Oh, the Places You Will Go – Looking Back and Looking Forward

Tori gatess in Kyoto

An email in my in-box today reminded me that it was time to renew my domain name for this website. It’s been three years since on a whim I decided to start a blog. I wonder, if anyone had told me back then how much work it would be to start, maintain and promote a travel blog, would I have even attempted it? But, to quote one of the 20th century’s greatest American philosophers, Dr. Seuss, “Oh, the places you’ll go!”

 

Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!

The opening lines from Dr. Seuss’  “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

 

I had been retired for two years and was travelling quite a bit. I had years and years of photos and a suitcase full of interesting travel experiences. I had been reading other retire’s travel blogs and thought “my photos are just as good” and ” I can write like that”.  So why not start a travel blog.

Hanging out with Tom – my black and white photo essay of Washington DC received an Honorable Mention in the Online Photo Essay NATJA category

After some less than fruitful Google research on how to set up a website, I went old school and bought a book on how to set up a site and blog using WordPress.

 

You have brains in your head.

You have feet in your shoes.

You can steer yourself

any direction you choose.

From Dr. Seuss’  “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

 

I don’t know what I was thinking. I had no previous IT training and knew nothing about how to use WordPress, but I just dove in anyway. At the time, it felt like one of the most difficult things I had ever done (and that includes having a baby while in graduate school). Not to mention feeling utterly stupid because I did not know what I was doing and didn’t know enough to even know what questions to ask.

Dog in front of Blue Mosque #istanbul #bluemosque #dogs #istanbuldogs
Dog in front of Blue Mosque – This photo received a NATJA photo award in the Arts and Culture category

But I got the site up and running in time to meet my goal of writing my inaugural post about my visit to the Paducah Quilt Show where one of my quilts was being exhibited. So what if I was up till 2 AM working to get the site to go live and I had an early morning flight to Paducah – I did it.

A few months later, on another whim, I joined the North America Travel Journalists Association and brazenly entered some of my photos and stories in their annual competition.

Turkish tea with a view of the Hagia Sofia – one of my favorite photos from Istanbul which was recognized with a NATJA award

Imagine my surprise when I learned that two of my story entries and two of my photo entries had earned honors that year. In the past three years, NATJA has awarded content on my site with sixteen awards for both writing and photography. Who knew?

 

And when things start to happen,

Don’t Worry. Don’t stew.

Just go right along.

You’ll start happening too.

from Dr. Seuss’  “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

 

Over the past three years I traveled – a lot. I took lots of photos. I shared many of my experiences on my blog. I made quilts inspired by my travels. I learned how to “do” social media (thanks to a quick tutorial from my daughter).

Wildebeest migration in the Serengeti
Wildebeest migration in the Serengeti – one of my travel photo that received a NATJA award in the Nature category.

I joined Facebook groups and attended travel bloggers’ conferences where I learned more about the craft of travel writing, photography and especially blogging in a world run by Google. After three years, I now wear many hats – I am the owner, creator, writer, photographer, editor, webmaster, marketing promoter, social media coordinator, business manager and blogger for my website (and I’ve probably missed a few roles).

 

You’ll be on your way up!

You’ll be seeing great sights!

You’ll join the high fliers

Who soar to high heights.

from Dr. Seuss’  “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

 

Sharing my travel experiences has been a labor of love. It’s a big planet and with my blog I want to inspire others to go out there and experience it for themselves. In the process, I have also had some amazing travel experiences that I would not have had otherwise.

In the Moroccan Sahara Desert
In the Moroccan Desert – my photo essay about the Moroccan desert received a NATJA silver award in the Photo Essay category

I was treated to an amazing canal barge cruise in France. I experienced the midnight sun in Fairbanks, Alaska. I participated as a volunteer citizen scientist in the Masai Mara in Kenya. I got to take my first overnight rafting trip along the wild and scenic Rogue River in Oregon. And I’ve slept in luxurious comfort in Morocco’s Sahara desert under a dazzling canopy of stars.

 

You can get all hung up

in a prickle-ly perch.

And your gang will fly on.

You’ll be left in a Lurch.

…….headed I fear toward a most useless place – The Waiting Place……

from Dr. Seuss’  “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

 

Ironically, as I celebrate my third anniversary as a travel blogger, I am not travelling nor do I have any trips planned for the foreseeable future. Like most of the world, I am grounded during this pandemic and my wings have been clipped – for now.

