It is impossible for me to pick just one favorite destination. There are so many places in this world I want to see. The travel bug bit me while growing up. My family always enjoyed exploring new places. My dad owned a small plastics manufacturing business in Butler, NJ, and the only way he could get away from it all was to pack up the Ford station wagon for two weeks every July and hit the open road, wife and kids in tow. We covered all the lower 48 states, much of Canada, and Mexico.
My father and I dreamed of going to Alaska, but we ran out of time, as one by one we kids grew up, married and moved on. My husband and I did some travelling with our boys, mostly exploring the southern US, when we moved to North Carolina in 1987.
Then, in 2012, our friends Denise and Geoff asked us if we would be interested in a cruise to Alaska. Thanks to them, my dream came true. It was more beautiful than I dreamed it would be. Snow topped mountains, aquamarine water, eagles, seals, dolphins and whales.( I have an interest in humpback whales, having adopted one, named Ivory, many years ago.) I never dreamed I would see them up close, but we did on one of the cruise ship’s shore excursions.
I was most anxious to see Alaska for two reasons. Having been diagnosed in 2007 with Parkinson’s disease, I have no idea how much time I have before the disease gets the upper hand and impacts my walking ability, balance and agility. And second, given the predicted impacts from global warming, Alaska, as we know it today, may one day disappear as its great glaciers steadily recede. Alaska speaks to me through its mountains and forests. To watch the eagles soar overhead, to see the majestic whales surface from the deep-sea waters, to watch the sunrise paint the ocean gold, these are memories I will carry with me all my life.
Having enjoyed our visit to Alaska, we planned a second cruise, this time around the British Isles, in 2013. Both my husband and I had dreamed of doing this, and so we visited England, Ireland, northern Ireland, Scotland, the Isle of Guernsey and spent a whirlwind day in Paris, France.I fell in love with the United Kingdom. The history of the place is embedded in the very walls of medieval castles and stone cathedrals, in the buildings of London – Parliament, Buckingham Palace and the Tower of London . We traveled past pastoral scenery, sheep grazing on hillsides, small villages and breathtaking coastlines.
It is hard to express why, but there is more of a sense of permanence there, of cultures steeped in custom and tradition. It is the home of Shakespeare, Oscar Wilde, Jane Austin, the Brontes, William Wordsworth, Monty Python and the Beatles. We visited Loch Ness, Stonehenge, and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. We toured the Beatles museum in Liverpool, and the childhood homes of John Lennon and Paul McCartney. Sometimes I had to pinch myself to make sure it wasn’t all a dream.
The trouble with travel is that it is addictive. The more I travel, the more I want to travel.
Next on my dream list would be the Scandinavian countries, and Germany where my ancestors originated, and the Mediterranean, Italy and Greece, maybe even New Zealand and Australia.
I believe that travel opens our minds, encourages us to meet and understand people of different cultures, challenges our preconceptions and broadens our perspective as we realize we are all much the same – just people living out our lives, striving to make our dreams a reality.
I believe that somewhere out there, there is a cruise ship
waiting for me to board, a jet airplane waiting to whisk me off to somewhere other than here. Who knows what the future holds? Maybe we’ll find a little cottage in a quiet village somewhere and never come back.
After all,a girl can dream, can’t she? 😉