Summer, like a right angle, is just around the corner.
With the sun shining and birds singing, the time for planning that wondrous vacation has arrived. Let’s face it, there are three ways to travel: By air, by sea or by automobile.
Luckily, a lantern is no longer necessary for making this critically important decision.
In order to see the real Americana, everybody knows the experience of getting there is half the fun. Does this mean traveling Griswold-style in a wood panel station wagon? Yes. And it also means spotting a nice, tall building in your downtown, tipping it on its side, strapping some wheels on it and driving that across the country.
If you’re daring enough to accept this challenge, then Jeff Daniels has a few tips, which includes counting to three.
My guess is Jeff Daniels got his kicks on Route 66…as in literal kicks from his wife.
Within this rhyming poem are the clues that reveal my specific location.
So many options, which one did I choose?
Of course, it’s the place with the golden views
An adventure for sure, there is no doubt,
the wonderful destination is at the end of the route
The weather is not cold, I will give you that,
the ride may get bumpy, so keep hold of your hat
The deliberate paths don’t ease the confusion,
of fearing the worst: eternal seclusion
Those before you had to do the same,
which is crouching down like the Hunchback of Notre Dame
The darkness proves to be no friend at all,
so be sure to keep your hand on the wall…
And now, without further adieu, I am…
in the Great Pyramid of Giza!
From a very young age this became a tradition,
exploring foreign lands became our mission
Christmas vacations with the family led us to thrilling locations,
and exposed us to new and different cultures of various nations
My Mom, Dad, two older sisters and I did this together,
and made the trek no matter the weather
These trips started with a cruise in the Caribbean on a boat so grand,
that gave us the joy of feeling the heat of the Christmas sun firsthand
Kauai was a beautiful place that was like heaven,
we even met Pierce Brosnan, that’s right, 007!
Alaska, Iceland, Norway and Sweden gave us all wintry chills,
riding into snow covered adventures over those magical hills
Some of our trips were to places surprisingly pretty,
like Ushuaia, also known as the world’s southern most city
One part of the world had a special kind of allure and power,
unknown to most, including, at this point, Matt Lauer
It was a hotel made completely of ice,
including the bed, which was a definite roll of the dice
Here I tasted lingonberry juice for the first time while standing in snow,
in a block made of, well, you know
But alas, there is more to our journeys than snowmobiles and a sleigh ride,
like the wonderful food we excitedly tried
There was that night we broke bread with some Norwegians,
whilst getting a crash course in eating tendencies of the Scandinavian regions
One dish, two dish, three dish four-five and six,
together we desperately wondered, “how much more will they fix?”
Yet if you think this was a crazy dinner to be at,
wait until you read what, or who, I’ve kept hidden under the vacation meal hat…
There was one dinner I will never forget that ended with an uncomfortable recognition,
the main course was reindeer…I think you will excuse the following omission
Some hilariously inappropriate jokes have been told and a few you wouldn’t believe,
Like my Dad once telling a customs agent about where we were all conce—
Nevertheless, traveling is a bit of an art for my family, oh my,
Like strolling through freezing Beijing for eight hours that left me pleading, “but why?”
The answer was not found in the worn soles of my shoes,
but instead right in front of me with countless breathtaking views
Whether by car, train, plane or walking a long street,
How we arrived on time at these places was always a feat
Egypt, Australia, Belgium, Germany, Bali and Dubai,
each celebrating with festive spirit as majestic as Versailles
A good deal of our family’s traveling occurred during this time of year,
which always got us inspired and full of cheer
This family tradition led us into multiple passports with stamps galore,
with continents at 7 and thirty to forty countries we’ve come to adore
Memories were created that will last forever,
and when I have a family, I hope they too will enjoy this yearly endeavor!
What is the best way to travel?
There is the “I’m going to backpack through Europe to ‘find’ myself,” the “We’re doing the all-inclusive Gold Package,” the “Danny Tanner Clipboard of Fun” and the “We’re gonna hop on a couple trains, wander the streets and just kinda see what happens.” When exploring strange lands and new horizons, these tend to be, to some degree or another, the general itineraries for traveling right. And ‘right’ is the key word here. If things turn out wrong, then something horrible has happened: a vacation becomes real life. The party’s over and we are awakened from our dream with a bone chillingly cold splash of reality. Nobody wants to be cold, wet and upset.
When preparing to travel, most of us have the best intentions. We think ahead to what we need to find, wash and bring to ensure constant happiness for our departure from ‘the real world.’
