NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Bitten by the Travel Bug

Leaving today for Tennessee, and have been contemplating again what makes me want to wander.  Is it something that is genetic, inborn, something I would want to do regardless of my experiences growing up?  I think so, after all lots of folks probably travel and move frequently when young and then crave stability.

Lion Country Safari, I'm the California-sun bleached-blondie at the back

Since my father was in the U.S. Navy we've been around the country a bit.  Born in Newfoundland we drove to Minnesota when I was only 13 months old.  From there it was a few years in Washington state and then a few in California.  Lots of places visited there, including trips across the border to Mexico and local attractions from Disneyland to Lion Country Safari which closed in 1984.  Here's an infamous news story from 1978:

On a February night in 1978, Bubbles, a hippopotamus, managed to burrow under her fence, squeeze past a barricade and lumber away from her pen. She found a marshy drainage pit in the hills behind the safari and settled in for a standoff with park rangers, rarely showing much more than her nostrils above the water line. Crowds gathered. Television cameras arrived. Soon, even Johnny Carson was having a laugh at the wayward hippo in Orange County.

Bubbles emerged from her watery hideout a few days into her escape, and was greeted with a tranquilizer dart. She crumpled to the ground. Three rangers approached, and one tapped her with a wooden pole."Bubbles roused with a mighty snort," the Orange County Register newspaper reported, "and promptly treed two rangers and sent the third scampering." Bubbles flicked her tail and rumbled back into the pond."

For 19 days, Bubbles wallowed in her pond as news helicopters clattered overhead and highway patrol officers directed traffic on nearby roads. She refused to budge even when rangers baited a huge net with her favorite food, alfalfa. And then, as night fell on her 19th day of freedom, Bubbles pulled herself out of the shallows and wandered up a nearby hill. A ranger approached her in the dark and shot her with two tranquilizer darts. She staggered for a few more steps before her knees gave out and she collapsed.

A veterinarian arrived and gave her a dose of a potent calming drug. The cheering and backslapping of her capture soon turned to disbelief and then tears as the park rangers realized that Bubbles had stopped breathing. One of the rangers reached down and tried to close her eyes, then covered her body with a blanket. The official story from Lion Country Safari has always been that Bubbles fell in an awkward position on the hill, and her heavy internal organs pressed against her lungs, suffocating her. But the lead ranger that night, Steve Clark, has long maintained that it was the veterinarian's drug - administered needlessly and carelessly, he says - that killed Bubbles. A heavy-duty earthmover carried Bubbles back to Lion Country Safari, where an necropsy found she had been pregnant with her second calf.

The Grand Canyon 1976, check out those shades my mom was wearing!

 But it was the big move from California to Illinois that I remember the most with stops at impressive destinations like the Grand Canyon and Las Vegas.  We stayed at Circus Circus where I won prizes at the kiddie games and my mom let me sneakily pull the handle on a slot machine.  It was where I also almost drowned in the hotel swimming pool.  I was a good swimmer, but exhaustion took hold and I was too tired to even shout as I went under, but someone noticed and dived in to get me.

Las Vegas 1976

Of course there were plane trips to Newfoundland, but my travel memories center around those car trips: lying in the back seat and sneaking off the seat belt that I wasn't used to wearing, collecting souvenirs like giant pencils and beaded bags, seeing natural wonders that made me want to know what else was out there and learning so much about people and how it's okay to be different.

Me and Mom, Niagra Falls 1979 - no sun there!

And my love of photography?  Maybe that sprouted from those early travels as well, where we documented where we went and the fun we had.  I got my first camera for an 8th grade graduation present, I think it was a Kodak Instamatic 110 with those little flashcubes.  Not very many of those pictures were anything worth keeping, but I remember the excitement while opening the package after they were developed and flipping through them, not knowing what I was going to see and what memory would suddenly be mine to relive.

My dad, Columbia River


  1. Your story is familiar. We lived parallel lives, it seems, only my dad was a "Sky Pilot" instead of in the Navy :)
    Box Canyon Mark

  2. Mark and I were just talking about how strange it is to be describing some of our vacations to co-workers and to have them ask us "Why?". We've divvied up people into two categories: Resort People and Us. We know a lot of Resort People. You guys are definitely in the "Us" category. I hope you continue to write about all the trails, campgrounds, and outdoor wonders; those Resort People don't know what they're missing!

  3. Not sure what gives you the travel bug, the sense of adventure or because your parents moved around a lot. I have lost mine after traveling to a lot of places with work I'm glad to be where I am exploring my own country now

  4. Love the vintage pictures. My family never went anywhere so I always wanted to go everywhere. Had my heart set on being an airline stewardess but you had to be 5'2". I definitely have the travel bug and am most solidly an "us" since I hate all tourist locations. The natural world as wild as possible is where I want to be.

  5. I'd forgotten about Bubbles; what a sad story that was. I lived in Santa Ana at the time and remember Lion Country Safari and the flap about the poor hippo. Some of us are just born with gypsy blood, born to escape like Bubbles, and apparently I'm one of them, always have been. You, too. Enjoy Tennessee.