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Posts Tagged ‘souvenirs’

The winds rocked our trailer all night and there are wind warnings posted all day today with gusts to as much as 70 mph. This is not good weather for towing a trailer! Most everybody else in the campground seems to feel the same way. We did go into town for an hour or so but the wind is so strong and the temperaturs so much lower than it’s been we decided it was a good day to hang out in the trailer, put something on to cook slowly, and just hang out.

A friend took her first trip out west last year and asked if I had any suggestions on what to take. My first suggestion to her was to get a decent pair of binoculars, something compact and easy to carry, then take them with her everywhere. The first time I saw her after her return, the first thing she mentioned was how much more she saw because of those binoculars. I have a pair I’ve had for more than 20 years. They adjust to my glasses. I don’t know how, I just know I love those “nocklers” and can’t use anyone else’s.

A camera is high on the list to take, as well. Take the best you can afford/know how to use. If you’re like me and the technicalities of photography elude you, get something that will do most of the work for you and just worry about composing your picture.

If you expect to visit any national parks, get whatever pass you are eligible for. Seniors 62 and over can now get a Senior Pass for $10 that will get you into any national park or monument. These passes are also recognized by the Forest Service, BLM, and other federal agencies. Check out www.nps.gov for more information about passes that are available.

Don’t succumb to what I call the “covered wagon” mentality when you pack. You DON’T have to take everything with you that you might ever possibly need. There are stores everywhere…probably the same stores you shop in at home. If it turns out you’ve forgotten to pack a jacket or a sweatshirt, buy one. The best souvenirs for kids are sometimes things you buy at a special place, things they need anyway. One year our daughter forgot to take any shoes other than the flip-flops she was wearing. So we bought her school shoes at Grandma’s and she got to remember Iowa every morning when she put her shoes on.

Do you really need souvenirs? Make it something you already collect…like mugs or bells or whatever. Or pick my favorite…earrings. Another favorite for a long time, until they threatened to overwhelm us, was books. I have wildflower field guides for the Pacific Coast, the Rockies, the prairies, the Mojave desert, and then I started on the east. We also have books on life in Hell’s Canyon, the mines of Grand Canyon, Camp Rock Springs on the old Mojave Road…you get the picture. Field guides, whether for flowers or birds or butterflies, can do double duty. I have about twenty years’ worth of notations in my Pacific Coast wildflower guide. At random I can see that we saw white fawn lilies at Mt. Lassen on 7-10-86 and glacier fawn lilies at Mt. Ranier on 6-24-86. Those dates tell me we were on the way home from Expo 86 in Vancouver, BC.

Keep a journal. It doesn’t have to be fancy. It can be just a listing of where you went, what you saw, what your mileage was, etc. Or you can get as detailed as you want. For years, I wrote something most every night and our kids will probably fight over who gets those two falling-apart notebooks I used.

Pay attention to what’s out the window. The more you see, the more you will see. Look for that which is different. Somewhere in New Mexico I realized we weren’t in the Sonoran desert anymore. The plants were much more sparse, most were unfamiliar, and the landscape looked really boring to me. Now that I know it is Chihuahuan desert and what some of its indicator plants are, I’ll watch for this plant community until it disappears and we are somewhere else.

Years ago I noticed that many towns in the Midwest have “Center” as part of their name. Dallas Center, Guthrie Center, etc. When I moved to California, I thought it strange that one of the major east-west roads in southern California was named Baseline. At some point as an adult, I had a couple of friends who were surveyors and what I learned from them explained both the “centers” and the baseline. Wikipedia has a good article on public land surveying if you’re interested.

If you’ve done any genealogy research in your family, apply that knowledge to your travels. I found a small county in Kansas with the names of two or three of my ancestors, all of whom were clustered in coastal New Hampshire in the late 18th century. I’m guessing that some ever-so-distant cousins from there picked up and moved to Kansas together long ago…why else would those same names be found together so far away? Of course, if you are doing genealogy research and traveling, you can go see where ancestors lived. That can open up all sorts of adventures. I found a house in rural Illinois that proudly displayed a Century Farm sign in the yard. It turns out that it had been in that family for 100 years AFTER my great-grandfather built it and sold it to them!

If travel for you is just a way to get from where you are to where you want or need to go, then fer gosh sakes, fly and be done with it. But if you drive, get comfortable, take your time, don’t try to see everything, but do see what is there. You might discover that getting there is the whole point of the trip. I hope so…there really is so much to see.

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