F&F Tour Day 5: Travel
What I write as I move around the country and the world is, by definition, a travel blog. I write about interesting scenes, beautiful places, and fascinating people. While on my current tour, I’m also reading a history book of sorts, The Greater Journey (2011) by Pulitzer Prize winner David McCullough, in which the author discusses scores of American artists, writers, inventors and statesmen who traveled to Paris in the mid to late 19th century and whose time abroad had an inordinate impact on their lives and, hence, on the cultural and social history of the United States.
Their travels, of course, influenced them and American history much more than my own peripatetic motorcycle meanderings will influence me. Nevertheless, I, and many others on anonymous journeys, have something in common with those 19th century wanderers: a desire for expanded boundaries; a need to go beyond existing horizons; a drive to explore different cultures, to learn about other places, and to experience the extraordinary that often lies just beyond the ordinary.
I didn’t travel much in my youth, only the annual station wagon family vacations and obligatory summertime extended family visitations with grandparents, aunts, uncles and a few cousins. As high school ended, I knew I wanted to leave the midwestern town I grew up in and I joined the Navy to see the world. Except I found myself stationed near Memphis, Tennessee, and I wasn’t seeing much of the world. So I asked the Navy to send me somewhere else, anywhere else, fully expecting to see the jungles of Southeast Asia. But, as luck would have it, the Navy sent me to a ship that spent six months plying the waters of the Mediterranean Sea and stopping in exotic ports. At least they were exotic to an 18-year old from Topeka, Kansas.
Although the stays in our ship’s ports of call were never long, I sampled and savored a world beyond that in which I grew up. Those foreign visits changed the trajectory of my life, even if only slightly. New tastes, smells and sounds flooded my senses; ancient and historic sites piqued my interests; glimpses of classic art opened doors to cultural evolution; a hint of outdoor adventure excited my spirit; a swirl of languages and cultures mixed with the strands of my midwestern life. I experienced the extraordinary that lies just beyond the ordinary.
Travel still enables me to have that experience. That explains, I think, why my passion for two-wheeled adventures have taken me to 49 of 50 states, Mexico, all the Canadian provinces and one Canadian territory. The thirst for travel has taken me three times to Europe, including a trip this year that took me sailing through the heart of Europe along the Rhine, the Main and the Danube rivers.
There is no greater teacher than travel. Most people, myself included, live lives that often mitigate against roaming freely beyond one’s neighborhood. Job, family, mortgage–a broad range of adult responsibilities limit life-expanding journeys. Now that my circumstances permit, I’m committed to traveling as much as I can. And I encourage others–young and old–to hit the road, sail the seas, take to the friendly skies. Go somewhere new. See something new. And learn. Expand your cultural horizons. Learn new points of view. Experience the wide world that’s waiting for you.