THE LURE OF TRAVEL
Saturday August 13th, 2016 Minneapolis Airport, Minneapolis, Minnesota
THE BLISS OF BEING AWAY
There is a very old-fashioned remedy that eases stress, relieves tension, nourishes the body and soul, isn't necessarily costly, and always works. You don't drink it, or wear it, or need another person to make it happen. You can eat as you do it, read about it, jump into it, tiptoe slowly into it, lounge in it, do it in a day, a week or a month. There is no real "right" or "wrong" way to create the experience other than to allow yourself the time to do it....and that is travel.
I've been to some far-away places that were scary, exciting, exotic, over-whelming, invigorating and inspiring. Traveling to Russia in the late 70's when it was still the USSR and very Communist and knowing we were being followed everywhere we went was quite an adventure, and half the time I wondered if we were ever going to see the good old USA again. Our KGB man followed us from the lobby of our hotel to the Red Square to Stalin's monument, to the submarine we were not supposed to photograph and even to see the Bolshoi Ballet. Speaking of ballet - who knew intermissions in Russian theaters were major foodie events? We were watching Swan Lake, and basking in the wonder of being in Russia, in the middle of December, bundled up in literal bear fur coats and thinking life was so unexpected and interesting when the lights came up after the first act and people were flying out of their seats, running for the stairs to the mezzanine. Was it a fire? Were we in trouble? Had the Cold War suddenly turned hot? We sped along, scared to death, and clambered up the steps to find not machine guns or soldiers, but table upon table of black and red caviar, small hot buttered baguettes, imported
cheeses, delicate fish dishes, sweet sugary pastries, vodka, champagne! For just a few kopeks!
Or going to India, in the mid 80's as a "honeymoon" trip post our wedding in an Oakland ashram with our Guru. We decided, "Let's go to India to see Gurumayi!" and arrived at two o’clock in the morning in humid, sticky Mumbai (Bombay at the time) then got on a bus to stay at an ashram in the middle of a jungle landscape for two weeks. Our time at the ashram was not exactly honeymooning at the Ritz Carlton, or even your standard Motel 6, but more like an army barracks. First of all, married couples without children were housed in separate dormitories. Yup. And my dormitory had the bucket and scooper type of shower, short wooden cots, with very hard 2 inch thick “mattresses” on top of them. Let’s just say the sleeping part of our stay was not the best, but being with Gurumayi, and in her company was absolutely inspiring.
The ashram is nestled in the little town of Ganeshpuri, east of Mumbai. We stayed there for two weeks and then planned to travel around Southern India for another week, and after conferring with Cook’s Travel Center it was recommended we "rent" a driver to take us to Jaipur and Agra - the pink fortress and of course, The Taj Mahal. The adventures are too many to retell here – suffice it to say we went to the Elephant Caves outside Mumbai, saw sunrise and sunset at the beautiful-beyond-words Taj Mahal, and rode an elephant up the roadway to the Pink Fortress. The whole trip was a weird, delightful mixture of sounds, smells, tastes, sights, impressions – from holy swamis to Coca-Cola, to picking up your washed clothes packaged together in bundles from the dopi man (laundry man), to camels wandering down the road, to japa malas made by the same man that made Baba’s prayer beads, to “bathrooms” that were literally a hole in the dirt, to Indian pop groups singing 10 year old Bee Gees tunes in the hotel restaurants.
Not all travel needs to be exotic or adventurous - just getting in the car and driving up the coast to San Luis Obispo to stay for a weekend at The Apple Farm Inn is one of our favorite getaways. The very act of leaving home, for a weekend or longer, seems to allow that responsibility button to not only be put on pause, but actually turned OFF!
I love traveling - the newness of an unexplored city, or the return to a favorite relaxing island. I love all the elements of travel - scouring the airlines to find the best deal, checking out the hotels, or B and B's, or in the old days...the farmhouses and host houses. I even love the packing (always taking more than I need), the lists of things to see, explore, or the opposite...places to just rest, really, really rest. There are so many places in the world I still want to see before I leave this mortal coil, and I hope to see them with my husband, or daughter or both!
For now, I have just returned from a mini-vacation to a very quiet lake in Wisconsin. My sister Grace has a home on Lac du Flambeau, Wisconsin. (First of all, can I tell you how delicious it is to simply say aloud Lac du Flambeau? It rolls off the tongue, so French, so lazy and elegant, and it means Lake of the Torch, because the Native Americans would often fish at night using torches to illuminate the waters.)
My sister's home is warm, cozy, inviting, rustic, homey, and quiet, quiet, quiet. It sits very serenely on the edge of the lake, a beautiful view of the quietly rippling water and tall green trees on every side. The lane to the house is barely one car width, gravel strewn, and you wouldn't know it was there, if you didn't know it was there! The temperature changed every single day - going from warm sun, blue skies, white puffy clouds to rain, wind, grey and more rain the following day. At night you could hear the wind blow across the water or rustle the summer leaves of the trees. No car noise, no sirens, no loud neighbors, not even a barking dog....truly, peacefully, blissfully quiet. Best of all, I had no agenda. I didn't have a list. I didn't have to wake up or go to bed at a certain time. I didn't have to eat a meal unless I was hungry, and if we felt like going out we did, or if we felt like staying in, we did. Heaven. No pressure.
Nobody asking for anything, needing anything, wanting anything. Just me and my sister and her
two Golden Retrievers, who are, yes, you guessed - very quiet too.
I sigh, and sit in the airport waiting for my last flight to take me home. Back to my beloved family, and our wacky cat, Reggie. I always look forward to the return home, and do feel more rested and ready to tackle things...but gee, wouldn't it be even better if I knew when the next trip was going to be?