“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”


I didn’t travel much as a kid.  Back in those days , the 1950s and 1960s, the interstate highwaynetwork was nowhere near as extensive and speed limits and road conditions made driving a lot slower.  And fly?  Well, I guess only the wealthy flew.  Unless it was an emergency like when my grandad died when I was in sixth grade.  That was my first time flying and boy was it fun!  None of my friends had ever flown so I was really something in their eyes!  I didn’t fly again for ten years.


Anyway, back to my travel experience.  My Dad was a government worker and got about three weeks of vacation every year.  So every summer, my parents would pack my brother Rod, me, and my parakeet Tweety (hey! I was six when I named him!) into the car, making sure we had a bottle for my brother to pee in and an old sauce pan for me, in case nature called  and there was no gas station or woods around.  (For you young’uns, you could drive hours and see nothing but farms and hills.)  And we had a cooler full of sandwiches and drinks.


Since we were Catholic and always started our trip on a Saturday, my Mom had to make sure there was a dress and chapel veil for me and a nice pair of pants, dress shirt and tie for my Dad and Rod right on top in the suitcase for church on Sunday.  Back then, you would NEVER go to church dressed casually!


It took us three days to go about fifteen hundred miles.  Once we got to Wichita Falls, Texas, we had a great time with Mom’s three sisters and one brother and their families, fishing, swimming, boating, and just sitting around trying to keep cool in those pre-air conditioned days.  We stayed about two weeks and then started the trek back home on Friday so my Dad could go back to work the next Monday.


That trip to Wichita Falls was pretty much the extent of our traveling except for the occasional long weekend to Altoona, Pennsylvania, or maybe Pittsburgh to visit my Dad’s family in either Altoona or Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, usually at Easter. We also went out on Saturday drives (maybe an overnight stay) to nearby national parks and other points of interest.


After I got married for the second time, when I was 29, I traveled a little more, accompanying my husband, Bob, to conferences and on vacation to places where there was a great golf course (Bob was a huge golf nut and if there wasn’t a golf course, we didn’t go there!).  By this time, we flew everywhere so travel was a lot easier.  I got to see a lot of big cities in the US—St. Louis, Dallas, Miami, Denver, San Francisco and Los Angeles to name a few. But those were mostly business trips, with the requisite spouse tours and fancy dinners, and golf.


Wanderlust for me—going places I picked out because I had a yen to experience them—didn’t really set in until Bob died in 2004.  That was so hard.  The next year, a girlfriend (probably hoping to get me out of my blues) asked if I wanted to go on a Mediterranean cruise with her and I did.  We had a fantastic time exploring beautiful Italian cities, including Rome, Naples, and Taormina in Sicily. I was hooked on new and foreign places.


That cruise moved me to give my family: my daughter Alisa, son-in-law Mike, and granddaughters Kaley (then 13) and Torrey (then 11), the gift of travel.  I wanted those girls to grow up with the experiences I was now discovering!  For Christmas that year (and every year since) I have given them a family trip.


That’s how it began.