Favorite shirts? Check
Comfortable shoes? Check
Nice clothes for dinner? Check
Shorts and swimsuit? Check
Music & Headphones? Check
Underwear? Check. Wait…Yes, Check
Little boxes of cereal that are life savers in the form of an edible snack? Check
The constants are all accounted for, except for your passport that was left on the kitchen counter specifically placed next to everything else you packed and brought. Of course you remember this as the car is a good ten minutes from home for the flight that leaves in precisely sixty-seven minutes in rush hour traffic…at the airport that is twenty five minutes away in ideal circumstances. Time to take a deep breath. Inevitably we are forced back home because the passport is absolutely necessary to getting through security. Did I remember my ticket? After a ‘gentle’ shuffling and an eventual parting of the car, backpack & pockets Red Sea style, the ticket is safe in our now relieved hand. A car ride to the airport just became “The Amazing Race.” Otherwise, everything is a go for a rejuvenating vacation. Ahhh.
We all know we’re not a veteran traveler without this happening in one way or another. It’s a rite of passage and as Steve Miller said, “You know you got to go through Hell before you get to Heaven.”
The flight is next. This experience has undoubtedly changed since its ‘glory days’ of Pan Am and its patrons donning formal attire and sipping on drinks from the top shelf. Let’s face it, when on airplanes, aren’t we thinking about being just about anywhere else besides being on the plane? Without drowning this piece with the ever-evolving depressions of flying these days (uber casualness, lack of personal space, manners, etc.), let’s just pretend together that it is like a word for word recreation of a soothing experience courtesy of Ol’ Blue Eyes himself. Ladies and gentlemen, “Come Fly with Me.”
“Once I get you up there where the air is rarified
We’ll just glide, starry-eyed
Once I get you up there I’ll be holding you so near
You may hear all the angels cheer ’cause we’re together”
While gazing out at the bright lights of a lively city, excitement in the anticipation of landing builds. There is a universal feeling of wide-eyed wonderment that lifts our spirit. In preparation of arrival, the GPS is pre-programmed in our phones and navigational devices to ensure we won’t stray from the quickest and surest route. On vacation though, isn’t getting lost part of the journey? Strolling off the beaten path for an adventure is partly why we crave getaways. Our environment changes and as a result, shouldn’t we?
Whether romantically strolling the Champs-Elysées of Paris in the glow of street lights…navigating down a Gothic-inspired alleyway in Prague…skiing the freshly snow covered Swiss Alps overlooking a cozy village worthy of being encased in a Christmas snow globe…scuba diving off the northeastern coast of Australia in the warm waters of the Great Barrier Reef and gazing at underwater kingdoms…struggling through a bumpy camel ride in the Egyptian desert sun to marvel at one of the true ‘wonders of the world,’ then crawling through the dark tunnels and passageways of The Great Pyramid, all in an effort to travel back to the age of mummies, pharaohs and hidden treasure…stepping the big steps of a ‘Great Wall’ that is visible from space in the cold December air…exploring and sleeping in a hotel located in the middle of a jungle full of exotic creatures, rivers and views that pictures in books could never do justice…or venturing to a South American coastline town deemed, “End of the World.”
Wherever our traveling destination rests, our first impressions usually resembles a type of ‘Promised Land.’ It’s a fresh start to begin an adventure and escape into a world with help from our imagination. Regardless of location, the time has come to get dressed for our own “Midnight in Paris.”
“To each his own.”
This is a fantastic and insightful phrase. Perception is important. It’s what we make of something that ultimately matters. A beautiful beach on an island in the Caribbean may be paradise to you, but an anchor of limited possibilities to a local.
A vacation does not necessarily mean loading the luggage on top of the new family truckster for a cross-country drive to Wally World. For some, it’s a chance of a lifetime. By the end, we may do something that nobody thought was possible. It could be aspirations of a better life someplace new or breaking into Wally World during its summer renovation for some Marty Moose themed fun…just depends on the individual.
Traveling allows us to hit the refresh button in our lives and escape from reality. Often times, the best getaways are born from daydreaming. This may include recreating a scene from a movie, living out a favorite song that has an important meaning or reaching a personal goal that everyone else laughs at. Some may say that thinking and traveling like this is comparable to living in a fantasy land… being too detached from the ‘real world.’ But isn’t this what dreams are about? Some of the ‘craziest’ ideas are the ones that have changed the world for the better.
Remember the old saying, “You only go around this crazy merry-go-round once.”
As kids, we were pushed to work hard and dream big. Encouragements like “Anything is possible!” to “You can’t have no in your heart” and “Don’t ever let anybody tell you that you can’t do something” are foundations of the human spirit. It’s in our DNA. Is there now an age limit to dreaming? Why not bridge the gap between real and imagined?
Surely, there are people who upon hearing about exciting and elaborate adventures simply shrug it off with pessimism. The conversation may go like this:
“One day, I’m going to go to Paris…the Galapagos Islands…Fiji…Antarctica!”
“Yeah, sure. In your dreams.”
“That’s the plan.”