Monday, May 18, 2020

What's on Your Travel Bucket List?

Monday May 18 2020

In this bizarre, incomprehensible earthly time of not traveling, I'm savoring a lot of memories of travel that I've been lucky enough to do throughout my life. Starting with my first 6-week backpack trip in Europe in 1989, an adventure that opened up my eyes and mind to - well, a whole new world, I've come to learn that travel is in my blood. I love maps. I love travel adventure books. I love discovering unknown (to me) places. I love travel.

There is nothing that compares to experiencing new cultures and places and people. Nothing else feels like waking up in a new country and smelling the morning scent of a place on the other side of the world. Each one is unique and lodges in your memory cells, and decades later, a photograph from that place can trigger those smells and feelings again.

I like how adventure traveler Mark Jenkins described it in To Timbuktu: A Journey Down the Niger, how he felt after living for a year in Europe as a kid: 

"We were just dirt and snow kids from the high plains of Wyoming when the rest of the world got lodged inside us like an arrowhead too close to the spine." 

That same travel arrow lodged in my small-town Texas spine. I've spent several cumulative years of traveling (some horse related, some not), to some 36 or so different countries, and it never fails to intrigue and fascinate me, to quicken the pulse and have all my senses on high alert to all the possibilities, when stepping off a plane or train or bus in a new country.

Ever since that first trip to Europe, travel always seemed natural. See a picture of a foreign place, think, wow, I want to go there - and you just go. Our world is here for the visiting - go see it!

And note, I'm less an adventurer than a traveler, though plenty of unexpected adventures often tended to come my way. For the first backpack trips I always went solo, but most often met up with travelers along the way. In my backpack travels, I've hiked the Himalayas, 
sailed in Norway, walked in Alexander the Great's footsteps in Greece and Turkey, rode a camel on a multi-day trek in the desert of Jaisalmer, India, ridden a mad-house solidly-packed third class train across half of India, paddled Zimbabwe's Zambezi River through crocodiles and hippos.

Some travels were completely horse-related, and I've met cool horse people around the world. I've ridden a beach in New Zealand, 
galloped by pyramids in Egypt, ridden a horse on the sacred Curragh in Ireland, tolted beside an ice-covered volcano in Iceland. 

I have more horse stories to tell. I have many travel stories to recount. Some of my travel journals will make their way into book form. My first travel book, which should be out soon, will tell the tale of my first visit to Egypt. 

And there are sooooo many more places on my Travel Bucket List, so much more of the world to visit: I want to trek to K2 basecamp in Pakistan, tramp through Greenland, hike Patagonia, ride in Argentina, ride in Lapland. 

What's on your Travel Bucket List?

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