I know most folks
anticipate a comment about Star Trek on any personal subject I raise. And
there is plenty to say about the impact of Star Trek on my desire to
But today Iím reflecting on how I got from my earliest memories until
today. And at the start of it all, adventure wasnít the far side of the
planet. It was the road between Texas and Alabama. In the early 70ís a
station wagon was conveyance; and Stuckeys were the way points of the
journey that held inspiration, with odd trinkets like pecan logs and
peeing Hillbillies punctuated by rare cuisine, being fried burgers that
werenít the product of Motherís kitchen.
Very definitely, on those sunrise to sunset trips, I started dreaming of
travel further afield.
The late 1970ís included a trip to New Orleans. It was the most foreign
thing I had seen in my young life. Naughty and Taboo were the staple on
every block. And to a 12 year old boy, it was a Siren Song whispering
something to me about what the rest of the world held in store for me. The
character of New Orleans included fragrances of festive spice, wine & day
old bread. But it also included scents of garbage, dirt and exhaust in a
way that my neighborhoods in Texas and Alabama had not impacted on me.
While I do not have the varied palate of my Wife, I love the various
savory tastes of the world. But equally there is something about the
refuse, earth and diesel fumes which reach my Vagabond Soul.
1981 was indeed a formative year for me. Our household hosted an Exchange
Student from South Africa. So, while I had not yet gone to the far side of
the planet, the far side of the planet came looking for me. Louise, 18
years old to my 14 year old self, was pretty, brilliant, good humored and
inescapably alien to the locals in Tuscumbia Alabama.
She could not avoid becoming the embodiment of exotic attraction. But she
also turned on its ear many of my preconceptions, and Southern
indoctrinations, which had been immersed and drilled into me by family and
That year also gave me a great challenge. Flying through a storm while
returning home, our plane, from various sheering forces, had itsí wings
torn off and the fuselage deposited violently in a cotton field.
I was weeks in the hospital recovering. And it was as though the universe
was testing to see if calamity would cause me to become fearful to leave
the supposed security of home. I know that family & friends just knew that
I would develop a fear of flying. Everyone waited for mental trauma to set
in on me. But it never did.
And if you donít count Olivia Newton John in Xanadu, 1981 had one more
important travel development.
I wish I could say it was for me. But for Louise, the folks decided to
take a trip to Disney World, which at the time, was mainly the Magic
Kingdom. I was an immediate fan. But whatís important here is that in 1981
Walt Disney World was promoting to soon open The Experimental Prototype
Community of Tomorrow. Not long after, everyone would know it as EPCOT
One year later, after not a little pleading, the family returned to Reedy
Creek. And I walked into EPCOT Center for the very first time.
It was life altering for me. The visitor was first greeted with knowledge,
education, expanded understanding. And it warrants a missive of its own.
(Spaceship Earth, Universe of Energy, World of Motion, The Land).
But when I walked onto the World Showcase, the inspiration was
overwhelming. The countries represented around the World Showcase Lake
were instantly transformative. Great Britain, France, Morocco, Japan,
Italy, Germany, China & Mexico. And Iím happy to say that I have visited
every country around the lake in the real world.
Yes, it was there that my interest in world travel went from casual to
feverish. In college, why did I study foreign languages? Because they
didnít have courses in World Travel.
The mid 80ís saw me planning and saving. But it wouldnít be until 1988
that I made my first trek overseas. It was adventuresome, full of new
experiences and culture shock. That initial foray into Europe included
sailing on the Danube, visiting the Casino in Monaco, turning 21 in a
Viennese Heuriger, entering the Eastern Block & being arrested by Soviet
soldiers on a Hungarian train. When I came back to North America, I had
learned two things, #1. This type of travel is what I was born to do. #2.
Something vital was still missing.
It would take two more sorties before I would understand fully that I
wasnít meant to journey this world alone. During those first travels
overseas, a melancholy would set in, embarrassing yet undeniable
homesickness. But, in the midst of this voyage of discovery, Kristal and I
discovered each other. And from that moment on, travel became as natural
as breathing. Home was no longer a place in North Alabama. Home was a
constant state of co-dependency between my lovely soulmate Wife and me.
For 33 years now Kristal and I have chased The Undiscovered Countries and
associated oceans. She, like me, had that electric moment of walking out
onto the World Showcase. And as she tells it, all of the places she had
read about came to life!... They were REAL!
Within 6 months of eloping to get married on a balcony in Walt Disney
World, I wrote, and was awarded a grant to conduct a study in central
France. And our global adventures were off and soaring.
Not all destinations were across the Atlantic. We have dedicated much to
the exploration of this hemisphere.
In 2004, we were tasked with arranging a Riddle family trip to see a
nephew perform in Carnegie Hall. Reservations for 9 turned into a
Southwest Companion Pass, which we gave to Kristal. And with it she
started flying for Free! Who knew? So weíve made certain that she never
lost that Companion Pass. She already has her Companion Pass for next
year, which will represent 19 years of crisscrossing North America for
Our crescendo moment came In 2008 when we went to Nashville and started
heading West. 4 States and 19 countries later we had circled the globe,
fulfilling life long dreams. And with that accomplishment, we came home
believing our travels were done.
But nothing could have been further from the truth.
Opportunities to travel continued to open up for us right up until the
pandemic hit. But even then, we figured out how to cross the U.S.A. from
Catalina to Portland Maine.
When our resumeí reached 40 countries, we decided to start filling in the
gaps right here in North America.
We invested in the Dryfter, a RAM 3500 dually, and the Solitude, a 38í 5th
wheel, to start exploring the middle of the U.S.
And as we emerge from the pandemic our wander lust is as ardent as ever.
We want to live up to the moniker of Eternal VagabondÖ always dreaming
over the next horizon!
And so our focus has become a push to circle the Earth a 2nd time; and in
North America to move our little wagon train West towards Oklahoma, Kansas
On this site we hope to share our continually unfolding travel blog,
punctuated by images and videos captured along the way. Please donít miss
our over 16,000 travel pictures. A Navigation button below will spirit you
off to our growing list of albums that highlight destinations from around