Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, “Life is a journey, not a destination.” For me, learning to enjoy the journey enroute to my point of destination is becoming the part of travel I want to focus on more. For years I have traveled to some amazing locals, but the getting there has always been a bit of a blur.
When I research where I am going, the how of getting there gets lost in transition. If I’m flying, I do not allot extra time to watch the sun set over Camelback Mountain or check out the Indian burial grounds along the Papago Mountains, because I’m in a hurry to get to the airport to get to my destination. Once on the plane, I always take the aisle seat to have easy access to the bathroom instead of taking a window seat so I can take in the breathtaking birds-eye view of the depths of the Grand Canyon or experience the vastness of the Rocky Mountains.
If I am driving, I tend to take the most direct main routes so that I can get to my destination as fast as I can. Even though there are so many destinations along the way that I pass by without much of a thought. I marvel at pictures of the amazing land formations that dot the far-reaching corners of Arizona, but in fact are only a few hours off the beaten path. If I would add one more day to my drive I could stop and see these places in person and take my own pictures.
For almost 50 years I have traveled at great length, throughout the U.S., Canada and Mexico, throughout Europe and to the Middle East. As I relive some of this travel, I realize that the journey to so many of these places are the memories that are beginning to come to the forefront. It is amazing what the mind remembers when you don’t think you are paying attention. So even though I may not have made a concerted effort to make note of the highlights that played out on these journeys, the highlights are there nonetheless.
Like the car ride in the back of a station wagon with my three brothers, playing games and eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches through the golden wheat fields of Kansas, and the majestic Colorado Rocky Mountains, on our way to Disneyland. A train ride across the northern US to Holden Village in Washington state, cutting through the badlands of the Dakotas and the Big Sky country of Montana, coming out into the lush green hillsides of the Cascade Mountains.
The ferry-boat from the white shores of the Dover Coast of England, across the English Channel to the shores of France. And back on the Euro-train running under the English Channel, where our train was detained for 5 hours because of a train derailment on the England side of the channel, giving me time to wonder about the engineering marvel we were enveloped in. The train from Geneva to Bern, covering some of the pristine Swiss countryside and showcasing the unique changes in architecture from the French to the German sectors of the country.
The drive from the Dead Sea to Petra to Wadi Rum and back to Amman, Jordan, through the rugged landscape, mostly desolate of people and plant material was surreal to realize people have lived in these regions for centuries and in many places the lifestyle has not changed dramatically in all those centuries. The Bedouin Tribes still live off the land, even though living a desert existence has gotten no easier over the centuries. People still use camels to transport themselves and their goods. And the call to prayer is as much of a daily ritual as it was centuries ago.
The engineering marvels that make it possible to reach all of these amazing destinations in a much safer and more direct fashion often go by with not much more than a “that was cool” notice. Like the mile long Eisenhower Tunnel in cut through the Rocky Mountain pass in Loveland, Colorado. Or the “Going to the Sun “road in Glacier National Park, a two lane road winding up to the pinnacle of the park, dotted with billy goats along the route. Or the four underwater tunnels running under the Hudson and East Rivers to get you in and out of New York City.
In recent years, when going to Europe, I have made a concerted effort to pick a fly in and fly out destination, but to take the train to all points in between. What a great way to see some amazing countryside versus just the major highlighted cities dotted throughout the region. The writer in me wonders what are the stories behind all these people and places we fly by on the way to our destination. I plan to make more time to find out!
So next time you travel, take a little extra time to enjoy the journey! You will be rewarded with an extra special highlight reel to add to your destination portfolio.