Flyover State: Fort Wayne Indiana

The term  “flyover state” says it all: at best an amused contempt and frequent face palms for the folks who live between SFO/LAX and JFK( Not quite sure where  ORD fits here – perhaps Lakeshore Chcago and the Northwestern suburbs might be seen as a kind of lightly garrisoned base of the coastal mindset.) A place where Wallmart yobbos cling to their guns and religion

Recently  I had  the good fortune to spend some time in Fort Wayne.  What did I see out  in  the wasteland?

First, an airport, that with its aviation exhibit is a destination in itself,  Clean and airy, the design taking the eye to the open sky.  Friendly, helpful ground staff staff, both airline and TSA.  The cleanliness and order are a rebuke to the outright squalor of JFK and LAX/..(SFO I gotta say is looking good)

Supermarkets bursting with summer produce, a visual and olfactory feast.  You would expect that in the MIdwest, but how about an olive bar, with thirty odd varieties?  An array of cheeses including not only varieties from across the country and Europe, but local artisan products as well, in all a delicious  and dizzying spread of choices  that would require a gross of boxes of water biscuits to merely sample.

In the super the choice of wines and beers was excellent, but in a number of specialist beverage stores,it was truly stupefying.  Local craft beers, regional from across the country, and both the greats and lesser-knowns from Europe, Latin America and Asia.   And wine of course California, not to mention Washington, Oregon, Virginia, Indiana, and even Texas. Australia Europe, Latin America.  Staff are helpful and knowledgeable.  Prices: negative sticker shock after Cali.

My daughter,her husband and ew baby Leah livie in  a four bedroom house with a good size yard for $120,000, easily affordable on one salary,and large enough for their two dogs and as many children as they wish to have.

Lovely, shaded roads in good shape.  No bumps, potholes and half-assed patches as I saw in California. The country side green and ripe with the scent of high summer.  Starry nights, and a bone white moon without the penumbra of pollution. Clear, robin’s egg blue skys in the day.

Oh yeah, they have Blackberries and iPhones out there too.  What about “diversity?”  Well, the area is mostly white, which is an offense in some quarters, but I also saw black folks, East Indians, Asians, and Mexicans, all apparently having more or less the same amount of money to spend, some of which they are putting out for new cars.  The roads are not filled with the clunkers you see in Cali these days.

Yes there are a lot of very large people there, more than you see in SF, at any rate.  But there are also  trails filled with runners and walkers. And the lovely, fresh-faced girls the Beach Boys sang about.

I didn’t get a chance to check out the cultural scene but the local zoo has an astonishingly diverse and perfectly curated exhibit on the Indonesian rain forest.  The place was filled with people not only enjoying the animals, but listening to docent lectures and taking part in activities so that they could learn about, and help preserve an environment half way around the world, one that they may never see, but clearly care about.

There was a street fair downtown, but what with the granddaughter’s birth missed that.   Letters to the editor in the local paper, from both sides of the political divide, and the center, were thoughtful and literate.

I hit one outlet of Half Price Books, came away with a wonderful haul,and was impressed by the numbers of solitary browsers, couples, and families who encourage their children to read.

The hospital where my granddaughter was born was fairly new, had a terrific coffee outlet, and a cheap cafeteria.  How sweet is such a thing as the classic grilled cheese sandwich! In layout and feel it was like a good mid range hotel, say Double tree or Courtyard by Marriott. Doctors and nurses were attentive and efficient, but not to efficient to smile.

Food?  Well the Olive Garden is a big deal, and before you give a haughty sniff, try their desserts.  Pulled pork sandwiches – awesome!  And oh yeah, they got sushi, plenty.  And Mexican of course, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese, Indian.

So, fly over folks, book a non stop, or have a drink at ORD or DFW, don’t get off.  You will never know what you are missing,  As for me, I’m with the Jackson Five – “Going Back to Indiana.”

o

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