Why is Travel so Appealing?

What is so appealing about travel? I have been pondering this question for quite a while. As most of you know by now, I love to travel, and there are few places I don’t want to visit. I love history, art, architecture, and experiencing other cultures; that’s part of the reason I love to travel. But there are so many other reasons. To explore this question in depth, I asked some friends to share their thoughts on travel. Here’s what they have to say.

 My husband, Terry has traveled all over the globe for work and pleasure. Here are his thoughts on travel:

“What I like about travel is immersion, if only for a moment, in the culture and ambience of a place I’ve never been before. I may get tired while traveling, yet never tired of traveling. It all comes down to three things; cafes, where I connect with the locals, cathedrals, where I am inspired, and sketching, where I capture the moment while creating a memory.” 

 My beautiful, talented daughter is an amazing writer. She was editor-in-chief of her college newspaper and provided some editing comments for this article. Check out her blog at www.thelexiconwritingblog.com. She shared this quote about travel:

“Maya Angelou said ‘Perhaps travel cannot prevent bigotry, but by demonstrating that all peoples cry, laugh, eat, worry, and die, it can introduce the idea that if we try and understand each other, we may even become friends’. Nothing has been so influential in my life as the travel I have been lucky enough to experience. It’s so easy to assume that your way, your life, your understanding is the ‘right’ or ‘good’ way. But the world itself, in all her variance and splendor, with the multitude of cultures and religions and beliefs and food and customs, shows us that variety creates beauty, differences create truth, and empathy soothes all wounds. By traveling, I find myself a small part of a much greater world, which provides perspective, and reminds me that I am not alone. The world is vast and her people are vaster still, but by traveling, I’ve come to understand the simple expectation of life: to try. To question, to listen, to embrace the differences that would other divide us. Each time I travel, no matter how far from home the journey may be, I find myself changed and that makes the layovers and the airport food and the crowds and the queues immeasurably worth it.”

 Brenda, my dear friend from childhood has this to say:

Travel ranks at the top of my loves for many reasons. I’ve always been a person who loves change, and as a result, I get bored easily. When we travel, I am flooded with sensory overload. My eyes, nose, ears and mouth can hardly take in all that’s new. I have never felt bored when traveling. My love for photography blends right in with travel as I attempt to capture all the feelings and beauty my soul takes in.”

 “I love travel because I can see how others live, work and play. People watching is a big part of my travel and it’s the best experience if I can connect with people on our journey. To stay in a stranger’s home using a popular travel stay app or just talking to a server at a restaurant or clerk in a gift shop; gives me the opportunity to learn more about our destination and gives us an advantage when following their suggested itinerary. We have completely changed our itinerary many times just based on a native’s knowledge and recommendations and were thankful in the end.”

 “I think the best part of travel is how it has changed me. I grew up in the Midwest, a Baptist preacher’s daughter, and my exposure was very limited when it came to understanding different cultures, races and lifestyles. I was so naive. Today I can say I embrace the chance to meet and rub shoulders with ALL people and try to see through their eyes, the life they live. It has been a humbling experience for this white, privileged woman, and I hope that I am making progress in my effort to bring acceptance and connection with those I meet. Travel gives me lots of practice. When we are connected, the world becomes much smaller and my circle of friends becomes much bigger. To me, that makes the world a much better place and I hope that as I take something from each place I visit, I will also leave something good behind.”

Brenda McEntire

50 states, 23 countries and counting!

 I have a delightful new friend, Dr. Shirley Riley, here is what she has to say: 

“Why do I love to travel? I’m not sure I have a great answer because it’s just always been my life, having grown up in a military family and starting Kindergarten in Germany.  I think I’d somehow feel cheated if we didn’t travel as it adds color and dimension to what would otherwise be black and white predictable. It’s like if you’re in a long hallway lined with doors and not only didn’t bother opening any of them but didn’t have the interest in doing so to find out what’s behind that door…?! I don’t want to live a life that is just going down that long hallway from beginning to end; I like opening those doors.”

 Another dear friend, Lisa Baker shared this:

Traveling to Bangkok in the 1980s was a seminal experience.  Back then my beliefs about God were rigid and Western, but on this trip I was introduced to a nation of incredibly kind people who were devoutly Buddhist.  The city was large, vibrant, and not yet modernized – a noisy, chaotic, and colorful hodgepodge.  Visible displays of Buddhism were everywhere — monks in saffron robes, altars in public spaces where fruit and burning incense were left as offerings, miniature shrines in the yards of homes.  My beliefs at the time would have consigned them (albeit reluctantly) to hell.  But faced with their unfailing warmth, generosity, and friendliness, I could not reconcile my beliefs with what I saw in those people.  The warmth and generosity of the Thai – and their deep devotion to a religion different than mine – fundamentally transformed and vastly expanded my recognition of God.

