“Travel makes one modest; you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.”
Sometimes you just have to get out of town.
For any of us, daily routines and pressing obligations can suck the air out of our spirit and threaten to suffocate our very souls. Even if we love every part of our public and private life, sameness can threaten our saneness.
Getting out of town may mean a short drive to the rural countryside a few short miles from our home where we see old places in a new way. It could also mean a more extended interstate journey throughout the northeast and beyond. It might even be a trip around the world where we encounter new cultures with strange sounding languages and unusual foods.
I am sure Henry Miller had this in mind when he said, “One’s destination is never a place, but a new way of seeing things.” Or, in the words of James A. Michener, “If you reject the food, ignore the customs, fear the religion and avoid the people, you might better stay home.”
Evie and I love travel — all kinds of travel. We don’t prefer the packing, but since you can’t go anywhere without bringing along those practical necessities, it must be done. It is always a good feeling when we are able to load the car with our suitcases, hanging clothes, briefcases and a few snacks.
In recent years there is one more practical step which we do just as we are about to back out of our driveway: place our destination address in the GPS. In the past, I was the navigator who mapped out the roads we would take and estimate the approximate time it would take to get there. Now, modern technology does that for me.
The month of May always includes interstate travel for us. This year we traveled through Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Connecticut, New York, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia and Tennessee. We love driving trips. From the foliage of the countryside to the buildings in the cities, and from the music in the car to the wonderful conversations solving the problems of the universe, the miles fly by as we go from here to there.
In New Jersey we noticed the opening of new lanes of the New Jersey Turnpike (I-95). That project has been going on for years but what a difference it makes as we travel from Pennsylvania to New York. We always enjoy the view of downtown New York City from the George Washington Bridge. The changing horizon reminds us of that fateful day in 2001.
And though the traffic on I-95 toward Connecticut is always a challenge, it is also part of the charm of travel in urban settings. In Connecticut we got off the freeway for lunch in a small, quaint town and on Main Street found a restaurant we will not soon forget. It is the journey as well as the destination which renews our spirits.
There is nothing quite like passing by the edge of Washington, D.C., and seeing off in the distance the Washington Monument and the spectacular Capitol building. On the same day we drove across the twin bridges of Wilmington, Delaware and arrived in Ocean City, New Jersey where, after a business banquet, we just had to walk on the boardwalk.
We drove almost the entire length of the Pennsylvania Turnpike going through its four tunnels to downtown Pittsburgh where we crossed numerous bridges. How amazing that on the same day you can go from the Atlantic Ocean to the three rivers of western Pennsylvania.
One of the highlights of our travels was our extended weekend stay in Gatlinburg, Tennessee. I will share more about that next week.
As Lin Yutang said, “No one realizes how beautiful it is to travel until he comes home and rests his head on his old familiar pillow.”
Think about it.
Dr. Don Meyer is President of Valley Forge Christian College, Phoenixville, PA
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