On the road | AspenTimes.com

On the road

Paul E. Anna

Sometimes you have to go far away from someplace to appreciate it.Judging from all the cars in the parking lots at the airport and the lack of familiar faces in the post office and on the street, many of us have taken leave of Aspen in these few days between the on-seasons. Some of you, no doubt, have gone to exotic, fun-filled locales, like Hawaii, Costa Rica, Europe, etc., to surf, sun, eat, drink and generally be merry.But a bunch of us, yours truly included, find ourselves visiting many of the more mundane destinations in this great land of ours, to check in with family, take care of business or catch up with friends. These trips can be difficult and, at times, taxing on both the body and the soul.Paul E. Anna currently finds himself in Wilmington, N.C. A seaside southern town, Wilmington does indeed have its charms. The ocean is warm, the downtown historic, and the air is seaside fresh. But, like much/most of America, it has been homogenized to within an inch of its life.All the roads are packed with cars, are constantly under construction, and lead to shopping mall after shopping mall, each with the same stores. Fast food is everywhere, and it is nearly impossible to get a meal from someplace that is not part of a publicly traded conglomerate. The supermarkets are bigger and better than ever but sell the same processed and pre-packaged foods that one gets in any big-city market everywhere. Does food come from the earth and sea anymore or just from factories? It’s getting tougher to tell. Air conditioning is king down here, and the most common feeling one gets on a daily basis is that of walking through a door into an artificial-air environment.Help, I want the mountains!When I’m home in Aspen there is always something I can find to complain about. Yes, even Paul E. Anna gets the blues. Last week it was how wide the new Rio Grande Trail was. Can you believe they took paradise and put up a parking lot?But when I’m away I can’t wait, repeat, I can’t wait to get back to the valley I call home. I long to run on that wide, wide trail. Problems may exist but compared to just about every place else, we live in a blissful place.If you are there and if you are reading this, take a good look around, click your heels three times and say, with enthusiasm, “There is no place like home. There is no place like home.”Trust me, there’s not.