Local view: Open your mind by exploring our planetDo you like to travel? I do and so do countless others, especially with warm-weather season approaching. So why is travel so popular? Just as reading is humankind’s window to the world (a point I made in a previous column), travel is our experiential reality.
By: Thomas B. Wheeler, Duluth News Tribune
Do you like to travel? I do and so do countless others, especially with warm-weather season approaching. So why is travel so popular? Just as reading is humankind’s window to the world (a point I made in a previous column), travel is our experiential reality.
Travel is an antidote to stress, worry, grief and boredom. Our senses come to life to experience different smells, sounds and sights. Wholly new imprints are made on our brainwaves. Did you ever wonder why you can recall a trip to camp, overseas, or hunting or fishing so clearly, as though it just happened? We get so caught up in old routines that when we do something different like travel the impressions stick. I had the good fortune to spend nearly four years in Europe, learning to speak German and Swedish. I recall my friends and our experiences vividly — and always in those languages. I attribute this to the impact and import of travel.
Travel has a fascinating history. Consider the various modes from which we have evolved: walking; riding on camels, elephants, horses, etc.; riding in coaches or in carriages drawn by animals or, in some cases, by humans; trains; boats and ships; bicycles; and airborne vehicles like balloons, planes and spaceships.
At some point will there be time travel?
Travel has been enhanced by gifted writers who titillate our sensibilities. Several of my favorites include Duluth’s own Sam Cook, whose outdoor endeavors evoke favorite memories; Mark Twain (whom Sam recently quoted as saying, “Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry and narrow-mindedness”); and Bill Bryson, who consistently cracks me up with his cogent observations on both domestic and international lifestyles. Then there is William Least Heat-Moon, whose “Blue Highways” recounts how he traveled around the country in his beat up jalopy, taking in rural America while trying to escape a divorce and the loss of employment. Inadvertently, he returned fulfilled and motivated after seeing how small-town folks evince gratitude and relish small things in life.
How about the travel industry? Consider the importance of tourism in our own economy, not just as an escape to recharge our own batteries? Travel and tourism employ thousands locally. Just think how many regionally, nationally and internationally.
Have I made a case for the joy of travel? I do acknowledge there are people content to stay home and who don’t like to travel, but to the rest of us: go for the gusto — get out and enjoy life. We inhabit a beautiful, fascinating sphere. It awaits us.
A PERSONAL NOTE
Until recent times, walking was indeed the major mode of travel. In 2005, I re-enacted my grandfather Henry Wheeler’s (after whom Duluth’s Wheeler Field was named) walk on the Old Military Road from Stillwater, Minn., to Superior, replete with vintage clothing, bedroll, canteen and two haversacks. I even slept outdoors in adjacent woods. That hike was indelibly etched in my memory bank. In research for the trip, I discovered that when the Civil War broke out, people actually walked from Duluth to Washington, D.C., to enlist. Think about that in contemporary times!
Thomas B. Wheeler of Duluth is president of an independent, family-owned employee-benefit and financial-planning firm and is a regular contributor to the News Tribune Opinion page.