Sometimes it's fun to be a 'tourist' in your hometown

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By Phyllis McLaughlin

When I was a very young reporter living in Fairfield County, Conn., I was able to get together with a good friend I’d met a few years earlier when we were both students at Ohio University in Athens.

Penny lived in New York City, and I had always envied her. She was very sophisticated and cosmopolitan, compared to me – a small-town girl from Northwest Ohio. NYC was an exotic place that I’d always wanted to see. I have always been a traveler at heart.

When I moved to Connecticut, I finally had the opportunity; and the best part was knowing a native there. I took Metro North into glorious Grand Central Terminal as often as I could afford to go. Riding the train wasn’t very expensive, but everything else was. And at that time, money was very tight for me.

And lucky me: I had my own tour guide. Penny knew the city like the back of her hand; transfers on the bus or the subway were second nature to her. I still haven’t figured out how those work.

During the five years I lived in the Northeast, I saw a lot of the greatest city in the world, running around with my friend and sometimes with her friends. We visited South Street Seaport, Battery Park, Central Park, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Museum of Natural History, and took in several shows at Radio City Music Hall. We ate at some very fancy restaurants – one, in particular, was The Saloon, across from Lincoln Center. Once, they featured that very restaurant years later on an episode of “Friends,” and I exclaimed to my Dear Husband, “I’ve been there!”

Imagine my surprise, though, when I asked Penny if she’d been to Ellis Island or the Statue of Liberty, and she said no.

No? Why, I asked, would you not visit those places when you lived right there, close by?

That’s exactly why, was something close to her answer. Tourists do that stuff; city people don’t. It was that simple. It was passé – perhaps even gauche – to go places where one would be surrounded by people who were merely visitors to The Big Apple.

I never could talk her into taking me to those places. When my parents, my sister and my niece and nephew came to visit one summer, I did manage to get us to the top of the World Trade Center. I’m very glad I did.

But, I kind of understand the mindset of not being all that excited by big events or attractions that are close by. You hear about them for years on end, and the novelty wears off. In the big cities, of course, the lines are terribly long. And there are the inevitable traffic jams. It can take hours to go 30 or 40 miles.

I was thinking about all of this on Saturday, when I realized that all I had to do to watch some of the boat races during the Madison Regatta was drive down to the Milton boat dock – maybe a mile from my front door.

It was great. There were very few people there, and I didn’t have to stress over parking or getting my press pass. And, I got probably closer to the boats as they raced by than most people did on the Madison, Ind., side of the river.

I confess. Were I not editor of The Trimble Banner, there are some events in the area that I probably wouldn’t go to every year. The Regatta is one; it’s not my thing, althought when I do go, I find myself really enjoying the races.

The great thing about living in a mostly rural area is that when you do want to go someplace, generally it’s a piece of cake to get there.

And frankly, it doesn’t bother me in the least to be out among the tourists.


  Phyllis McLaughlin is editor of The Trimble Banner and lives in Milton, near a lot of cool stuff.