You don’t have to be rich to travel well. ~ Eugene Fodor
There is nothing the two of us love more than a road trip, whether it’s following the Missouri River into Montana and beyond, drifting from town to town down the Atlantic seaboard, or wandering across Europe by train, ferry, and riverboat. Undoubtedly, our shared love for travel has its roots in where and when we were raised–in tiny out-of-the-way towns on Kansas’s desolate western border, smack-dab in the middle of nowhere. Everything we knew about the world beyond the two little whistle stops where we each lived came from our library books and our grandparents’ National Geographic. Or, it was filtered through the shows on the only two TV stations our antennas would receive—CBS from Hays, Kansas, and on clear days, NBC from Great Bend.
The Wonderful World of Disney, Gilligan’s Island, The Flying Nun . . . Tom Sawyer, Robin Hood, and poor Jane Eyre–even with their fictional scope, the TV shows and books of our childhood piqued our curiosity to experience the bigger picture that comes with travel. Sadly, we’ve never fulfilled my husband’s wish to visit Egypt and see the pyramids or steer a canoe with an outrigger in the calm waters off a South Sea island—it’s on our list.
I credit my mother with my first inkling about the wonder of travel when she introduced me to the work of her favorite author Osa Johnson (1894-1953). The summer I read Johnson’s books as a ten-year-old, I Married Adventure (1940) and Four Years in Paradise (1941), the world grew much larger. Johnson’s autobiography chronicles the many trips she and husband Martin took to Africa and the South Sea Island as documentarians and I hung on every word—from her description of the crocodiles in Borneo to the mysteries of Lake Paradise on a remote mountaintop in Kenya. Johnson sparked my desire to experience other cultures and places, a desire that has never waned and a desire that my husband shares with me, fortunately.
Then, forty some years ago, a college literature teacher told me that travel is the only thing we buy that makes us richer. Years later, we’ve never regretted a single travel dollar we’ve spent (I just confirmed this with my husband who is sitting in his recliner in the other room watching The Mystery of Oak Island —again . . . still).
And, it’s true! When I think of experiences we’ve had as a couple or as a family—shivering in the Columbia Icefield in northern Alberta, exploring the Bandolier ruins in New Mexico, building sand castles on a sultry afternoon on Anna Maria Island, warming our hands around a cup of tea at Cafe in the Crypt at St. Martin’s in the Field, searching for Machrie Moor on the first day of spring, or climbing the 500 steps to the top of Cologne Cathedral —Worth it! Every cent!
We have a long list of places we still want to see. Now at age 60, we realize that being in good enough shape to hike a trail or navigate miles of old city streets is just as important as the finances a trip requires. And so we are in the process of planning the destinations to which we hope to travel in the next 20 years, mindfully considering timing, budget, and sore joints. Now that we are retired, we can knock off a bucket list item we have planned for many years—traveling the back roads of Maine and basking in the fall colors including a few days in the solitude of a place Deer Isle, a place I discovered in the travel writing of John Steinbeck and his book Travels with Charlie: In Search of America (1962).
My intent as a writer is to document and guide others along the routes of out of the way places my husband and I have discovered in North America and Europe, complete with the quaint hotels and bed and breakfasts, roadside cafes, quirky attractions and oddities of nature—the good and the bad, all on a modest budget.