1.12.2006

more plans

We decided, somewhat painfully, to save the Galapagos for its own trip, another time. It felt like trying to shoehorn two very different trips into one, and we'd end up doing neither as well as we should. So we'll do the one thing well. We're looking at three weeks in Peru, leaving the last week of April.

I found a travel agency that specializes in Latin America, especially multi-city or multi-country flights. We're booking an air-pass package with several internal flights. Unless you have the time and patience to spend days and days on buses, this is the way to travel in mountainous countries. We learned this when we traveled through Mexico. Let's see, do we want a 21-hour bus ride, or a 45-minute flight...? A long bus ride or two will be unavoidable, but a few flights within Peru will allow us see so much more.

Yesterday in comments, teflonjedi asked me:
This is a year to pluck a place from my "top places I want to go" list, something big and very special.

I am curious, what else is on that list?

I am a big travel nut myself, but can't offer any support in this case because I've never been to South America.
T-jedi, I remember you saying "I'd trade it all in to be Rick Steves," and I knew you were a kindred spirit.

So, The List.

First, I want to go everywhere, and there's really no place on earth I wouldn't like to see and experience. There are probable future trips, places that are easily accessible, that I very much want to see, and that I'm sure - random-chance willing - we'll get to. That would include many places in Canada (the Maritimes, BC, the Alberta Rockies), Spain, Greece, and the southwestern US (which I saw as a child, but not since, and Allan's never been). I loved the Mayan ruins in Mexico, and would like to go to Guatemala and Belize to see more. And there are places I've been to more than once, but hope to return again and again: London, Paris, Italy.

The places I think of as "big trips" are generally far-off and expensive, and can only be managed when we have enough time and money. The one of those we've done is Alaska. Machu Picchu and Peru is another. Some others: Egypt, the Galapagos, New Zealand, a safari in Kenya or Tanganyika, Angkor Wat.

As I list these, and I feel like I haven't been anywhere! But I'm very appreciative of the travel Allan and I have done. Memorable trips include a month in France and Italy, Mexico, Alaska, the US Pacific Coast from Canada to Mexico, Ireland and parts of England.

Many of our trips would sound mundane or even ridiculous to some people, but were incredibly fun. We did a midwest-rust-belt baseball drive, seeing games in Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Detroit (the old Tiger Stadium - the original purpose of the trip, to see it before it went out of circulation), Chicago (both parks) and Milwaukee. We saw great things in every city we went to, like Detroit's Museum of African American History, Diego Rivera's "Detroit Industry Frescos" and Frank Lloyd Wright's Fallingwater. Our Pacific Coast trip was also a baseball trip. We saw a game in every west-coast park, had amazing wildlife and nature experiences (giant sand dunes in Oregon, a rainforest in Washington State), plus ran around San Francisco and Seattle.

I absolutely love our baseball road trips. I can never quite get enough: when we get the final park, I always say, "Where're we going next?" It's also been a way to see cities and sights we wouldn't otherwise get to. Chances are slim anyone's going to plan a vacation in Detroit or Pittsburgh - but there were fascinating things to do in or near every stop.

* * * *

My family likes to say that travel is in our genes. My grandmother traveled all over the world, before travel was accessible or typical. The only question was, Where is Nana going next? She went on group tours, and she clung to her status as an indomitable American, but she saw the world, and kept seeing it as long as she possibly could.

Her daughter - my mom - adores travel. My parents took us on great travel vacations when we were kids, and when my mother became single, she started ticking off all the places my father hadn't wanted to go: Russia, Alaska, China. Now my brother clearly has The Bug; he and his family have taken many a drool-worthy trip. And of course I have infected Allan, who discovered the joys of travel through me.

When I made my first trip to Europe, with my great friend NN after we graduated from college (university), I announced my plans to my grandmother. I expected her to disapprove, as she was a disapproving kind of person. To my surprise, she lit up. She said, "It's so wonderful, what young girls can do on their own these days. I had to wait until I was married to see the world, but you can just go." For the rest of her coherent days, she always wanted to hear about my travels, and always wanted to know that I was planning another trip. I think of her a lot when I travel.

