The title is stolen from a book I liked in which a bunch of authors were invited to write about a place that had personal meaning. That, combined with a recent post by Jimmy Patterson at Sticky Doorknobs, about favorite places in his home state, got me thinking in a memish sort of way.
I thought. Why not? Yes. Why the heck not write my own favorite places meme? So, here are some of my favorite places. The order does not reflect rank.
1. The Missouri River at Chamberlain, South Dakota. In 1994 I took students to South Dakota for the first time. On I90, as we neared Chamberlain South Dakota, we drove up a hill though the grade was sublte and we didn't notice it. Until we crested the hill and the vast expanse of the Missouri river valley opened up as if it were a gift to us straight from God. Waving grass on both sides and the river... it must have been this place that inspired the line "We're bound away 'cross the wide Missouri."
2. Long Beach Island, New Jersey. "Six miles at sea," they say, becuase the Island is six miles long. A beautiful place, even today, to watch the sun rise. Last year I awoke one summer's night at 3 am, hopped in my Cabrio and drove out to LBI to do just that. Beautiful. Home to Barnegat Light as well as the infamous Barnegat Inlet---ooooo, dangerous.
3. Yellowstone. One day while leading a wilderness trip in Tennessee, as I sat in the pre-dawn in a grove of pine trees that perfectly framed a full moon, I asked God to please provide me with the means and time to visit Yellowstone. One month later, a high school senior asked me to be the photography advisor for the yearbook. "I don't know anything about photography," I said. "So?" he replied. I had no idea it was a paid position. It paid enough to take me and mine to Yellowstone. I'm after the Lord right now to give me the chance to go back. Every American should get there at least once.
4. Rocky Mountain National Park. Specifically, Many Parks Curve on Trail Ridge Road at about 6:20am in mid-July so you can watch the sun rise over the front range.
5. Heartland Presbyterian Center in Parkville Missouri. One year a good friend invited me to drive out there (from New Jersey) and volunteer at a middle school summer camp that he helped lead. It was called Challenge Camp. The experience changed my life, literally. After that I chucked my job in a New York City ad agency (it took six months) and traded the corporate fast track for the ministry slog. Anytime I'm at Heartland (the last time was five years ago) I think, "take off your sandals for the place where you are standing is Holy Ground."
6. Pine Ridge, South Dakota. For many years the poorest town in the poorest county in America. More like a third world country than you would be comfortable admitting in this great nation of ours; but it really is a beautiful place. I don't think the many trips I've made there helped improve any lives, except maybe my own.
7. Don't laugh at this one. If you are traveling eastbound on I80 at magic hour (the few minutes immediately following sunset) on a clear day, about two miles away from the Iowa 80 truck stop near Walcott, Iowa, I'm sure you'll find it breathtaking. Or maybe not, maybe I'm just weird. Still, it makes my list.
8. The Honey Hut, Cleveland, Ohio. My favorite ice cream. Try it sometime and you'll get the Honey Hut Smile as have so many before you.
That's all... for now.
Jannotti tag: travel