JUNE 29, 2012 8:39AM

"And We're Off!"

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And We're Off

When I was a teenager and old enough to go into Chicago by myself from my hometown of Rockford, 90 miles away, anticipation of the trip would usually keep me from getting much sleep the night before. It was, for me, a great and exciting adventure, and though I am not overly adventurous by nature—no “Type A” personality, I—I have always loved traveling and going from place to place. I remember my first flight on a commercial airliner in the early 1950s—a DC-3, again from Rockford to Chicago, and my first trip (in 1953...by bus!) to New York on summer break between my freshman and sophomore years at college.

I remember the excitement of joining the Navy in 1954 and leaving home—really leaving home—for the first time in my life. I remember the euphoria of getting up on my 22ndbirthday and going out to the bow of the USS Ticonderoga,aboard which I was stationed, to catch my first glimpse, through the morning fog, of my birthday present—the Rock of Gibraltar and the continent of Europe. Being aboard a ship for an 8-month tour of duty in the Mediterranean was one long travel adventure which remains among my happiest memories (though as is so typically human, I did not fully appreciate the experience while I was living it). Valencia, Cannes (with a side trip to Paris), Naples (with a side trip to Rome), Genoa, San Remo, Sicily, Mallorca, Rhodes, Athens, Istanbul, Beirut...so many marvelous places and wondrous experiences.

Moving from Rockford to Chicago after college, traveling around the country as part of my work, moving from Chicago to Los Angeles, from Los Angeles to Pence Wisconsin, then from Pence back to Chicago—each involving months of anticipatory excitement (not to mention stress and hassles).

When my friend of more than 50 years and onetime partner Norm died in 2010, he was kind enough to name me in his will, which enabled me to be able to return to Europe after 56 years, to revisit several of the places I'd seen during my first trip in the Navy—plus London, Venice, Florence, and Sorrento. I mention all these places not to impress you, but because I still look at the words and find it hard to believe.

While I owe Norm a debt I can unfortunately never repay, I cannot help but feel guilty over the fact that it was hismoney which he should have spent on himself. Far too often, people save and save, only to die and leave everything to someone else.  Though I do not have children, the idea of stockpiling money to leave them strikes me as most odd. You worked hard for your money; your children can and should do the same thing.

Naturally one should save up enough money to be able to live comfortably in old age, though no one knows when that old age will end. Prudence and logic are a good thing...but to save just for the sake of saving is not. There's a whole world out there; see as much of it as you can. I intend to.

To that end, on Saturday, 30 June, 2012, I'll be getting on a plane bound for Budapest, there to board a boat for a 15 day river cruise to Amsterdam.

If I live beyond my money...well, that's a risk I'm willing to take. At least I will know, at the end, that I lived.

(And a note: I will try to post blogs here at least daily, to chronicle as much of my journey as I possibly can, and will be posting probably hundreds of photos—I put up nearly 1700 on my month-long trip to Europe last year—on Facebook, which is the only place I know where I can post unlimited photos. I would love the pleasure of your company, in spirit if not in body.)

Dorien's blogs are posted by 10 a.m. Central time every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Please take a moment to check out his website (http://www.doriengrey.com) and, if you enjoy these blogs, you might want to check out Short Circuits: a Life in Blogs (http://bit.ly/m8CSO1).

Author tags:

navy, europe, memoir, travel, open call

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Bon voyage, Dorien! I got goosebumps reading this, the sight of the Rocks of Gibraltar in the mist, and your new river boat adventure coming up, and everything else. It sounds like this will be an amazing trip! I'm sorry for the loss of your friend Norm...it sounds like he wanted you to have this joy, though, and I bet he'd be happy to know that you spread your wings and flew with this gift he gave you. :)
Bon Voyage, Dorien. Have a breathtaking time...and make lots of friends!!
Thank you both. I'll do my best to have a great time, though I doubt it will take too much effort. And I hope you'll follow my blogs here, and my notes and photos on Facebook.
smart move......grab it while ya still can.....have fun....remember what the Grass Roots said......
R
I honeymooned in Rockford!