What do you see in your future?
I have to have hope. I have to have hope for a future, or there is little reason to plan for a future. As everything stands right now; between the pandemic exacerbated by Donald Trump’s incompetence and malfeasance and his zombified supporters still clamoring for more of the same, it has been a little hard to imagine a future that isn’t bounded by the four walls of my house and the daily walks with the dog.
But if we were to suddenly find ourselves able to travel outside of the city, or even inside the city to somewhere that wasn’t a doctor’s office for an appointment, where would I go? What would I want to do, in order to make life worth living just a little bit longer?
I am a notorious hater of all things touristy. I don’t want to get on an over-sized floating hotel and cruise to the tropics, or even fly down to the tropics to sit on a beach. Not my kind of thing at all. I would spend all that time reading, and I can read right here at home just as well as I can read there. Save the travel expenses. Pretend to be gone and do some intense reading alone at home.
There are destinations that I could find the urge to travel to, if travel was a thing that was possible and I could afford it. I would prefer to do my traveling like so many other writers have done. Hiring on as help on a freighter or just taking passage on one and getting off at whatever port suited me and exploring to my heart’s content. Were I still in my twenties and situated the way I am now, I wouldn’t have hesitated to take this route of exploration.
I could easily be dead within a week of leaving port, but that wouldn’t have mattered to twenty-year-old me. I would have enjoyed the extremely short adventure anyway. Since I’m no longer 20 but more like 60 with a family that needs me to survive past next week, I have to surrender to the reality of my physical state and admit that I’m not up to working my way across the ocean anymore, even if I really never was. Maybe the travel would be more like Anita Willets-Burnham chronicles in Round the World on a Penny than it would be like Mark Twain on the one hand or the average cruise ship passenger on the other. Frugal, but safe and expansive.
I have a board on Pinterest where I have posted images of places that have struck an emotional chord with me:
They are from all over the world. When it comes to places I would like to visit, there is far more to see than there is time to see it in. Just the other day I ran across another story of a destination that would be well worth the trip:
A spectacular parade that began after nightfall in Egypt and around lunchtime ET proceeded along the length of the avenue, which is lined on either side by over 600 ram-headed statues and traditional sphinxes, statues with a lion’s body and a human’s head.
The extravagant march included participants in pharaonic dress, a symphony orchestra, lighting effects, professional dancers, boats on the Nile, horse drawn carriages and more.nbcnews.com
Sure the opening event is over, but the trip to see this newly reopened path would be an amazing adventure for the amateur archeologist in me. Egypt is a no-brainer. Yes, tourists go there and there are tourist traps all over the place there. Doesn’t matter. The architecture is what I would go for. The same goes for Rome and Athens or any place that has reasonably intact ruins that beckon to be explored.
I was lamenting the lack of hope in the world today to The Wife recently. How it was going to be a long time before we’d be able to get out of Texas and do the exploring we both want to do. Her response? You won’t do anything touristy so we’d have a hard time going anywhere anyway. I’d suggest sailing with Cunard from the US to Britain, but that would be a touristy thing and you won’t do it. She might swallow her teeth to hear me say this, but that trip sounds great. It would be even better if the ship sailed up North a little farther and gave us a view of the Northern Lights for a few nights in a row. A week on the ocean looking at the stars sounds like a great time to me. I’ll be looking at stars because I’ll pretty much be confined to deck unless I want to be drugged senseless, but I could go for that anyway. I haven’t seen a decent night’s sky in more than ten years. Seven nights on the ocean sounds like heaven.
After we dock in Britain at the other end of the journey, we could cross over to Ireland to visit her ancestral kin there and have a pint of Guinness at the brewery. We could stay a week or a month getting to know the place, wherever it is we land at. Sounds like a plan to me.
I’m not into aimless wandering and I’m not related to anyone in Ireland that would care. You won’t know until you get there, dear. Who’s wandering aimlessly? I have a goal: Guinness at the brewery. That is my goal.
Crossing Europe by train? I’d go for that in an instant if it was cheap enough. Trains and their support structures are an engineering and architectural wet dream combined. I’d never have to leave the train or the station. I’d just hang around gawking at the structures until we’re ready to move again. No need for additional itinerary.
Which is the only real problem. There are tons of things to see in every city and town along the way through Europe, and there is no way to appreciate this fact unless you get out of the vehicle you are traveling in, lace up your shoes, strap on your pack and start walking. That is the way to travel. Hiking cross country has been a thing I always wanted to try but never had a chance to do. When you have to work every day of every week just to keep the lights on and the roof over your head, there is no time for sightseeing or joyriding unless you work it into the routine that you have to keep up.
This proposed form of travel struck the Wife as a unique form of torture. It would. She blew out both her knees in marching band. Each step is precious to her these days. I’d send her ahead in a car to scout out a place to sleep for the next week or month while I did the hiking I love. It’ll give her time to chat up the natives, that’s what she does best anyway. She just slows me down when we’re out walking. Having someone to talk to can make all the difference, but in the end you have to make the distance in the time allowed.
Like so many other lists that people make, the bucket list is one I will have to pass on. There will not be a list of ten things I’d like to do or see before I die. I won’t limit myself to a list of places that I would like to go. You never know if the thing you really should see is the thing right next to what you are supposed to see unless you take the time to go there and look around. No travel itinerary will allow for that kind of loitering. That is my objection to touristy travel. I want to sip tea until I’m ready to leave, not until the group is ready to leave. An itinerary is for tourists, and I don’t do touristy.