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Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Travels Remembered-

I recall loving the journeys of my youth. I traveled with my parents, and sometimes with my grandparents. I remember desert road, and mountain roads. I recall sleeping in the back of a station wagon on a long trip from Los Angeles, California to Grants Pass, Oregon. I recall another long journey (at least to me) traveling to see my great grandmother in Arizona.

I have vague recollections of ghost towns and old gold mines. I recall a house made of bottles. I remember being terrified when my grandfather lifted me up to look over the edge of Hoover Dam. I also remember the Grand Canyon from the eyes of someone very young.

I recall having to wait for the rising sun to climb high enough over the desert to allow us to drive on into the east. The road ran directly into the rising sun, and blinded the drivers trying to move on.

I remember crossing the desert to come upon a mesa that grew taller and taller as we drew closer. I recall the long haul climbing the face to get to the top.

I recall the Redwoods, following winding roads past places full of wonder. Paul Bunyan and Babe the Blue Ox. Tunnels that went through trees. A gift shop built right into the base of a tree.

Ah, gift shops. I loved the tacky collections of kitsch. I bought a dried seahorse in that gift shop in the bowels of a redwood tree. What a seahorse has to do with redwoods I do not know.

I have always been souvenir challenged. We visited a shop in Seattle with the promising name of Ye Olde Curiosity Shop. A place full of shrunken heads and geoducks and mummified wonders. I bought a box of Mexican Jumping Beans.

My mother was perpetually frugal, and our family travel budgets were never limitless. We did not often visit those snake farms and other emporiums of wonder that dotted the roads. We didn't stop at those orange shaped stands that cropped up so frequently as we journeyed the length of California's Central Valley.

Still, I looked for those orange stands, and wondered about the treasures inside.

I remember the scent of coffee in the restaurants where we stopped to eat. The affordable places, with simple food. I still love to start a journey by getting about an hour on the road early in the day and then stopping for breakfast at some place that is joyfully coffee scented.

Most of all I loved the changing vistas. Oh, I am sure I did my share of "are we there yet?" For me, though, I seem to recall a love of just going.

California Gold Country. Oregon Caves. The San Juan Islands. Crater Lake. These were magical places when viewed through the eyes of a child.

I have another journey to Oregon coming up in a month. I think that I will really enjoy that trip. I am ready for another travel adventure.

Perhaps I can find someplace along the way that sells dried seahorses or Mexican Jumping Beans.

You never know.

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