If you are well-seasoned traveler, I’m sure you feel about the same in regards to distance and your perception of what is truly far. There is no doubt that traveling has affected my perception of far very much like the common expression of across the pond. Although the Atlantic Ocean is certainly not a short distance, the expression makes it seem like you can do it in a blink of an eye. From experience, you can if you are a good traveler and sleeper as I am. For those not so lucky, you use a little extra help with the wonder pill, Ambien, right before take-off.
However, as a child, I certainly didn’t view distance as such. When I was growing up, we would travel to the Hayward, Wisconsin area to camp on Black Dan Lake (pictured right). In the middle of the lake, there was an island. At that age, I saw it as a far far away place and such a grand island. It would have been a great feat to even reach the island by canoe, I thought. Now, since returning as an adult, the distance doesn’t look so far, nor the island so large. Recently, I took my childhood dream of arriving to the shores of that island while talking with friends over a bonfire. A couple of beers later, a plan was formed; we were not to canoe to the island, but to swim to the island the very next day.
By swimming in the less than balmy, more like tingly Northern Wisconsin water, it was a long crawl, but certainly attainable for my friend and I. When we arrived, we named the very small patch of limestone, couple of trees, and the almost metropolitan population of mosquitoes, “Triumph Island.” It was a small island, but putting the transportation one stroke at a time made it a triumph while once again showing my changed perception.
The same changed goes for going across the pond. For the first time, going the distance across the Atlantic to Europe was a big deal, regardless of my good sleeping habits. I knew my adventurous spirit would love it; so, like a belly flop, I, at the age of twenty, ran and went all in despite all the risks for the thrill. And, that’s probably why my first experience in Europe ended up as a prolonged stay, not one year, but two years. My time was spent mostly in Spain, but certainly not cemented in one place as I took advantage of my across the pond home by visiting Turkey, Italy, the Czech Republic, France, Scotland, Portugal, Morocco, the Balearic Islands, and the Canary Islands.
Since that virgin across the pond experience, I now see that crossing as a little less big in my well-traveled eyes. Over the last fifteen or more years, I have enjoyed my time in Europe dozens of times for both pleasure, extended stays, with family, independently, and most recently to London for business.
As I’m getting towards the end of my summer in Alaska and returning to South Florida and the East Coast this fall, I will once again be on that pond. Will I cross that pond to the U.K. and London for a more in depth visit? I wonder where the next “Triumph Island” will be? Keep abreast of my next adventures including another “Triumph Island” via Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Google+.