Harry D. Butler
A recent article in this newspaper related the University of Alabama’s research concerning vacations. I hope you perused that interesting work.
It began this way: “The endless summer surfers, Elvis in the movies, the Go-Gos, Jack Johnson and Jimmy Buffett would probably agree with this premise: Beach people live the sunniest lives.
“But it turns out to be the road ahead that brings the most joy, according to a study by a pair of University of Alabama researchers. Yes, beaches were named most often as desired destinations, in the study of 1,040 travelers from around the United States, but it’s travel itself, the escape from routine, that creates joy.”
This, my family and I agree with. Travel, escape from the routine — as my father often said, “Go somewhere you haven’t been and learn something new.”
Through the years, we’ve seen much of the eastern United States, in trips ranging from the white sands of Pensacola Beach and Daytona Beach and our nation’s oldest city, St. Augustine, all in Florida; to the campground and waters of Virginia Beach, Virginia; to the Smithsonian museums in Washington, DC; to Acadia National Park and the Cadillac Mountain in Maine; to New York City and many other destinations.
Traveling on roads off the speeding interstates is what we have found to be the most fun, and many times the most economical. And in younger days, taking our tents — later, a camper — to vacationer-filled campgrounds was a great way to meet people from across the United States.
“The traveler can climb mountains, sail cruise ships or hike parks,” wrote Jay Waters, a UA instructor in advertising and public relations, who created the study with Jameson Hayes, an associate professor and director of UA’s Public Opinion Lab.
Yes! Waters and Hayes completed an outstanding study. There are many Etowah County folk who totally agree with the results of their work. Their exploits are vividly displayed on Facebook and other internet sites.
Question: Do you know about the Tear Drop Memorial in Bayonne, New Jersey? Those I’ve asked say “no.” True, it is not as well-known as the rebuilt Twin Towers of lower Manhattan in New York. The eldest of our clan, on a trip to the Jersey Shore, suggested we visit; I’m so hungry she did. It was an awesome visit to this historical place.
To the Struggle Against World Terrorism, also called the Tear Drop Memorial, stands at the end of the former Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne. It is the first thing you see as you approach New York by ship from the Atlantic, well before the Statue of Liberty comes into view. It is exactly across the Hudson River from the Twin Towers
According to Wikipedia, the sculpture comprises a 100-foot, bronze-clad tower split with a jagged opening in the middle, in which hangs a 40-foot-tall nickel-surfaced teardrop.
As reported, the UA researchers found that “it’s travel itself, the escape from routine, that creates joy.” When you travel this country’s highways and byways, you will agree that a lot of other people feel the same.
Crawling the undergrounds of Mammoth Cave is an incredible experience, not unlike seeing and touching California’s Giant Sequoia trees, the tallest tree in the world, reaching more than 379 feet, with a base of 23 feet and living up to 2,200 years. (Note: you can buy a seedling for $9.)
Branson, Missouri, home to dozens of star-studded music shows and the Bigfoot Museum; Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Loretto Chapel and its mysterious staircase; the Grand Canyon; boat-riding on Lake Mead behind the Hoover Dam — these have been other great places for our travels during the past six decades. We’re hopeful for many more places to visit.
My editor is fond of travels to Savannah, Georgia; others have also loved visits to Charleston, South Carolina; and some friends have just returned from North Carolina’s Outer Banks to watch the hordes of wild horses.
But let me suggest Alabama as a great getaway. To tell that story will take pages to adequately describe. That work is in progress.
Where have you been, my reader, and where do you plan to go on your next vacation?
Before leaving, I must tell you that one of our best vacations were the days spent at Camp Sumatanga, a 1,700-acre, United Methodist Church-owned facility, open to the public, that stretches along the valley in St. Clair County, nestled against Chandler Mountain near Gallant. The hiking and fishing, plus the long climb up to Creel’s Chapel, were adventures to always remember.
Now, where is my road map?
Harry D. Butler, a former broadcaster, is a motivational speaker and author of “Alabama’s First Radio Stations, 1920-1960.”