One thing I love about being a GeekMom is that we are made up of contributors from different areas, backgrounds, interests, beliefs, and opinions, but many of us love to show you the places we have been.
Whether it is for a long family trip, a weekend convention, or a day’s discovery of something unique in our area, when a person discovers someplace new, or at least new to them, they want to share it with others.
Not everyone needs to be a world traveler to enjoy adventure, and I’ve talked about that in stories I’ve done about places and events in my own hometown, but I think everyone needs to maintain the explorer’s mindset every day. Life is an adventure, and even though there can be times of trouble and tragedy, there are also periods of renewal and encouragement. If we keep that desire for discovery in our hearts and minds, it can make every step we take the beginning an adventure.
I have found several ways to do this, some of which I’m certain others do as well.
First of all, I am perpetually planning my next trip. This is something I picked up from my parents when I was feeling tired and melancholy when we arrived home from a family trip we had been looking forward to for a long time. My dad told me although it is always great to be back home, it can be a little bit of a letdown after seeing all those new places and faces. This was before the days of digital photography, so that meant waiting for photos to come from that little Fotomat booth for at least a week. I couldn’t immediately file through my still-fresh memories as we can today.
My dad said what he and my mom always did right when they get home from a trip and put everything away was start planning for the next one. This was a philosophy I took to heart, and have in my adulthood become a perpetual trip planner.
It starts with brainstorming some places I would love to see. This usually begins with pretty much anything on my “bucket list” of travels, then more practical goals that fit within time, budget, and distance. Next, we start thinking about dates and for how long we can get away from our jobs and school. That’s when the fun stuff begins. We head to AAA or another travel agency for some information on the area. We peruse the internet for any interesting facts or lesser-known attractions we might want to hit and make it a continual family project until the next time we are able to do a trip.
It really doesn’t matter that often our destination, when we finally hit the road, is completely different from the original plan. The “journey” of trip planning was an entire adventure in itself.
I also take advantage of one of my strange addictions: maps. If you put a map or atlas in front of me, I can fall down that rabbit hole for ages—finding unusual place names, hidden trails and waterways, connections to times and events in history, and a literal “world” of facts and stories in front of me.
Travel brochures are fun, too. I am always picking up little flyers and brochures that can be found in roadside travel centers or restaurant entryways. I’ve gotten my kids involved, too. My youngest likes to circle those little numbered inserts in travel magazines to receive information on different cities and attractions and loves to see what comes in snail mail from new places.
The advent of Google Maps has made things even more interesting. Some couples like to relax with a movie after the kids go to bed. My husband and I will sometimes pick a city, hit the “street view” at a well-known site, and then just virtually wander the town. It is amazing what you can find, and sort of feels like making a little escape from the real world. One time, we looked for the TARDIS Easter egg in London hidden along Earls Ct. Road, and, yes, you can go inside of it. I won’t add a link because getting lost trying to search for it and find the way in is half the fun.
Finally, I like to vicariously travel along with others. I know there’s a common notion that looking at others’ old vacation slide shows is sleep-inducing, or that seeing other people Facebook posts of their “feet at the beach” is annoying, but if you learn to ask the right questions, it brings out the best in others. It also may give you an appreciation for a place you might never have thought of visiting.
One of the coolest ways I’ve done this is through a random item I picked up at an old antique and junk shop. Someone had brought in a large walking stick with several Japanese symbols burnt in the wood. This included an image of a rat and a couple of Mount Fuji. It looked pretty neat, so we bought it for twenty bucks. This leads us to do some research on the markings and found when travelers climb Mount Fuji, they can get their wooden walking sticks “stamped” by wood-burning at various stations along the way. Sometimes, they commemorate a special date or how far the climber has gotten. We learned this stick, that somehow ended up in a West Texas junk shop before we rescued it, made the trip 12 years ago in 2008. I would love to someday be able to make that trip myself and add my own stamps to this same stick. Unfortunately, that’s a journey for another time.
This year, we are planning on visiting some weird locations closer to home around Las Vegas and Utah. The new Meow Wolf is opening up this summer, after all.
In J.R.R. Tolkien’s Fellowship of the Rings, Strider (Aragon) attempts to gain Frodo’s trust by reciting to him the beginning of a poem written by Frodo’s uncle Bilbo:
All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost;
It is that second line that is often used for inspiration by dreamers of dreams and wishful travelers everywhere—myself included, as I have that quote mounted on a nice little canvas by the computer.
It is true. Many of us who wander, be it by foot or in our mind, know exactly where we are going… or at least where we want to go someday.