Georgiann Potts

Writer’s Note: Recently, I posed to some FaceBook groups a question about travel – “If money were no object and restrictions were lifted, where would you want to go, and why?” After reading over 200 responses, I learned that many yearn to get away. It has been a long run of “sameness’, hasn’t it?

I am reminded of a quote by American novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald, one of my favorites. He wrote, “The loneliest moment in someone’s life is when they are watching their world fall apart, and all they can do is stare blankly.” Perhaps we have all been just a little lonely over the past year and a half. How could we not have been? — GP

Oh, To Travel Again!

Last week, two family members traveled to their very favorite place, South Padre Island. For many reasons — the latest being the pandemic — they had not returned for many years. The joy when they got back there was unmistakable.

Many are experiencing the need to go again and not necessarily to a specific destination. As Paula Walker expresses it: “Anywhere!” Jennifer Haneline agrees: “Everywhere!”

My 4th grade geography book held images of Stonehenge, Roman Coliseum, Italian aqueducts, Eifel Tower, Lipizzaner, Pompeii, St. Peter’s Basilica, and Great Wall of China. I wanted to visit them all. I was beginning my “bucket list”.

Seems I’m not the only one inspired by a textbook. When Lee Faulkner studied geography in 3rd grade, she was fascinated by Tierra del Fuego. To celebrate her 70th birthday in a few years, she intends to ride a motorcycle from her home in Tupelo to Tierra del Fuego. From there she will hop a freighter to Antarctica. Then there will be only one remaining bucket list item — Australia — the only continent she will not have visited.

Most associate “bucket list” with the Jack Nicholson/Morgan Freeman film “The Bucket List” (2007). Few know the term was previously used in Patrick Carlisle’s book, Unfair & Unbalanced: The Lunatic Magniloquence of Henry E. Panky (2004). Carlisle wrote, “He wants to cut loose, dance on the razor’s edge, pry the lid off his bucket list!” An even earlier reference appears in a National Labor Relations Board report wherein people scheduled to attend a conference are advised to put certain items in a “bucket list”.

“Bucket list” derives from “kick the bucket,” a much older phrase that originated in the 16th century. “Kick the bucket” means to die; “bucket list” means things one wants to do before he dies. Those old enough to remember the movie, “It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World” may recall that the first of countless visual puns in that movie featured a literal bucket being kicked.

Travel Inspires Us

I was surprised by the variety of “bucket list” answers that I got in my informal survey. Europe, the British Isles, Africa, the Americas, the Far East, the Near East, Antarctica — virtually a globe’s worth of destinations! Some were places never seen before; others were beloved prior destinations that needed “one last visit”.

Kelley Oakley wants to go back to the Cinque Terre and Portofino, Italy. “You can hike along the coast,” she says. “It is a mysterious, beautiful, mountainous, coastal, small city — just a glorious sense of time and place with amazing pesto!”

Italy is a favorite for many. Jan Newcomer wants to visit the wine country. Linda Hart-Berkemeyer would go “in a heartbeat”! Maggie Rockett is torn with both Italy and Greece tied at the top of her list. Besides exploring, she wants to learn how to cook local foods from both.

Maggie isn’t alone in wanting to learn something new through travel. Ruth Ulrich missed her “bucket list” dream last year when a stitching class at the Royal Needle Academy in England at Hampton Court was canceled due to COVID.

Renee Battaglia wants to take classes for healing and peace by meditation. Ireland, with its beautiful, peaceful landscapes seems the ideal destination to Renee. Judy Lewis wants to explore Irish castles — not just to see those historic buildings, but also to “uncover the history that is hiding in the walls”.

Sometimes sounds add to memories of special places. Dave and Patricia Grainger cruised the Nile and enjoyed Egypt fully. A special memory was awakening to the sounds of prayers being offered over loudspeakers in the cities in early morning. When they entered a shop in a market, they were astonished to see the owner on his knees. “We couldn’t understand why he wouldn’t help us until we remembered — noon prayers, of course!”

