The Embryo of Adventure

Turtles on the GoOne of the most important aspects of travel is knowing where you are heading next. Having a “next” journey in the hopper is a sure-fire way of mitigating the blues which, if you’re like me, you descend into rapidly at the conclusion of any adventure.

It seems obvious that this pearl of wisdom would not need to be reinforced in the psyche of like-minded travelers. That any adventure seeking, global explorer would not have this deeply embedded in his of her DNA seems ludicrous.

Yet, I can sit here and tell you in all honesty that the obvious was lost on me.

At least for a while.

Driving from Ubud to the airport in Bali was a slow, winding, jaunt through a landscape I love.  I could see the tunnel of “departure depression” opening up and beginning the agonizingly slow process of devouring me.  As we climbed the hill through the center of Klungkung it dawned on me. 

Like a bolt of good sense from above, an epiphany, a wake-up call, whatever it was I was clear-minded.  In order to feel that same sense of euphoria you have upon arrival, you must leave!

What leaving does is bring you one day closer to arriving. Or re-arriving.

This knowledge was a huge relief to me. I had spent many long days of wintry solitude at the conclusion of a trip locked in my Chicago home, curled up in a ball on the couch, TV spewing inane crap, snow flakes floating past the window.

I remember lying there thinking, “Just yesterday I was in the tropics; on a beach…hot”.

But, as I said, this was an epiphany.

The start of any new adventure is an idea. The trip grows slowly from there. You plan it out, you read about the place, you go online, you research. You get excited. Finally you work yourself into such a state that you cannot wait to go and the trip starts way before you even leave home.

It’s about the journey and not just the destination.

A little while ago I returned from a solo trip to Cambodia. Immediately thoughts turned to “where next”. Sometimes thoughts are already lying in wait.  After they are summoned, your next trip is lodged in your mind; embryo released.

Unfortunately not this time but that would change.

One evening across the kitchen island Alison, my partner in all things that make my life better, announced she had a conference in Georgia in June. “Let’s make a road trip out of it; either before or after…what do you think?”

Travel to me has always been abroad; some exotic locale where absolutely everything challenges my zone of familiarity.

A road trip in southern USA did not seem to fill that bill at all.

It took me until the next day but the more I thought about it the more it struck on me how perfect this could be. The deep south is about as different to mainstream USA as you can get.

So we set about planning a road trip through Georgia, Alabama, Tennessee, Mississippi, and Louisiana; getting excited about bayous, gators, delta blues, and BBQ.

The embryo was growing!

We also decided on some local long weekend getaways and a Yosemite road trip sprung into place.

Then came an embryo I had never thought of. Once again the imagination of Alison brought this to the fore. When it was out I took this idea and ran with it. Looking at websites and reading blogs; gathering information as much as I could about the wonders of the Trans-Siberian railway.

From one end of Russia to the other end of Russia.

It can be combined with the Trans-Mongolian and if you play it right you will find yourself at journey’s end on top of the world; literally.  Lhasa Tibet can be the final destination.  Or, you can opt for a more tropical conclusion and head to SE Asia.

That part is yet to be determined.

The whole point is, it is exciting to have trips planned for the future; even if just an idea.

I must admit the Trans-Siberian has hit a bit of a snag with Putin playing emperor but we shall see how that plays out.

In the meantime I am looking forward to continued travel here, there, and anywhere!

50 thoughts on “The Embryo of Adventure

  1. I hope you have a good time when you decide to come down south. It should be nice if you come late August or in September. There is nothing like having ideas for trips. I have a few places in mind. I just have to find the money 🙂


  2. Ahhhh…the south in June! What could be nicer! I love the south I went to Grad school in North Carolina and just fell in love with the people, places and food. I spent a lot of time in Nashville (gotta go to Nashville!) as well as “hotlanta”…you’ll love it! But I get the impression that you’re someone who blooms where they’re planted!

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    1. We were thinking more the other end of summer so that we can take in an SEC game or two. Will most definitely be going to Nashville and Memphis.