 “On a late night in Rome — tired, lost, tugging my wheeled suitcase a considerable distance from the train station to a hard-to-find hotel, and irritated with my partner for wanting to walk to the hotel rather than hiring a taxi — I rounded a corner — and KAPOW!  Immediately in front of me, encased in glass and brilliantly lit was the Ara Pacis, an ancient structure built to honor Augustus, familiar to me from my college studies.  Startled by the sight — stunned actually — I was no longer frustrated, hungry, and exhausted, but instead on my way to relaxing into a week of pressing my palms and forehead against ancient architecture I had seen only in photographs and deeply breathing in the age-old air.

 And one more, from another dear friend, Tim McLaughlin:

 “I am attuned to the rhythms, the seasons, the language, foods, cultural habits of my own neighborhood. When I travel to another neighborhood – across my state, across my country, across an ocean – it’s those same, but different, aspects I can’t help but continue sensing, absorbing.

 And relishing, precisely because it’s so different. Buildings and bridges and fences of stone rather than of wood or steel…dishes with tripe and blood and curry instead of tri-tip and mayo and Mrs. Dash.” 

 “I love to travel for the differences among peoples whose humanity I’m part of.” 

 I love these thoughts and insights, and one thing we all agree on is that travel is a gift, one that we cherish and use often.

 Two years ago we took a five week trip to Europe. About a week before we left, I was listening to the radio on the way to work one morning. The topic of the show was “what is your trip of a lifetime?” Most callers were mentioning places like Australia, Greece, and The Maldives. One young person called in and the DJ said “Hello, you’re on the air, what is your trip of a lifetime?” The caller replied loudly and enthusiastically: “L.A.!!”  I’m sure most listeners were laughing as I was, since here in Seattle you can get a round trip ticket to LA for a few hundred dollars and be there in two hours. Many people referred to our European adventure as the trip of a lifetime”, but for us it wasn’t. Yes, it was a fantastic trip, but we have plans to spend much more time traveling. What it comes down to for me, and for my husband and favorite traveling partner, is that we want a lifetime of trips rather than one trip of a lifetime.

 As I am finishing this article, I am waiting at SeaTac International Airport to board a flight to Narita. We are going to Tokyo to attend the wedding of a young woman who lived with us as an exchange student some years ago. Our daughter and son-in-law will also be in Tokyo for the wedding and I’m looking forward to seeing Tokyo from their perspective. From Tokyo, we will be going to Seoul to visit our niece and her family. I have been anxiously awaiting this trip; I love Japan and am looking forward to visiting again. Seoul will be a new experience for us, one that I am eagerly anticipating. The culture, food, climate, and many other factors we will experience there will take us out of our comfort zone, and hopefully leave us with a little more humanity, understanding and appreciation for the people and their homeland. I am grateful to be able to have this experience.

 Mark Twain said “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.” 

 It’s time to board the flight to Japan, I’m ready for another adventure.


Autumn Colors

Autumn is here and the colors are spectacular as usual. I’m taking a day off from blogging to recover from a cold and a busy week at work, so I will share some photos of autumn. I hope you enjoy these photos taken in Hobart, Australia; Denali National Park, Alaska; Bath Spa, England; Gordes, France; Loch Brora, and Castle Douglas, Scotland; Aix en Provence, France; and near my home in Mukilteo Wa.

San Antonio, Texas

Texas has never been high on my list for vacation destinations, but then, as you may have observed from my previous blog posts, there are few places on the planet that I won’t visit. So, Texas; I had heard from friends and family that San Antonio is an interesting place to visit, filled with history, food, and art, all of which are an attraction for me. My husband was there on business and suggested that I join him there for his birthday weekend. So, one year ago this weekend, I found myself on an Alaska Airlines flight to San Antonio.

The River Walk is a good place to stay, it is close to shops, restaurants and many other points of interest.

After I arrived, we strolled along the Riverwalk to find a place for dinner. After a long stroll, we found ourselves at Biga on the Banks. It was restaurant week, and they offered a prix fixe menu. The food was quite good. When I look at a menu, I always look to see if the chef provides information about the source of the menu items. Is the beef grass fed, is the chicken free range, are there plant based options? I did not see that any of these questions were answered, but the food was good.

The missions in San Antonio are very interesting. The Alamo, is of course, the famous one, and is an intriguing place to visit.

Mission San Jose is a beautiful mission to see. This large Catholic mission was founded in 1720.

We worked up an appetite visiting the missions, so we had a delicious, birthday lunch at Oystra along the Riverwalk.

We also enjoyed a few the many speakeasies that are in the area. As you may know, speakeasies became popular during prohibition. They mostly disappeared when prohibition ended, but there are still a few around.

I enjoyed my time in San Antonio, it an an interesting place to visit, and the people are friendly and welcoming.

Have you been to San Antoinio? If so, please leave a comment with you favorite things to do there.

Wildlife Photography

Most professional wildlife photographers use burst mode to capture images of animals in their natural habitat, and using this method results in some amazing photos. Their work benefits and enriches our lives, when we get to see the habits and rituals of various animals. I have managed to take some photos of wildlife over the years, using the old-fashioned method of point and shoot (my camera, never a gun), along with a lot of luck, and being in the right place at the right time. Below are a few of the animal photos I have taken over the years.