One hopes that Kaitlin Simpson, a doctoral student in history at the University of Tennessee, will enjoy the post-graduation trip to Egypt that she looks forward to taking and has been saving for. “I have always loved Egypt history and would love to see the monuments and archaeological sites there,” she says.

More Than Just

To Get Away

Tracing family history tempts many. Marilyn Martin would love to go to Ireland to check out family history and, because she is a musician, study Irish music. Ken Stickney lists Messina, Sicily, as his priority destination. His great-grandparents emigrated to the US from there. His great-grandfather arrived on Ellis Island in 1911, and his great-grandmother and 3 children arrived in Boston in 1912.

Jennifer Sweeney wants to “dig up some family roots” in Ireland. Debbie Sidders also wants to go to Ireland to trace family. Evelyn Richardson would love to return to Skyland, Buncombe County, North Carolina. There at the New Salem Baptist Church Cemetery, she would visit her great-great-grandparents’ graves and afterward, attend a worship service in the adjoining church.

Some are lured by film, television, books, — and cuisine. Scotland is on Charity Ford’s list: “I would love to visit Scotland for no other reason than I am a huge fan of the show, Outlander!” Cheri Hicks wants to see Montana — and maybe run into Kevin Costner. “Yellowstone” starring Kostner is a favorite of hers. Brussels is on Lou Davenport’s list for the famous Belgium chocolates! Nancy Shlosman wants to return to Italy because of “. . . the art, the people, and the food”.

Malcolm Oakley (a fine chef himself), tops his list with Paris for the French food. He admits that Paris also offers great attractions, shopping, and architecture — and that Paris IS pretty romantic. Richard Baxter agrees. “I can always be lured back to Paris,” Richard says. “Romantic atmosphere with my wife and the architecture.”

Positive interactions with the people in a country often make return visits inevitable. For J.B. Potts III, Paris is a must because of the people and their love of life. “The general priority is enjoying life,” he explains. “Parisians are kind, friendly, and polite. Joi de vivre is a French phrase for a reason.” Marianne Wilcox longs to return to both Ireland and England and stay again in charming B&Bs there where she got to know the people well.

The Road Less Traveled

Amanda Fritzer yearns for a less-familiar destination that she discovered during her career with Delta Airlines — Palau. Located in the western Pacific and a five-hour flight from Japan, she remembers the beautiful coasts and the amazing fresh fish. Tim Mcllveene wants to explore the Indian subcontinent more by taking a train across Rajasthan and visit Jodhpur, Udaipur, and Jaipur. He’d also visit nearby Sri Lanka, if possible. For Uma Rangaraj, it’s either a trip on the Trans-Siberian Railway or on the Silk Road.

The stretch along the French shore of the English Channel known as “Omaha Beach” is where Ronald Hogue hopes to visit so that he can “see and remember”. Jerry Martin wants to return to Soc Trang and Can Tho, South Vietnam, to see how they look after 50 years.

Closer to Home

Exploring the United States is on many lists. Mike Brown has been doing practice camping trips in Arkansas with his son to help prepare for a trip to Alaska soon where he can see wildlife he’s never seen before. Mary Kay Lee shares his dream. She wants to see the salmon spawn and the “big bears”. Joe McLaughlin wants to rent a small plane, have it land in an Alaskan meadow next to a “... river with no name, and catch fish until my arms fall off!”

Becky Dance wants to see New England because of her studies in American history. She says that she would “... love to connect with the geographic locations to make the history come to life”. For Stephanie Hermann, the three national parks in Florida are next up. Vicki Boatwright’s wish is simply to come to Monroe for a visit with her “true, blue, kinfolk!”

Beaches attract new and return visitors. Judith Worthen loves the British Virgin Islands as does Ro Worley, who says that “paradise” doesn’t come close to describing. Bora Bora tops Danette Sager’s list. She imagines a personal butler, a bungalow over the water, and glorious sunsets. “I do believe I could enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle,” she confesses.

The World is a Book

Saint Augustine wrote, “The world is a book and those who do not travel read only one page.” Here’s to all who hope to read — or write — a new chapter in the coming months!

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