Thanks for your comments and thoughts on my milestone 100th blog post, I’m honored that you’ve taken a few minutes to read my posts. This week I’m sharing a few of my favorite posts from our many travels. A few posts were from my native North Dakota and several from our adopted state, Wisconsin. Others were from other parts of the world such as Cuba, Ghana, Scotland, Italy and Costa Rica.
I’ll start with an excerpt from an early post why we think travel is so important in today’s world. The photos are from our four trips to Costa Rica.
December 20, 2015 – Why We Travel
“Last year one of my photographer friends, Jim Sterne, gave me his paperback copy of “Travels With Charley” by John Steinbeck for helping him with an exhibit. Published in 1962, this book is a travelogue about his 1960 journey to rediscover America accompanied by his French poodle, Charley. I don’t remember reading this book in high school (although our English teacher, Mrs. Zielsdorf, did her best effort to enlighten us uncivilized prairie dogs!) or college but it does serve as inspiration for this blog post, why we travel.
During his travels, Steinbeck made the observation (reinforced by his conversations with local people) that many Americans were fearful. That fear was in the form of the Russians attacking us and a nuclear holocaust. It was after the Russians launched Sputnik in October 1957, the beginning of the space race and the Cold War, and on the cusp of the election of John F. Kennedy (many were fearful of voting for a Catholic and the Vatican running our country) as President. Some readers might remember drills at school in event of an attack either conventional or nuclear. Note: none of those things happened but the fear of it happening stuck with many of us a long time. Interesting how not much has changed in those intervening 55 years. We are still fearful but who we are fearful of has changed.
To a large extent why we travel is to overcome those fears by getting out of our comfort zone and bring home a broader perspective of the world. This is done by experiencing other cultures, meeting people on their own turf, and seeing some of the wonderful historic sites our country and world offer to us. So I believe that fear is for those that don’t get out much, to see the world first hand, and realize that most people around the world want the same things that we do; take care of our families and live a good life. Now I know there are real threats in this world but to be paralyzed by them isn’t the answer either as we end up being fearful of things we can’t control or do anything about. But understanding and learning is the way to overcome the fears foisted on us by the 24/7 news cycle and our current crop of politicians.”
This blogging thing got started after our six week trip to the West Coast of the US in 2015. During that trip, I sent a series of emails to keep folks up to date on our travels and share some of our stories. Upon return our daughter, Melanie, encouraged me to start writing about our experiences and posting some of the many 1000’s of photos residing on my computer. To use the cliche “the rest is history” and here I am still blogging away! When sending those emails, I used song themes as the titles to the messages. The following is a clip from one of the blog posts published over a year after the event using a song title. It’s followed by a passage from the post the following week that used a Johnny Cash song title. These words and photos are followed by some summary song titles and comments.
September 11, 2016 – “On the Road Again” – West Coast Swing 2015
“Donna and I left Madison today for an almost six week trip to the West Coast (at least the northern half) and points in between. After being on the road for about an hour or so, we turned on the radio to Channel 59 on SiriusXM, Willie’s Roadhouse. One of the first songs played was Willie singing ‘On the Road Again’. We figured it was a sign that we were destined to make this trip. This was followed by a discussion about doing our traveling while we are still able and can enjoy the journey. And to quote Willie ‘just can’t wait to get on the road again, going places we’ve never been!’”
September 18, 2016 – “A Burning Ring of Fire” – West Coast Swing 2015
“Hope all is well with everyone. We are safe and sound, well as sound as can be! We are in Columbia Falls, MT about 25 west of Glacier National Park. The title of this message says it all, there are lots of fires and smoke is heavy in the air. We are in the health alert area issued for those who work outside and those with respiratory problems. Highway 2 is closed to through traffic from West Glacier to Marias Pass. Most of the smoke in this area is coming from about 60 miles north of here, up by Eureka and from Washington state. We had a rain shower come through this evening so that has cleared the air at least for a day or two.”
