Saturday, February 5, 2011
February 5, 2011 ~ Day 58 Dreaming of Travel
It's a beautiful Sunday morning here in the coastal town where we are lucky enough to live, and I'm up to my ears in newspaper and boxes as I wrap kitchenware for our big move to a new house in six days.
It feels so exciting to be embarking on a completely new adventure, almost as good as getting ready to take a trip to a city I've never seen before. I'm thrilled by the notion of discovering new bakeries, new restaurants, new walking paths, new friends. Even if it turns out to be less wonderful than we imagine, it is SO exciting just to bust out of our daily grind and try something novel.
As I sit here wrapping glass with newspaper, I've run across many headlines about events in France, Russia and Latin America - and it makes me think about all of the countries I long to visit someday. There are so many things I yearn to see and experience before I die, my bucket list is very long and it involves an infinite number of cities that I always assumed I would have spent time in before I turned 35.
Nearly seven years have passed since I flew in an airplane! That is probably hard to believe, especially for friends who know how much I love to travel. As I read of old comrades traveling the world, I am reminded of how much broader the scope of a life can be than the narrow one in which we are currently inhabiting. One of my old friends flies commercial airplanes professionally and has probably traveled to almost every country in the northern hemisphere in the past fifteen years. Another old friend lives with his wife and family in Argentina, and recently posted on Facebook that the passport he is about to turn in has seen thirty countries in the last ten years. Amazing!
Although I haven't managed to fly anywhere since 2004, this hasn't stopped me from traveling to at least a few lovely places. During that time we've made one 24 hour drive to Puerta Vallarta, Mexico when our first son was only 9 months old... an extraordinarily beautiful drive that opened my eyes to the breathtaking, verdant beauty of mainland Mexico. Our favorite stop along that trip was "old" Mazatlan, full of brightly painted neoclassical buildings and classical music in the streets. The warmhearted people we met along that journey could not have been kinder or more accommodating toward families - we felt welcome and embraced at every turn, in every small town and along every winding road.
We've also made the pilgrimage not once, but twice, to Vancouver BC by car... about a 20 hour drive from our home in Southern California, stopping along the way in exquisite metropolis areas like San Francisco, Portland and Seattle.
We were lucky enough to find a fantastic couple who rents out their Granville Island condo in Vancouver for a reasonable price, and enjoyed "living" like real residents in that amazing city - with our own three bedroom home with full kitchen, DVD player and view of the harbor. Nothing like cozying up with fresh fish n'chips from the Granville Island Farmer's Market on a rainy afternoon watching the fog roll in... or hiking in the insanely beautiful rainforest just outside of the city proper.
I'll never forget our sons' first experience with rabbits and goats, their first time in a real pumpkin patch, or their first trainride... all of which happened on these trips. (I'm a little bit in love with Vancouver and have often spoken with my husband about the merits of living there permanently... or maybe retiring there someday. He points out that we would miss the California sunshine.)
Other than these three big vacations, my husband and I have also traveled on at least four or five occasions to our favorite local getaway - Catalina Island. I consider it to be as close to the Italian Riviera as we can get from 6,000 miles away: Looking out from the Zane Grey Pueblo Hotel over Avalon Bay, I am greatly reminded of Capri and Positano... twinkling lights, bright stars and a vast blue sea extending into the horizon. Catalina has been perfect for us, offering wilderness, rugged bike rides and ocean swimming for my husband coupled with an elegant ballroom and movie theater, delightful shops and restaurants, world class fish n'chips and fun local hikes for me. They've even got a zipline tour now!
On our last journey to Catalina we actually brought my mother and our three children, and it was perhaps the most fun I have ever had there - introducing our boys to the fun of miniature golf, practicing their swimming in the harbor, taking them for ice cream cones and to see 'Toy Story 3' at the Casino ballroom... they still haven't stopped talking about Catalina six months later and keep asking when we will return. I love traveling so much, I think the only thing that can make it even better for me is the opportunity to experience new things WITH these precious children and to see the world new through their eyes.
I'm not sure where our journey will lead in the coming year or so... just moving to a new home may be the big adventure for us for now. I am very excited though that we have decided to spend a year in Italy, as a family, when the children are a bit older. (We're currently planning for 2014, but that timing is of course subject to change.)
We want to go when our children are old enough to get a lot out of the experience but not so old that we interrupt the critically important years of their education - middle and high school. Our current idea is to settle in a small town outside of Tuscany where we will live and work remotely, send our children to the local school, and celebrate life just as we are turning the corner into our 40s. Our mid-life crisis will be expressed by purchasing shiny expensive new bicycles and biking our blues away around the Mediterranean!
As much as I love to travel though, no adventure I could ever take anywhere in the world will equal the adventure of parenthood. I cannot fathom a journey that would even come close to changing my world view and perspective as much as that simple trip to the local medical center where we entered as a (pregnant) couple and left as a family. I don't regret the nearly seven years I have spent in this beautiful city raising our three children and I am so excited for all the years we have left to discover new things and experience new places together.
For now though it's time for me to wrap another dish, tape up another moving box, and dream of all the wonders our future surely holds.