A good traveler has no fixed plans.

gl11-img_3532crpThe cold mornings hit this week, but the fog always lifts in time for a walk under blue skies. On one of  those days, I was only warm for the hour when I was walking down the path with the sun on my back.

Always something different to see, and why should I be surprised? But I always am! I saw two plants I didn’t know yesterday; maybe one of my readers can help me identify them.img_3566

What seems to be a lily in the seed-forming stage.gl11-img_3567

And a bush with fuzzy seeds.

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I was so relaxed, I dinked around and took forever to get home (to the house with not enough windows). I even sat on this bench for a while and noticed things. The last time enjoyed the view from that spot was with my late husband, almost two years ago. Normally on my walks, I just walk.

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Back in my own yard, blooms hang on to the newly-planted echinacea. This week I set out Iceland poppies, and will soon put up more trellising for the various peas. I’m trying to get things in order here before I leave next week on a trip across the country. There is so much to do I shouldn’t really take the time to compose blog posts, but that strategy seems to work about as well as if I would stop eating for lack of time.

So far I don’t feel anxious about the deadline by which all my preparations must be made, before my departure. Maybe that’s because I still have a few days, and they aren’t packed with other activities to work around. I bought new luggage for this trip, not only practical, but fun. That’s a first-time experience already.  🙂

“Money spent on good-quality gear is always money well spent.”
-Tahir Shah, In Search of King Solomon’s Mines

Before I get on the plane I’ll try to share specifics about this upcoming journey. I read some of my old blog posts yesterday to find out to what degree I’ve already repeated myself in my past travelogues. Often I have a hard time relating to the author of the articles, and I think to myself, “That girl has eaten way too much dark chocolate!” When I am on an expedition further than my own neighborhood with its familiar insects and flowers, my brain starts playing Beethoven symphonies instead of Chopin nocturnes.

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Much of the inspiring travel writing out there appeals to the me that once was, in the most energetic and healthy time of life — but when I actually lived in that era and body I was involved in much more thrilling and satisfying work than wandering to and fro among strangers. I was a young wife and mother, and that experience was adventurous to the max, requiring all of my resources and spunk.

People write as though you haven’t really traveled unless you go with no itinerary and no destination, to be surrounded by strangers – whom you would, of course, find to be kind. I do have experience traveling alone among strangers whose language I didn’t know, and they weren’t all careful of my welfare. In the decades since, in the interest of preserving the health and enjoyment of my family, I have focused on thoroughly preparing for journeys. It won’t prevent unexpected events, things “going wrong,” we hope in ultimately harmless ways, and ideally making for good stories to tell. Adventure is a relative concept, I suppose.

I am not averse to meeting new people on my travels, but mostly I hit the road or climb on the plane with the goal of seeing a familiar face at the end of my trip. I have the goal, but don’t hold on to it too tightly. Anything can happen, and long before I take my seat on the airplane I give myself into the care of many people who are capable of goofing up. When I get to my destination I will let my hosts take care of me and determine my schedule.

I can’t travel anywhere that God isn’t.  Maybe that is the main reason why every morning my brain will be excited and my heart will be at peace, and I will feel like an adventurer.

“A good traveler has no fixed plans and is not intent on arriving.”  -Lao Tzu

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19 thoughts on “A good traveler has no fixed plans.

  1. Oh what fun! The luggage is just delightful! It has a vintage feel about it even with the casters – “spunky”. I smile at the Beethoven/Chopin juxtaposition. What a fun post! I love that you sat on that bench with those thoughts – seeing new (present and maybe a bit of what’s to come) while held close by precious memories, and that you can not go where God is not … so affirming! Have a wonderful trip!

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  2. Very cool luggage! So, if you normally just walk, why did you sit and look this time? But I suppose we do things just because we feel like it, and don’t need to be thinking about why. I love those pink flowers with the large – moth? – there. Beautiful.

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  3. I understand about “the house with not enough windows.” This blog is a great shared window. Travel has opened many windows for those who take Lao Tzu’s approach. May it be so for you.

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  4. I loved this statement of yours. “I can’t travel anywhere that God isn’t. Maybe that is the main reason why every morning my brain will be excited and my heart will be at peace, and I will feel like an adventurer.”

    God is with us always in this adventure of life, especially as a widow.

    Have a wonderful trip and time away from home. Love, hugs & prayers ~ FlowerLady

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  5. Your suitcase reminds me of two things. One is the suitcase I fill with treasures that have to come with me in case of a hurricane evacuation. It’s the suitcase that my mother took with her on her honeymoon. And of course, any of us who’ve attained a certain age will remember the matched sets that included a small, square-ish “train case,” that had a plastic tray for cosmetics, and all of those little elastic pockets for special items.

    I’m so pleased that you’re getting away, and it sounds like it’s going to be a wonderful journey. I hadn’t come across that quotation from Lao Tzu, but it certainly is in the spirit of my own recent travel. As I like to say, in a sailing context, I’m a cruiser, not a racer.

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    1. I still have my mother’s train case, similar to your description, which I use on all car trips. I don’t have so many toiletries that I can’t fit small sizes of them into my regular suitcase for air travel, but the train case is awfully convenient!

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  6. Great suitcase! I recently bought the basic black, proletariat issue. My last set was purchased in the 80’s and made it through a lot of coast to coast moves. Not once was that functional brown stuff ever lost or stolen. But I noticed that now most of the luggage is bright and fun- with ingenious ways to expand.

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    1. LL, it will be convenient to have a suitcase that is a little different looking, when I’m trying to spot it on the luggage carousel. In the past I’ve tied a bright ribbon to my bags, but this one will be even easier to spot from a distance.

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  7. Traveling Mercies to you, and joy of the beautiful journey….I traveled very much with my husband who believed so deeply in the goodness of people and was rarely disappointed. We usually had a destination in mind but no set way to arrive, nor time.

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  8. What interesting plants you’ve found. The berry-seeds are beautiful. The yarrow and moth is a neat snapshot too. Wishing you wonderful travels. You’ll be very sporty with that new luggage! I like it.

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  9. Your walk led you to the place where you paused, sat and observed, both your surroundings and your thoughts. And what a beautiful landscape to listen to, look at, feel, and breathe. Your upcoming travels, too, shall enrich your consciousness, and I can sense your enthusiasm.

    Wishing you a most enjoyable trip!

    Poppy

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    1. The berries do look like an arum, don’t they? But the leaves aren’t typical. If I see it today I should look more closely to see if there are some arum leaves hiding down there. Maybe those leaves belong to a separate plant…

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  10. Your post reminded me of Psalm 139, which gives me peace and excitement for the opportunities ahead. When I will be flying somewhere, I especially like the verse, “If I rise on the wings of the dawn…even there Your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast.” Have a wonderful trip, dear Gretchen. (Love your unique luggage!)
    Pam

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  11. My stepson asked me if I would be going to see my folks in Texas, and all I could think of was excuses why I couldn’t get to the airport in Minneapolis, four hours away. I’ve really got to be more creative. I don’t want fear to rule my life, but I also don’t feel good about traveling alone. I even have trouble getting myself outside to go for walks! I’m glad to see you’re not letting fear stop you! Love the luggage!

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