leisurely along gawking at the things I wanted to see.

    Hopping back on the interstate to head west, I arrived just outside Atkinson as the heavens opened up and found myself ushered off of the interstate, which had been closed due to flooding. After a forty-five mile detour in the dark of night in the middle of a thunderstorm, I made my way back to the interstate and headed west again. Unfortunately there were too many cool things that I only got to see between flashes of lightning and I wasn’t about to pull off to look at any historical markers during a flash flood.

     For those of you wondering, I did see quite a bit of corn planted in mid Illinois and a few beans, but they have had quite a bit of rain the last week or so, which makes me guess they are about in the same position we are as far as planting goes.

     So now I’m home again. Time to stretch out, take a nap and do a little laundry. Of course it is always nice to come home, but I just wish I would have had a bit more time to explore, or to mow the yard when I got home, because I know it will take me most of the week to get it done.

     See you next week…remember, we’re all in this together.