Faraway Places

0007764-r1-048-22a_6.jpgLike the Lee Marvin character in “Paint Your Wagon,” I was born under a wanderin’ star.  Although my roots are firmly planted in Utah where I grew up, the itch to roam emerged early.  As a solitary three-year-old I loved to take off on my own and go adventuring.  Luckily we lived in a small town.  People knew whose little girl I was and would return the “lost” child to her frantic mom. (Heck, I wasn’t lost.  I knew where I was the whole time.)

I married another wanderer.  We moved 30 times in 20 years and lived in Guatemala, Panama, Germany and several places in the U.S.  To make a long story short, I emerged from the marriage in 1984 with three beautiful children, some great travel memories and few regrets.

In later life, I’ve been fortunate enough to visit places I’ve always dreamed of.  The Himalayas were at the top of my list.  I knew I had to go while I was young enough to make the rigorous trek, so I traveled to Nepal with the Sierra Club in 1997.  The first time I saw Machapuchare, an incredible spire rising above the clouds, I shed tears.  

It took me another nine years to get to the second place on my list—East Africa.  My sister and I had spent several years looking after our elderly parents before they both passed away.  After they were gone we decided to make the trip together.   We spent two wonderful weeks on safari in Tanzania, seeing elephants, lions, antelopes, zebras, giraffes—so many animals!  Such great memories to share.

Last month in Peru I combined numbers three and four into one trip.  The lost Inca city of Machu Picchu took approximately 100 years to build.  The invading Spaniards never found it, but at some point its inhabitants moved away, leaving its stone buildings in perfect condition.  No one knows how its huge stones were moved and fitted together seamlessly, with no need for mortar.  No one knows what the place was used for—our very knowledgeable guide argued for its being some kind of university.  The first sight of it is breathtaking.   One woman in our group broke down and cried—I understood.

I left my heart in the Amazon rain forest.  To get there, we flew from Lima to Iquitos, Peru’s river port.  From there we took a boat downriver to our remote jungle lodge, which had thatched roofs, cold showers and pit toilets.  The peace of that huge flowing river, the towering trees and bursts of color from birds, flowers and butterflies just sinks into your soul.  We even saw pink dolphins in the river.  Even as I write this, the place is calling to me.  I will go back.  I must.  

0007764-r1-018-7a_5.jpgWhat places call to you?  Do you have a favorite travel destination?  Are you a contented homebody?   I’d love to hear from you.

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21 thoughts on “Faraway Places”

  1. I’m pretty content being a homebody, though my hometown calls to me now that I live away from it. My grandparents home calls to me to recollect all the good childhood memories I had there.

    If I did have a desire to travel, I’d like to go to Italy and though I don’t like the idea of flying or riding in boats, I would take a plane to ride in a gondola with my husband. His mom’s side of the family is Italian(His great grandparents came here from Italy) and I’ve always felt a deep connection, even before I met him, with Italy. Not sure why.

    I have always said I’d love to someday visit Ireland, too, because I know some of my heritage came from there as well as Scotland, I believe. Garth Brooks did a song called Ireland (Ireland, Ireland, I’m coming home, etc). The song brings me to tears because I feel a deep connection. Photos of scenic Ireland stir a feeling of wanderlust in me. I doubt I’ll ever get to go, but it would be an amazing experience.

    Thanks for sharing your experiences today. I hadn’t ever heard of pink dolphins, so I’m off to search about that. Wow!

  2. Thanks, Taryn. I’ve never been to Ireland but it sounds so beautiful–it’s on my someday list. The pink dolphins are fresh water dolphins that live in the river. They’re the subject of some fascinating mythology.
    And good morning to you all. I did want to add a footnote to that last photo of me. The snake on the dock is a seven-foot bushmaster, the deadliest snake in the Amazon. One of the guides killed it in the jungle the night before (one reason it’s not a good idea to walk around in the dark). The snake is very, very dead or I wouldn’t be anywhere near it. 🙂

  3. Elizabeth, I’ve loved learning more about you. You’re so quiet, and yet so adventurous! I had no idea you’ve traveled to such exotic places.