One of my favorite photos is one I took of an orca. I sat on the hillside in Lime-Kiln State Park for what felt like hours, getting only images of splashes of water, when I finally managed to get this photo.

I also enjoy watching birds of prey, eagles, hawks, and owls. I took this photo in Meadowdale Park, not far from my home.

This beautiful hawk lives in eastern Washington, near VanArnam Vineyards.

This owl attracted a huge crowd in downtown Seattle one spring day a few years ago.

In the town where I live, we have an abundance of deer. I got on the bus one morning, and the driver said, “look, there’s a herd of deer!” Just twenty feet behind me were five deer, munching on some bushes in the bank parking lot.

The image below was taken in Brookings, OR where the deer roam all over the town.

At American Camp on San Juan Island, the foxes will come right up to you, and not skulk as they often do.

I saw this beautiful swan in Kensington Gardens in London.

This little critter joined us for a picnic at Paulina Lake, near Bend, OR.

This coyote in Death Valley, CA, was quite bold.

Another picnic crasher, this time at San Juan Vineyards.

This little critter was sunning itself on a rock in the Nezu Museum Gardens in Tokyo.

These bison were roaming through Grand Teton National Park.

But one of my favorite animals was this sweet guy.

Our sweet Bogey.

When taking photos of wildlife, be sure to keep a safe distance. They need their space, not human contact. I hope more conservation efforts will be put in place to help animals in need. A world without animals would be a sad place indeed.

Galiano Island

Last week I wrote about a recent trip we had taken to Orcas Island, this week I will continue on that theme and write about Galiano Island, which is one of the Gulf Islands located at the southern end of the Strait of Georgia between Vancouver Island and the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. This large archipelago includes the San Juan Islands in Washington State, where Orcas Island is located. The stunning scenery and slow pace of the islands will draw you in, and you will not want to leave.

We visited Galiano Island in May 2017. Once you cross the border at Blaine, WA, it is an approximately 20 minute drive to the Tsawwassen Ferry Landing. The crossing takes about 50 minutes. Be sure to make a ferry reservation.

Galiano Island offers a range of accommodations including cabins, resorts, and bed and breakfasts. We stayed at the CliffHouse Cottages, which is run by a delightful couple who are warm and welcoming. The property is peaceful and quiet, and has a wood fired sauna that looks like a hobbit house.

We stayed at the Treehouse which is cozy and comfortable, and has a nice view of the water. The Cliffhouse which, as the name indicates, is perched right on the cliff and has a beautiful view of the water.

We were invited into the Cliffhouse by some delightful ladies, all in their 80s who were visiting Galiano to do some hiking. We shared a bottle (or two) of wine, and they told us how they escaped Eastern Europe before WWII for Vancouver, BC. They met shortly after arriving in Vancouver, and formed a lifelong friendship. Meeting people and hearing their stories is one of the things I love about travel.

During our stay on the island, we hiked to the top of Mt. Galiano, a 5.6 kilometer moderately difficult hike, that offers spectacular views at the top. There are many eagles to be seen and photographed as well.

The ladies we had met the night before had hiked the trail and encouraged us to do the same. I hope I’m that spry when I’m in my 80s!

Speaking of eagles, we came upon an eagle’s nest while strolling along the beach, and I was able to get a photo of her feeding her eaglet.

There are just a few restaurants on the island, and some are open only seasonally, so be sure to check availability before you go. There are three grocery stores on the island, so don’t worry, you won’t go hungry.

There are art galleries, beaches to explore, hiking trails and many other activities.

Have you been to Galiano Island? If so, please leave a comment below.

A Trip to Nippara Limestone Cave

While we were in Japan, we enjoyed a day trip to the Nippara Limestone Cave. Our exchange student, and her then boyfriend (now her fiancé) picked us up at our hotel and took us on a scenic drive out of Tokyo, into the mountains. The drive was beautiful and we passed through tiny villages, and saw lush, green forests along the winding, narrow mountain road. I spotted many little, suspension foot bridges that seemed so old that they appeared to have become part of the foliage.

The cave is in a beautiful setting, and it was much cooler in the mountains than it was in Tokyo, which was a nice break from the intense July heat.

The cave, located in the village of Nippara, is the largest limestone cave in the area. It feels quite small when entering, but we wandered around for at least an hour once we got inside since there is so much to see. We found many little nooks and crannies with Buddha statues, and places to worship if one in so inclined.

We took a different route heading back to Tokyo and passed through more villages and also saw a large lake. It was getting foggy at this point, as you can tell by the photos below.

The cave is damp and can be a little cool as well, so be sure to bring a jacket, even if visiting during the intense summer heat.

We were fortunate to be treated to this day out by friends with a car, and since there is so much to see along the way, I recommend renting a car for the day if you plan to go. In addition, it’s best to visit on a weekday since the cave draws large crowds on the weekends.

Have you visited Nippara Cave? If so, please leave a comment and tell me about your time there.