Although I grew up in a small town of steel workers and farmers, I developed a love of faraway places early in my life through voracious reading and by listening to my widowed mother, a German immigrant, share stories about the places she had been. She also made sure we went on family vacations every summer.  However, sometimes my love of books interfered with her travel plans. I can remember her saying more than once, “Would you close that book and look out the window!” Once my siblings and I were grown and out of the house, she traveled all over the world. Her mantra was: “Spend your money on experiences, not on things.” 

Then I married a man with a serious case of the wanderlust, and even in our poverty-stricken student days, we managed to take our young children on plenty of “economy” trips, some better than others, but all memorable. We began our international travel by following our kids on their various adventures around Europe and Asia during their young adult years, and now that they have all flown the coop (and we have stopped paying for their travel), we have become serious about seeing the world. My husband is fond of making lists of national parks, museums, mountains, states, and countries that he has visited and plans to visit—along with food he plans to eat—and I am more than happy to tag along as he checks off items on those lists.

          Since I have a master's degree in English and have taught college-level English for over twenty years, I can't resist throwing in some book suggestions here and there, along with an occasional bit of poetry. See, Mom? All that reading has come in handy.