Kim’s Top 15

Inspired by this article (“The 15 best places to live in England and Wales revealed“), I decided to stick my neck out and list the top fifteen places to live in the United States.  Before I do that, though, I need to frame the discussion somewhat.

I have traveled around the United States a great deal, mostly on business but also on vacation and (with Longtime Friend Trevor) on trips to remind me just why I fell in love with this country.  A lot of my memories may now be irrelevant, changed by events and time, but there ya go.  (I loved Portland, for example, when I spent a week there back in 1990, but I believe it may have changed quite a bit since then.)

Also, one may love a place for different reasons.  The DM  article is very careful to state that their top 15 list is based on natural- and architectural beauty.  As we have a great deal of natural but not much architectural beauty Over Here, that’s a bit of a speed bump.  As a general rule, I’m not one to spend hours and hours at a beauty spot in awe of the countryside and whatever — I’m more likely to be found enjoying a local pub or restaurant.

Many beautiful places in the United States have hopelessly fucked-up governments, whether state and/or local.  If one were to live there, one would have to weigh the place’s benefits with the downsides.  (Carmel CA for example is one of the most beautiful places on the planet, but given the government of California, its totalitarian attitude, its iniquitous taxes and its shitty gun laws etc., would it be a great place to live?  Only if the place’s beauty is worth more than one’s personal freedom.)  Most of the government-related issues above can be referred to as “The Shit”, and I’ll be doing so as we go along.

In parallel vein, many wonderful places to live have been infested by Californians, New Yorkers, Bostonians, Chicagoans and the like, who bring their horrible habits and screw up Paradise everywhere they settle.  I’m going to try and ignore that phenomenon as much as I can, although the baleful effects of these ticks on places like Colorado, northwest Wyoming, Maine (and, well, you know the rest) can make a once-attractive place unbearable.

I am not a “country” kinda guy, to look at another aspect of all this, so living 10 miles outside Fuck, Nowhere doesn’t much appeal to me.  I like my drive to a decent supermarket to be less than 30 minutes, and the restaurant choices to be varied and fairly exotic, for example, so a town or area where “Bob’s IGA” is the only supermarket choice and “fine dining” is solely of the Applebee’s variety would not suit me.  That “not country” thing extends to beaches and the seaside in general, mostly because of the concomitant heat and humidity which bedevil places such as Florida — although there are a couple of exceptions to this, as you’ll see.

I’ve lived most of my life far away from water, whether the sea, a river or a lake — Johannesburg and Dallas, to give examples — and even when I lived closer to the sea (New Jersey) or to a lake (Chicago), I never actually saw the water, as such.  (My old apartment in Lakeview looked out over Lake Michigan, but I only lived there for less than a year.)  So I wouldn’t mind a bit of water to look at, not at all, and if no water, then I’d like a few hills sprinkled around — after northern Illinois and north Texas, I’m pretty much done with flat.

And all this assumes that I had the wealth necessary to live there — not lottery-type wealth, just sufficient funds to get by in that area.

I’m not going to rank my top 15, because while I’ve picked them, I’m very aware of their downsides as well as their attractions.  There is no absolute #1 or even #2, because all these places have significant problems for me personally, or else I’d be living there right now instead of flat, hot north Texas.  So here they are, as I think of them.

The Maine coastline, or “Down East” (as the locals call it) is one of my top choices.  I know that the winters are long and dreary, but fall and summer are priceless in this northeast corner of the continent.   The scenery is quite lovely and the ambiance is terrific, and best of all for me, if I feel like getting a little bit of foreign culture, cuisine and food, Montreal is just a few hours’ drive away.  (For the same reasons, I could live in New Hampshire, although only in a very few specific areas.)  If I’m going to be specific, I like York, Boothbay Harbor and the area around Camden — also Portsmouth NH which is strictly speaking not in Maine, but it’s not in Massachusetts either.

