“Snapshot” Travel Memories.

One of the residual pleasures of travel are the “snapshot” memories that remain long after the details of the trip have faded into a blur. I’m not sure what makes one incident stick in the memory while a dozen others have long been forgotten, but I find myself thinking of these mini-events quite often.

For instance, there was that peach I bought from a vendor on the platform during a brief stop by the California Zephyr in Grand Junction, Colorado. The size of a softball, that peach was, and remains to this day, the most exquisitely delicious piece of fruit—fruit of any kind—that I have ever tasted. I have thought of that peach dozens of times since that trip.

Not all my snapshot memories are pleasant. Such was the time, traveling north on the Silver Meteor, when our train struck an old VW van at a grade crossing just north of Savannah, Georgia. I felt the sudden application of the brakes and the jolt that followed seconds later. I turned to the window just in time to see the front half of the van came into view. It was upside down, its roof on the concrete sidewalk, and it was spinning slowly. 

When our trans-Siberian train stopped for 24 hours in the Mongolian city of Ulan-Ude, our English-speaking guide informed us there was going to be a performance in the city’s concert hall that same evening. If any of us would like to attend, he said, the tickets cost the equivalent of $1.60 in U.S. currency. That evening was a big surprise: the concert hall was state-of-the-art and the first performer was a Mongolian tenor in a tuxedo who sang “La Donna È Mobile” from Rigoletto. His performance was wonderful, and every member of our group was stunned. 

While snorkeling with my wife and young daughter in the calm waters of a lagoon off the Island of Moorea in French Polynesia, we suddenly came face-to-face with a shark. I doubt it was as big as it now appears in the “freeze frame” of my memory. And I remember the shark turning and swimming leisurely in another direction, showing no interest in the three of us whatsoever. I did not feel slighted.

I’m constantly amazed at the amount of luggage travelers drag all over the globe. We probably see it here in Hawaii more than most other places: people getting off the plane for their week-in-Hawaii vacation with two huge suitcases.  The problem is, I know perfectly well that they will spend most of their time here in shorts and a T-shirt.

Travel guru Rick Steves said it best: “There are only two kinds of travelers: Those who are traveling light and those who wish they were.”