Hand Salute! A grandpa’s lesson…

I remember a time when my grandfather was planning a trip to the mountains. When he traveled, he put his camper shell on the bed of his pickup, packed supplies, and headed out. I begged him to let me go. I don’t understand why, but for some reason, wanderlust hit me, and I was desperate to get away. I had never traveled with him before, so I should have been nervous about finding things to talk about. This time was different. I just wanted to go, and there was no stopping me. Mom was on my side, also asking him to take me along. He just wouldn’t have it, however. I remember showing up, the day he left, with a packed bag. I thought, “he can’t say no, now!” He did, however. I think that moment changed our relationship…in a good way. As I moved into my teens, traveling changed for me. Grandpa began suffering from glaucoma, and with the change in his vision, started going with my mom and I on trips. When I was young, he stayed away, doing his own thing, letting my grandmother travel with us. With my brother in college, we became quite the trio. We roamed the deserts, mountains, plains, and valleys, putting our own spin on road trips. In my youth, we camped in a tent trailer, and ate from a cooler in the backseat. With grandpa, we stayed in motels…and ate in cafes and diners! This was all new to me. I ate food I never knew existed and stayed in places that seemed like I was traveling into the past, called motor courts, or travel lodges. My favorite places to travel with grandpa were the mountains and desert, equally. I just can’t choose. He loved Colorado, and inevitably, every road trip resulted in us at least passing through the state. He had friends that he had made through his own travels there, and we would always have to stop at a pay phone to see if they were home. That was another major difference. Grandpa loved to sit down to a meal and visit with locals…which was something I had never experienced on my travels growing up. He had a story for every state and every road we traveled down. Through his experience in World War II, he either knew someone from there, or he had traveled there before. In short, I loved every minute of it. He made it exciting, and an adventure. One of my favorite parts of traveling with him was our custom of saluting at every state line we crossed. Since he could no longer see clearly, when mom noticed we were getting close, and the state sign was in view, we would say, “ready, ready,” and then right as we passed the sign, “ha–and salute!” This tradition boils over to today. I do it when my husband and I cross a state line. Travel lessons were abundant with grandpa, as I think back. I’m so glad I tried to go with him to the mountains so long ago. That moment created a bond for he and I, and I know my zeal and zest for travel grew from those experiences with him. He always had a desire to go somewhere, even if it was just to the next town. He loved to be on the road, and always made it fun. I try to emulate his travel style as much as I can. He never met a stranger, and I’m trying my best to be as friendly and open as he was. I do love to be on the road, on my way to my next adventure. The biggest travel lesson I learned from him, however, was to savor the moments, big or small. Sit and relax while you’re eating in a new place. Take your time and enjoy yourself. I’m constantly reminded of this everyday. This lesson doesn’t just apply to traveling, but to life in general. Put the phone down, look around, and enjoy the people and life carrying on around you.

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