I burst the pandemic travel bubble this year with several domestic trips. Mostly it was about family, but that doesn’t mean there weren’t good times.
On the way to Catalina Island in southern California, for example, my boat passed through an enormous pod of dolphins, countless animals breaching the water and diving in for as far as the eye could see.
In northern Wisconsin, I rose early in the morning to see a lake as beautifully still as glass. At night I could hear the loons’ mournful calls.
In New Jersey and Pennsylvania just recently, I saw the colors of autumn splashed across the hills — bright reds, oranges, and yellows.
However, I did not get out of the country. I had some plans — like returning to Israel or touring Taiwan with a native — but they got sidelined.
Some of my best travel memories are from my international travels and I cherish them like special dreams. Some of them are not much more than just cool, unforgettable moments:
I am walking in the jungle in Guatemala, headed toward the Mayan ruins of Tikal. Monkeys are jumping overhead, toucans are chattering on tree branches, leaf-cutter ants are parading by on the forest floor. Suddenly a herd of miniature pigs breaks through the underbrush and stampedes across the path.
I am visiting the city of Leningrad in Soviet era Russia and it is during the “White Nights”. We were dinner guests of a Russian family and one of the relatives was a taxi driver — and had his own car. So at midnight, after pounding shots of vodka “like a true Soviet man”, we enjoy a late-night tour of the city, ending on the parapets of the Peter and Paul Fortress. Afterward, the taxi driver stops a factory truck and comes back with warm, fresh bread for breakfast.
I am on an overnight ferry from Denmark headed to England. I’m hunkered down on a deck chair, watching the sky lighten up, tired but not able to fall asleep. The water, the sea air, and the half-light all combine to wash away everything else but this moment.
In Israel, I am visiting Apollonia and in the ruins is a room with a huge stone arch facing out to the Mediterranean Sea. It’s a hot day, and as I stand at the open archway, I can see up and down the coast, the sea breaking hard on the cliffs below. I imagine I am an ancient soldier, posted there to watch the waterways.
I look forward to making some new special memories in the near future.
What’s it all about? Experience, plain and simple. I think the point is to get out of your usual habitat for a while. Seeing how other people live helps give you perspective on how you live your life.
You can find these experiences close to home, for sure. But the further afield you go — to another country, even another continent — you get an even wider view of life.
Now, I wonder: if I could travel somewhere abroad, where would it be? Where can I find new special memories of foreign places?
In my dreams, I am walking through a cathedral made of stone. At my feet are the resting places of saints and light sprays through long windows on high. Here is a kind of immortal silence made reverent by a million bent knees.
I am thinking that this is in Spain. Maybe that’s where I should go.
Explore “Time Capsules by Tim Van Schmidt” on YouTube.