This week’s ordinary traveler is my friend Candice.
1. What makes you want to travel? My traveling began rather early in life. I am sure I picked it up from my parents, who trekked across the country each year with my brother and I. They provided me with a map and my mind began to wonder. Wanderlust is alive and well with me, so traveling is just a natural reaction to this draw to constantly move. My job keeps me busy, and travel allows me to get out, leave the cell phone behind, and listen to nature. Additionally, I’m naturally curious about new places, people and the experience of learning. Travel helps me to find myself, especially out in the woods.
2. How do you afford to travel? Each month I apportion off a bit of what’s left in my bank account from checking into savings. This helps build a budget to spend on a couple of trips each year. Uncle Sam also helps out, in that, my state taxes, from Iowa, are returned to me in one lump sum. That also kicks in for another great trip each year.
3. Do you prefer to travel alone or in a group? There are times when I really enjoy having several people accompany me on the journey and then others when I find travel best experienced solo. I like group travel in foreign countries or with someone from the location. In the United States, my best trips are conducted in the car – just journeying from one location to the next.
4. What is the most memorable experience you’ve had and why? My most memorable moment during one trip to the North Shore of Oahu occurred right before I went to Bosnia. My friend recommended that we hit Haleiwa Beach Park because the waves were really pounding. We paddled out in the middle of a break in a small rainstorm and just savored some pretty big waves. While we were out there, gigantic turtles popped up next to us, just to get a quick breath before diving down again. Then a pod of dolphins swam up to us. To top it all off, this massive rainbow appeared in the distance. It was truly a blessing to have complete serenity out in the ocean before traveling to the other side of the world.
5. What has been your favorite destination and why? I’m a National Parks junkie. One of the best things our nation ever did was to protect portions of this country for future generations to enjoy. The Grand Canyon is the ultimate in destinations to see in one’s lifetime. I would say the best trip I’ve ever experienced was traveling to Salzburg, Austria from Rome, taking the train. After college, I took a trip over Europe and found that ride in the Alps is one of the best views I’ve seen in my entire life.
6. Where have you been that you’d like to live for at least a year? I’ve had the good fortune to live in some excellent locations in the United States due to the Army. Spending several years in Hawaii, Arizona, and New York were just dreams of mine when I grew up in Iowa. After having traveled for almost four decades, I’d say a year in Northern California or Colorado are two places I haven’t lived that I’d like to try on for size.
7. What’s the one thing that you have to bring home as a souvenir? Every time I travel, I tend to bring home a piece of art. In San Francisco, I found a great painting of a trolley car in bright orange, red and purple. While traversing New Mexico, I persuaded the owner of a small hole-in-the-wall restaurant to sell me a cow head covered in turquoise. My last trip to Mexico City resulted in a bag full of brightly colored paintings.
8. What’s the strangest custom that you’ve seen or experienced? That’s a bit difficult, as there are some customs in the Middle East completely foreign to my way of thinking. One of the strangest things I’d ever seen was in Afghanistan, when our convoy passed a bus packed with people. Looking through the windows as we passed, the entire vehicle was jam packed in the back with women in burkas, in front of them we saw livestock, then boys and then amply spaced out men. It just took me back at how people are treated differently across the world.
9. What do you always pack? The “must” pack is my camera. Photographs are the best pieces that I always bring back. They can capture a scene and the essence of travel itself. Photos from my journeys cover my walls in my house and remind me that the next adventure awaits.
10. What’s the best travel advice you’ve learned? Pack once, unload everything, and then pack again, taking out half of what you packed the first time. You can get along with less in your bag if you think multifunctionally and pack light. The best advice on the road I ever received was to constantly ask locals where the best hidden spots are. Most recently, I had someone tell me the best places to eat, if you’re looking for a hole in the wall, is where there are lots of motorcycles parked outside. If bikers approve then it’s gotta be good. This definitely applies to Arizona.
11. Where are you going on your next trip? My next adventure takes me to Montana. I’ve never been there, and both Glacier and Yellowstone National Parks are the next in my series to visit. Friends in Missoula and Helena are helping me find some of the local attractions in the area as well. In the upcoming year my goal is to prepare for the Register’s Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa (RAGBRAI) and get to finish the ride in 2016. It’s something I’ve wanted to do since the early 1990s. I might just have the time and motivation in 2016.
All photos provided by Candice.Share this