Give a hundred people the opportunity to go on a vacation to wherever they choose and the picks would be as varied as the people asked. Headng west, Yellowstone, the Grand Canyon or Glacier are top candidates. The Rockies, the Oregon coast, the California wine country are also likely to be listed. If they live in the west then perhaps they’d select a trip east, to the Big Apple or Washington DC. A visit to the Great lakes might make the list, or the beaches of Florida or seeing New England’s famed fall foliage. Think about it. Where would you choose to go?
What I can almost guarantee is few would say Kansas, Iowa, Nebraska or any of the other Great Plains states that make up the center of the country. The midwest, the prairie land, the breadbasket of the country, call it what you will, but what most won’t call it is their next dream vacation destination. Driving the motorhome cross country, east to west, north to south has led us through this bountiful land several times. We revel in the stark grandeur of the prairie. Driving across the wide open lands of Nebraska you can almost see the conestoga wagons pushing their way west. Willa Cather’s O Pioneer come to life. The rolling fields, the barns, the silos, it is a vast part of America that most people miss as they fly to that once in a lifetime adventure at Disney World.
The term “heartland” has been co-opted recently. It has been given a politicized connotation, shorthand for anywhere that isn’t on the liberal east or west coasts. Too bad. When you think of the heart of something you think of something essential to its viability or survivability. When we pass through the small towns of Kansas or Iowa, wind swept and worn, buried in wheat, corn and soybeans, we are glad we’ve chosen the red roads for our journey. A journey that has shown us the agricultural heart of America.