  3. You must have a lot of patience to plan all your travel. I love to travel but not too keen on planning. Thankfully, my husband has the patience to organise the travel. I hope you manage to do your Trans Siberian railway trip one of these days.


    1. My travel plans are never that complex. I rarely book hotels so most of it is research about the destination, what I should expect, what to do, etc. But plans can all change once I am there.


  4. I think your epiphany really applies to most areas of life, not just traveling. You have to go through all sorts of “leaving” in life, and each one carries the genesis of the next new adventure. Happy traveling, and I hope you’ll share your Deep South trip with us, even if it’s not as exotic as the Trans-Siberian railway.

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  5. Oh I can SO relate to your embryo analogy Tim! I love road trips and am planning a 3 week trip this fall and have a private board set up on Pinterest where I dump my images, notes and inspirations for the trip. I’m a very visual person so this is a great way for me to keep the energy flowing until I can finally get on that plane. Hope the Russia trip works out because I know I’ll never make it there myself but I think it would be a fascinating adventure!

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  6. Tim, I totally felt your pain as you described going to the airport. Sometimes you just want to revert back into a little kid and just throw a tantrum when you have to leave someplace you would rather stay. I will say that travelling through the U.S. can be fascinating. There are places you can go where you will feel VERY far away from home.

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  7. I look forward to hearing about more of your travels. I have been some of the places you mentioned. You know, I never thought about your point today that having a new plan eases the disappointment of a trip ending. I’ve been a person who goes at the last minute and figures it out as I go, so no planning to excite me. I’m changing my ways though because my “new” (12 years) husband loves to have everything planned out. I’ll enjoy that more if I remember what you said.

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    1. Glad to hear that Beth but please don’t misunderstand me. I, like you, plan very little on my itinerary. I just know places I would like to see, find out about ones I didn’t know I wanted to see, have a general route, then hit the road; all can change the moment I arrive or half-way through. The idea is to have a destination in mind and then research it so you build the excitement.


  8. Love the title “The Embryo of Adventure” so much. Back when I traveled far more than I do now, I think the planning was almost as exciting as the doing. I enjoyed that part of it immensely…finding what to see, what not to miss. It was so exhilarating and made the trips so special. As to the depression…I feel the same way after football season ends! LOL

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  9. When I’m bummed out with my own version of “TV spewing inane crap, snow flakes floating past the window,” I just need to start dreaming of travel. 🙂 I get online, ready myself with a knowledge of the history and the places to see and can feel the juices start flowing. Travelling the trans-Siberian railway would be quite the thing, I’m sure! I’d love to do it. The Silk Road also fascinates me. (Just need to stay SAFE!) Thanks for sharing your spirit of adventure, Tim.

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  10. You know Tim, I have enjoyed all your travel adventures but there was something very appealing about touring the deep south. We so often fail to see the beauty around us and I appreciated that you remembered that. Happy tripping (and writing so we can enjoy)


  11. I always get that feeling at the end of the summer when I’m, coming back from the shore or a beach in the latter part of August. I think it is a leftover from the end of summer blues I always got when I was going to school.

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  12. I love having my next trip planned (or about to be planned) before coming home. If not, one of the first things I think about when I get home is where next. At the moment I have lots of ideas for trips and will be working out which ones turn into real trips. I think you will enjoy your tour of the deep South. I haven’t been there yet and look forward to reading about your adventures.

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  13. I can totally understand you, and I feel the same way you do everyday. After I book a flight or return from a trip I’m already thinking of the 5 next ones, and making real plans in my head about them. I already have next year all planned out in my head, but every week the plan seems to change a bit: you read an article, or you see a photo that interests you and BAM, all your plans change in a matter of seconds. That’s the beauty of living a life of travel and being dependant of our own wanderlust

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  14. We have all bitten by the travel bug or have wanderlust fever and nothing can be done about it other than planning the next trip. For me, that tends to keep the wolves at bay. I like the planning and waiting part almost as much as the trip itself. 😉 Here’s to a wonderful year in 2015 of travels and fun!

