I have to make a confession about this road trip. Apparently, I have trouble judging both linear distances and the height of mountains. Yes, we were on our way to Angela’s childhood home in San Diego. Yes, we were all excited about visiting ten national parks during the journey. Yes, we eagerly anticipated the hiking, swimming, and camping in some of the world’s most beautiful locations. But, as I've said before, I'm all about the journey itself. Especially when that journey involves some kind of epic crossing or transition from one thing to another, very different thing. And, on this trip, I just wanted to watch the Rockies rise out of the horizon as we rolled west across the Great Plains. I had this romantic notion that something so tall and imposing as the Rocky Mountains would loom over the surrounding land and be visible from a hundred miles away.
We were coming to the end of our travels in Greece, sailing from our secluded anchorage in Tilos, skirting along the northern coast of Rhodes, and arriving once again in Mandraki Harbor, where we had begun the whole thing. And I was already missing it. Both the good and the bad. Stolen plums, ouzo dreams, dormant volcanos, impossible stars, and gracious grandmothers in the kitchen.
Prior to this adventure, I don't know that I could've found Bonaire on a map. I knew it was in the Caribbean, but how many island nations are there in that part of the world?
Angela booked our adventure to Mumbai while we were in the car on a road trip. I didn't really understand what she was doing at the time. We often play the "where in the world" game while driving, and I honestly hadn't given India much thought as a potential travel destination until she announced that the tickets were bought. When I informed friends and coworkers that our next trip would be to India, the resounding response was an incredulous, "Why?" When I began planning the trip, the question that kept tickling my brain was, "Why *not* India?" It was never previously on my radar. Why was that? What had kept me from researching an expat life in this most beautiful, ancient, exotic country? Why was India a place I was reluctant to explore? In short, what did I fear?
Angela recently wrote about her trip to Biltmore Estate with her mother as part of a series of excursions that they regularly take together, and I recently posted the latest installment of the annual Guys’ Dive Trip, this time to Grand Bahama with our son, Ben. We both shared our adventures in Australia with the whole Smith clan, and Angela’s father, Dan, hit the highlights on his travels with the U.S. Navy. As Angela and I continue this exercise of blogging about our travels, we have come to realize that the wanderlust is, perhaps, genetic. Or, if not part of our actual DNA, then the need to travel is, at the very least, something that has been instilled in us through word and deed.
After Angela and the boys received their PADI Open Water certifications in 2013, we decided to create a new tradition in our house. Zack and Ben were both quickly becoming young men who would rather spend free time and school vacations with friends than with their parents, and understandably so. That pulling away is both natural and important to develop their independence, and we encourage it. Also understandable is our need to continue spending quality vacation time with the boys. So we began balancing their need for independence against the irresistible pull of epic travel. Plus, their friends don't dive.
In looking for our next home, it must be a place that inspires stories. These are some of the stories from our life’s adventures that have inspired us. They are why we travel. As you learned of my father in Mike's post about our Australia adventure, Dan Smith is a man of action. He is also a man of the world, and his travels began at an early age. So did mine, thanks to his annual training with the U.S. Navy. He is why I first began to travel, and this is his story of a life of adventure. High school just could not hold my attention. I was born in San Diego, California, but I was raised in Chattanooga, Tennessee. When I was in high school, I was always daydreaming of traveling to exotic locations. I dropped out of high school to join the U.S. Navy, and my navy boot camp (basic training) was in San Diego. After boot camp, I completed specialized training at Treasure Island in San Francisco. I was transferred to a small ship homeported in Newport, Rhode Island. That ship, the U.S.S. Courtney (DE-1021), was set to circumnavigate South America along with four other ships. Our mission was to conduct naval exercises with most South American navies.
In looking for our next home, it must be a place that inspires stories. These are some of the stories from our life's adventures that have inspired us. They are why we travel. That first real trip is crucial. When, for the first time, you travel further than Grandma's house in Eclectic, Alabama. When the road becomes exotic, not only in destination, but in composition, asphalt giving way to concrete, then to cobblestone, or to sand-swept hardpack. When the familiar southern drawl loses its cadence, slipping from a Tennessee twang to the rounder sounds of a South Carolina conversation, and then on to thicker, wilder accents, leading inexorably on to unintelligible foreign tongues that leave you grasping for recognizable words. That first true step into the unknown either makes or breaks a world traveler. The feeling of being alone, out of place, uniquely foreign when you have lived your whole life up to that point in a sea of familiarity and predictability is either something to be loathed, or it's something to be loved.
Join us in a life of adventure, one country at a time.