I’ve spoken of my fondness for northwest Michigan before — and as with Maine, there is that winter warning — but the area around Petoskey and Travis City is exquisite.  Across Lake Michigan, there’s

Door County, Wisconsin.  Although much of Door County is overrun with FIBs (Fuckin’ Illinois Bastards, as the locals affectionately call them), it’s incredibly beautiful all the same.  My only issue with DC as that the nearest city is Green Bay, and ugh.

Cannon Beach, Oregon.  I know, it’s Oregon;  but Cannon Beach is far enough away from Teh Crazies (I think) to make it a worthwhile choice.  It’s one of the very few places I’ve been to in the U.S. where I actually stopped to look at housing prices.  As was:

Coeur d’Alene, Idaho.   The city itself is not that great, but good grief, the surrounding countryside is incredible — not to mention all those lakes scattered around.  Trevor and I once actually looked into buying a cabin up there together, as a “writer’s retreat” kind of thing.

Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  All my reservations about Floriduh notwithstanding, I rather like FL, FL.  Most of all, I like the restaurant choices (seafood, steak and Cuban!) and because so many wealthy people either live there permanently or vacation there, it’s not a podunk city by any means.  Further up the coast is Boca Raton, also a decent place.  Over on the other coast, I rather like Naples, although the real estate prices are eye-watering, almost Californian if you want to live anywhere with a sea view.  The best thing about Florida is that you don’t have to run away from the weather (except of course in the case of the occasional hurricane), and July and August are in their own way as bad as January and February are in the Frozen North, so there’s that.

Afterthought:  I’ve been to several of the Daily Mail ‘s top 15;  and of all of them, I’d pick Bradford On Avon.

In a heartbeat.  That’s one place where I’d put up with all The Shit just to live there.

Check This, Assholes

Here’s something to brighten your day:

Miller was contacted following a complaint by an offended party about a poem he shared on social media which was deemed transphobic. The officer explained that, although not illegal, this nevertheless qualified as a ‘non-crime hate incident’.
Why, Miller asked, was the unnamed complainant described as a ‘victim’ if no crime had been committed? More to the point, why was he being investigated at all?
To which came that ominous response: ‘We need to check your thinking.’

So we’re all clear, this happened in Britishland, where the fuzz (I prefer the British term “filth”, myself) have been playing reindeer games like this:

Now I’m not one to advocate violence against the pigs (such as these);  I don’t believe in firebombing cop cars, or ambushing police officers, or anything like that.

But I would be hard-pressed to condemn an action where some free-speech-advocating malcontent might put a couple rounds of birdshot through this sign — as long as there weren’t any cops standing around, and nobody was hurt, or anything.

Note to the fascist Wokistas on this side of The Pond:  don’t even think about it [sic].  And if any of the local fuzz ever accuse me of an “offense” like this, they’d better have the relevant statute ready to quote, along with a large number of other cops.

I need to cut down my morning intake of gin, but bullshit like this doesn’t help.

Marksmanship In Flip-Flops

There is an outstanding series on hunting in South Africa’s Eastern Cape:  a gentle, funny and very accurate portrayal of the conditions over there.   I’ve never hunted in that part of the world, and I wouldn’t care to do that now — heat, hills and thorn trees are not my idea of fun.  But it is for these kids, and they do it with consummate skill, in sandals.

Take an hour or so and follow the sidebar’s recommendations on the Oxwagon Diaries.

Nothing New

Here’s an interesting consequence of the Chinkvirus:

Denmark is set to introduce a government-sponsored coronavirus vaccine passport in coordination with airlines early this year, a national Danish broadcaster has revealed.

Now the idea of a “vaccination passport” has a whole bunch of people tied in knots, as it’s just one step away from the old “Papieren bitte”  way to install restrictions, tracking and control on travel.

