My son and his girlfriend spent over a month in Italy, Spain, and France this past summer and, while they had a great time and told us about their travels, they don’t bring the trip up much. I’ve not heard either of them say, “When we were in Italy…” in conversation.
I, on the other hand, still bring up my time spent in England in conversations. Not so much as I used to, but enough. It became part of the definition of who I was. It made me unique at the time. I now wonder if that was healthy.
Because time travel is one of my favorite genres of literature, I’ve spent some time thinking about when I would go (as apposed to where) if I could time travel.
My favorite time-travel fantasy used to be going back and meeting the young me and telling the younger me that life was going to be pretty good and not sweat the little things. I know it goes against all time travel laws — meeting yourself — but it was my fantasy, so my laws.
I rarely think about time traveling anymore and that’s okay. My new concept of an afterlife includes it.
One of my favorite memories of travel was when my fellow hitchhiking college friends and I crossed the River Barrow in a fishing boat because we’d missed the ferry. We met the fishermen at a pub after asking around if someone could get us to to the other side of the river to our hostel. They could indeed and refused to take payment. On the other side we walked from Arthurstown to the hostel along a dark and misty lane and met an elderly Irishman along the way. He shook our hands and wished us well.
I used to be the most traveled person I knew until we moved to the DC area. Now I am about the least traveled. Dean had not been out of the country until our honeymoon but now his travels far exceed mine. It bothers me, but not enough to do something about it. I’ll never catch up with him or most of my friends.
Three American college students, student teaching in London hopped on a ferry to Dublin with little money and no idea how we were going to travel the country. Train rides were too expensive so we hitchhiked. I don’t remember all the rides but here are a few:
The man from Belfast who heard on the news his neighborhood had just been bombed so he dropped us off and went home.
The priest who blessed my friend’s rosaries while driving along a highway
The truck driver who assumed we had marijuana because we were Americans
I’ve been to Narnia where I warned Susan about her future banishment from Narnia. I’ve been to Tintagel Castle where I saved Merlin from Morgan le Fay. I sat in a meadow where a unicorn rested his head on my lap. I’ve visited the Shire where I became friends with Samwise and played with his daughter Elanor.
More recently I’ve sat on a plane next to any number of celebrities, talking about their accomplishments. I had dinner with Neil Gaiman at his Wisconsin home before he married that singer.
I spent the better part of a summer in Great Britain in 1976 with Jeremy and his family. That was the trip where Jack, Jeremy’s dad, took me on literary tours. He also took me to Scotland where we fed bats among the ruins of an ancient castle, sunbathed on Loch Sween, took a ferry to the Isle of Mull, and walked around the city of Edinburgh.
We also visited Dover and Canterbury and was a bridesmaid in Jeremy’s brother’s wedding.
I don’t remember being worn out from the travel, energized is more appropriate description.
Some of you may recall that I commented somewhere that I was not interested in visiting Europe again but I was not aware that a few days later my favorite sister-in-law would call and tell me her roommate for an upcoming Danube river cruise had to cancel and was I interested.
I wasn’t at first, but when I opened the Viking website I decided I was. We go in late August. I’m excited.
While I can’t claim to have driven along the ARPANET dirt roads, or down the CERN cobbled streets, I did learn to drive on newly paved roads of the World Wide Web when we first connected in the early 1990s before graphical browsers were common using a browser called SlipKnot. About then the World Wide Web was nicknamed the Information Superhighway. It was an apt name because there were times when I felt like I needed a seat belt to hold me in the chair as I tooled along the highways and byways of knowledge.
Before I first visited Florida I envisioned long empty highways with cabins along the sides of the roads whose porches held elderly people in rocking chairs. Also Disney World. I was not interested in visiting, but my favorite in-laws lived there and the kids wanted to go to Disney World so we went.
We’ve since been there at least half-a-dozen times and always have a great time.
I now love Florida. We’re going back in February, probably too early to see painted buntings this time though.
Cruises never seemed interesting but when Diane called and suggested the sisters-in-law go on a Caribbean Cruise I decided it would be fun. I loved my sisters-in-law and I knew we would have a great time.
We did. We got along and ate too much, sometimes drank too much, saw some interesting sites and brought home lots of memories.
The relationship became strained between some of the sisters-in-law a few years later, but the memories continue.
Bethesda, MD to Westborough, MA to Maine (Freeport, Camden, Bar Harbor and environs, Lubec) to Fundy National Park, New Brunswick to Prince Edward Island (Anne’s house, a farm, a modern B&B), Nova Scotia (B&B where Alexander Graham Bell stayed, Puffin boat tour, drive around Cape Breton, some beach by a church) to Nova Scotia (I don’t remember much about the drive back) to a tiny lake in the middle of Maine where I saw my first loon to Jefferson, NH during a serial arsonist rampage (there was a fire that night) to Bethesda, MD (might have stopped more).
