2015 saw the first of the seven BIG trips I intend to take before retiring. It was truly Around the World, designed to set the parameters for all to follow—in other words any place on our fragile planet can be on the list; and yes, the Arctic and Antarctica are there.
Here’s the actual mileage: 18,287, shorter than the almost 25,000 it would have been had I exactly followed the equator. All across Eurasia by land and over the two oceans by Delta (the latter could have been so much better on a tramp steamer with only seagulls indicating the approach of land).
The trip was…a journey…an adventure…an exploration…an experience. I loved it, although as you read my posts, sometimes liberally sprinkled with kvetching about a variety of things, you might think otherwise. The highs far far outweighed those momentary discomforts experienced on every journey near and far, probably most especially those at the budget end of the spectrum.
Albuquerque to Dallas to London to Oslo to Stockholm to Riga to Minsk to St. Petersburg to Moscow to Ulan Bator to Beijing to Seoul and back to Albuquerque I went and came.
Of course 2015 had its share of family trips and I included some local outings here and there during the blogging year because after all it’s the richness of everything in between that makes the big journeys adventures and not escapes .
The following quote from John Steinbeck is just right; it presents the idea of a trip, any trip, in a new light for me. “Once a journey is designed, equipped, and put in process, a new factor enters and takes over. A trip, a safari, an exploration, is an entity, different from all other journeys. It has personality, temperament, individuality, uniqueness. A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless.
“We find after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us. Tour masters, schedules, reservations, brass-bound and inevitable, dash themselves to wreckage on the personality of the trip.
“Only when this is recognized can the blown-in-the glass bum relax and go along with it. Only then do the frustrations fall away. In this a journey is like marriage. The certain way to be wrong is to think you control it.” — John Steinbeck, “Travels with Charley: In Search of America.”
The personality of my trip-around-the-world can be described as curiosity and discovery chasing each other back and forth across every street, out every train window, through every hotel room—all the while lit dimly or brightly with small miseries and unexpected delights. Of course this could describe many trips…but this one, because it was land travel across a very large land mass, was different. It provided a unique challenge to, above all else, pay attention to the world going by as it gradually and irretrievably changed landscapes and cultures. Norwegian to Eastern European to Russian to Mongolian to Chinese to Korean and every gradation in between. It was awesome in that old sense of the word, truly awesome.