This year I have again been blessed to travel the length and breadth of the United States of America and no matter how many times I do it, I never cease to be amazed at its diverse beauty, the variety of the landscape, the patchwork of its cultures and its incredible people.
America is a gigantic microcosm of everything the planet Earth has to offer, beaches, mountains, deserts, huge redwood forests, rolling prairies, bayous, teeming city streets and lonely country lanes, massive rivers and isolated rural creeks where the mist lifts with the sunrise and the perch bite early in the morning.
You can attend a grand opera in New York City or the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville Tennessee, an NFL football game in Atlanta or a high school game in a small town in Texas where the Friday night lights shine bright and the outcome of the game can affect the mood of the townspeople for a whole week.
In Baltimore you can sit at a table loaded down with steamed crabs that spent the night before in the Chesapeake Bay, or get hungry just smelling a cheese steak sizzling on the grill in some hole in the wall in Philly, grab a bowl of three way chili in Cincinnati or go native in Louisville with a Hot Brown. The clam chowder in New England is second to none and don't miss the étouffée in the Big Easy or the T-bones in Big D or the Trout Amandine in Wyoming.
You can scuba dive in Biloxi or ski in Park City. You can tour the beautiful Napa and Sonoma Valleys of California and sample the excellence of the winemaker's art or backpack through the pristine wonder of the Arizona wilderness or ride a cable car to the top of a mountain in Albuquerque.
There are places on the Atlantic where the rising sun coming up on the ocean can start your day in high gear and spots in Colorado where the full moon shining down across the new snow can take your breath away.
I've sat by a roundup campfire in the company of working cowboys and slept in a bedroll under the clear Big Bend night sky and jingled horses before the sun came up, their shod hooves sparking against the volcanic rock as we moved them toward the cow camp to begin the day's work.
I've fished the icy waters of the Kenai River in Alaska and battled the big king salmon and snowmobiled the Rocky Mountain high country where the aspen trees are as big as a barrel and the snow is five feet deep.
I've seen the breeze stir the wheat fields in Kansas and split a big herd of elk on a backroad at daylight one morning and they stood on each side of the road their breaths steaming in the cold mountain air as they looked at the interloper in the SUV who had invaded their space.
The bright lights of Broadway are something to see, but they can't compare to a chilly Montana night when the stars are as thick as leaves on a holly tree and blanket the sky from horizon to horizon.
I love the Cajun accent in Louisiana, the clipped Brooklynese, the Harlemesque, the unique way of pronouncing words in New England, the gentle ramble of the people in The Southeast and how can you describe the beauty of a double rainbow in Hawaii.
I love my country, I never tire of seeing it, exploring touching it, tasting it and loving it.
America, my home, my heart.
What do you think ?
Pray for our troops, and for our country.
God bless America