Tuesday, April 15, 2008

A Whole New World

And doth proclaimeth The Baroness: The world is your oyster (unless you keep kosher).

So, travel. Wanderlust. I've been thinking a lot about the movie I recently saw, Into the Wild. I've been thinking about my friend's daughter who just returned home from a European romp. I've been thinking about how some people have no physical boundaries, and how they are completely comfortable roaming the earth, while others have distinct, small boundaries they erect around their world. Who's right and who's wrong?

I suppose the question really is "What makes some feel free enough to think the entire World their own, while others choose to create their own compact universes?" Why does this happen, and is the opportunity to learn equal in both scenarios? Hmm.

Sure, sure, the Baroness has travelled quite a bit. But not all the time. On most days, most weeks, most months, the world of the Baroness is fairly small.

For days on end, my entire world can be encompassed within the walls of my home. The universe, as I see it, consists of a laundry room, a family room, a kitchen and a bedroom. I have no clue what the weather actually feels like - I can only see it through the window. It looks nice enough.

Other times, it expands just a little to involve errands in and around the neighborhood. I go to the same places the same route and do the same chores and see the same people doing the same thing. Whoopdee freakin' do.

Imagine my shock and delight, then, this weekend when I went to take the Duchess up to the mountains in a neighboring suburb. For a time commitment of only 35 minutes, I had driven to a place so beautiful, so different from what I was used to - I couldn't believe I was actually in the same general area. I could have been a million miles away.

But I wasn't - I was only half an hour from my home. Here's a taste of the refreshing "new" vista I saw:
Ocean. Beach. Mountains. Ahh.

A little venturing, a little meandering - it was like a mini-vacation. As I drove around I thought to myself - I never come over here, and look how cool it is. I could wander around here all day, and feel completely like a tourist. I left to come home reluctantly, but feeling completely refreshed.

And then I thought - how often do we all get stuck in a rut, trudging from familiar place to familiar place in a closed loop? Yet if we took just a few minutes to the left or the right of our normal routes, we could find something fresh, something to give us a slightly different perpective. And really - all it takes is a few minutes. Out. Of. Your. Way.

This whole train of thought also reminded me of a lady I had the good fortune to meet on a road trip we took a few years ago. She lived here:
in Lucas, Kansas, home of the Grassroots & Folk Art Gallery (which is why we stopped there), and this:
The Garden of Eden.
Not like you thought it would be, huh?

Population 436, give or take. She was born there, and has lived there her whole life. She does not travel, and does not want to. One of her sons lives in "the city" - Topeka. She had visited him there once, but found it to be too busy.

I have no real way to conclude this. Only to say that, I guess, within each of us lies a barometer about what feels ruttish, what feels like home, what feels like adventuring, what feels like refreshment. And that maybe, everyone has their own definition of what "Into the Wild" means.

What's yours?


Not Afraid to Use It said...

When I went to Croatia by myself my family thought I was nuts. Granted, I was going to stay with a family I'd never met before. I think I tend to swing between polar opposites. I love to travel, but I am such a homebody, too. I can go for days without ever setting foot outside my door. Of course, if there is 10 feet of snow outside that helps. LOL

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess NATUI: How did I ever guess that you were a merry wanderer? And the whole talking to strangers thing?
Lost on you.

I, too, vascillate between home and away. I love both equally, but hate the getting there.

Lisa said...

I most certainly have a few drops of that Chris McCandless spirit in my blood. Luckily, none of my stupid moves have never landed me dead in a school bus in the middle of nowhere, but it's oh so fun to take chance for a thrilling experience.

It's too long to write here, but I think you've inspired me to recount my Moroccan adventure in a future post.

...Barbra Peapod

Writeprocrastinator said...

I've been through by myself:

Germany. Most of Italy.

Switzerland, Luxembourg (don't sneeze or you'll miss it) and Belgium, in transit. Of course, that was in the 80's and you didn't have the factions that make life difficult for people with permanent tans like me, so prevalent back then.

