It has been a busy season of travel lately, more so than I am typically used to. From July 2021 till now, every month has seen a new adventure. From camping in Yosemite to international flights to Prague to take Emily to school to work-related overnight field trips for science camp then back across the world to Prague and Istanbul, these adventures have crisscrossed California and even the globe. Even now, I am writing from Amtrak’s Pacific Surfliner en route to San Diego for an education conference.
Like many travelers I’ve seen on social media, I’ve taken to carrying along a memento or token when I travel. This is not a new concept by any means; my sister-in-law, who has traversed the globe in her work used to bring a rubber ducky along on her travels. As a photographer, she would place the duck artistically within her camera’s frame and take snapshots that captured the essence of the adventure. I have no idea how many places that duck visited, but it sure did log quite a few thousand miles.
Since 2019, Christopher the Puppy, a Warmies junior flaxseed and lavender-stuffed warmable plushie, has accompanied me on many an adventure with my family as well as on trips that were less of a recreational nature. He isn’t as soft and fluffy as he used to be, but he too has logged many miles since his first trip from Los Angeles to Chicago back in July 2019. In that year alone, he camped in Yosemite National Park with Sami and Emily and stayed the night in middle-of-nowhere Lone Pine off U.S. 395, spent a couple days in the desert city of Indio with its dry summer heat, and hopped across the pond to the United Kingdom. There, he rode on the London Underground and a double-decker bus as we went sightseeing, visiting the Tower of London and the British Museum. Then after arriving back at Los Angeles International following a 10-hour flight and rush through customs, he was back on a plane bound for San Diego for the last school boards conference I attended before the pandemic upended our lives.
But even with the pandemic altering life as it did, there were still reasons for travel, and even though some of those reasons were not always fun, we still took the opportunities we had to make our adventures, so to speak. And Chris the Puppy was there for them all. He went to Miami and saw the alligators at Everglades National Park, watched Sami yell at the giant sequoias at Sequoia National Park, sat on the tufas at Mono Lake, made the long drive up to Reno and back, and celebrated holidays in San Clemente and La Jolla.
As life is slowly returning to its new normal, I am thankful for the opportunity to travel and spend time with family, friends, and colleagues. It is indeed a blessing, even my job-related travel. The work trips, though relatively infrequent compared to those with jobs that require more regular travel, can still be hard on the family, especially on Sami, who though now a teen still wants me around much of the time. On those work trips, I’ll bring Chris the Puppy along, and take a photo descriptive of where I am and send it to her. I’ve found that it is an easy and lighthearted way to keep the connection when I’m away. Sami herself has a favorite plushie: her constant companion, Toby, who has accompanied her on trips since 2011. I can’t count how many miles Toby’s gone cross-country and globally, by air or by land over the past ten years. But it is fun to recount all the adventures we’ve taken, plushies and all. And in the end, the memories made are what matter in the end.
No matter where the tracks of life take you, here’s to many more adventures together. Because life is an adventure meant to be shared.