For as long as I can remember I have had this dream of traveling, of wandering wheresoever the whim might take me. The trouble is, I have always been either poor or married, neither of which works well for carefree excursions.
Poverty provides its own definition in this case, so we will say no more.
Marriage . . . well, let me offer an example:
Some years back my second wife and I flew down to Atlanta, Georgia to visit our daughter, living there were her husband and their child. How strange and wonderful it seemed--for one who had rarely been out of Oregon, anyway--the red clay, the humid days, the enormous bugs--June Bugs! It seemed perfectly exotic.
Best of all (or so I had initially thought) was the ocean of history lying all about, just waiting for me to dive in. Specifically, I am talking about Civil War history, in which I had long been an avid reader. Here was the chance to visit the battlefields around the city of Atlanta itself--Peach Tree Creek, Jonesboro! From the city you could drive North and follow in reverse the route taken by William Tecumseh Sherman in his investment of this hub of the Confederacy.
Yet farther north, just short of Tennessee, lay the battlefield called Chickamauga, after the stream running through. Here is where Hood's Texans split the center of the Union line. Here is the gentle knoll where General Thomas, the rock of Chickamauga, held off the final Rebel push in pursuit of the fleeing fragments of the Federal army.
And here, on that same hallowed battlefield, is where the potential of fascination in travel vanished. For what my wife and daughter had in mind was to drive straight through, entry to exit, ten minutes of history from the passenger seat of a rental car.
You can roll down the window, my wife said. I can drive through slowly.
I insisted on getting out of the car. I walked through the grass, upon the ground where thousands had struggled in combat well over one hundred years ago, where thousands had fallen, their country's fate in the balance.
I was thinking I might be standing on the very spot occupied by General James Longstreet's horse when my wife honked the horn.
And then on to Chattanooga and the Sea Life Aquarium.
Sea life in Tennessee? What did they do, truck it in from the Oregon Coast?
This is not travel. Not in my book, anyway.