The French novelist, Marcel Proust, once said ““The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes but in having new eyes.”
Equally poignant, the 20th century American philosopher, F. Bueller, stated, “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it. ”
My name is Keith Watson and I love to travel.
Growing up in Norwood, Ohio (“Gem of the Highlands”), my earliest memory of an exciting odyssey was when I traveled from my home to see friends on the other side of Cincinnati (“The Queen City” or “Porkopolis”). I was 8 years old and I made the 20 mile trek on an old Stingray bicycle through some seriously challenging traffic and very dangerous neighborhoods. My parents thoughtfully pointed out the error of my ways and, within a couple of days, I was able to sit on my bike again without too much discomfort. Still, the seed was planted.
When my high school days ended, I couldn’t wait to hit the road. It helped that my dazzling “D” average and lousy study habits made higher education all but impossible. So, I joined the Navy to (1) roam the far reaches of the world in search of unique locales and fascinating people and (2) because they were desperate for enlistees.
I took a brief rest from my Navy career in the late 1970s to weigh my opportunities in the civilian world. During that time, I rescued my lovely bride, Donna, from Glen Este, Ohio (motto: “A Good Place To Be From”), where she would surely have suffered a future filled with drudgery and broken dreams. (She thanks me every day for the liberation)
We then embarked on a 21 year honeymoon, courtesy of the U.S. Navy, where we traveled to such exotic locales as Groton (CT), Norfolk (VA), and Omaha (NE). Along the way, we were blessed with the arrival of our son, Matthew, a future Ohio State Buckeye and money vacuum. In all, we moved 13 times in those years (sometimes never unpacking boxes between moves).
Since retirement from the military in 2001, we have made it an annual event to travel to interesting destinations to experience the diversity and glamour of different people and their customs. Past adventures have included England, France, Germany, Austria, Italy, and Canada on the international map and San Francisco, Niagara Falls, Gatlinburg, and the Rocky Mountains here in the states. An especially fun road trip last year started in Donna’s birth city of Danville, KY and meandered through Nashville (Country Music Hall of Fame/Grand Ole Opry) and Memphis (Elvis’ Graceland) down to New Orleans (Bourbon Street and many delicious Hurricanes).
Recently, I looked at a map of the United States and realized that there were still many places unseen and people unmet. My wife has graciously allowed me (read: “for God’s sake, get out of the house and quit bothering me”) to take a solo road trip to Alaska by way of every little interesting thing I can find along the way. Eventually, I’ll find my way to Anchorage where my family will meet me for our annual vacation.
But, in this case, the destination is not the focus of this trip – the journey itself is. I hope to see all the wonderful small towns and places along the way, meet the people who proudly call them home, and get a taste of why they love the places they do. With no real deadlines to meet or daily mileage to rack up, I have the freedom to wander wherever the next attraction beckons.
Please join me on this quest. I’ll do my best to make you feel as if you are riding along with me and seeing all the wonderful sights our great country has to offer. Occasionally, I may spring some trivia or historical factoid on you (pay attention – there will be a test afterward).
America possesses an amazing array of giant roadside animals, oddball museums, and awe-inspiring natural miracles and I hope to touch them all.