Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Traveling and education

The other night this couple came into the bar.  Initially, I was annoyed based on how they greeted me.  They made some comment about the fact that there were many ladies working that day.  Continued with how obviously they hired us to work the day shift.  Somehow I managed to move past that.  I suppose since I thought they were foolish as it was 6 o'clock at night.  Obviously not a day shift. I calmed down and tried to get to know their story.
At any rate, I chose to ask them why they were in town and how long they were visiting.  They explained that they and their two daughters were traveling around the U.S. for a full year.  Visiting national parks, hiking, museums, food, cultural interactions.  Incredible.  They chose cities that they had always wanted to visit and have spent 3 weeks to a month in each place.  For example, they stayed in Santa Barbara, here, Denver and eventually New Orleans.  Of course, they were home schooling their kids, too.  The girls were being exposed to a rich education.
Suddenly this couple became very interesting to me.  Mostly because I thought of what this experience would do for their daughters.  For the rest of their lives, they would be blessed with the wanderlust gene.  I know that I would.  More than I already had from childhood.  My parents did what they could.  Four daughters and thankfully, we did manage a vacation on an annual basis.  Even after my parents divorced, we managed a vacation with my dad and mom, separately.  I think that is what inspired my love of travel.  The opportunity to see new places as a young kid.  That and the encouragement to seek out travel as a young adult.  My first solo trip was school planned.  We camped in the Sand Dunes in Colorado, visited Bandelier, Taos and Santa Fe.  It was amazing!  My first time to Santa Fe.
My first flight was to Orlando.  As a drummer (mediocre at best), I marched with the bass drum around Epcot.  On the return flight, I ate tuna casserole and about ten minutes before we landed, I used the barf bag.  Thankfully, the one and only time that has occurred.  To this day, I blame it on the tuna and the fact that I was seated in the back of the plane.  Something for me about being claustrophobic and stuck waiting to be on solid ground.
The following year, my sophomore year, I flew to Philadelphia.  Solo.  I went to visit a family that I used to babysit for in Kansas.  They invited me out to visit the kids and see the east coast.  My first stromboli, skiing and time to D.C.  Of course, I would have loved to have explored Georgetown but it wasn't the right people to check out that area.  I think Michelle was 8 and Matthew was 4.  Little kids.
Then there was Europe.  Seeing Paris at 17.  Drinking wine, dining at streetside cafes and really experiencing life.  Talk about liberating.  I remember eating terrible fast food in London due to a late night out.  Two of my classmates chose to leave the club to hang out with two american servicemen they met.  We were out looking for them til 4 a.m.  The following day was pretty much a loss.  Some lame tourist trap, crappy food and missed opportunities to explore the city.
Neither of my parents ever tried to stop me when I made travel plans.  Of course, they have been concerned with some of my decisions.  I remember my mom being upset when I left for six months.  Still she did not try to stop or discourage me.
I love traveling, meeting people and reconnecting with them at a later date.  I hope to visit L.A., Phoenix, and Las Vegas in the next few months.  Phoenix is yoga centered, L.A. will be about the beach and food factor and Las Vegas is about reconnecting with people from my childhood.  It is going to be great.
I am glad that I took the time to inquire about the couple in spite of their insensitivity to why I was working that night.  Otherwise, I wouldn't have remembered why I love traveling so much.  Or recognized how amazing this experience is going to be for them and their daughters.  Something they will remember for the rest of their lives.

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