Believe it or not there are still a lot of wonderful people in the world and as I travel across the country, I find a large percentage live right here. No question we have our share of the unsavory, but the power of the kind and honest outweighs them proportionately.
Outdoors folks in particular show me that all is not lost and I still believe we can, as individuals, make a difference. We have to keep trying and never give up. Instead of dodging the potholes, we need to fill a few. Push back instead of taking cover. The law of large numbers is on our side.
For the last couple of years, my wife and I have been thinking about moving … getting the heck out of Illinois. While this is home to us, too many and high taxes, poor leadership that believes spending more solves problems, and abysmal weather have us weighing the options.
When looking, we are making sure water and warmth would be part of the equation. We have looked long distance at houses in Florida, we lived there before and loved it, as well as Alabama, Kentucky, Texas, Missouri and Arkansas.
It seems every time we narrow things down to a particular area, a hurricane, a mass shooting or other calamity occurs and we change direction. For better taxes and warmer weather, there are negatives in each place we have centered on. Narrowing it down is a tough job. Here is our top three:
The area around Kentucky Lake is like a second home to me. Years and years we took family vacations to Cedar Knob Resort near Benton, Ky., and it really grew on us. I also fished numerous tournaments there and some of my best friends in fishing live in that area.
Paducah is close for shopping — important to my wife — and prices on homes and property are manageable. Seasonal changes exist but are not usually as harsh. This area was our first choice.
Now for the bad omen: the Asian Carp infestation has turned one of the best fisheries in the country into an also ran. Numbers are down and the rebound looks to be a way off. Economy could be hugely impacted by the lake’s downturn and ultimately so could property values. Good for buyers, but real bad for sellers.
I love the Sam Rayburn area in Texas and the lake is one of the top two lakes for bass fishing in the world. It seems the Texans I have met are a lot like the folks in our area. Right is right and wrong is wrong. Costs are reasonable and small town atmospheres abound.
Depending on location, housing costs are reasonable and there are still some good picks on the lake in our price range. All good, right?
Weather is a consideration that is hard to overlook. It is nice most of the year, but severe weather in the form of tornadoes, hail and floods is an issue. In some years, drought is as well. It also gets hotter than a $2 pistol in the summer.
We lived in Jacksonville, Fla., for eight years and honestly loved it there. Although traffic was a huge issue, even then, we had some great friends and I could fish 12 months of the year on hundreds of lakes and rivers. Cost of housing was affordable and shopping and good places to eat were plentiful. We still have a lot of friends in that area, but have started looking at Central Florida this time around.
Again the negatives are increases in traffic, crime and, of course, hurricanes that seem to be the rule more than the exception.
This search has found one thing for sure. The grass isn’t greener than right here in good old McLean County for most things. If we could slow down, quit spending money we don’t have and quit taxing those of us who live here, it would be an even better place to live.
Central Illinois is where my family and heart is, but just like those who have already left, we are real close to a tipping point. Many more will leave and that is not good for those of us left.
I love Lake Bloomington and Evergreen Lake and both make Illinois and our communities better. Recognizing their value more fully to include recreation is important.
We are not sure where we will end up and it may be here, but rest assured warm weather and the tug of the line will be part of the decision process.