Sunday, May 11, 2014

The Gift of Travel

Even though it's Mother's Day, this post is dedicated to both of my parents.


For Mom and Dad, travel has always been a priority. My parents instilled its value in me and my brother, by taking us places when we were young and by continuing to support our journeys now that we're grown.

   

Dad spent his sixth grade year on three different continents. His father had a job with USAID, and the family spent three years in Rio and three years in Tehran (with a couple of months between in Washington, D.C.). Dad also went on a cross-country motorcycle trip and traveled to Europe before meeting my mother.

   

Meanwhile, Mom grew up in Texas and Idaho. Her family traveled to Yellowstone National Park and the Tetons for vacations. In college, she took the opportunity to work in a German hotel one summer, setting aside a few weeks once the program was over to travel around Europe by train. 


My parents went to Spain and Portugal for their honeymoon.  A few years later, Mom quit her more lucrative job as a legal secretary to work as a travel agent.  Dad accompanied her to the Caribbean, Hawaii and Greece, while Mom visited England and Israel on own.  She also went to Ireland on a 'fam trip', drank loads of Irish coffee, and wondered why she felt kinda queasy.  Surprise - it was me!  Mom and Dad had to cancel a trip to Morocco, but I like to think I was worth it.

   

While having kids curtailed their foreign travels for about 20 years, my parents didn't really slow down. My first trip was when I was three months old, in a bassinet on the backseat floor of our VW Rabbit.  We drove two days to visit my mother's parents in NW Arkansas, a trip we would make a dozen times in the next decade or so.  My first flight was to the same location, at the age of three.  (I grew up very confused about flying between Dulles and Dallas, where our flights usually connected.) 

At the Alamo

A visit to Arkansas and a visit to Rehoboth Beach, Delaware, were the two summer givens.  The long rides to Arkansas were broken up with stops at various places in Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri. On a couple of occasions, we headed south to Texas (to visit my aunt) and Louisiana. We also took day trips around our home state of Virginia, and to Maryland, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and of course, DC.

   
                                                 Ross in Finland                                                                                                     Me in South Africa

Mom and Dad encouraged my brother and I to travel every chance we got (and footed the majority of the bill for those opportunities) - church trips, sports ambassador programs, and school trips. We continued to take family road trips, sometimes to more far-flung locations like California and the Grand Canyon. We finally got around to traveling together internationally when I was in college. After I completed a summer semester in Venice, my parents and brother flew out to join me in Italy. We spent two weeks driving around Tuscany and Umbria before flying out of Rome.

   

My parents continue to support me and my brother in our travels as adults. I lived with them for several years after college, saving on rent and spending part of that savings on various trips. Before my brother entered the Navy, they sent him on a cycling trip to Ireland. My brother continues to travel as well, having been to the Middle East, Australia, and Thailand.

   

After visiting Canada many times, my parents finally bought land on PEI and built a house there.  Having a "vacation home" hasn't stopped them from traveling. The past ten years have seen them visit Spain and Italy again, as well as road trips around New Mexico, Michigan, and Oregon. This summer, they plan to visit Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Iowa, getting Mom a little closer to her goal of all fifty states.


The apple may not fall far from the tree, but that fall is an education of its own. Thanks, Mom and Dad, for giving us the world!

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