Greener pastures near to home

Friday, October 1, 2004

It's been a hobby of mine for many years to dream about the perfect place to live.

Where, preferably without leaving the territorial boundaries of the good old United States of America, can you find the best weather and best overall living conditions?

I'm partial to Missouri, of course, and a strong supporter of its four seasons. But I can't defend tornadoes or humidity. Or earthquakes in some parts of the state. So, even though Missouri is the best state in so many ways, I still pine for something better.

Call this the "greener pastures" syndrome.

Or the "fairer weather" condition.

If you would ask my wife about the best place to be, she would say something like this: Anywhere you can see the ocean and hear the surf.

I agree that an ocean view is wonderful, but so are majestic mountains. The beauty of a seashore, in my opinion, can be matched by the Ozarks, the Smoky Mountains or the Rockies.

Besides, some ocean views are pretty tame. I'm not particularly fond of the shores along the Gulf of Mexico or parts of the Atlantic coastline, because the surf there reminds me of the ripples created by ski boats at Wappapello Lake or Clearwater Lake.

A good surf, in my opinion, ought to crash. That's why my wife and I are both so fond of the Oregon coast.

We also tend to think the weather along the Oregon coast is about as perfect as you can find. However, we have not spent an entire winter -- the storm season -- in Oregon. But we've been there during some violent storms, and we've always felt a sense of power rather than violence.

Now there are reports about the threat of earthquakes in Oregon.

Most of the quake forecasters in the Pacific Northwest don't seem to be too concerned about damage from the movement of the earth's crust, but they express considerable alarm over tsunamis, the huge walls of ocean water that are created by earthquakes at sea and that come crashing ashore, destroying just about everything in their path.

That does not sound like fun.

And now we have forecasters saying Mount St. Helens is about to blow its top again. Or maybe not. Experts on volcanoes allow plenty of leeway in their predictions.

I think Alaska has the most spectacular scenery in the country. But could I survive the dark winters? Or the 23 hours of daylight in the summer? Or the cold? Or the snow? Or the fact that there are no highways to speak of?

Let's see: Spectacular views 1, overall negatives 5. That's a pretty lopsided score.

Vermont gets high marks most of the year. But when the state's fifth season -- mud -- comes around during the spring thaw, you have to wonder why anyone would want to live permanently in the Green Mountain State.

Lots of folks in these parts consider Florida to be the best vacation and retirement destination. Of course, I haven't heard much from them during this year's round of hurricanes.

Besides, do I really want to live anywhere where you can play golf 365 days a year (except during hurricanes)?

OK, give me a minute on that one.

Given all the choices, I really think Cape Girardeau is the best place to live. Everywhere else is a great place to visit.

Funny how it all works out.

R. Joe Sullivan is the editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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