Hello, Mr. McKane.
(1) Yes, that is also something similar to what I hear.
(2) A grammar book that is used by many American teachers
(The Grammar Book by Mesdames Celce-Murcia and Larsen-Freeman)
gives these examples:
I like camping in the mountains. (It is so peaceful HERE) =
more immediate and more vivid
I like to camp in the mountains. (It is so peaceful THERE) =
more remote, more objective
Personally, I feel that if you meet an old friend on the street, it would be
more emotional to say, "Wow! It is so nice seeing you after all these
years!!!" I feel that "It's nice to see you" would lack warmth.
***** Thank you.