I have been fortunate in my life, in many ways. One way in which I have been fortunate is in traveling. Some people who have shared bits of my life have traveled only a little. Others have traveled far more than I have. Where I am fortunate is in how I managed to travel.
Some people are intentional travelers. I have traveled intentionally on occasion. The planning, organizing, and funding. Then, the going. Yes, I have done that. However, not all that often. Most often I have traveled as a companion, follower or simply under direction.
For example, I traveled a bit as a child, following family. I have been up and down the length of California many times. Highway 99, and later Interstate 5, have always been familiar to me. We lived, in my early childhood, in the Los Angeles area. We would travel to visit family from time to time in my birthplace, Grants Pass, Oregon. To visit family.
I remember my Dad and my Grandpa switching off driving. I remember watching trains travel on the tracks parallel to some of the highway as we traveled. Orchards. Those fruit stands shaped like oranges. Billboards. Sleeping in the back of a station wagon as we traveled through the night. The scent of coffee in restaurants we stopped in along the way.
One summer my father took a short-term teaching job in Washington state. We lived for several months in Bellevue, Washington. We wandered around the Puget Sound area, visiting small towns, waterfalls, waterfronts and generally seeing the sights. one day we took a ferry ride that provided my one and only (and very short) experience of Canada. We were required to step off of the ferry, be counted in Sidney on Vancouver Island in British Columbia, and then we returned to the boat. That trip took us through the San Juan Islands, and is a cherished memory.
We traveled a bit in California, on family vacations. One time we ventured into the Gold Country of California, camping in a travel trailer. It was a fun trip for me. I have always loved journeys along the back country of wherever. Then, I graduated from high school and not long after entered into service in the Army.
The Army took me to California, near Monterey at Fort Ord. Then to Alabama, to stay for a time at Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville. Then to Fort Lee in Petersburg, Virginia. I traveled around a bit in these areas, visiting Civil War battlegrounds, visiting Washington D.C. twice, spending a lot of time in Richmond, Virginia, and eventually reaching New Jersey for my deployment to Europe.
That deployment landed me in Kaiserslautern, Germany. From there I was able to visit Switzerland, and even enjoyed a three week deployment on a training assignment in Bavaria. I followed friends to a ski school in Austria. I ended up on a weekend in Munich because the Army chaplain needed to fill a seat on a tour he was arranging. There I hooked up with a couple of American tourists and followed them around as they visited the sights.
I did a lot of walking in Germany, wandering between and through quaint villages and visiting castles and cathedrals. A missionary I knew took some of us to Worms, Idar Oberstein and to Heidelberg. More cathedrals and castles. Oh, and a trip to Trier, where I saw more cathedrals, and also some Roman ruins. I followed some friends to London, as well, for a week of study and meandering touring.
After the Army my journeys became less broad and a bit less frequent. I wandered across the country during my return, spending a week in Chicago. I traveled a bit by train on that journey, and found it a fine way to see the country. That is a mode of travel I enjoyed in Europe, and think that seeing the United States that way was pretty nice, as well.
A friend from the Army came home on leave shortly after I got out, so I wandered from Ashland, Oregon to Bismark, North Dakota to visit him. That was quite a journey. I saw Eastern Oregon and Eastern Washington, passed through Idaho and Montana, and spent most of a week in North Dakota.
My return on that journey carried me through Wyoming, and a very quick pass-through tour of Yellowstone National Park. After I returned I found myself eventually in Portland, Oregon. I went to school there, part of a different kind of journey. There I met my wife, and we settled for many years and years in the Santa Cruz, California, area.
Santa Cruz was not a bad place to settle, at all. Of all of the places I have visited, it was in the top three of places I would choose to dwell. Richmond, Virginia and Heidelberg, Germany share second place. So, my journey was not a bad one. My wife and I have been together on a kind of shared journey for over thirty years. For my part, at least, it has been good.
We raised children and have participated in raising grandchildren. Though our travels since getting married have been limited, our adventures have not. It has been another kind of journey. Oh, there have been trips to Disneyland, one of our favorite destinations. One other trip was to rescue some of the family from Texas, where an adventure of their own had not turned out as well as had been hoped. That was a memorable journey, highly treasured.
I must admit, however, that some of the most valuable journeys for me have been journeys of the heart. I am not known for being sentimental, and even those closest to me see me as a bit hard and unfeeling. Yet I have not been unaffected by the adventure of raising a family, one which is not yet completed.
Do I still long to travel? Absolutely. Yet I wouldn't give up the adventure of watching my family grow for the privilege of being on the road. Where to, next? Probably travel, exploring Southern Oregon and Northern California. Then expanding to take in the Western United States, as resources and opportunity allows.
For a wanderer and follower, a less-than-intentional traveler, I have seen a bit of the world. It would be nice if I had taken a few more pictures, but for the most part I am satisfied.
There is far more world left to visit than my remaining time and limited funds will allow me see. I don't mind that, really. Those limits have always been upon me, and my style seems to be to take the adventure that offers itself in the context of the moment. That context now is watching another generation grow, and wandering around the place I now (again) call home.
After that? Another journey, and adventures unimaginable.
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