Travel Days Gone By |

Travel Days Gone By

by Laura Brunzlick, Staff writer

I look forward to it from the time it first pops into my head until I have gone ahead and taken time off work and finally, bought the ticket.

Usually, once the idea is there it is impossible to shake, and sure enough, the travel bug has bit me. I always succumb to its whims.

That is, I always used to succumb to its calling.

That’s not as easy to do once you’re married, working full-time and a mother.

Traveling has always been one of my favorite things to do. In preparation, I go to great lengths to familiarize myself with the cities, landmarks and things to do in the area.

I became known as a map reader and proved it in a geography class in community college when I scored the highest, by a landslide, on a test, given just for fun D about world capitals and cities.

In front of the class, the instructor asked me how I knew that Khartoum is the capital of Sudan and that Ulan Bator is the Mongolian capital.

“I read maps,” I said, as the class of mostly freshmen erupted in laughter.

As I prepare to embark on a Labor Day trip to Oklahoma City to see my 90-plus year-old grandmother, I look forward to boarding a plane.

Since I have been to Oklahoma before, it’s not new and exciting, but it will be interesting to see the memorial at the site of the Oklahoma City bombing.

It will also be interesting to see how Ben, my 8-month old baby, handles riding on my lap.

I finally get to see what it is like to be a mother holding a crying baby, who has to endure the disapproving glances of fellow passengers.

Oh, for the golden days when I was able to pick my vacation destinations based on where I wanted to go D rather than out of a nagging sense that I better visit the person before they die.

In preparation for the trips I used to take, I transformed myself into a zealot as I researched my destination. I even had an under bed box stuffed with information prior to my 1987 trip to England and Ireland.

Since I was particularly excited about going to Ireland, I read up on the “struggles” between the Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland and planned to visit Belfast, the capital of Northern Ireland.

Once there, I marvelled at the friendliness of the Irish people, and enjoyed watching their lively dancing in front of pubs. The island is idyllic and in the rural corners, feels like a trip back in time.

Regretfully, I played it safe in Ireland. After being searched for weapons as I boarded a train to Belfast, I chose not to continue north. Instead I stopped short of the border with Northern Ireland and stayed in Drogheda, a city north of Dublin in the Irish Republic.

One thing I didn’t plan during the trip was to meet Queen Elizabeth, who was doing a walk-about in Crewe, a railroad town in the north of England.

I was within an arm’s reach of her when a lady in the crowd learned I had left my camera at my friend’s home in Crewe. She took a photo and sent it to me back in America.

She even paid for the postage.

Talk about hospitality!

I stayed with a 60-year-old friend in Crewe named Hilda Paige, who was the sister of one of my dad’s friends. She opened her home to me after just meeting me and learning that I wanted to visit England.

Since the trip, I received a Christmas card each year from Hilda. I haven’t received one for two years. Sadly, I assume the worst.

One day I will go to other spots on the map I am interested in. The next big trip will definitely be to Bohemia, a province in the Czech Republic where my mother’s grandparents came from.

Until then, I take trips to familiar places like the Bay area, Oklahoma or Northern Idaho to see family.

Not so bad, I guess.

n Laura Brunzlick often walks around the office and home asking anyone who will listen if they “got maps?”