“Not all those who wander are lost.”

Posted: December 14, 2012 in Family, Memories, Personal, Travel
Tags: , , , , , ,

If I wasn’t passed a travel gene genetically from my parents, I acquired one through upbringing.  We didn’t have much money, but we did travel.  However, unlike the hobbits, we rarely wandered.  My dad was an accountant and a very organized person.  When we went on vacation, he knew not only what city or town would be our stopping point each night, but which motel we would stay in and how far it was from our starting point to our destination, as well as from each night’s stop to the next.  As my brother says, we saw a lot of things but not for very long.   As with many statements, the spirit of that is true, even though the reality isn’t.

We made lots of stops: at national parks, to visit relatives, at museums, in the mountains and next to oceans.  We drove all over the United States, concentrating more on the west and southwest and, eventually, on Florida, specifically Sanibel Island, long before the causeway came into being.  We saw the Grand Canyon, Bryce and Zion National Parks, Disneyland, White Sands, cliff dwellings, Big Bend National Park and the Alamo, the Rockies, lots of California (where Mon’s relatives lived), the Atlantic and the Pacific, and the New York World’s Fair in 1964, where my brother left a plastic dinosaur above the back seat under the window and returned to find it melted.

We drove on two-lane highways and gravel roads and once took a short cut from which we all thought we might never emerge, all of us but Dad, who was driving, holding wet washcloths over our faces to keep the dust out.  I remember stopping at the top of more than one rise to let the car cool so that it didn’t overheat and leaving in the morning from home, the streets empty and the stoplights changing but no one seeing them except us.

My parents had a Ford station wagon and my brother and I too often fought about who got to sit on the small seat that pulled up to allow access to the back.  For some reason, it held a strange cachet for us.   Sometimes we slept in the back and I remember my mom sleeping on a cot running the length of the car, we slept with our legs under it, side to side, while Dad drove during the night.

When we traveled to Sanibel, where for a time we went every other year, we stayed in a cottage with a kitchen and Mom fixed meals, saving us money.  On those trips, or to Texas, whenever we got close enough that shrimp was relatively inexpensive, I would have breaded shrimp for dinner every night.  Sanibel was a world-renowned shelling beach, with shells stacked high along the sand, especially after high tide.  We found enormous olive shells and if you walked out in the water, which was shallow for quite a distance, you could pick live sand dollars and other shells from the ocean floor. Once I found a perfect tiny seahorse (dead.)  “The Sanibel Bends” were what you got from walking for from miles, head down, looking for shells.  Since we had to go in summer because of school, it was so hot during mid-afternoon that we had to stay inside, watching TV, a treat for a family who remained TV-less until I was in high school.

It’s still a joy to me to travel by whatever mode, but I especially love driving, to be able to see the land and vegetation change and fathom each time the vastness and variety of this amazing country.  I’ve been fortunate enough to travel to Europe as well.  No matter the destination, there’s a part of me that’s always ready to travel, that’s always a bit more fulfilled when going somewhere, whether planned or wandering.

“The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.”
― Saint Augustine of Hippo

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
― Mark Twain, The Innocents Abroad/Roughing It

“Why do you go away? So that you can come back. So that you can see the place you came from with new eyes and extra colors. And the people there see you differently, too. Coming back to where you started is not the same as never leaving.”
― Terry Pratchett, A Hat Full of Sky (Discworld, #32)

“Now more than ever do I realize that I will never be content with a sedentary life, that I will always be haunted by thoughts of a sun-drenched elsewhere.”
―Isabelle Eberhardt, The Nomad:  The Diaries of Isabelle Eberhardt 

“The traveler sees what he sees. The tourist sees what he has come to see.”
― G. K. Chesterton

  1. thanks for sharing. Trips with your dad were some trips. Lovingly, he be trippin’. 😉
    I like the title too- not all who wander are lost

    but maybe all who are lost have wandered…

    anyway like Rick Nelson

    I’m a traveling man, made a lot of stops,
    all over the world, and in every port
    I owe my heart
    to at least one lovely girl.

    BTW traveling is a little like fleaing 😉

  2. Differences – we, too, traveled as you did, long hard days to get to somewhere to see just a bit, so we could travel again, to see more. I was content to remain at home, not that I did not enjoy seeing new things, I just did not like driving or hurrying, two things difficult to do without when you travel – I still travel, though Google Earth is now my car! lol (or a good book).

    • I also like to travel by book but like real travel a lot, too. When we were kids, though, I never felt hurried and we enjoyed our family time in the car, too. It was all an adventure.

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