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Observer 11/24/14

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Home arrow Opinion arrow Saving up yen for next adventure

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Saving up yen for next adventure

My Great Uncle John used to ask me, “Do you have a yen to travel?” To which I would reply, “Yes, but no yens with which to travel.”

When I finished up my senior year at St. Mary’s he slipped me a cool $500 for my road trip back to Oregon. When gas was $1 a gallon, that went pretty far. Ever frugal, I believe my traveling companion and I only stayed one night in a hotel as we made it across the country. It was snowing on Memorial Day in Yellowstone so we asked for a room at the Old Faithful Inn instead of piling into our tent for the night.

A year later, I took my first trip abroad to Costa Rica where I was a typical tourist — shopping, eating, lounging on the beach or sidling up to the pool bar. It was utter luxury.

This week I interviewed a friend about her farm in a remote village of Costa Rica and later a group of Rotarians about their recent trip to El Salvador. I am quite in touch with my yen just now to travel.

Another woman I interviewed told me about a lap she took of Kansas and Colorado in September. Between two conferences she visited museums and other sites to get a feel for the territory of which she is writing a book. I told her I’d always dreamed of taking a tour of the deep south, including Oxford, Miss., where William Faulkner lived and wrote about his fictional Yoknapatawpha County. I would surely put Maycomb County, aka Monroe County, on my list as well where Scout, Jem and Dill watched a horrific trial unfold and tormented the neighbors in the 1930s.

I’d go back to New Orleans and muck about where Tennessee Williams wrote his plays. And perhaps I’d try and find what is left of rural farmland Georgia where Scarlet rebuilt her family’s fortune and saved the mansion from ruin.

The South has a sordid seaminess to it I know mostly through literature and would like to experience first-hand.

I’ve planned other trips I haven’t yet taken. I’ve whiled away many a winter’s hour patching together maps and looking up descriptions of hot springs and towns from Wallowa County to Baja.

I was lucky enough to hit the road several times in the last six months — to the Puget Sound, through the Cascades and back home by way of the Columbia. I drove the windy and scenic route from Lostine to Missoula, took a lap around the Rockies, and then came back through Moscow and Spokane. On a whim, I flew to Denver and drove back through the intermountain West in the middle of the summer and last month, I flew to Baltimore and drove around the state with my phone’s GPS application as a guide.

Winter is around the corner and I’m content to throw wood in the stove and consider walks up the lane and cross country skiing as my best ventures for the next few months while I save up my yens for adventures in the spring.

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