I’m not one of them.  In the first place, proof of vaccination has always been a fact of life when traveling anywhere outside your home country;  try visiting India or Africa without proof of smallpox/yellow fever/etc. etc. in your passport, and you’ll be turned away from the boarding area.  (This, by the way, is as much to ensure that not only are you immune to catching the pox whilst Over There looking at strange temples etc., but that you don’t bring said pox back with you to an un-vaccinated home population.)  The only reason one doesn’t need proof of vaccination when traveling from the U.S. to places like Britishland and Euroland is because said diseases are not only notionally extinct (except where, surprise surprise there are large numbers of illegal and un-vaccinated border-jumpers), but where children are routinely vaccinated in order to attend school and so on.

So I’m indifferent to the idea of a Chinkvirus vaccination passport as part of international travel — and for that matter, in terms of local travel and behavior as well — and especially because once inoculated, I wouldn’t have to wear a stupid and ineffective face-condom every time I wanted to go out of the house.

Of course, the conspiracy morons are going to insist that Gummint is going to use Pox Passports to track individuals’ movements and behaviors, and of course that is a valid concern.  Just remember, though, that we’re talking about Government here:  the morons who can’t find their own assholes with both hands, a map and a trail of crumbs.

I know that in movies, government agents always require just a few clicks on their (Apple — LOL) laptops to create all sorts of data reports at the drop of a hat — the risible Person Of Interest  TV series being the apotheosis thereof.  Longtime students of both government, database systems and the combination thereof know that this facility is very much part of the suspension of belief required to view any work of fiction these days.

Besides, I’m relying on the criminal marketplace to produce passable copies of said documents in sufficient numbers to make the entire thing untenable — just as fake driver’s licenses can and have been used to enable fraudulent voting.

It’s a non-issue, and we have bigger things to worry about.

Simple View, Utter Beauty

At the moment, I’m reading Bill Bryson’s The Road To Little Dribbling, and as always I’m torn between helpless nostalgia and loud laughter — my general reaction to Bryson.  But the reading has pushed me into homesickness for Britishland, the feeling all the sharper because under current Chinkvirus restrictions, I can’t go back there and do all the things I love doing, such as driving through the countryside and marveling at the towns and villages as so memorably described by Bryson and embedded in my own memory from countless trips past.

I don’t often do this, but I thought I’d share with you the picture that’s currently my laptop’s wallpaper (right-click to embiggen to its original 1920×1200 size):

I don’t know if I’ve ever driven through this particular village, but I’ve driven through so many like it that it doesn’t matter.  Frankly, after a while they all become a blur, another “OMG that’s-so-beautiful-I-want-to-live-here” moment.

Of particular interest, nay even alarm to my Murkin readers would be the fact that despite the single tire-tracks in the road, it is in fact a two-way street which leads itself to moments of sheer panic should you encounter, for example, Bob The Plumber’s oversize Ford van coming the other way.  Such a situation requires either

  • pulling to the side (left) as close as possible to the walls / hedges and hoping that Bob will be able to get past without scraping the side of your (rental) car, or
  • driving on regardless while hoping that he will squeeze to the side leaving you enough room to get past without scraping the side of your (rental) car, or
  • pulling into a driveway — which action is inexplicably frowned upon by the householder
  • or else in the final resort, reversing back towards a “wider” portion of the road so that both you and Bob can pass by each other with a friendly wave from Bob at your patience and good manners.

When Mr. Free Market sets out for a destination outside his own village, he as often as not takes a completely different road each time, just to take in the exquisite countryside.  I once asked him if he’s ever got used to, or even bored with the countryside he drives through every day, and his answer was succinct:  “Never.  Not even close.”

I can see why.  Scenery such as the above plays a huge part in my laptop wallpaper selection — I don;t change it because I’m sick of it, only because I hanker after another scene.  Here, for your delectation, are a few others (ditto the embiggening):

(that’s a giant pic;  allow some time to load)

More, upon request, if like me you’re a fan of the English countryside.