No Bucket List, But Plenty of Places to Go
I’m not the sort of person who has a bucket list of places I wish to see. But I do enjoy traveling. As I look back over the trips I took in 2023, I see I created a very friend-oriented way of choosing vacation spots. I recommend it as an interesting framework upon which to build future travel.
As a P.S. before I start, I am very lucky that all my kids and grandkids live near me in Cincinnati. If that were not the case, the topic of this travel blog would be about how often I could visit them without wearing out my welcome. That understood, here are my thoughts on travel.
Find a community you like and travel with them – my trip to Morocco:
In March, I chose to go to Morocco on a congregational trip with my Temple for the sole reason of being with old friends and making new friends within that community. When my grandson heard about the upcoming trip, he was impressed! “Do you know where Morocco is, Marmel?” he asked in surprise and maybe awe. Actually, I did not! When he told me it is in Africa, I was surprised and maybe shocked. But the fact of the matter was I chose the trip for the people. Wherever the congregation was going, I was going too. It was that simple. That a Temple friend, Cindy, traveled as my roommate was an added bonus of this trip.
Pick a friend and travel somewhere/anywhere with them – my trip to New Mexico:
And speaking of traveling with a friend in a tour group, that’s the norm for me. There are many travel companies – at every price point – that offer such vacations. They make all the plans for hotels, meals, admissions, and guides. You just pay to join the fun (often in a tour bus, if you can handle that). I’ve tried four different tour companies and gone to all sorts of places from Chattanooga to Krakow. Most recently, I toured Albuquerque, Taos, and Santa Fe, New Mexico.
While I assure you this most recent trip was great, I realize New Mexico is not on everyone’s radar screen for sightseeing fun. (The same is true of Chattanooga!!!) But for me, the starting point is the friend. In this case, my childhood friend, Roberta, who lives in Philadelphia. Destination didn’t make much difference. Time with Roberta did.
Or, instead of traveling with a friend, travel to a friend – my trip to Rhode Island:
I was recently on a date (gasp!) with a totally boring guy. The whole time I was with him, my inner voice said repeatedly, “I’d rather be talking to Robin.” I should explain that Robin was my walking partner in Cincinnati for years until she moved to Providence to be nearer her children. She and I text and talk regularly, but it’s never enough. So I went to visit her and her husband, Van, and their dog, Paxton. I met two of her grandkids too. And had fun playing with them. I didn’t care much about sightseeing, though we did a little. Coffee, conversation, cocktails, and L-O-N-G walks, that was our plan. Friend-centric travel at its finest.
Instead of traveling to a friend, travel to a group of them – my trip to St. Louis and how I almost made the news:
St. Louis is my hometown. I try to travel there twice a year to visit my parents’ grave sites on their birthdays beautifully spaced in March and September. While there, I always visit high school friends and cousins on both sides of my family.
On this last visit I had dinner at my cousin’s house. (Our moms were sisters.) Anita’s daughter and two little granddaughters were there too. I volunteered to bring dessert and since the visit was on what would have been Mom’s actual birthday, I brought a birthday cake and party favors for the little girls. I had the bakery personalize the cake. It said: “Aunt Rose is 103!” When I picked it up, the bakery ladies were so giddy and excited about Mom’s milestone that I didn’t have the heart to tell them she died over twenty years ago. Anita said I was lucky they didn’t call the local news! Whew!
But anyway, going back home – and/or other places I have lived – is always a great option for travel.
Jumping in a car with a local friend – my trip to Hershey, Pennsylvania:
My friend, Vera, and I have taken several one-day road trips – often to donut shops and ice cream parlors – within a hundred miles of home. We’ve had so much fun that we’re roaming farther in the days ahead. We are going to Hersheypark and Hershey Gardens almost 500 miles from Cincinnati.
Trust me, grab-a-friend-and-go travel is a great plan. But where to go? Road maps still exist. Get one and draw a circle showing a 100-mile radius – or however far you want to drive – from home. Pick a spot within that circle. While there may not be bucket-list-type places to see, I guarantee ice cream parlors and donut shops galore, not to mention a fun time with your friend.
So many experiences!
The Atlas Mountains in Morocco. The Georgia O’Keeffe museum in Santa Fe. Lobster rolls at a restaurant near Gooseberry Beach in Rhode Island. A birthday in St. Louis. Donuts at Bill’s in Centerville, Ohio. All are terrific memories made infinitely more special thanks to Cindy, Roberta, Robin, Anita, and Vera.
Here’s the bottom line for me: It doesn’t matter where I am going, it’s who I have by my side.
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