A travelling wish list

Before you all get on my case that I’m making a “list” simply so I can get “freshly pressed” by WordPress . . . that’s not the case at all.  (Though, if the wonderful people who have taken my money for domain names, web templates and overall blogging work wanted to do that I wouldn’t at all complain . . . seriously . . . no whining at all)  No, this is something that’s been weighing on me over the last year or more.  I feel like it’s something I’ve mentioned before but never took overly seriously because of the fact that, simply put, I was lazy.

I need to take the kids out of our comfort zone more.

So I want to see a lot of stuff . . . and we’ll never get to all of it . . . but if I can pull it off I want the kids to see it.  We never had the time when I was married.  I never had vacation.  We always visited relatives with the time we DID have.

So here goes:

The Grand Canyon – no secret why.  Even if we just go to that crazy outlook and look over at nature’s amazing beauty . . . I want to do it.
Gettysburg – This is more for me, I suppose, but it’s something we should do.  Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address is my favorite speech and piece of writing – poignant and brief but filled with love and emotion.  Seeing where something so dramatic unfolded now peaceful and filled with honor I want to see.
Seattle/British Columbia – this is possible, I know it is.  Most . . . I’d love to buy tickets on Amtrak and take the train up.  Even if we just see the Space Needle, drink coffee (me and Abbi, not the others.  We’d get kicked off the train)  It’s feasible and we can make it.
Winslow, Arizona – I know . . . there’s nothing there.  But I just want a picture of myself standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona.  It’d be such a fine sight to see.
Yosemite – we’ve been, but not really . . . been there.  My kids – even the boys – loved it.  It was the last real trip with their Mom and it was miserable.  She argued with her parents, had a breakdown, the trip was really hard.  Still, it made an impression and we want to spend more time there.  That, and it’s close.  We can DO this.
Yellowstone – I think I’ve been . . . maybe.  I remember feeding chipmunks, but that may have been another park.  Still, the kids should see what this country has to offer.  It’s an amazing place.
San Diego – I know, it’s close, not a hard trip . . . so why not do it?  It’s not the zoo.  It’s not Legoland (though they want to go) it’s the area and the beach and 67 degrees and sunny every day.  Plus . . . it’s feasible again.  Maybe even just a 4 or 5 day weekend.

The reason’s pretty simple: to give my kids a taste of some of what I’ve seen.

I work in an office, and am out a lot and have a tendency to want to stay home.  But I’ve had jobs that allowed me to travel the country and even the world.  I’ve been fortunate to be in an industry that not only gave me the ability to see places I’d not have considered, it also gave me a front seat to some of the world’s most memorable events.  I covered terrorism just a few short weeks after the terrorist attacks of September 11th, 2001.

I saw the hole in the side of the Pentagon.  File cabinets sat in their same location, the sides charred and the drawers knocked open by the impact of a United flight skidding across the lawn and into the side of the five-sided complex that houses our military and intelligence communities.  I saw Israel on New Year’s Eve of 2002, covering how a country that experiences terror on a regular basis deals with it.  I saw the impact our country’s worst attack since Pearl Harbor had on tourism in the Old City or Jerusalem.  I met Palestinians who were kind and Israelis who were heartfelt.  I witnessed how the Palestinian territories were mere yards away from Israel at their closest point . . . only to be told our location had been subject to an IED just hours before . . . and soldiers had disarmed it.

At Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan

I traveled to Afghanistan with a medical mission – spending a mere 90 minutes on the ground with a team that saves lives – and was humbled by the care and honor of doctors, soldiers and technicians.  I met soldiers planning their assault on the city of Baghdad as they trained in Fort Campbell, Kentucky, for urban assault in the hopes of limiting casualties.

With a reporter we found a charred mission patch in the ditch of a county road in East Texas, near the Louisiana border.  This after slowing to a stop just minutes before as a bent and broken piece of metal . . . dotted with heat resistant tiles . . . lie in the middle of the road after falling through the upper atmosphere of our spinning rock broke off the Space Shuttle Columbia.

These are things I’ve witnessed and experienced.  It’s feasible my children will never face these same things.  Part of me hopes they don’t.

Many of these things affect you in ways you can’t imagine.  I was touched beyond all belief when a woman I’d never met offered to pray for my family when I had to leave Israel early due to a family emergency.  I was floored when she called back and offered to buy souvenirs for my children and drive them from her home in Bethlehem to Jerusalem because i didn’t have time to get them.

The biggest thing, though, is I was working through all these things.  I traveled to New York several times, but never experienced New York.  I had tasks in front of me and raced around the city shooting video and telling stories.  I experienced the Wailing Wall and the Church of the Sepulchre only because my friend and colleague made me stop and take the moments to take them in.  Much of the above is witnessing history, not experiencing places.

This last weekend, in traveling to New York, I realized that I had made my daughter’s summer just by meeting her for two days in the City that Never Sleeps.  I had visited but never gone to the top of the Empire State or the Statue of Liberty.

So here’s my wish list.  I am fortunate in that my work has afforded me more than 10 days vacation, a situation I’m thrilled to be in.  I have a year . . . 365 days . . . with Abbi.  Sure, she’ll come home, maybe have summers at the house again, but I remember going to college.  I met my wife there.  I joined a band.  I even worked over the last 2 summers in Omaha.  Sure, I was close to home and visited a lot.  I don’t know that will be the case depending on where Abbi ends up.

But it’s a wish list because I wish to spend the time with them.  I wish they could experience just a little of what I have – and experience it with me.

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