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October 31, 2011 / 74

The Fly-Over Zone

If the only view you’ve ever had of the middle of the USA is from an airplane window – you know nothing about the country you live in.

East Coast? History – lots of it English – not real American. And the Southern parts of the Atlantic coast are Spanish – not American.

West Coast? Spanish and some Native American influences… and more recently Asian. And a lot of people migrated to the West coast from the US Southwest and brought some of their culture with them during the Great Depression (soon to be known as the First Great Depression).

But only in the space between the Eastern mountain ranges and the Western mountain ranges, disparagingly called “the fly over zone” by the denizens of the coasts, that you can find America – pure and unadulterated and like no other place on Earth. Yes, you’ll find influences of Europe, Asia, & Africa there – but those influences have all been “adapted” to fit the land and the people who live there.

It is only in the American fly-over zone that you can find space – pure “empty” space – as much space as you need. There are other places in the world that you can find such space – the Russian Steppes and Mongolia come to mind. There are places in this huge “middle” that you can only get AM radio signals at night when the 50,000 watt clear channel stations are broadcasting at full power.  And about 20 years ago I drove across a large area where even those stations couldn’t reach! Think of it – no ipod, no cell phone, no Facebook, just you and the wild animals. And at night, drive for hours without seeing another set of headlights!

But you have to be West of the Appalachian Mountains, or East of the Rockies to find such space. If you just get on a jet at JFK and sleep until you land in Denver, then fly over the Western mountains to land in LA or SF or Seattle… you missed it – you’ve managed to go from one side of it to the other and completely miss your country. And the cultures here just kind of melt and flow into each other to create new and unique cultures found nowhere else in the world. Just the food you can find here is worth the trip.

Although you’ll no doubt get argument from some 0ther areas such as the deep South, or Texas, some of the best barbeque in the world can be found in Kansas City, and Saint Louis, MO. (Two different styles of barbecue.)

“Sweettea” (aka “sweet tea”) is a purely Southern concoction that originated in the Deep South. I’ve had what is CALLED “sweet tea” in Toronto – but it wasn’t. It was just iced tea with a lot of sugar in it. Sweettea is different.

Then you can get on up to the Northern tier of the USA where the immigrants from Northern Europe mostly settled – there you can get sausages to die for.

But enough about food…

If you like Blues music – yep. Originated right here in the Fly over zone. And rock n roll came from the Blues. If you want Blues, the best places in the world to hear it are at the top, middle, and bottom of the country – Chicago, Saint Louis, and New Orleans. Country-Western? Appalachian Mountains and Tennessee.

In a Midwestern town a few years back, a young fellow told a local that he bet he could “run up those stairs”.

The local was puzzled. He looked off in the direction that the young fellow was pointing, and asked, “What stairs?”

“Why, those over there!” the guy said, pointing vigorously.

The local finally saw what the kid was pointing at. He tried to get across to the young fellow that he wasn’t looking at “stairs” – but the young guy was having difficulty understanding that he wasn’t looking at “stairs” but at a set of terraces in a field – where each sloped “step” was about 10 or more feet high, and that it was distance that made them look small. I found it sad that this older teen had spent his entire life up to then where he couldn’t see anything far enough away to understand the changed perspective that distance can give you.

I understand that some people find such open spaces terrifying – and I pity them because there is a freedom that you can 0nly experience when you can see long distances – without crowds of people and the works of man in them.

The Flyover Zone – you can’t experience it from the air.

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