Atlantic City

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Dense fog and slush this morning. The sparkling blue skies of the past week, gone. The deep cover of fluffy powder snow, now a soggy thick blanket, more gray than white. Long, thick icicles vaporized. The woods hushed, muted birdsong, heavy raindrops falling. The slow shift of the seasons at play, daylight lingering longer in the late afternoons. This traveler happy to be at home, dry and warm. Last month, a brief work-trip south to New Jersey, a reminder to embrace the beauty outside my own front door.

The hills of Vermont and upstate New York behind us, congestion and urban grime dominated the landscape as we passed through the sprawl of New York City. Once past the city, the highway opened into beautiful wetlands and nature preserves, with glimpses of hawks and herons. Replaced all too soon by gaudy high-rise casino hotels and giant billboards, views to the marshlands and sea obliterated. A beautiful stretch of beach and ocean destroyed by development, boardwalk clutter and amusements parks, shuttered for the winter. The ocean beautiful, even in the off-season. On the boardwalk, walkers and joggers, feral cats roaming free, signs of homelessness and poverty, most visitors shuttered inside in dingy smoke-filled casinos. Overpriced food and underpriced hotel rooms, a convention mill, with emphasis on crowd control at the expense of customer service. A one night stay too long for this country girl, we could not get on the road north fast enough.

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