|Easter Sunday, circa 1950|
My brother Thomas and I inherited the “travel gene”. His led him to become a driver for Greyhound. Throughout his work career, he was a travelin’ man most days of the week. No surprise to me; I remember when he was a teenager, riding the bus from Detroit to the little southeastern Ohio town where our grandparents lived.
The travel gene didn’t fully manifest itself in me until I moved to California in my 30s. Annual road trips across the country became the norm. The thousands of miles between Bakersfield and Detroit yielded many fascinating routes, some not so direct, as well as fun, educational sightseeing opportunities. My daughters became seasoned backseat travelers during those years. With itineraries aimed to appeal to the girls, we visited such places as the Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Laura Ingalls Wilder’s house in Mansfield, Missouri, Yellowstone National Park, The Alamo in San Antonio, and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.
Since those back-and-forth summer days, after my mom also moved to California, I’ve been able to satisfy my love of history, geography, and cultures in travels to six of the seven continents of the world. I’m missing Antarctica. I’ve never thought I wanted to go there, but something about completion of a group of items and curiosity about the place makes me think that Antarctica deserves a spot on my bucket list.
People often ask me which trip is my favorite. That’s a tough one. It’s usually the trip I’ve just finished. Some of you may have read my blogs about our most recent times in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and in Switzerland. Those two were definite favorites, partly because of the length of time we spent there, and partly because of the people, those we visited and new folks whom we met.
Nine years ago, Judy and I took what we called our “dream trip.” She had dreamed of seeing the Galapagos Islands of Ecuador and the giant tortoises. I had a strong desire to see the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu in Peru since it was part of the 7th grade history curriculum that I’d taught. We found a tour through Overseas Adventure Travel that went to those very places, and we tacked on a bonus pre-trip of four days on the Amazon River. The South America trip was an amazing adventure that brought us new knowledge, experiences, friends and quite a series of bug bites, along with fulfilling our dreams.
The 2005 African safari that we also took with OAT, was an unexpected, unforgettable experience. Landing in Nairobi, Kenya, I observed Black people in charge and running everything. Every. Thing. That was new for me, and stirred me in a way I couldn’t have imagined. On the soil of Africa, I felt a peace. One of the servers in the buffet line asked, “How do you like it here?” I let him know that I loved it. Then, referring to my skin, he flashed a huge white-toothed smile and said, “Looks like you’ve been here before. Welcome home.” That exchange moved me, too.
On safari, we saw so many species of wild animals, animals we’d only seen in books, zoos and movies, that it was hard to keep track. But one of the most remarkable sights was the migration of the wildebeest. Our driver positioned us so the continuous line of wildebeests and accompanying zebras threading its way along, adults and babies alike, crossed the road right in front of us. It was magnificent.
|Welcome Jumping Dance|
Judy's Award-winning Photo
Then, there were our interactions with the Maasai, those beautiful people who seem so regal and in charge. Animals fear them, can smell the Maasai coming and get out of the way. When elephants came inside one of our compounds, the Maasai were called to chase them out. At a Maasai village we visited, the people greeted us and welcomed us into their school and homes. Though their lives were hard, according to our standards, they seemed happy and self-sufficient. It made me think of how much we take for granted in our lives.
Traveling the US and the rest of the world has expanded my knowledge, broadened my world view, and made me very happy. It’s no wonder I can’t wait to see where the next trip will take me.
What memorable travel adventure have you experienced?
~ xoA ~