It’s Summertime, and one tradition in the summertime is the summer vacation. Yes, we here on the peninsula live in our own little vacationland, but other lands await. Mountains, canyons, oceans, prairies. Places — the world is full of them. People, too; the world is full of them as well. There are so many places, there are so many people, and there are so many roads to take. Do you want to see life with eyes wide open? You can! To see this way, there is one thing you really must do. Can you guess? Are you humming the tune already? Here’s how: You must get out more. Hit the road. Travel, in other words. Go up the country. And when you travel, you should open your mind, engage with others, watch, listen, and feel. Feel for them—others, that is. Remember they (all those other people who aren’t you) have pasts and stories and opinions and values, just like you do. They have different ways of doing things. Yours are not better; neither are theirs. Know this and travel with your mind as well as your body. And as you do, your eyes will open up, your life will open up — and your heart. You can free your spirit. Free as a bird. Trust me on this one, and try an old fashioned road trip.

Well? Do you want to try it? Does the open road beckon? Have faith, be strong, flap your wings, remember your youth, and follow these free-spirited recommendations:

Step One: Have no destination. You heard me. Oh, I know it’s hard, but it’s only for a week or two; you can handle it. You’ll be back home in your easy chair soon enough. At the very least, do not have a rigid destination. Maybe make an outline of one. Perhaps choose a direction, at least — north, south, east, or west. Then let the road unfold before you and the days unfold upon you. Take it as it comes, let the people and places wash over you, and be happy. Hey, Canned Heat can do it — you can too.

Step Two: Be positive. Look for the good; watch for it — it’s there all around. So is the bad — It always will be. Ignore it. The good is better. Meet each brand new day on the road as an adventure. Believe that it is, and it will be.

Step Three: Drink coffee. Lots. Hot, iced, fresh, stale; it all helps.

Step Four: Stop thinking you are always right. You’re not. This is key; life is much more relaxing when you are not telling everyone else what to do and think. Take off that burden and set it by the side of the road and drive on, brother.

Step Five: Each place has a history and a heart. Find it, understand its beginnings and appreciate it for what it is. It is not you. It is not your hometown, it is not your history; it is entirely different. That is very cool. Sink into it and learn. Be accepting and gracious. Love it for what it is.

Step Six: Don’t be cranky. Fake it if you have to. Just think — soon you’ll be sitting in a groovy motel patio chair sipping a beer and surveying the scenery.

Step Seven: Give others a break; they’re people, too—just like you. So maybe they can’t make a perfect Manhattan; can you make a perfect “Caipirinha”? Nope.

Step Eight: Frequently ask yourself: “Am I being kind?” “Am I being patient?” “Am I being a blessing to someone?” If you aren’t—be one. Easy peasy. Adjust your behavior. You can—it’s your choice.

Step Nine: Smile. It’s good for your face and for others’ faces. Smiling always helps everyone. You. Them. They’ll smile back.

Step Ten: Go new places. Try new things. Do things the opposite of what you normally do—it’s like exercise for the brain and heart and soul. Instead of telling them all about you and how you do things back home, ask and listen to how they do things here, wherever “here” happens to be.

Last Step: Remember, it’s a big big country, and it’s ours to venture into. Lucky us! We don’t need to show our papers at each state line, we don’t need permission to cross our own borders or enter a town; we can pretty much go where we please and when we please, and in relative safety. I’d say that deserves another “Lucky us!” “Where to next?” was a favorite saying of my father’s and now we can all say it together…it’s summertime—so go for it. Where to next? Go on up the country and see for yourself.

I’m going up the country, babe, don’t you wanna go?

I’m going up the country, babe, don’t you wanna go?

I’m going to someplace where I’ve never been before.

I’m going, I’m going where the water tastes like wine.

Well, I’m going where the water tastes like wine.

We can jump in the water, stay drunk all the time.

I’m gonna leave this city, got to get away.

I’m gonna leave this city, got to get away.

All this fussing and fighting, man, you know I just can’t stay.

Now, baby, pack your leaving trunk, you know we’ve got to leave today.

Just exactly where we’re going, I cannot say, but

We might even leave the USA,

Cause there’s a brand new game that I want to play.

No use of you running, or screaming and crying,

Cause you’ve got a home as long as I’ve got mine.

Canned Heat

‘Going Up the Country”

(Copyright © 2021 APG Media)

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