A good friend of mine is moving clear across the country and it has made me think about travel and the places I've been.
I started young, traveling to Colorado and Wisconsin for family and then more exotic places like Japan, Scotland and Honduras as well. For every journey, my only regret is that I often wasn't old enough to really take it all in. But the more I think about it, I experienced it through a kids' eyes, not an adult. That's different and not necessarily a bad thing.
Japan, the first of all exotic travels (denoted by my only tattoo):
-One day we went to a temple where there were public drinking fountains. They consisted of a large container of water (beautifully designed of course) and metal ladles. This may sound strange and unsanitary but there was a UV light disinfecting system in place. It was fascinating. The temples also had very old antique coin donation boxes, where you could wish for whatever you so desired. I can only wish I could go back to see what I had wished for then.
-Another strong memory consists of Japanese school girls coming up to us to touch our hair. My sister and I especially had very light blonde hair at the time and it was very different from their striking dark hair. They gave us presents of folded paper boxes and cranes
-We all (my sister, three cousins and I) got to pick out that "perfect" kimono. I still have mine of course. It's a lovely shade of fuschia/hot pink. Oh to be in second grade again.
-It was in Japan that I started to branch out in my eating habits. Remember the post where I spoke of licking an octopus leg? That was here. At that same party, I also tasted a strangely and much too sweet dessert of some unknown type (but this was possibly before my excessive sweet tooth emerged...)
Roatan, Honduras was next I think.
-I remember happily eating endless ice creams and charging them to our grandfather's cabin.
-To "work off" all that ice cream we went swimming with dolphins and snorkeling. It was doing the latter that I happened to see a barracuda underwater, not two feet away from me. Needless to say, I ran out of the water and didn't return for the rest of the day. At least it wasn't a shark...
-Perhaps it was here that I really started watching for beauty in the every day. One day we were walking down the beach and there were some horses there as well. I was entranced by the way they walked through the water and ran down the beach.
Sweden, city of darkness in December.
-I was in my freshman year of high school. My teachers let me go but I still had to practice French, the bane of my existence in high school. Oddly enough, I excelled in sign language years later...
-We visited the Vasa museum, a place with the recovered ship Vasa, which went down in the Stockholm harbor in 1628. She sailed about 1,300 meters on her maiden voyage and promptly sank. That's why you don't build ship with too high a center of gravity kids.
-This was the first place I every experienced outdoor ice skating. There was a large pond created below a statue of some important person in a large open park near the Stockholm harbor. It was an incredible experience!
France, for the first time I fell in love.
-With food that is. In France, ingredients and the dishes they created became more than just something to nourish my body. It became something I couldn't live without on so many different levels. Here I ate some of the most amazing and surprising foods I hadn't experienced before or since. Rabbit stew , escargot, frog legs and oysters were all things I never thought I would go for. It took me a lot of coaxing and numerous "on three, one two three........" count-downs to finally consume them but I did!
-I kept a food journal of everything I saw and ate. Unfortunately, it was lost among my breakup with both France and the person I visited three times. Just one more reason to return of course!
-The architectural differences between France and America are striking. It's not just that they are more historical or well-built in Europe. There just seems to be more structures built with care and love, beauty and honor there. I saw this in the houses with blue, light green, white or other vibrantly colored shutters. This detail alone had a powerful effect on my feelings about the place.
Hawaii, a break from winter weather.
-In 2009, I worked in Washington for nine months. Then the season ended and I was jobless. One of the girls I worked with was heading to Hawaii and I decided to meet her there and split a car to explore. We drove around the entire island in five days, sleeping in the car and only spending money on gas.
-We visited volcanoes, showered at public beaches in our swim suits, visited the famous black sand beachs, wandered through a botanical garden and experienced all the different ecological habitats of the island. Hawaii has 10 of the 15 identified climate zones on one island with everything from tundra to monsoon areas. It was mind-blowing to drive for five days and find yourself in a different type of landscape.
-I honestly don't remember a single thing I ate here but I loved reading for hours on the beach, roaming around Honolulu before and after driving on the Big Island and swimming in the warm blue waters.
Road trips far and wide:
-Texas to Wisconsin, Texas to Connecticut, North East to Wisconsin to Texas, Wisconsin to Washington, NE to NW to Utah to Canada and back to Maine. Among others.
-Too many things to even begin to recount but engrained in my memory remains the sound of the wind whistling atop the mountains just outside Glacier National Park. I ended up sleeping in my car that night, not for the first time, because it was much too cold outside. In June.
-I never thought I would find "sea glass" at Lake Tahoe. But I did.
-The greatest day ever occurred when I reached Seattle and visited Pike Place Market. There also just so happened to be a cheese festival that day. Life = complete.
All these places I've seen and lived have had a profound effect on my life. I look forward to the next food/beauty/active adventure...