Have You Burned Any Travelogs?

By: Knight Pierce Hirst

My grandmother called them "Gullibles Travels". These were trips Americans took to other countries before they saw America. She wanted Americans to see the treasures in their own backyards.

When I lived outside New York City, the United Nations, the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were treasures. Now I live in Los Angeles; and the treasures are Rodeo Drive, Mann's Chinese Theater and the Hollywood sign - more histrionics than history.

My personal history started in New England with its white, colonial churches; red barns; and fall foliage. We don't have fall foliage in LA - we have palm trees. As I child I only saw palm trees when we vacationed in Florida. Palm trees said vacation to me then and they still do - when I stop and listen. With palm trees, however, you don't have to stop and rake under them. That says vacation to my husband and sons.

As a child I was lulled to sleep by the sounds of the Atlantic Ocean. As an adult I listen to the Pacific Ocean when I can't sleep. I swam in the Atlantic as a child, but this adult doesn't swim in the Pacific. That's Steven Spielberg's fault. I can't go in the ocean without hearing the theme music from "Jaws". It's just a movie, says my husband. There are only four or five shark attacks a year, says my husband. In LA he thinks I should watch out for two-legged sharks.

My husband and I share the driving when we travel by car, but I prefer seeing America by ship. The coast of Maine, the inland waterway from Rhode Island to Florida, the Erie Canal, Alaska and Hawaii - when we cruise, we don't get stuck in traffic; and we don't have to find places to pull over to take pictures. John will sail, but he's not sold that it's better than driving. At Motel 6 you don't have to dress for dinner.

There's no dressing for dinner on planes, but you can't see much. I'm always on the wrong side when the captain points out the Mississippi River or the Grand Canyon.

And then there's seeing the country by train. You can see lots of beautiful countryside by train, but in cities the tracks go through areas you don't want to see. My sister travels by train, but she has acrophobia. What she wants to see most is the ground.

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