The
Eternal Vagabonds
sans savoir pourquoi, ils disent toujours qu'il faut y aller

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                                                          Scott A. Riddle  August 2022


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 travel.

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 the community.
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 center.

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 Free!
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 and Nebraska.

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 the globe!