“Peculiar travel suggestions are dancing lessons from God.”
from the Books of Bokonen (Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut)
Summer — vacation time!
I’ve been absent from the back porch this last week while we toddled around England — but that’s another story. Before I share stories from that most recent wandering, here’s a quick glance back at a few previous “dancing lessons from God” I’ve enjoyed.
Jamaica — 1978
When I’d been working at the Brown Schools for 6 months, I was entitled to my first PAID vacation from a real job — a full week off. At first, I figured on going out to see friends in the San Francisco Bay area. But then I found out flights to Jamaica were cheaper, so I changed my plans to an island vacation.
When I told Granny where I was going and she asked, “Jamaica ‘nuff money to go?”
That week gave me plenty of stories to tell, from accidentally trying to smuggle Jamaican currency into Jamaica to folks constantly trying to buy my shoes (cheap sneakers that looked like Adidas) to coming home to find the power cut off at our house due to unpaid utility bills.
But that’s another story.
Alaska — 1999
Alaska was obviously an impossible dream by the time Sara and I got married, so we had to do it. With Sara eligible for sabbatical time and me between projects, we decided to drive to Alaska and back — a total of 12,000 miles over 5 weeks’ time.
We made the most of it, too. Dancing north along the spine of the country, the Continental Divide, we hit Dinosaur Nat’l. Monument, the Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Glacier Nat’l. Park, crossed the border and hit Banff Nat’l Park on our drive up. We took the Alaskan Marine Highway to its terminus in Skagway and then drove through the Yukon Territory to reach the Top of the World Highway.
And that was just to get there — we spent a week there, including flagging down the Alaskan Railroad from the Bed & Maybe Breakfast in Nenana. Then we returned by a more Westerly route to see Great Crater Lake, Zion, the Grand Canyon and Canyon de Chelley before resting briefly at the Oasis of West Texas on our 2-week journey home.
But, once again — that’s another story.
Italy — 2006
Going to Italy in 2006 was truly a peculiar travel suggestion. My cousin, singer-songwriter Will T. Massey, had been contacted by an Italian fan, Edward, offering to produce a 2-week tour if Will would return to Italy for the first time in 15 years. Touring there in the ’90’s, Will had built up quite a fan base, and his absence for all that time simply whetted their appetite.
So I tagged along, having helped set the tour up. Since we spent most of our time traveling to the tour dates from Bergamo to Milan to Frosinone, we had little time for any spare sightseeing, but I came home with a deep, abiding love for espresso.
Probably the funniest moment for me came when someone recognized me several days after one of the gigs as we were heading in to see Bruce Springsteen play Milan with the Seeker Sessions band, “Hey! I saw you Scandiano!”
But, as you know — that’s another story.
England — 2012
My 2012 trip to England was another accidental adventure. I was working on a training project for Ernst-Young and we needed to conduct a field trial in their London headquarters. So, with little notice, I headed over to London, along with athletes from around the world preparing for the following week’s Olympics.
The first few days, I stayed on Tower Hill near the Tower of London (along with a cohort of French athletes whom I’d see at breakfast daily), “commuting” to work by strolling across the Tower Bridge to the Ernst-Young HQ.
Just as the festivities were starting up, I switched my base of operation to stay with my old friend, Hank, up in Muswell Hill, just around the corner from where the Davies brothers, Ray and Dave, grew up and formed the Kinks.
Of course that’s another story, too.
In fact, each of those dance lessons involved multiple stories, some of which, at least, ought to be told. So you can expect to hear more about each shortly this summer season.
In the meantime, though, I’ll be sharing some stories from the week we just spent in England, from the fairy-tale wedding in the castle to bantering with our Beefeater tour guide at the Tower of London to dinner & pints at the Clissold Arms, neighborhood pub of the Davies family, with a back room tribute to Muswell Hill’s famous brothers.
Quite delightful indeed — shall we dance?