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  15. What a deep and thoughtful piece, and beautifully written. I think you are right in many ways. Whenever I return home I find it hard to carry on doing normal things after such adventures, it makes life just feel like such a monotonous drag, but instead of that sinking me into a depression I use it to push me on to make those other trips a reality, to save more and usually shorty after we return we end up booking some other flights knowing we will iron out the details when needed! We are also planning on doing the Trans-Siberian, from Moscow, through Mongolia and into Beijing, but we plan on using the train all the way from our hometown in Manchester, what an adventure, what a journey!

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  16. For me the planning and anticipation of the journey is almost as good as the trip itself. I did not go abroad this year but traveled extensively throughout the East Coast. There is a tendency to think of the US as fairly homogeneous but nothing could be further from the truth.

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  17. Well said! We’re just the same and always have our next trip planned (usually have flights booked) to combat the depression of returning home…but I love your idea that a return is just one step closer to a return/next trip, will have to ponder on that next time we’re feeling low on the last day of our next trip!

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  18. This is so relevant for those of us who are chronic wanderlusters. I understand completely the gamut of emotions you go through, because Charles and I go through the same. Except we’ve now got a little trick that helps us out of it. We plan the next trip (atleast the tentative destination and dates) before we leave for home. Always gives us something to look forward to.

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  19. Oooh that’s a tough one, if you’re always looking over the horizon you’re not living in the moment. I’m from Sydney, a place many people have dreamed of visiting. Of course its only with fresh eyes we can truly appreciate this. Its easier to find the magic in a place when everything is brand new and your time is finite.
    Exploring my own home, often through the eyes of traveler’s met was a good way. Making new friends, discovering new haunts and subcultures. It fostered good habits that would help me find adventure abroad as well. The best bit of traveling, is the freedom to leave. Familiarity breeds contempt, when you’re hopping around everything feels like a honeymoon. Its a certain type of joy and it sure is addictive.

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  20. I’ve always got to have a trip (or three) to look forward to, but it’s funny how they develop Sometimes it’s a long-planned trip I’ve been wanting to do for years, sometimes it’s tagged onto something else and sometimes it’s a bit last-minute. The combination definitely helps keep it interesting!

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  21. Excellent insight! I find myself planning the next trip before the one I am on even finishes. BTW, there are plenty of adventures to be had in the southern US. Yes, it is like a whole different country. You will shake your head a lot thinking “these people are from the same country I am from” but once you get past their fears you will find they are wonderful. (I can say this, I am from this part of the world)


    1. I am really looking forward to exploring the south. The plan is Georgia, Tennessee, Mississippi, Louisianna, amd Alabama; then back to Georgia. Let me know if you have any ideas of things I should not miss. Thanks, Tim


  22. I so love Yosemite. And I also love that vicariously we get to experience your adventures. That is until the seed you’ve just planted germinates to more than an embryo and we’re on our way to Tibet. Definitely on my list. Thanks again for sharing your adventures!


  23. Your picture of Oak Alley brought back some good memories. It’s been years since I toured the plantations in Louisiana’s River Road. I don’t care where I go, just that there’s always a new trip on the horizon. Next up, a long weekend trip to Sante Fe.


  24. I have done a lot of traveling in my lifetime and continue to do more. As you say It’s about the journey and not just the destination. The one thing I still want to do is to take Orient Express somewhere. So it is something to look forward to.


    1. I believe the true Orient Express closed for service in 2009. There is however still the Simplon Express which runs between London and Venice and is a luxury train which started in the early 1980’s.


  25. I have been to China and Kazakhstan to adopt my two children. A wondrous journey with the bonus of coming home with one more member of the family. Both times, my husband and I had plenty of time to tour their homeland. One day we will return to China with my oldest to retrace our steps and show her the route we took through the countryside to get her. It was an adventure, to say the least. About the USA, I have lived up and down the Eastern seaboard and now live in Southern California. Yosemite is one of my favorite places. And I lived in Nashville and Florida, all great places to explore. You are lucky you have the means, obviously to travel.


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