The Indiana singer-song writer John Hiatt sang about old people that “they’ve lived so much behind them, they’re tryin’ to slow down this god damn world.” He might be right. Each year seems to pass by more quickly than the last and the list of places I want to see grows longer. I do not have a bucket list but I do plan my trips one-to-two years at a time while remaining open to new opportunities for travel and adventure. It was this openness and flexibility that lead me to a cycling trip in Thailand when I was in fact looking for a cycling trip in Europe. So far this year I have been to Hawaii (Oahu, Maui and the Big Island), Washington, DC and Raleigh, NC. What is our next stop on the Never Ending World Tour?
As soon as Alla’s semester ends and all the college paperwork is finished, we are headed back to Hawaii for three weeks to visit our younger daughter. We are discovering that Hawaii may be one state but it is many different places. The Honolulu side of Oahu has an urban touristy vibe that fades as you travel across the island to Kailua. Go to the North Shore and you are in a different world. Take a plane to Kona on the Big Island and you may think you have landed on another planet: brown, black and alien. Drive to Hilo and you find yourself in a rain forest with a large number of 1960’s refugees. Maui is green, fresh and populated with more stunning beaches than you can visit on a brief holiday.
Without being morbid or depressing, the remaining family members of my generation have recognized that we are not immortal. This was not the case when I was in my late teens and early twenties. I climbed to the top of buildings and mountains just to get a better view, scaled bridges to jump into the rivers below, hurled over waterfalls without the benefit of a barrel or boat, hitch hiked around the US without a thought as to whose car I might be entering, and experimented with better living through chemistry. Other family members were more cautious but we have all lived fulfilling lives. This summer we will reunite in West Virginia.
Whatever my parenting shortcomings, I enjoy being a father and now a grandfather as well. In June, Alla and I will travel to Lake George to visit with our daughter, son-in-law and grandsons. These summer vacations have become an important part of our life. We look forwarding to spending time together. Lake George was also a summer residence for Georgia O’Keeffe so it will be a bit of a pilgrimage as well.
August will see a return to West Virginia for my 45th high school reunion. I have never been to a high school reunion so I am not sure what it will be like. I have always been so future focused that I have trouble recalling high school. There are people and events I recall but most of high school is lost in the deep recesses of my memory. Everyone will be focused on Alla so I can probably escape my potentially embarrassing lack of memory.
In October I am headed back to Thailand to cycle from Chiang Mai to Bangkok. If I can find another rider then I will cycle the Ho Chi Minh Highway in December before we return to Hawaii for the holidays. Wait! We have missed Thanksgiving week. Alla will probably suggest we stay home but her 50th birthday is that week so I need to find a nice travel treat for her. Come back often to see where we go next.