That was all before I turned twenty-one, so I still had that air of invincibility stifling any iota of common sense.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess Babs: When I first read your comment, I thought you wrote that you had a few drops of Chris McCandless' spit in your blood. Which sounds very frontier-ish! I await the Morocco stories with bated (camel) breath...

Count WP: Oh, you merry wanderer. I never did the early-adult-travel thing - I sure wish I had.

As for the "factions" situation, I can understand. I have an Indo-Canadian friend, who considers himself to be an almond (brown on the outside, white on the inside). He breaks into a cold sweat every time he goes to visit our friend in MN. I hear his justifiable rants all the time.

I loved your line about "air of invincibility stifling any iota of common sense" - brilliant!

Asthmagirl said...

I don't think I told you how much I liked this post when I read it yesterday. I found it both insightful and whimsical.

I love being at home. But when I do leave... I like to go. I prefer our 2-3x a year trips to British Columbia. It is heaven to leave the states.

If I cannot afford Canada (lately I cannot) then I love hiking in the mountains. To me, into the wild means no cell phone reception. We do get cell phone reception where we hike, however when we went white water rafting last year, we went through a wilderness area where there was no reception for like 4 days. It was primitive. Except for the french press dark roast coffee in the mornings. There's nothing like a dab of civilization to make the wilderness more palatable!

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess AG: You vacation in BC? Darling, you're practically in my backyard!! Do come for tea.

Thanks for the kind words - I was feeling a little whimsical when I wrote it. As for your "roughing it", I had to laugh - our friends bring their french press and goose liver pate. One of the wives sleeps in a B & B down the road. Such struggle!

Blog Antagonist said...

Husband and I love to travel and experience new places and cultures. Unfortunately, we did not do enough of it before we had children. I wish we had known how difficult it would be to afford once we had silly things like food and clothing to pay for. SIGH.

We are hoping to take the boys to Europe sometime in the next five years. Then, hopefully, once they have left home, we will be able to do more travelling.

BTW, those cherry trees are beautiful but if you have one in your yard, they are an absolute nightmare. Those little petals fall down in snow like drifts and stick to everything. Then they get tracked all over the house, the car...and they are tissue paper thin so they get crushed. And of course, once crushed, they cannot be easily swept up.

We had one right outside our front door. I was ridiculously happy to see that thing go, pretty as it was. Also, they attract bees and wasps like crazy and they stink when they are in bloom.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess BA: Yes, I loved those Tokyo cherry trees most of all because they were an ocean away from my floors! Our old neighbors - you know, the ones who couldn't give a crap about their yard - used to have an old one that created MOUNDS of petals. Which blew into our yard. I was sad to move. Not.

As for travelling with kids, we've dragged them everywhere we went, but finally they've reached ages (15 & almost 18) where they are extremely hard to please, so our family trips are over for now. Once they can again realize the opportunities being afforded them, we'll reconsider. For now, they can go on school trips, and we'll all have a much more pleasant time!

Scarlett Wanna Be said...

I am a big nester. Give me my home and a warm blanket any day. I like to travel but it is really more of an obligation...sort of like, if it is there I should probably see it. Big Daddy calls it "checking the box on the qual card of life." As much as I enjoy seeing new places and things, my favorite part of traveling is returning to the hotel, putting on my jammies, and then recapping the day with my traveling buddy.

maggie, dammit said...

Boy, this has got me thinking.

My brother has always been this way, and while I envy all the sights he gets to see, I sometimes think an even bigger part of it is jealousy over how lightly he travels. So often I want to leave it all behind, wish I wasn't bogged down by so. much. stuff.

I've also been pining lately for a spa vacation, and feeling depressed that I can't afford it. But if I ask myself exactly what it is I'm looking for there, it seems like I could duplicate it at home if I really tried. Unplugging would be a great first step.

So what's stopping me?

I don't know.