We spent the summer of 1984 in Los Angeles while Dean did an internship in Santa Monica. While I am glad for the experience, I didn’t like California. The people were nice enough, the weather perfect, the area interesting and the food beyond delicious. It was a nice place to visit but I was secretly glad when Dean was not offered a full-time position at RAND.
The reason is probably silly, but I was quirky and that made me unique. I worried that if I moved to LA, where everyone was quirky, I’d be just average.
Oh how I hated Bethesda when we first moved here. Everyone I met was either a doctor, lawyer or PhD. something. The women had perfect hair and nannies. The kids were nearly all well-groomed. Many families employed housekeepers and lawn services. I felt like a fish out of water. I felt that my blue-collar background was obvious. All my friends were on the other side of the Potomac.
It took hearing someone else bad-mouth Bethesda to make me realize I’d finally gotten comfortable living here. Now it is home and, while I talk about retiring to Olympia, I might not.
I’d never heard of Alexandria, Virginia until Dean suggested it might be a good place to live. We visited it summer of 1985, found a realtor who showed us a delightful rental house in a neighborhood called Beverly Hills. The following year we bought a home in the Delray neighborhood which at the time was a working class area of town. It’s since gentrified.
Alexandria still holds a special place in my heart and I often wish we hadn’t moved away. It was a place with real neighborhoods and genuine people.
We rarely visit despite it being less than 25 miles away.
I was only in Colorado once, briefly, when we took a steam train ride when we were visiting friends in New Mexico. I’m going to Denver next summer because Dean’s big statistical conference is there. I have a confession, however. I am afraid of Colorado. I don’t know why. It might be that dream I had that I was in an airplane going over the Rockies and the mountains were just out the window, but looked cartoon-like.
After Paul and Kelly’s wedding we spent a day touring Yellowstone. We spent that night at Chico Hot Springs. I felt like we’d landed in a western movie because the hallways were narrow, the floors wooden, the bedrooms sparse and had no en-suite bathrooms.
Dinner was beyond delicious and while we were eating I noticed activity at one table, several waitstaff stopped to talk to a lone diner. After a few minutes I realized it was Jeff Bridges.
It seems to be more popular now. I doubt we could now get a room in August without a reservation.
Our friends, Paul and Kelly, were married at Red Lodge Mountain ski resort in Montana not too far from Kelly’s parent’s “earth shelter” house in Red Lodge (the entire back of the house was underground). Besides the pre-wedding activities and wedding itself (some of which you can see in the videos below) I mostly remember the absolute beauty of the area. I remember remarking on our drive from Red Lodge to Yellowstone along the Beartooth Highway that I never thought I could burn out on beauty, but was approaching that state.
Dean and I were pretty sure we were in it for the long haul when he was accepted into the statistics department at Carnegie-Melon University so I tagged along, breaking my mother’s heart in the process.
Pittsburgh was not on my list of places to visit, much less live for four years, but it was an adventure with my beloved, so I was determined to make the best of it.
Not only was Pittsburgh not smoggy, it was a wonderful city in which to live. So much to love. I wish we could have stayed.
Two months after our wedding, Dean and I went on a 7-week European honeymoon. We started out in England (London, Stonehenge, Stratford-upon-Avon, Yorkshire), then Scotland (Edinburgh), Ireland (Dublin, Galway), France (Calais, Paris, Versailles), The Netherlands (Amsterdam), Denmark (Copenhagen, Odense), Germany (Munich, Freiburg, Bremen), Switzerland (Basel), Italy (Milan, Como) then back to London.
This trip was Dean’s first overseas adventure. I remember it as fun, exciting, scary and exhausting.
Being a fan of Gothic romances since the eighth grade, I dreamed of going to England someday. In 1974, as a junior in high school, I got my chance. Our school was participating in an exchange program with a group of students in Yorkshire.
Our trip was three weeks long, one week sight-seeing in London and two weeks in Yorkshire where we attended classes with our hosts.
Looking back, I feel as if I should have been more surprised that I’d suddenly found myself in another country, given the pedestrian life I’d lived so far.
I have so many memories of most of those trips. Technically I own half a house in Hazelhurst — the lake house — but I have not been there in years because it has no internet (or reliable cell service) and of course I cannot not work 365 days a year.
Maybe I will go up north again when I retire. I miss the loons.
Dean and I visited Two Rivers in 2011 and I was able to see some of the places from my grandmother’s early life including the house in which she grew up and the cemetery in which many of my ancestors are buried.
We were there during their annual kite festival which was fun to see.
I will probably not go back to Two Rivers, but I am glad I went that once.
I am on Vashon Island, Washington as I type, one of my favorite places on Earth. We’re renting one of my favorite rental houses.
Last evening, just before sunset, I put on my flower-power Bogs (thanks for the Bogs suggestion Helen) and walked far out on the mudflats just outside our rental. The mallards flew away, their quacks sounding like scores of laughing witches, but the gulls remained. A lone great blue heron flew over, rattling its warning call, causing the gulls to ascend, chaotically circle, then land back on the mudflats just yards before me.