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Travel Stories From My Childhood

by Sharon Richards

For as long as I can remember, I have loved, longed, and yearned for travel. It’s a funny thing this desire to journey near or far, experience different cultures, listen to other languages, taste different cuisine and explore. I am thankful and fortunate to have been raised by parents who also enjoyed adventuring out from home. My Dad, born and raised in Scotland,  immigrated to Vancouver, Canada in his mid twenties. I took my first transatlantic flight to the U.K. when I was 7. What magic that was. I can close my eyes and remember the felt sensation in my stomach as the plane lifted into the air, this mix of excitement, awe and wonder as the plane carried me on to new adventures and possibilities. I laugh remembering that my brother, 4 at the time, fell sound asleep just as the wheels of the plane touched down at Heathrow.

photo 76We traveled through various parts of England, visiting relatives and family friends. Lots of cups of tea, digestive biscuits and delicious treats were presented to us on a daily basis. My brother came home with 6 cavities from that adventure. I came home with wonderful memories of castles explored, amazing tasting fish and chips, funny tasting hamburgers, too many friends and questions of ‘is that person related to me or just a good friend?’, pub visits, darts and billiard games, and late nights. We got to stay in an old castle type hotel at one point on that journey and my brother, famous for his highly active imagination, convinced us both that there were ghosts in our turret room. We screamed and cried so loudly that the hotel staff called my parents from their celebratory romantic dinner in the castles restaurant to please come and help us. That same trip, in my absolute delight and excitement at approaching a castle that we were going to explore, I lost my footing while on the path and rolled down into the empty moat – now filled with stinging nettles. I remember being put in a bath with oatmeal and calamine lotion and being itchy for days. This did not, however, deter me from my inner desire to continue to explore, walk, discover and travel.

Since that first trip to Europe I’ve been fortunate to return many more times. I resonate with Phil Cousineau’s statement: “I am constantly looking for methods to help myself and others see the magic of a place….”  And it isn’t just about travel to Europe. I realize that even as I live at home, in Seattle, my soul is seeking for ways to help myself and others see the magic of a place. While I find it more difficult to practice at home, it is something I long to do. There is something though about leaving home and traveling. I find myself pondering my upcoming travel to Paris, France. I get to be there for a week, in what I have come to know as my almost ‘home away from home’. There is something about Paris that continues to draw me.  William Stafford writes: “People wonder about what you are pursuing. You have to explain about the thread.” There is a thread of Paris in my life and for this current time it bears following. 

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