Subject: Re: Reason why we travel?
Hello Fellow Travelers:

The usual clichés apply to our reasons for travel, e.g., broaden one's horizons, meet new faces, etc., but when we break it down travel for us seems to fall into three separate phases each of which can be a wonderful experience.

Phase 1 is the planning. We avoid organized tours if for no other reason than they often take the joy out of planning and limit our options. Since our travel companions live a couple of hours away, it means several weekends of planning, reading guidebooks, breaking out maps, buying new maps and guidebooks and inquiries and research on the web and the Zine. This might also be subcategorized as the discovery phase when we discover the things that we cannot miss and get advice on the things that really can be missed. The anticipation and excitement build as we near Phase 2, the travel itself, but we often take six months to a year in the planning phase. Simply stated, we have a great time planning the journey.

Phase 2 is the travel itself. This is the time to actually enjoy the fruits of the planning. Everyone likes to meet new people. I have found the Internet allows one to maintain those relationships. (For example, the four of us dined in Vermont this fall with a Scotsman who we met in Lisbon two years ago. This time we met his German wife. The two of them live in northern Portugal, but were on a two week leaf peeping vacation in Vermont. It was interesting when he remarked that only Americans would drive a couple of hundred miles out of their way to dine with a fellow from a chance meeting in Lisbon. I don't think that is necessarily true, but I did not want to disabuse him of his perception of us as quirky, but affable.) We strive to stay off the beaten path, preferring back roads rather than major arteries. We will look for places where the locals eat. We will go to the things that tourists should see, e.g., the Prado, but we prefer to take leisurely, circuitous routes to get there. We often wave to people or beep the horn in friendly greetings. Most of the time we get a hearty wave back. Most people are fun and we want to remember them that way from our travels. For example on a trip to Tuscany I had a blast sitting in a bar with a room full of farmers and local laborers watching England and Italy in a World Cup game. I really did not think that anyone used the phrase Mama Mia, but it was in full swing that night. Given the location we rooted for Italy. That was more fun than traipsing through all those hill towns which I suspected were designed by the same guy. Want to see a smile on someone's face? Blow bubbles from the window of your hotel, hostel or B&B. We also like to try to do those things which we regularly do in our own country. Go shopping at a supermarket. I was surprised by both the similarities and the differences. Frankly, I had never seen a tuna can the size of a 15 inch tire, but there it was in Andorra. Go get a haircut. You quickly find that the barber is as good a source of local information as is the local police chief. Do go to local outdoor markets. They are simply a treat for someone where there are no local outdoor markets. I guess our attitude is don't get pressured by time; rather enjoy the places and the people you visit.

Phase 3 is the retelling. It is fun to remember and retell. Technology has made the retelling more insidious. No longer do you have to bore your friends to death with 35 mm slides of How We Spent Our Summer Vacation. Today I put our gazillion photos into PowerPoint presentations and into DVD's which our friends can self-bore without us present using their own DVD player. Of course they miss the running commentary, but they can also pause the show to grab another potable. Last year at our Christmas party I put the Portugal photos on the computer in my office in a slide show that continually looped. I did not encourage anyone to watch it, but from time to time the office had a small crowd watching. It is also fun to compare notes with others who want to make the same trip or who have been there. Did you see [whatever]? Yes, did you? It is a time to double team others with travel tales. Jan puts her photos and mine into albums replete with brochures and paraphenalia. They really do get read. It may not be as much fun as being there, but it is still a pleasure.

Tom in Carlisle plotting.