I decided that I needed an idea for some easier blog posts.  I didn’t want to think so much all the time.  So I thought I would start a series about “five”.  Most likely, these would be five favorites in some category, but not necessarily.  If you decided to reply to any of these posts, you might include your five, as well.

I gave ordinary spouse the task of coming up with the first topic, and she gave me a choice: either five foods (if I wanted something easy) or five places.  I’ll do the foods eventually, but since I’ve sort of touched on those before, I’ll start with five favorite places.  So here we go…


1) The Appalachian Mountains of western Pennsylvania, western Maryland, and West Virginia

I grew up there.  Now I can’t get back enough.

Since this is my list, I’m going to define this place broadly.  Otherwise, I’d need to take up multiple spots in my list.  Laurelville would probably show up at number one.  And I’d need to make room somewhere for Savage River State Forest in Maryland.  This way, however, I can put those two together, and sweep in some other places like Deep Creek Lake, Rocky Gap, and Canaan Valley, as well.  And while I’m at it, I can give an honorable mention to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia.

2) Central Florida and the Florida Keys

Here I go, doing things broadly again.  When I was young, my family made a trip to Florida approximately every three years.  Two of these trips included extended stays while my father was on sabbatical leave from his teaching position.  I have especially fond memories of our time there in 1983.  Highlights include collecting shells on Sarasota beaches; collecting shark teeth on Venice beaches; watching the Pittsburgh Pirates in training camp in Bradenton*; visiting Jungle Gardens, also in Sarasota; snorkeling with a shark, eating shark steaks, and getting pinched by a blue crab, all in the Keys; and, of course, Walt Disney World**.

I have not spent an extended amount of time in Florida since 1983 (yikes – 26 years ago!), so this is all in my memory.  I wonder how I’d experience all of these things now.

* I have an autograph for every player on the 1983 Pirates roster.  While we were there, I was upset that I could never find Enrique Romo to get his autograph.  Later, though, I found out that he never reported for training camp and was cut by the team.  It had a “Whoa – I was there” moment when I looked at Wikipedia today, and it said basically the same thing.

** I know, I know – it’s all commercial, big business, blah, blah, blah.  It’s still one of my favorite places on earth.

3) The Boundary Waters in northern Minnesota

I’ve been to the Boundary Waters once for a week with a group from my congregation in Ann Arbor.  The place defines ‘tranquil’ for me, in every sense of the word.

4) The glacially-impacted areas of Michigan and northern Indiana

I debated about this one.  I really don’t care for that incredibly gloomy season that comes between winter and spring here.  It just seems to last forever.  On the other hand, if you ask me what comes to mind when you say “autumn”, then I’d say “tromping over moraines in the woods at Au Sable“.  Beautiful.

5) The Bay Area in California

Muir Woods, Mt. Diablo, green hills in spring, California cuisine (whatever that is), and crazy people wearing flowers in their hair.