I already know that every comment to this thread is going to leave me drooling, and saying "Ooo, I want to go there, I want to go there..."

17 comments:

Andrea said...

went to Shanghai and loved it!!

http://andreaindexnotes.blogspot.com/2005/09/china_02.html

we will be going again when the visa comes, with a stop over in Peking if there is any money left.

James said...

Off Topic: An old essay by Tommy Douglas, from 1944.

The Story of Mouseland

It's the story of a place called Mouseland. Mouseland was a place where all the little mice lived and played, were born and died. And they lived much the same as you and I do.

They even had a parliament. And every four years they had an election. Used to walk to the polls and cast their ballots. Some of them even got a ride to the polls. And got a ride for the next four years afterwards too. Just like you and me. And every time on election day all the little mice used to go to the ballot box and they used to elect a government. A government made up of big, fat, black cats.

Now if you think it strange that mice should elect a government made up of cats, you just look at the history of Canada for the last 90 years and maybe you'll see that they weren't any stupider then we are.

Now I'm not saying anything against the cats. They were nice fellows. They conducted their government with dignity. They passed good laws -- that is, laws that were good for cats. But the laws that were good for cats weren't very good for mice. One of the laws said that mouse holes had to be big enough so a cat could get his paw in. Another law said that mice could only travel at certain speeds -- so that a cat could get his breakfast without too much effort.

All the laws were good laws. For cats. But, oh, they were hard on the mice. And life was getting harder and harder. And when the mice couldn't put up with it any more, they decided that something had to be done about it. So they went en masse to the polls. They voted the black cats out. They put in the white cats.

Now the white cats had put up a terrific campaign. They said: "All that Mouseland needs is more vision." They said: "The trouble with Mouseland is those round mouse holes we got. If you put us in we'll establish square mouse holes." And they did. And the square mouse holes were twice as big as the round mouse holes, and now the cat could get both paws in. And life was tougher then ever.

And when they couldn't take that anymore, they voted the white cats out and put the black one's in again. Then they went back to the white cats. Then to the black cats. They even tried half black and half white cats. And they called that coalition. They even got one government made up of cats with spots on them: they were cats that tried to make a noise like a mouse but ate like a cat.

You see, my friends, the trouble wasn't with the colour of the cat. The trouble was that they were cats. And because they were cats, they naturally looked after cats instead of mice.

Presently there came along one little mouse who had an idea. My friends, watch out for the little fellow with an idea. And he said to the other mice, "Look fellows, why do we keep electing a government made up of cats? Why don't we elect a government made up of mice?" "OH," they said, "he's a Bolshevik. Lock him up!" So they put him in jail.

But I want to remind you: That you can lock up a mouse or a man but you can't lock up an idea.


Found at Peace, order, and good government, eh?

Granny said...

I like that second comment and I may steal it for isamericaburning.

If you should decide to drop in on a San Francisco Giants game, I'm not that far away.

Ferdzy said...

Lovely story, James.

My father has the travel bug, big time. He usually heads off for a month or two at a time at least twice a year. When I was under 17 I got to go too. Then adult life came along and that was the end of that.

However, in the spring, we are planning to head off to Spain to walk el camino de Santiago. This is a 700 km ancient pilgrimage route from the border of France all across the north of Spain to the coast above Portugal. We have booked 4 months which is probably twice as long as we need to do the walk, so we will, I hope, have 2 months to see other parts of Spain or to head up to other parts of Europe.

L-girl said...

If you should decide to drop in on a San Francisco Giants game, I'm not that far away.

We have, several times - and met some online friends while we were there. Too bad I didn't know you yet. :)

redsock said...

Helloooooooooo?

Egypt? Pyramids?

L-girl said...

Oh yeah yeah yeah, I forgot Egypt!! Pyramids. Yes.

Israel too. Old stuff. Good. As soon as all the blowing up stop blowing each other up over there, I'm going.

L-girl said...

James, good story, thanks for posting!

It reminds me of a conversation I was having at This Space For Rent. I mentioned a favourite bumper sticker of mine: "Under Republicans, man exploits man. Under Democrats, it's exactly the opposite."

