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The Joy of Travel

How our travel experiences can enrich us and teach us more about living.
Article by Tom Gilbert - © July, 2012

Skyline of New York City

My family and I recently enjoyed a vacation to New York City. Although we were there for just a few days it was great to go to this major metropolitan city and take in the sights and sounds.

The last time we’d gone to the Big Apple was more than ten years ago. That summer my parents were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary and the family was convening in upstate New York at the beautiful Lake George property of Dad’s sister. Aunt Lois Anne and Uncle Arnie were great hosts and the times we spent at the lake were always memorable.

That particular visit was enjoyable for us all. At the time my children were just 12 and 7. It reminded me of my youthful days cavorting there with my cousins and siblings. We embraced the summer and had a terrific reunion. There was even a bit of drama; my family will never let me forget flipping over a rowboat that dumped my son and me into the water. Uncle Arnie sped his motorboat to our rescue and all ended fine, but it did turn up the adrenaline!

Lake George was fun, as was New York City. It was the summer of 2001, but still a couple of months before the world changed forever on a fateful day in September. The things we did together were appropriate for a family with younger kids.

On this visit our children were grown. My married daughter came with her husband. My son had recently graduated High School. As a result we were able to experience New York a bit differently. I caught myself reflecting about it a few times while we rode the subway or in cabs. We ate out a lot, including an authentic Jewish deli in the East Village, a great Irish restaurant and pub in Greenwich Village, delicious Italian fare in Little Italy and a couple of great New York diners for huge and filling breakfasts.

All in all, it was a real joy.

I have been reflecting on this trip and on travel in general. Traveling can be taxing and tiring. It can be tedious. But it can also be an exciting and wonderfully enriching cultural experience. There can be a joy in travel that rewards us with a broader view of our world. My perspective after such trips is always enhanced.
Times Square in New York City
If you’ve ever been to New York you know it is one of the world’s great cities. It is a true cultural and ethnic mixing pot. It is a plethora of food, fashion and fun. There is such a wide range of entertainment and New York has earned the title, “The city that never sleeps”. My son and I took in a Mets game. My wife and daughter went to a Broadway show. And we all did some amazing people watching.

Other highlights included a somber visit to the new 9-11 Memorial. The two marble pools built on the footprint of the World Trade Center Towers inspired deep reflection. We took a short walk in Central Park, saw Times Square at night, entered the holy space of Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, strolled through Washington Square and viewed the awe-inspiring skyline of Manhattan from the observation deck at the top of Rockefeller Center.
9-11 New York City Memorial
Yes, we were tourists, but we were also experiencing an enriching family time. It was a vacation we will all remember and cherish both for the places we visited and for the time together.

What is it about travel? It can have a major effect on our lives, and therefore, on our stories.

The writer and philosopher Henry David Thoreau said “Wealth is the ability to fully experience life." We are far from rich, and we couldn’t have afforded this vacation but for the gift of a parent. We made this trip as a way to both enhance our family experiences and pay tribute to my Dad. He passed away in January and although he hadn’t lived in New York since his High School days, he was born in Queens. Somehow it felt right to go to the city of his birth for this summer vacation. I think he’d be pleased that part of his legacy was our visit and that his wise financial planning made that possible.

Traveling stirs our restless spirit. It opens us up to new experiences and the inevitable result is growth. We learn more about others; we learn more about ourselves.

Preserving your life story is an important goal. I hope it is on your “bucket list”. More importantly, the life you live needs to be full and abundant.

Your life is your story and life is a journey. May you experience the joy of travel wherever you go.

Tell Us About A Special Visit to A Great City

If you've traveled to any of the world's great cities you probably have a story to share about it. Ideally we'd like to read about life enhancing experiences (not a bunch of griping, please). But let it be real - full of all that life offers (which can mean the good and/or the bad).

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