The first time we traveled together was on our honeymoon. We had to borrow money to do it and couldn’t afford anything extravagant. We spent a few days in a cabin on a lake in a Kentucky state park, and then used a free stay coupon for a few more days in a vacation cabin in the Ozarks. That was an interesting beginning for two people who are not the outdoorsy types. It was a great trip. We enjoyed getting to know each other as husband and wife and spent very little time with other people. On our way to begin our life in Chicago, we passed through St. Louis and stopped to look at the Gateway Arch, which was under construction. That trip left us with great memories of a joyful time and a desire to travel that remains with us always.
In the early years of our marriage we had limited funds for travel. We did decide to take a trip shortly before our first child was born. We have a great memory of climbing Clingman’s Dome in North Carolina and watching the people coming up as we were walking back down. We laughed as several commented that, “If that pregnant lady can make it, I can too!” While we were raising the kids, we managed to take them to interesting places. We saved money by camping, first in a tent and then in a pop-up trailer (The outdoors again – Rita now says that her idea of roughing it is to drive the Winnebago to the Hilton). We also occasionally got away without the kids for a couple of days at a time. We have good family memories and good couple memories of those times. After the children all left home we began to travel more often and to more exotic places, like Hawaii, South Africa and Europe, helped by the frequent flyer miles we acquired paying college tuition on a miles card.
At the moment we are planning another trip – this time to Italy (for the third time). For us the planning is an essential part of the travel experience. We plan our own itinerary and make our own reservations. We like the freedom to see the places we want to see and spend as much time as we like – we spent most of a day in the Louvre in Paris. The preparation is also a great learning experience. We read travel guides and watch travelogues of the places we are going. We watched the movie, Angels and Demons, based on Dan Brown’s book and intend to visit the important locations from the movie. We are also reading Basilica, by R. A. Scotti, a history of the building of St. Peters. This part is really the beginning of our trip and we enjoy discussing what we have watched and read and looking forward to being there together. Rita has read about and is especially looking forward to a visit to Cascia, home of her patron saint.
Being there together is the highlight of the trip, of course. Rita is the historian and religion teacher and often has great information about the places we are visiting or the religious art in front of us. Bob documents the trip in pictures – we have been able to decorate our house with his photos from many places. Rita is also very good at asking questions of the guides at historical sites and the local people, who are usually eager to share their knowledge with us. Her questions at Parliament in London led to a private tour of the House of Lords. We often meet people in the places we eat and have had great meals with local people and fellow travelers from all over the world. As we have traveled, Bob, the scientist, has learned a lot of history and geography, as well. We have great stories of other cultures and cuisines – often delightful and sometimes, um, interesting. Some of the greatest disasters along the way, e.g. having our rental car towed in Siena, Italy, have provided the best stories to tell when we got home.
We find great joy and fun in all the things we do in preparation and on the trip itself. We are away from the rest of our life and spend weeks together sharing experiences, creating great memories to relish for the rest of our lives. We are reminded of our travels while watching TV programs and recognizing places we have been in the background. We look forward to travel as a time to be close to each other.
Finally, travel contributes to our anticipation of the future. We tell everyone that, as we age, we always want to continue to have a future – we always want to look forward to further adventures before we die (we don’t want our bucket list to ever be empty). Usually, on the flight or drive home from a trip we spend some time enjoying or memories of its highlights, but we also have a discussion about where we are going next. In doing so, the joy and excitement of travel is never far from our consciousness.
Do you like to travel? Share with us a favorite travel story. Tell us about a special place you would like to visit or have visited – we’re always looking for new ideas. Please leave your comments below.
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