L-girl said...

We have booked 4 months which is probably twice as long as we need to do the walk, so we will, I hope, have 2 months to see other parts of Spain or to head up to other parts of Europe.

Wow, fabulous! You're making up for lost time in a big way.

James said...

"Under Republicans, man exploits man. Under Democrats, it's exactly the opposite."

I prefer the variant: "Under conservatism, the rich exploit the poor; under liberalism, it's exactly the opposite. Now, who can better afford to be exploited?"

teflonjedi said...

I blew through my flickr account limits last month, just after joining, when I started to upload my vacation photos from our vacations of the past few years.

We're big into the European vacations. In spring of 2001, we went to see Paris, Strasbourg, and Lyon in France. In 2002, we went to England: London, Bath, Oxford, Warwick, Stratford, and Canterbury. In 2003, we snuck back into France again, but this time it was southern France: Toulouse, Carcassonne, Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon, Arles, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille. In 2004, I managed a weekend in Copenhagen, Denmark (I was in the neighbourhood for work). I've also managed several trips to Tokyo in the past few years, for work.

But, really, my love for traveling springs from the formative years of my childhood...we lived in Townsville, Australia, and spent school vacations on the road exploring the country.

I'm heading down to New Orleans sometime soon, as well as to Japan and/or China for work purposes. Gotta love it!

L-girl said...

In 2002, we went to England: London, Bath, Oxford, Warwick, Stratford, and Canterbury.

That's a great route, I've done that, too. I hope you included Stonehenge and Salisbury?

In 2003, we snuck back into France again, but this time it was southern France: Toulouse, Carcassonne, Nimes, Pont du Gard, Avignon, Arles, Aix-en-Provence, and Marseille.

In 1993, we did Paris to Avignon then points through Provence, especially Nimes, Arles, Aix, a few others, then headed into Italy. We loved Provence! Since we're a big fan of ruins, we saw Roman sites as much as we could.

T-j, you would probably love traveling in Ireland too. I highly recommend Dublin, then points south and west, ending up eventually at Shannon (fly into one airport and out of the other). The peninsulas in the southwest are tremendous. Lovely towns, great music, spectacular scenery, hidden-away ancient sites to discover.

I also look forward to one day seeing your childhood home! China and Japan are still a dream... :)

teflonjedi said...

I hope you included Stonehenge and Salisbury?

As it happens, no. We decided to leave that for the return visit.

We've definitely thought about Ireland. However, our next big trip, being our honeymoon, will be to Switzerland and Austria. That'll be sometime next year...

L-girl said...

However, our next big trip, being our honeymoon, will be to Switzerland and Austria.

Oh, wonderful! We'll all look forward to seeing your pictures. :)

Canrane said...

Wow. You guys (as a whole family) have been all over! You might be able to knock off quite a few of the items from that book, "1000 Places to See Before You Die" :)

I haven't travelled much (not from a lack of desire to, mind you), but the one place I can highly recommend is India.

Most people think Taj Mahal or Delhi when you say India, but the southern part of the country is actually a hidden gem. In terms of culture, music, food, even temple architecture, it's very different from the north.

The state of Kerala in particular is amazingly beautiful. And there's nothing like venturing into the jungle on elephant-back. We didn't see any tigers though :( But next time...I've got my eyes set on Periyar National park where you have the highest probablilty of a tiger sighting in India.

Temples of Belur and Haleabedu (sp?) close to Mysore/Bangalore were also amazing. No surface was left uncarved. It's just overwhelming to see so much detail in one place!

I can't wait to go back.

L-girl said...

One of my nieces is about to leave for six months in India, first living and working in a "sustainable community" in the south, then traveling in other places in the region. (Her mom posts here as "mkk".)

I've never had much desire to go to India, but I have a feelnig when she gets back and I hear about it, and see her pictures, I'll change my mind!

Btw, in case that's misinterpreted, Egypt is on our "top places to go" list. We haven't been there yet.

teflonjedi said...

Oh, wonderful! We'll all look forward to seeing your pictures. :)

Sure!

In the meantime, feel free to stop by my flickr account, as I update is and get all the older photos up there!