This was beautiful, thanks. :)

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess Scarlett: Ah, the Babe of the Ball returns! Welcome back from your travels. I love the Big Daddy phrase.

I love the day's recap,too! It's more of a 2 minutes or less thing -we try to squeeze so much into our days that we have to wait-because we drop into bed at the end of day like a wet bag of sand.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Countess Maggie: The beautiful concept of the light traveller. I am indeed envious of them. MDH & I joke that we could never backpack through Europe, unless there was a sherpa somehow thrown into the deal.

As for the spa vacation, DO NOT attempt this at home! There's a reason it's a spa-ah-ah-ah. Leave this to the professionals. What about a deconstructed spa vacation to the local day spa? Mani, pedi, facial, massage? All doable in about 2 hours, and you'll have a good buzz on the ride home.

Writeprocrastinator said...

"I never did the early-adult-travel thing - I sure wish I had."

It's never too late and May is the best time of the year to see Europe.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Count WP: I will take that valuable info under advisement, kind sir. May 2012 is looking mighty fine.

Bubs said...

This was a lovely post, and excellent points made. My eldest daughter and I both love being strangers in a new place, and love roaming, while my bride and youngest both prefer, if left on their own, to nest and create a comfortable small space around themselves. Fortunately we rub off on each other enough so we can enjoy each other.

Thanks for tipping me to that Folk Art Gallery in Kansas. We're supposed to drive out to Colorado in June, and I've been wondering how to break up the drive across the flat parts.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Count Bubs: I sure hope you can make it to Lucas - it's a treasure trove, I tells ya. The Garden of Eden is worth a look, just for the workmanship involved. For an added kitsch factor, there's a shed/mausoleum out back of the house where the owner rests in perpetuity! Nice.

kevin said...

I used to believe travel wasn't travel unless people spoke another language when you got off the plane. To an extent, I still feel that way, but seeing the Redwood Forests of California made me question that theory. San Francisco isn't exactly travel to me because it just seems like a souped-up Atlanta with more Chinese and fewer W stickers. But there was something about seeing trees so big I couldn't span with my arms that left me in awe. Same goes for seeing the prickly pear bushes in the Arizona desert.

As far as international travel goes, I now am beginning to feel that Western Europe is too ho-hum. Sure, each country each has its own language but it's a lot of Here's our castle; Here's our cathedral; Here's our bridge; Here's our local liqueur; blah blah blah. Eastern Europe is fun and bohemian to me now, but I think I'm ready for the third world. That, to me, is going into the wild.

The Queen said...

OH My!! Into the wild...

When I was only a princess...I had a many into the wild moments...The best was moving to New Mexico to Gallup and working a child care home for Navajo children alone due to parents being unable to care for them for whatever reason. I was only 18 at the time, I loved the people, the food, the time away from home. I would do it again in a heart beat!!! My other is going on a 3 month tour of Alberta with a friend I had met when we had taught summer bible school...I traveled to Banff, OMG!! (I have to take My King there someday) Calgary OMG! Again...We stayed with friends..The people we soooooooooo nice It was wonderful...My heart is so happy just thinking about it...sigh

Aust said...

I think I may be the reason for this post. Yes traveling alone through Europe for over a month with nothing more than a backpack and railpass sounds amazing. Yes my trip was unreal and fantastic but home beats hostels. Now that I am an attorney I will try it again with hotels and get back to you.

Baroness von Bloggenschtern said...

Count Kevin: I am partially with you - my "Wild" is becoming less familiar and more exotic. I get tired of expending the time, finances, and energy to go to a place that is pretty much what I see everyday.

Ah, the global village - pretty much screwing up the romance of travel.

Your Majesty: When you make it to Banff with The King, jump over a province and say hey - we have so much to offer, too!

Countess Aust, Esq: I await your re-evaluation with all the nicetie (including bitchin' travel shoes). You were, indeed, a catalyst for the post. So don't ever say I'm not thinking about you. Ever.

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