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No disguise for small-town charm
The hoards of trick-or-treaters barreling through my neighborhood and giggling with glee on Halloween night made me think of what a great town we have here in McMinnville.
As I understand it, folks go trick-or-treating in all parts of the country, but I found the atmosphere here particularly cozy Wednesday night.

I know it's common for residents to complain about their town -- McMinnville is no exception -- but my recent big-city travels have really put into perspective what a charming community we have.

To provide this bit of background, the Clark family spent 10 straight years vacationing at the beach. We'd play in the sand, splash in the water, and otherwise wash away a week soaking in the sun.

Three years ago, we made the decision to vacate our view of the ocean in favor of seeing other parts of America. So in consecutive years we've spent a week in Las Vegas, New York City, and Los Angeles/ San Diego.

It's been one of the best vacation decisions we've made and it's really allowed us to experience life in vastly different places. Along the way, there have been surprises

In Las Vegas, I was stunned at the amount of around-the-clock partying that takes place in every nook of the city. I realized going in it's named "Sin City" for a reason, but Las Vegas on a normal Tuesday is like Panama City Beach during spring break.

In New York City, I was surprised by my feeling of safety, the friendliness of the people, and the ease at which you can travel around the city through a comprehensive subway system. For being the biggest city in the U.S., it was also unexpected the number of parks that are seemingly around every corner, highlighted by the granddaddy of them all, the sprawling Central Park.

In Los Angeles, I found the traffic more unnerving than I ever expected. I'd heard horror stories about the Southern California freeway and I will testify under oath that they are all true.

I think the nonstop traffic headaches have a residual effect on the whole area. People develop so much anger getting cut off and yelled at in traffic, it carries over to their life outside of a vehicle.

Big-city life is certainly a sweeping change from our neck of the woods with New York City being without question my favorite trip thus far. But spending a week there is one thing. Living my life in a 12th floor apartment with neighbors directly over me, under me, and on every side of me would soon zap my enthusiasm. How many trick-or-treaters could I expect on the 12th floor?

The more I travel, the easier it is to see the benefits we enjoy living in Warren County. We may not have the luxury of paying $150 a ticket to see a Broadway musical, but paying $20 at the Park Theater works fine for me.

We're not next door to the mighty Pacific Ocean, but the babbling Barren Fork River fulfills my needs for water adventure.

Traveling is enjoyable and a pleasant escape, but there's no substitute for a great hometown community.

Standard editor James Clark can be reached at 473-2191.