    Like Taryn, I, too, am a homebody, but Italy is calling to me. My Italian heritage is strong, so I must get there, but the thought of staying in rather primitive conditions as you have is daunting.

    Fascinating stuff! I do hope you’ll write more about your travels in the future!

  4. Hi Elizabeth,

    Your travels sound wonderful. All those exotic places! And I love that you’ve followed your wanderin’ dream! My neighbors (82) have been everywhere. I think they’ve traveled to 76 countries and counting. I enjoy hearing their stories, But I don’t have that same sense of wanderlust. I’d like to see more of America and Italy, but I’m content taking our small trips. The furthest we’ve ventured is Orlando with the kids, and Mexico on a few cruises. I guess we’re not world travelers.

  5. I’ve never had much opportunity to travel. I’m hoping that changes with the children grown and a little more freedom for my family.
    I’ve been places that just captured my imagination in really powerful ways.
    Two come to mind.
    Carlsbad Cavern. Somehow as we walked through there I was just sucked into the vision of the first men who found that place. No lights stronger than a lantern. Some floors paper thin, we could see where they’d broken through and how far you’d fall. The winding downward. The weird twisting rock formations. I was just so fascinated by it.
    The other place that pulled me in like that was the forest around Lake Atasca in Minnesota.
    The road winding through this incredibly dense forest just made me feel like I was back with the first men who tried to travel through there. The ground is so rugged, uneven, trees down everywhere and new ones grown up. Scrub brush. It would be impossible to walk through.
    It is almost literally impenetrable.
    I can’t imagine the courage it took to go into that cavern or to fight your way through that rugged forest.
    It’s no wonder people love pioneer and cowboy stories.

  6. Thanks for the great posts–and you don’t need to be a world traveler to have adventures. My parents never left North America, and yet they explored some beautiful, remote places. I’m thinking of doing more travel within the U.S. Carlsbad Caverns is a 2-day drive for me but I’ve never been there–thanks for reminding me about this incredible place, Mary.
    Interesting how many of you have Italian ancestry (my own is Scottish/Danish). It’s so much fun learning these little things about you all.

  7. Wow, Elizabeth! What amazing adventures! You make me tired just reading LOL. We just got back from two weeks driving all over New England. Boston was incredible, Walden Pond a dream come true. As for fall foliage, spectacular! (I live in California where it’s always green.) I also love snorkeling in Hawaii. Charlene, and Mary I think, already know I love Nebraska. It was great to go traveling with all of you today!

  8. Wow, thanks for sharing your travels, Elizabeth. I have neither the time or money to travel but if I did I’d be gone! My parents loved to travel and my mom still does. We went to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan a couple of times for vacation and I still find myself day dreaming about the place. I also fell in love with New Orleans the one time I was there but I’m unsure about going back yet. I want to go out West again.

    Abroad my first destination would be Ireland, then the UK, Greece, Turkey, Italy, and Germany (the last because that’s where most of my ancestors are from). Actually, I’d probably go anywhere I could and try all the amazing food.

    I envy you that you got to see Machu Picchu, I would love to see it too.

  9. Elizabeth, you’re so amazing! What courage to take off and go to a place where people sometimes die. And here, I thought you were one of those reclusive homebodies! Now, where did I get that idea? Don’t know. You’re very adventurous. I’m glad you cleared up that fact about the snake at your feet, because when I saw that I almost swallowed my tongue. Those things give me nightmares. Don’t want anywhere near ’em, whether they’re dead or not. I’m not gonna stick around to find out.

    I’m glad you shared your trip to Peru. I think it’s just awesome and would be a wonderful opportunity. I love my roots and don’t think I’ve never had a yearning to go traisping off around the world. I have enough adventure here. Sounds boring though, doesn’t it?

