As the Beatles said, it’s been a long cold lonely winter. But dark and rainy as it has been we love the Pacific Northwest of the United States. Sonia is working and I’m volunteering as a tutor in the English as a Second Language program at our local community college. A knee injury had kept me from skiing but even so, we still imagine the next stage of our lives; full time travel. A nomadic life exploring the world until we tire of it starting in South America and eventually slowly drifting through Southeast Asia, India, Turkey and into Europe.
The idea scares us at times; fear of leaving a place we love, fear of not having a permanent home to return to, fear about money, fear of the unknown. But we see most of these fears are about things that haven’t even happened yet. We can’t predict the future, only plan for it. And, if we tire of traveling, we can always stop.
So as philosophers and writers have said through the ages; be bold, take a risk, push past your fears. You’ll be glad you did and twenty years from now we may regret the things we didn’t do more than the things that we did (Mark Twain).
So far in 2015 our travels have been local. We try to explore new places near home and revisit some places we like. We live in Mukilteo, a small city twenty miles north of Seattle on the Puget Sound. It’s a beautiful place with views across the inland waterway and forested islands of Puget Sound to the Olympic Mountains to the west and the Cascade Mountains to the east. The glacier-covered volcanic cone of Mt Rainer rises in the south and Mt Baker, the most glaciated peak in the lower forty-right states, rises to the north. Seattle is only a half hour drive south of us.
This is our playground and through spring we’ve spent Sunday mornings in Seattle enjoying breakfasts at one of our favorite places, taken the ferry over to nearby Whidbey Island to walk along the beaches and visit the quiet seaside towns there, or just go to the Lighthouse Park below our house where we always see harbor seals popping up out of the waves starling at us with their oddly dog-like faces.
During a rare sunny break I took a short backpack along the wild Pacific coastline in the Olympic Peninsula (see the report, Land’s End in our Wild Side section). My damaged knee complained, but the hiking was fairly easy and I limited myself to four miles or so per day for the three-day trek.
We’ve found through planning for upcoming travels we make many discoveries about people, places and ourselves. I read books in Spanish to increase my second language skills and found authors from Latin America that I really enjoy; Isabel Allende from Chile, Laura Esquivel from Mexico and others that describe the history of early Spanish conquests of Mexico and South America. Through Sonia’s job she meets people from all over the world as do I in my English as a Second Language classes and we’re developing contacts throughout South America and Southeast Asia from them.
And we’ve discovered a lot about the world and its cultures just by planning our upcoming travels. We’ve already found things and places we want to see, and some we’ve crossed off the list. We talk about it frequently and discover more about each other in the process. Just planning out a massive undertaking like open-ended travel through the world has been a process of discovery. And that will continue as we spend what we think is our last year in the Pacific Northwest before we begin a life of travel next year.
Meanwhile, there will be many trips and adventures coming up nearer to home in 2015. We’ll go sea kayaking through the San Juan Islands looking for orca whales, backpacking into the wilderness around Mt Baker, go to the music fairs and summer celebrations in Seattle, attend the annual gathering of hippies at the Oregon Country fair. 2015 is shaping up to be a busy year.