Wanderlust

Photographs of city skylines cover the walls of one of the conferences rooms where I work.  Often during meetings, I steal a glance at them.  Sometimes it’s more of a longing stare.

I want to go.

The pictures of Denver is the one I gravitate to most often.  Denver’s skyscrapers are dwarfed by the snow-capped Rocky Mountains rising in the distance behind the city.  From the photo’s perspective, the mountains almost seem like a fake backdrop.  The city itself sits on a flat plain on a perfectly sunny day and then suddenly in the background – PEAKS.

I live near the start of Interstate 70 in Maryland.  Once you get onto the interstate, there’s a mileage sign letting you know the distance to some key points along the way.  Denver 1700 miles.  Every time I pass that sign, I want to drive there.

I’ve never been to Denver.  Not for a real visit.  The 40 minutes I spent in the airport changing planes one time hardly counts.  I don’t even know what there is to see and do around the city.  It doesn’t really matter, though.  That’s not the point.  I just want to go.

In my mind, Samantha Brown on the Travel Channel has the best job in the world.  She gets paid to travel across the world.  And she gets to do it in style.  Sure, Bear Grylls gets to see the world, too.  But he gets dumped in some remote wildness somewhere and has to trek his way out (I’m putting aside any and all discussions of the validity of what’s shown on camera).  Samantha, meanwhile, stays in nice hotels, eats great food, sees the sights, and then tells all of us stuck at home how wonderful it is.  That’s the way to do it, as far as I’m concerned.

I had a friend in college whose grandmother had never left the borders of her home state.  Finally in her 60s, she went to Virginia to see her granddaughter in college.  Over 60 years in the same area.  I just can’t imagine it.  I would have been in a car and across the border into the next state as soon as I could, just because. 

I am a traveler at heart.

I am a traveler, however, with children, a job, limited funds, and a number of those other adult responsibilities.  This tends to put a bit of a crimp in my ability to just up and go. 

So instead I day dream.  Some people window shop for clothes.  I virtually window shop for trips.  How much would a week in London cost me?  Let’s fire up Travelocity and find out.  Oooh!  What if we added a side trip to Cardiff in Wales, so we can check out the Doctor Who Experience and then maybe head up the coast to spend the night at the Portmeiron Resort, where The Prisoner was filmed?

How is the construction of the Harry Potter expansion at Universal Orlando coming along?  Oh look!  There’s a progress video on Youtube.  I should take the kids back down there after it opens.  And maybe we can go over to Hollywood Studios at Disney and check out the revamp of the Star Tours ride.  Wait.  You know what would be great?  We should go to Los Angeles instead and hit the Disney and Universal parks there!

Creating my own wishful itineraries isn’t the same as being there, but it takes the edge off of my need to take a trip right that second.  I can plan and budget and calculate just how many meals I’d need to skip for the airfare.  (So it’s also a weight-loss program!  Bonus!) 

There’s just so much to see.  So many places I want to go.  And I can get there with proper planning.

For now, though, there’s that gorgeous picture of Denver on the wall to spur me on.

Ooooh!  Seattle looks nice too!

-Alan Decker

@CmdrAJD on Twitter