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In just a few weeks I’ll be heading home for a vacation. This will not only be my first vacation but my first time in Illinois in three years. I’m looking forward to catching up with my nieces and nephews. I’ve been told the youngest has turned into quite the chatter box; I can’t wait to hear all she has to say.

I also plan to visit are my best friend, his wife. I was privileged to take part in their wedding, now meeting their newborn son is an additional blessing. I’ll be honored to introduce myself to their little man is just beginning to experience the world. With people like his parents, grandparents’, aunts and uncles as a guide, I have little doubt he’ll live up to his name, and bravely change it for the better.

I’m hope several evenings are spent watching the corn and beans grow, while enjoying a cold beer. I regret being closed off during high school but I’m interested in seeing what my friends have been up to lately.

They'll be gatherings, laughs, family dinners and hopefully a reunion or two, with some whom I haven’t seen in far too long.

It was suggested that I attend a meeting of Rock Island County’s Ronald Reagan Breakfast Club. I’m sure politics will be the topic of multiple conversations, but seeing the ghosts of campaigns past doesn’t excite me. I’ve realized that I can’t help those content to do the same things over and over, still expecting different results.

I’m already craving several types of local fare including Whitey’s Ice Cream shakes. Known across the world, the company has eight locations within easy driving distance of home. I’ve missed some uniquely Midwestern restaurants since heading South. Although it’ll be impossible to get my fill, I plan to give it my best shot.

There’s also a chance they'll be several ripe tomatoes on the vine. There’s something special about soil that helps tomatoes grow and taste perfect.

I envision putting a few away, along with an unhealthy amount of bacon, I’ll add lettuce for garnish.

I expect a trip or two around the old neighborhoods and a stop at the cemetery to see my dad and my grandfather. I’ll talk about Texas and share stories, hopefully by the next time I return the pull to that place won’t be quite as strong.

I love working, but I also want to visit the nation’s Capitol at my speed, experience Disney World again with my mom, and pay my respects at Pearl Harbor, and Europe. I want to feel my soul come to life outside Memphis Blues Bars and Nashville honky-tonks.

Those excursions will require time and planning, but this column reviled a desire to refresh my batteries more frequently. I love music, history and learning, but haven’t always taken advantage of opportunities to see more in North and East Texas.

Please feel free to offer suggestions for potential weekend getaways in Texas anytime.

Mark Archibald is a freelance reporter and columnist. His opinion column, On the Mark, recently won first place in column writing from the North and East Texas Press Association’s Texas Better Newspaper Contest, an annual contest for member newspapers honoring the best content published in the previous year.

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