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Posted: September 1, 2010 12:00 a.m.

There’s no place like Georgia

You can take the boy out of Georgia, but you can’t keep him from swelling with pride while he’s gone.

On a recent visit to Michigan and Canada in search of igloos and reindeer, we dropped by Henry Ford’s home in Dearborn. As you know, Henry Ford invented the Model T and created the Ford Motor Company which didn’t need our tax dollars to bail them out for poor management like some other automobile manufacturers I could name.

I liked the guy walking in the door.

I liked him even better when the guide told me that Henry and Clara Ford had given millions of dollars to Martha Berry’s school in Rome, Georgia. In case you didn’t know, Berry College has the largest campus in the nation — 26,000 acres — and is prettier than the entire city of Detroit. Score one for Henry.

The Fords also invested heavily in Richmond Hill, Ga., buying some 85,000 acres and building their winter estate there. They also improved life tremendously for the locals. The guide said he thought the Fords liked Richmond Hill more than any place they went. I can see why. Richmond Hill is also prettier than the entire city of Detroit. Score another one for Henry.

I didn’t see any igloos or reindeer in Michigan, but I saw a lot of horses on Mackinac Island, on Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. The island doesn’t allow cars, just bicycles and horses. I learned quickly that horses aren’t particular about when and where they have to answer nature’s call — if you get my drift — and there were a lot of horses on Mackinac that had to answer nature’s call on a frequent basis. Maybe it was something they ate.

Some folks got mad at me during the last legislative session for my strong opposition to Gov. George E. Perdue’s $8 million horse barn but if you ever get to Mackinac Island, you will thank me for my foresight — particularly if you live downwind from Perry.

There wasn’t much interest in Michigan about the governor’s race in Georgia, so I had to keep up with events back home on the Internet when I could. The most newsworthy item I gleaned while I was on the road was that Republican candidate Nathan Deal was criticized for campaigning with two state patrolmen at his side, while the state patrol is short 150 officers. Deal explained that the troopers would be reimbursed from his campaign funds. There is an old political axiom that says when you have to explain something you have done, you’ve already lost the argument. Meanwhile, his opponent Roy Barnes says he turned down the offer of troopers and would campaign the state in his Ford F150 pickup truck. Henry Ford would be pleased.

Now, will somebody in state government explain to me why UGA’s Mark Richt, Georgia Tech’s Paul Johnson and other college coaches need state troopers at their side at football games? I would think the safest place a coach could be is on the football field surrounded by 300 pound kids ready to take someone’s head off. On the other hand, given what has been happening with my alma mater’s student-athletes recently, maybe the troopers need to be stationed in the dorms.

We learned on a side trip to Canada to visit the spectacular Niagara Falls that terrorism isn’t just a U.S. problem. Authorities in nearby Toronto arrested four suspected Islamic terrorists who were thought to be preparing to blow something up — hopefully themselves. One television commentator helpfully opined that maybe the problem was that Canadians weren’t doing enough to make Muslims feel welcomed and that the would-be terrorists were just expressing their frustration with society. It made me wonder why they couldn’t just write a letter to the editor instead of blowing innocent people to smithereens.

One of the suspects had appeared recently on "Canadian Idol" — I’m not making this up — and reruns of the program showed that he was about as talented as a hedgehog. Maybe they should have let him win. Islamic terrorists can be sore losers.

I enjoyed my trip to Michigan and Canada thanks to some very nice traveling companions but, Lordy, it is good to get back to the land of sweet tea, Southern drawls, Vidalia onions and Ray Charles singing "Georgia On My Mind."

Be it ever so humble, there’s no place like Georgia.

You can reach Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net or P.O. Box 725373, Atlanta, Georgia 31139.

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