We have a great state with so many choices of what to do, see, and experience. However, we tend to stagnate in our perspective and scope of experiences. We interact with the same kind of people and the danger is a myopic view of the world.

Most of us have grown up here and we're used to how things are in our world.

The problem is that we tend to think the rest of the country functions and thinks like we do. Or we fall into the trap of thinking that people in other parts of the country aren't as smart or sharp or hip as we are, especially here in New Jersey.

If you're a more conservative person, you will find that you don't feel like an outsider in much of the rest of the country. If you have a more "woke" attitude, you might feel triggered at some of the things that real Americans do or say or eat.

While driving to Atlanta from South Florida I realized I was going past where one of my second cousins lives near Valdosta, Georgia. I called her on the phone and told her we were about an hour away from her area and I know it's short notice but she's welcome to join us for lunch. I didn't realize that she lives a full hour from that town, but when I offered she said she'd get her husband to keep an eye on things at the house and she'd be there.

Valdosta, GA on the map / Google Maps
Valdosta, GA on the map / Google Maps
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Imagine someone from New Jersey getting a call from a distant relative from out of town and them dropping everything and driving an hour to meet them for lunch. Maybe, but not likely.

My friend and I got to the restaurant first, Austin's Cattle Co., a local steak place, and were greeted by a very friendly staff who could tell we were "out of towners." When my cousin walked in we enjoyed a big old family hug and I introduced her to my friend. She didn't eat lunch. She just had a sweet tea while we chowed down. We tried the "gator bites" for an appetizer.

She was dressed like a simple country girl with jeans and a nice plain top. I did notice a fashion accessory on her belt and asked her about it even though I knew what it was. Like every day and everywhere she goes, she has a .38 caliber fully load pistol in a fully closed black leather holster on her hip. She's never shot anyone, although she did have to draw it once on some drunken intruders in her barn.

Most of the folks in her town have a concealed carry permit and have a gun on them most of the time. And guess what: There isn't much crime or shootings in her little town outside of Valdosta, Georgia, just real genuinely friendly people who smile and nod hello when you pass them.

We enjoyed the change in scenery and attitude. It's not a bad idea for most of us to get out of here once in a while and see what the rest of the country is like.

Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Dennis Malloy only.

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