What Travel Means Series – Week #2

Hello! It is the second post for my weekly series of guest authors. As I mentioned here, the authors are friends of mine, people I know and like. I asked them to sum up in their own words and style what travel means to them and a favourite place (or two).
Today’s guest blogger is Jennifer Homes of The Wandering Dragon. Jennifer was the first person I met at my first weekly Vancouver Couchsurfing meetup many years ago. Since then we have become good friends. She has a great outlook on life and a perspective all her own that I admire.

Schwarzwald Cross, Germany
Schwarzwald Cross, Germany

I think people each have a different reason to travel.  As a comment on the transplants from Toronto to Vancouver; “some are running to find something here, some are running away from something there.”  After some consideration I can sum up that I travel for the challenge, practice, and growth.  While there are opportunities for this in any other aspect of our lives – family, career, recreation – travelling is unique in a way that there are often no lasting consequences other than that which you internalize and choose to keep.  The friends you choose to keep in touch with, the places you like and want to revisit, the memories you cherish years later.  Everything else is left as dust on the trail.  Despite the safety and physical risks that our loved ones may worry about on our behalf (hi Mom+Dad!), in this manner it’s a safer way to reach out, explore, and test our capabilities, resourcefulness, and beliefs.  How much can you push yourself, how rigid/accepting are you, what can you do without, what do you really need?  What do you really know, or only think you do?  So where is my favorite place(s) I’ve been? Requires much consideration.  What they all had in common is that they are spaces that most would overlook, and only hold importance because I assign them such.  They are quiet natural places I found to be spectacular without the synthetic spectacle.  Resort compounds (especially surrounded with barbed wire!) however utopic would make me feel antsy about how much this is costing me for fruitless lounging around – even with an open bar, I just don’t need it.  No cities, not really any towns, and not so much ‘tourist destinations’ that would be published anywhere.  Simply arrive in town and ask the locals at the pub what’s good to see, and _maybe_ you’ll find it.  They’re treasures I stumble upon that held that magical tranquility for me.  Even telling you about it here would ruin the surprise of finding it yourself.

The cross in the woods on the hill above the DJH in Freiburg, Germany – I discovered this in February, winding down from a several month-long trip, and nursing an ear infection.  Still I bundled up as a sort of pilgrimage (and for a nice walk so I don’t feel like I’m wasting vacation by being sick).  There’s plenty of churches in Europe, but somehow I feel more akin to the cathedral of towering trees.  A wooden cross in the wooden forest takes a moment to notice though, hence a nice surprise.
Maghera Beach, Ireland
Maghera Beach, Ireland

Maghera Beach, Co Donegal, Ireland – I found a group of backpackers as we hiked up Bunglass together, they invited me to a neat beach one of them knew… handy to hear word-of-mouth by travellers and locals alike, or else I would’ve missed this gem. White sand, grassy sand dunes, and a limestone cliff with caves we considered camping the night in, but thought better as we didn’t want to be surprised by a rising tide in the dark of night. Realistically I could say the entire Irish coastline was gorgeous, but I can at least put a name to the place…

The coastal ‘waterfall’ near Doolin, Co Clare, Ireland – a backpacker in the hostel of Cork was headed east as I was headed west, told me about the short ridge of rock just north of the Cliffs of Moher, that as the waves break over it forms a waterfall one or two feet tall but at least 50 ft long? I’m sure there are many places like this but this seemed to be at the right place at the right time, a soft mesmerizing cascade. The rocky shore cleaves in blocky cubes covered in a shaggy carpet of tightly packed mussels that altogether can support the weight of footsteps without crushing. I thought it was great that another person several weeks ago could describe a spot without name or signpost, and I found it. It’s the satisfaction of completing a quest!

Farwell Canyon, BC, Canada – went here in the fall and the grassy plateau saturates the eye with pale brown and blonde… till you round a corner and find the bright yellow birch trees and turquoise water. Find a more in-depth post on the Caribou on my blog: http://www.thewanderingdragon.blogspot.com.

So get going and stay open, in all senses, because you’ll have time to process and sift through it all later at home. You never know what you might stumble upon.

Photo credit – Jennifer Homes, used with permission.

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