Our trip to Colorado Springs for the holidays is one of the year's highlights. Meeting people, western landscapes and grandchildren keep us driving 2,000 miles one way.
We meet all types of people from many different backgrounds, opening up a different perspective on life. At an IHOP in Kansas, we had a very nice conversation with the manager that could be a "life lesson."
Mike, whose name was actually Mohammed, talked with us about spending time with his elders and how much he learned from them. He told us he has teenage children who think he's strange when he asks them to shovel off the sidewalk. He invested money into a business and lost it all, so he was starting over again managing a restaurant.
He is a Muslim, and the local folks like him a lot and call him Mike, wanting to protect him from prejudice. He said he'd immigrated here more than 30 years ago, always held a job and paid his taxes. He loves America.
He shared how a 20-year-old harassed him because of his looks. Mike's response wasn't to harass in return. He simply said, "I have been paying taxes here in this country longer than you have been alive, young man. Come back and see me when you can say the same."
Under it all, we are humans who face the same challenges of love, acceptance and respect.
Headed west again, the landscape is flat as a pancake. Dotting the fields are oil pumps working to pull crude oil from the Kansas fields. How can we have a shortage of oil and gas when there are hundreds of these on our route alone?
Gas prices steadily decreased from New York to Colorado. On the New York State Thruway premium gas cost $3.77 a gallon; in Ohio, $3.37; Effingham, Ill., $3.32; Kansas, $3.24. The farther west we traveled, the cheaper the gas, to a low of $2.69 for regular.