I spent much of my childhood studying maps and dreaming of journeys to far-off places.
In the Kensington section of Philadelphia where I grew up, everyone was much the same - Protestant or Catholic with grandparents or great-grandparents who had been born in Europe. At that time, in that place, pizza was an exotic substance. Chinese food came in a can and was accompanied by Uncle Ben's converted rice. It was a good life, but I was curious about how people in other places lived.
Soon after we married, Walt and I bought a Ford van and a pile of basic camping equipment.
"Finally! " I thought. " My travels have begun. "
He even decided to go to graduate school in Canada - a 5 year sojourn in a foreign land! Our next move was to Madison, Wisconsin, and then a really big step - Hawaii.
"Well," I thought, "if I'm not destined to continue traveling, at least we have landed someplace exotic."
The years passed. Travel meant taking a trip back to Philadelphia to spend time with family. Those were wonderful trips, but I wondered if I would ever see all those foreign places I was longing to see.
It was 2002 when we finally made our first trip outside of North America to the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido, and we've returned to Japan many times since then - slowly venturing a bit off the usual tourist tracks.
Now we're retired and eager to cover more ground. There will probably be tours and we will see many impressive UNESCO World Heritage Sites and outstanding museums and beautiful scenery, but it's the quiet travel moments that are truly special - a person who takes the time to help you find your way, the exchange of pleasantries and conversation with a stranger, or just sitting in a park or cafe relaxing and enjoying a different style of living.