Eiffel Tower as seen through the peace wall
Eiffel Tower as seen through the peace wall – this photo received an Honorable Mention in the NATJA architecture category.

I consider myself to be one of the lucky ones. I have the luxury of staying home under a warm roof with plenty of food so that I can stay safe and in the process, also keep others safe. My travels today may only be walks around my neighborhood, but with each step and breath of fresh air I am thankful that I am alive and healthy when so many others are not.

 

All alone!

Whether you like it or not,

Alone will be something

you’ll be quite a lot.

from Dr. Seuss’  “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

 

In some ways, this staycation pause has become somewhat like a vacation. I have to make my own bed and clean my own house and cook my own meals – no housekeeping or restaurant staff here. No interesting and photogenic sights either.

WEIO two foot high kick men’s competition – My story about the World Eskimo Indian Olympics received a NATJA Bronze award in the Sports, Recreation and Adventure category

But one of the things I love about travel is that it is all about being in the moment. Once I am on a trip and all the planning has been done, then each day is just about experiencing that day to its fullest. And right now, my days are just like that. Since I don’t know what tomorrow, or next week or next month will be like, each day is just about today. Not being able to plan my future has liberated me to experience the present to its fullest.

 

And when you are alone, there’s a very good chance

You’ll meet things that scare you right out of your pants.

There are some down the road between hither and yon,

That can scare you so much you won’t want to go on.

from Dr. Seuss’  “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

 

There is no doubt that these are scary times in so many ways. To manage the angst, I have consciously chosen to troll the news and social media only once a day.  And I try not to worry – much –  about the friends and family that are healthcare workers in the local hospitals.

Japanese students at the Hiroshima Children's Peace Monument
Japanese students at the Hiroshima Children’s Peace Monument – my story describing my visit to the Hiroshima Memorial Peace Park received an Honorable Mention in the NATJA Historical Travel category.

The hardest part of course is not being able to have close interactions with all those closest to me. Texting, phone calls and video chats help but there is no substitute for hugging my kids, tickling my grandson or lunching with my friends.

 

On and on you will hike.

And I know you will hike far

and face up to your problems

wherever they are.

from Dr. Seuss’  “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

 

I try to spend as much time as I can pursuing creative activities. Whether it’s quilting, photography, gardening, baking or writing, letting the right side of my brain dominate my actions releases dopamine in my brain – the natural feel-good chemical which makes one feel happy.

spens at their peak in Kebler pass
Enjoying Colorado’s golden aspens – this photo received a silver NATJA award in the Featured Photo, Online Illustration category.

I have a lot of travel content and photos as well as some quilts that I have not shared yet. This Great Pause will give me the time to catch up with my blog and to hone this craft. I read that studies have shown that people who write daily and keep journals have a stronger immune system. Who knows, maybe this whim of a website will also help to keep me healthier during the pandemic.

 

So be sure when you step.

Step with care and great tact

and remember that Life’s

a Great Balancing Act.

Just never forget to be dexterous and deft.

And never mix up your right foot with your left.

from Dr. Seuss’  “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

 

I don’t know when I will travel again. Can I go a year without going to new places? I may have to even though I won’t like it. But I know this too shall pass and at some point when the time is right, I will be seeing the rest of the world again.

My story about our trip on the Orient Express received a NATJA bronze award in the Luxury and Resort Online travel category

Having been part of the travel industry for the last three years, I have seen just how big the financial impact of travel is on the global market. It’s not just the big airline, cruise ship and hotel companies. It’s also the Uber driver, the independent tour guide and the waitress at the local restaurant. For all their sake, I hope travel comes back soon and safe and stronger than ever. And when it does, I’ll be there too, to continue to inspire, inform and entertain.

 

And will you succeed?

Yes! You will indeed!

(98 and 3/4% guaranteed.)

from Dr. Seuss’  “Oh The Places You’ll Go”

 

Oh, the places I will go!

Thank you Dr. Seuss for your words of wisdom – they never fail to inspire. Now more than ever.

And thank you to everyone who continues to read my blog and supports this endeavor via social media.

Stay safe. Stay Strong.

Rose