Daymaker - a person who performs acts of kindness with the intention of making the world a better place.
~ David Wagner
, author of Life as a Daymaker; how to change the world by making someone's day ~

DayMaker - any thought, word, or deed that spreads happiness, compassion, or fruitful ideas.
~ Annis Cassells ~

Saturday, June 1, 2013

20 Loves, Part 4: I Love to Travel

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.

Murren, Switzerland
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 ~


  1. My husband and I have traveled by car in many of the states. We've been to the Daytona Speedway in Florida, the Rosa Parks Museum in Alabama, Vicksburg Civil War memorial in Mississippi, the Grand Canyon, Mount Rushmore and many other places in between.

    As much as all those places were memorable, I have to say one of my most memorable trips was when my kids and I went on a trip to Mexico with a church group back in 1991. The wonderful, gracious people in those villages seemed to have nothing of importance. But after spending a week with them, we realized they had so much more than we could ever imagine. They had almost no material goods, no electronics, no electricity or running water, but they had love and compassion and opened their homes and hearts to us. We were moved beyond words.

    1. Thanks for sharing your story, Joan. Doesn't it open your eyes and change you when you get the privilege of witnessing such compassion in those kinds of circumstances? Human to human. That's what the world needs. xoA

  2. Your post is giving me itchy feet...I want to travel! And you've been so many exciting places! The furthest I've been is a high school trip to France during Spring Break. In recent years, I've done little in-country trips: Arkansas, Kansas, Florida, Colorado. In September, I'll add New York to the list. I'm hoping to expand outside of the country maybe next year, start my own continent count-down maybe. Lol! You have GOT to finish out your continents. What a cool thing to be able to say, that you've set foot on every single continent? Wow!

  3. Anna, your comment made me smile. Yes, go for it! There are many beautiful and interesting places in the U.S. And, yoo've only got six continents to go!

    Going to New York City or elsewhere in the state? It's as beautiful outside the city as it is exciting inside. We did our first trip to NYC last fall. Of course, there was not enough time.

    Thanks for reading and writing. xoA

  4. I love to travel too and I enjoyed reading about your adventures.

    1. Thanks for reading and commenting, Iola. There are so many places to see. I still have quite a list. xoA

  5. Twice, 20 years apart, we drove around the country to see both our families. It was fun to plan the places we'd go. On the last one I think we drove through 26 states by going first to Montana then Boston, then Atlanta and El Paso. The girls were with us and provided interesting moments. In Virginia Beach my sister-in-law and I decided to trade kids the next year. So my Charlotte and her Jessica flew across the country alone. thanks for sharing.

    1. What a neat idea to let the kids have a whole new experience like that, Terry. And as for your circuitous route, I love a road trip! Thank you for sharing. xoA

  6. Travel! Yes, I love the Travel section of the San Francisco Chronicle as much as the Books section. I, too, share the bug, bitten at an early age. I'm an SF kid, but my father was born in Denver, my mother was from the Missouri Ozarks. The youngest of five, my parents figured out early that if they gave me the AAA Triptiks and maps in the front seat, their "navigator" would be satisfied and out of harm's way (from those terrorizing siblings). Those trips would get spiced up the Grand Canyon, Yellowstone, Pikes Peak, and more.

    I even worked for Procter & Gamble travelling the country running sampling campaigns. In my interview, the asked about how I felt about travel. "I'd like to see New York and Boston before I die," said I. I met my wife in NYC, worked many months in NYC and Boston, got married in DC and lived there thirteen years. My sons were born there. One boy moved back a few months ago; I fly out in the morning to see my precious first-born.

    In all, I've visited 49 US states, plus DC (obviously)Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. I visited only 23 countries on three continents. South America and Australia have eluded me; when I stood atop the Rock of Gibraltar in February, I stared across the strait and beheld the continent of Africa, tortured by its nearness, dreaming of all the wonders yet see, smell, taste and experience. I am travelling to Greece and Turkey in September; Russia, Peru, the Galapagos, Australia and Africa await atop the list.

    1. Thanks for writing, Mel. You have been all over, and how cool that you met your wife when you were in NYC. I love the planning and navigation parts almost as much as the actual trip. xoA

  7. I don't get to travel as much as I might like, but I enjoy getting to both new places and old. With the old places it's never quite the same, you can never step in the same river twice as they say. Once on a Facebook quiz thing I was asked where my favourite place was. My answer was something like, "Oh, I don't know... Where was I last."

  8. I agree, Mark, returning is never quite the same, but we like to do so occasionally to see what has changed and what is still as we remembered. That's one of the things we enjoy about returning to San Miguel de Allende and to our Oregon Coast summers. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. xoA