This site’s title is from Steinbeck of course, specifically the first paragraph of Travels with Charley: In Search of America: “When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch.”
I have long been grateful to Steinbeck for crafting the words that have helped me understand myself. The urge to be someplace else was upon me from my earliest memories and has never stopped.
As youngsters, a friend and I had the perfect ‘someplace else’ game. We got on our bikes and at every fifth intersection we tossed a coin to see where we’d go next. As I grew older it became where sticking out my thumb would take me. And when I had a car, it was which road looked more interesting. After college the someplace elses loomed infinitely and I traveled the world. And even in old age the urge is present.
And along with the urge to be someplace else is the simple pleasure of the voyage. It can last for a moment or it can last for hours. You know you’re in it when your mind tells you, ‘I don’t want this to end.’ I can’t define it any better. Here are some of mine:
Watching the late afternoon traffic on West Court Street in Kankakee IL from the stoop outside the homemade ice cream shop after bicycling the five miles to the neighboring town of Aroma Park and back.
Driving down a winding, two-lane highway in Florida, the sun flickering through the oaks covering the road and Dolly Parton singing on the radio.
Watching the arid landscape roll by while the Sudanese music blares rhythmically on a crowded bus in eastern Ethiopia.
Enjoying the lavish afternoon tea served by a white-coated Ugandan servant on the broad, red-floored veranda of my cabin at a very posh British hunting camp on the desolate border of Kenya and Uganda, after hitchiking there from Nairobi. (It cost me an arm and a leg, but it was the only place to stay and the roast duck under glass at dinner was really fine!)
Relaxing in an old railway car climbing slowly up the mountain to Darjeeling, much relieved to leave behind the crush of Calcutta and my bout with dysentery.
Watching my spit freeze on the floor of a bus crossing the Khyber Pass in Afghanistan.
Guiding my canoe on a delightful 30-mile day in the swift current of the Mississippi River from St. Cloud, MN, munching chocolate chip cookies from a goodie bag packed by the friends I’d spent the night with.
This site is meant to recount for family and any interested friends some of the places I’ve gone and the things I’ve experienced when the ‘urge’ has hit me through the years.
I hope you enjoy.
PS. As you will notice, much of this site is a construction zone. The section about my solo canoe trip down the Mississippi River is complete and I hope you enjoy it. To be notified as I complete the other pages you can use the Email Subscription button on the lower right.