    Great post today! 🙂

  10. Boring? You? No way, Linda. You’ve had such an amazing life! And we can all experience adventure in the books we read–and write. Some of the best informed and most interesting people I know are armchair travelers.
    P.S. People die on the Interstate. And driving on it scares me half to death. Give me the jungle anytime. 🙂

  11. Elizabeth, what wonderful trips you’ve had! I would like to do more traveling than I have so far. I’ve been to Holland (all but my husband’s immediate family live there) I’ve been through most of the Western states and with two kids living in Alaska I make a couple trips a year up there. We plan to go back to Holland on our 30th anniversary in 2 years and then slip down to Spain to see a niece. I’d love to see more of Europe, then tour Canada and South America. And one day I’d like to go to the Caribbean just to say I’ve been there.

    Thank you for sharing your travels.

  12. Elizabeth, thank you for sharing some of your marvelous adventures! Wow, you truly are an adventurer. Good for you! :o)

    The closest I’ve been to another country was the time I stuck my foot across the line into Mexico –with a couple of Federales watching my every move. It was a very remote spot along the Rio Grande, not one of the more traveled ports of entry. *g*

    As an adult I’ve lived on all three coasts. When I was very young, I always knew I wanted to see the west, especially the desert regions, which drew me like nothing else. When I finally got to achieve that dream, I wasn’t disappointed. I love the west, and especially the deserts. I’m glad I got to experience all that first-hand. Now, I can draw on those personal experiences for my writing and, I hope, paint a more realistic setting.

    The only other climes that have ever called to me are the British Isles. I always wished I could go there, but I guess it isn’t in the cards. But that’s where my ancestry lies, in England, Scotland, and Wales.

    Lovely post. Thank you for sharing. Put me in line with the folks who can’t abide snakes. I lived in the East Texas piney woods for several years. That place is thick with timber rattlers, copperheads, and water moccasins, just to name a few. Every time I walked out the door, I was on the alert for the deadly critters and, I admit, I cut down on the population a little bit. :o)

  13. Now that would be scary, Devon. We have rattlers here in Utah but I’ve never seen one in the wild.
    As a volunteer docent for our local zoo, I handle harmless snakes–some of them quite large–and have learned to like them. But the venomous ones are something else. A couple of the people on the trip actually draped that big snake over their shoulders for photos. I couldn’t bring myself to do that.
    Thanks all of you for sharing your travel dreams.

  14. Being content right where you are is a blessing, Estella. You, and the other homebodies who’ve posted, are very lucky.
    Travel can be expensive, time-consuming, exhausting and sometimes dangerous. Standing in those long, awful airport lines I find myself asking “Why in heaven’s name am I doing this?” I’m always happy to come home. But then, as time passes, the urge to roam comes back–like an itch that needs to be scratched.

  15. Hello Elizabeth,

    I am lucky to have found your story on the internet. You write beautifully. Thank you for sharing your experiences with us. If you are not writing full time, you should be.

    Best wishes,

  16. I felt myself being very intralled in your story just then not to mention very inveous!! how wonderful and fortunate to’ve experienced living in different places experiencing life. I’m blown away with you moving 30 times in 20 years!! we moved twice in 1 year and i thought i was going to have a break down !!! The pink dolphin’s? wow I would’ve loved to’ve seen just that my favorite places to visit is coastal areas and the mountains The mountains are so serene and the ocean is so peaceful both places bring out the Gratefullness in me. Glad i got to read your story. Lori

  17. Sorry- i left a part out I like being at home but i love to go places threw the books i read. We take 2 trips a year a week in the summer and a week in the winter This year we’re taking the girls to the Biltmor Estate in Ashville N.C. also in the summer we go to the beach twice a month just for the week end.

  18. Elizabeth, funny that you should mention Lee Marvin, because I recently dubbed that song from Paint Your Wagon as my husband’s theme song. Me, I Mapquest and know exactly where I’m going. Him? We just head out because he “thinks” he knows where our destination is. As we drive in circles, late for the event, I sing,

    Where am I goin’?
    I don’t know
    Where am I headin’?
    I ain’t certain
    All I know
    Is I am on my way

    When will I be there?
    I don’t know
    When will I get there?
    I ain’t certain
    All that I know
    Is I am on my way!

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