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Thursday, October 6, 2011

Being a World Traveller... And Never Leaving Home

We had this luggage when I was
a kid and I thought it was terribly
 embarrassing!  Now, I'd give a lot
to have a whole set of those
blue bags!
The world is filled with places I'd love to visit and things I want to see and hear and taste.  Unfortunately, I am in no position to make these journeys at the moment.  Even if I were financially independent, travelling with eight kids is no easy task. 

Just last night I uttered the following words to the complete astonishment of my family...  "Do you know where I am glad that I'm NOT right now?  DISNEYLAND!"  What's the big deal, you ask (you may also be asking what happened to my ability to properly use the English language).  First, I love the Happiest Place on Earth...  LOVE it.  I also burst with excitement at the idea of making my favorite drive from Eugene to Los Angeles, stopping often along the way to see the sights of San Francisco, Monterrey, Carmel...  The list goes on.  In fact, I have no less than seven potential itineraries for trips to the Golden State in my planner - three days, five days, fifteen days...  very cheap, pretty cheap, no holds barred...  San Francisco only, Disneyland only, LA only...  You get the picture.

So, you see why when I made this declaration, my kids couldn't believe their ears.  In fact, it was perfectly reasonable.  As I made this statement, I was changing the diaper of a very tired, very squirmy and very loud baby.  It brought back memories of trying to soothe and calm little people after hours and hours of sensory overload and in a hotel room fourteen hours from the comforts of home.  I know this because I've done it several times.  Our first trip to Disneyland took place just a month after the birth of our seventh baby, George.  His older brother, Harry, was just over a year and a half old.  We were crazy (we still are), but it was fun.

While I hope to travel for real one day, for now I look for books and programs that can truly transport me to another place.  Some books are particularly evocative and can give you the feeling of a place or a time.  And, not all of the books are classics or highly sophisticated.  I will confess a recent addiction to mystery novels based in Los Angeles as an example.  But, there are others...  I've already written about Miss Read, and very few writers have captured and communicated the feeling of a place better than she does with her beloved Cotswold villages.  To satisfy my love of Washington, D.C., I've found that many of the works found in the late Katharine Graham's Washington will transport one to the nation's capitol at different points in history.  And when I want to get a little taste of London, although rather outdated, I like the Rumpole series by John Mortimer and works by Barbara Pym.  There are so many more...  Peter Mayle and Provence, E.M. Forster and India...  It's a long, and probably personal, list.

Now, if you really want to travel to Europe and can't manage to move past your DVD player, may I recommend Rick Steves and his European adventures?  I've been watching these for years on PBS and recently bought a whole set of his programs - eighty in all!  We love to watch them again and again, looking at modern, thriving and historically sensitive countries where life is lived a bit slower, and maybe a bit more richly.

While many of us can't travel as readily as we'd like, it's so nice to know that you can take long journeys in your mind, aided by great books and other means of seeing the world.  What are you favorite places to go while staying at home?

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