A week in Ontario was preceded and followed by a drive through the US. On the way up, my husband and I drove through Maine, crossed the border into Quebec and then onto Ottawa and then to a small town in the Ottawa valley. The trip home was a slightly different route, cross into the US at Cornwall, then drive across upper New York State, into Vermont, across New Hampshire and then through Maine to cross into New Brunswick at Calais/St. Stephen's.
The trip up was serene as we followed a wonderful river through Maine, a river where you stop and marvel at the clear water running over smooth stones. The dog loves it.
But the trip back revealed a different story. Upper New York State is First Nations land, St. Regis Mohawk Indian Reserve. I had driven this way last year in June, but this year was different. Almost every single business was closed, except for the Casino. And a billboard tells the truth: a picture of a casino with the words "This is not our traditional way of life". I wish I had a photo.
Vermont was better, being a state that caters to the young professional who spends his leisure time getting and staying fit. Scores of bikers (and on the kind you pedal) and beautiful mountainous landscape, very lush after this summer of heavy rain. The towns feature more Latte Bars than diners.
Then New Hampshire and once again, the tell-tale signs of houses for sale, businesses boarded up, many of which have simply been abandoned. People must have just walked away and cut their losses. An entire saw mill for sale with all the equipment; a brand new business complex, boasting 12000 square feet, for sale or lease.
And Maine even worse.
There is no denying that the US is in financial crisis. I imagine that people in the cities don't see it, unless they live in Detroit. But out in the countryside, it is clear that this is the age of small business decline, the mass migration to the cities, and sad houses left empty, reminders that once a family lived here.
We don't see this in Canada, perhaps it is coming, because we really do follow the US in everything else. Our economy is tied so closely to that of the USA that, should our neighbour to the south go belly-up, we will be right behind them.
Frightening to see this, but my overwhelming impression is one of sadness, that so much has been lost in that great nation.
And I couldn't help but think that Ann Coulter is right; make a nation of people dependent upon the state for everything, and you will have the Democrats in power forever.