November 27, 2016 – “American the Beautiful” and “Back Home Again” – West Coast Swing 2015
“The song titles in the subject line really summarize our thoughts on this last night of our six week trip. First, it will be good to be back home again, at least for a little while (more on that later). It will give us a chance to regroup and plan our next trip to somewhere! Second, we saw a lot of the country on this trip, some was new for us and some was a repeat, but nonetheless the beauty of the country, while varied, is breathtaking. The mountains, trees, water, ocean, lakes, prairies, desert, rocks, wildlife, plants, all provide us something to internalize and create a memory for long into the future. I recently read a quote by Neil deGrasse Tyson that captures our thinking on this subject “Our imagination is nothing compared with nature’s awesome reality.”
“A few observations from our trip. A big take away is how important water is to this country, yet is in short supply in most of the West. We didn’t realize how much of the agricultural production relies on water for irrigation having grown up in an area where it was almost all dry land agriculture. Most of the fruit and vegetables along with livestock feed is irrigated and if the water runs out one can only imagine how expensive and scarce our food will be in the future. To go along with water or the lack of it, we should all hope that the west coast has a lot of snow and rain this winter, not only for irrigation but to replenish the lakes, streams and rivers of the west. Many were dry or nearly dry. Another observation is what a treasure we have in our national parks, monuments and forest lands. We are grateful for the foresight of past leaders of this country to set aside lands that have historical and natural significance. On this trip, we were in Glacier, Mt. Rainer, Crater Lake, Redwoods, Lassen, Colorado National Monument, and Rocky Mountain National Parks. If you have the opportunity, visit as many as you can. For readers who are age 62 or older, purchase the senior pass for $10.00, it’s good for life, best deal in America bar none!” (Please note, the senior pass is now $80, still a good deal.)
Finally, one of my favorite posts came just a few months ago on July 30, 2017. To me this post says a lot about how I think as I bump into the world around me. I’ll let the first paragraph speak for me.
July 30, 2017 – “Observations from a Two-lane Road, Somewhere in Illinois”
“About a month ago we started out from our home here in Madison, Wisconsin towing our travel trailer and headed to southwestern Indiana and northern Kentucky. After a pleasant night at a Corps of Engineer’s campground on Lake Shelbyville in central Illinois, we took a series of two lane roads for a couple of hundred miles until we reached our destination. As we were traveling down the road and a little bored by the straight flat road, my mind began to observe not only the road itself but the mostly unnoticed stuff along the road that adds to the richness of the rural environment. This post contains some of my thoughts. Instead a series of photographs, I’m attempting to create a verbal photograph of what I observed. So here we go.
As we were traveling along, I kept thinking back to our travel theme song and the subtitle for this blog, “On The road Again” written and made famous by Willie Nelson. ”
“The two lane road was long and as straight as an arrow. For most of the way, there were utility poles and wires, mostly on the left, some on the right, sometimes on both sides, and sometimes none at all. Drivers hardly notice them, they are set evenly apart and there is hardly a break in the pattern until there is none at all. I wondered where do the wires go? Some to farms I’m sure but where do the rest go? Now I’m curious. Are you? It hasn’t been that many years since rural America was electrified, it was one of FDR’s New Deal propositions in the ’30’s and 40’s. With government support, rural electric cooperatives were formed all over the country to bring power to farms. After electrification lots of new products came to the farm like milking machines, electric motors to run water pumps, and a whole lot of other stuff. It’s amazing how far we’ve come in a blink of time.
Then there are the railroad tracks that often parallel these country roads. I wonder why both modes of conveyance until I see the 100 car unit trains hauling grain to a terminal on the Ohio River to be loaded on barges and sent to a processing plant here in the U.S. or more likely in another country. A whole lot of tiny seeds, on the road again, headed for who knows where. For the most part, the rail lines are tied to the land whether hauling farm commodities, minerals, and lumber all that come from the land. Lots of other stuff travels by rail too except for people, not so much unlike much of the rest of the world where human train travel is common. We are road people and not much is likely to change that in the near future.”
“Well, we reached our destination, all in one piece and our heads filled with these random thoughts and wonderments. After returning home, I ran across this quote by the French writer, Gustave Flaubert, “Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” That’s certainly true when you get off the fast moving interstate highways and observe the big, beautiful, and rich land we have the privilege to occupy.”
Thanks for tuning in. Yes, I know this post is a little long but I’ve got a lot to say!
Until next week, travel safe.