#DoYouIndie November Travel Challenge: The Traveler’s Paradox

Hello again! It has been too long since I last posted, and there are so many reasons for that. The most obvious is that we haven’t been traveling….much. There was that trip to Cuba last spring that I have been meaning to share with you all, but mostly my life here in Seattle has swallowed me whole and the days just fly by, undocumented save for the occasional instagram post (@jonesfam6). Not that our life is no longer remarkable now that we are home, not by a long shot, it is just that there is so little time to remark on it, or so it seems.

As many of you do, I still have an email inbox flooded with travel sites, and one of them, Bootsnall, is doing a one month writing challenge for travelers, both those that have traveled, and those that dream of it. To get me writing again, and to reexperience the passion that I have felt for the journeys we have made, I thought I would partake. So, if this is your thing, and you want to feel the wanderlust and start planning your next adventure, stay tuned….

QUESTION 1: Why did you first start traveling? Why did you continue to travel?


Merzouga, Sahara Desert, watching the sun rise on October 31, 2013

These inquiries have been previously answered on my site, here and here and here, but I will restate them as best I can here. I first started traveling internationally with my husband about a year after we were married. Neither of us had traveled much or far when we were children, and we were curious about the world. After our first 6 week backpacking trip to Europe, with a budget of about $40/day, we were smitten. Two years later, when our credit cards were paid off, we booked a trip to Turkey for 2 weeks, and the next year, to Spain and Portugal for 3 weeks. Seeing other locales and cultures opened up our world, as cliche as that may sound. We saw things at home differently, whether it was reading the paper or a novel, watching the news or a blockbuster movie, or seeing someone in our city, with a map in hand and backpack slung over their shoulder. A paradox emerged, which could probably be called “the traveler’s paradox”, if it has not already been coined by some other writer somewhere. It was this: the further we went, the more we saw, the more we realized how little we knew of the world. To me, it became a little like an addiction, this longing for more, the need to feel and experience the world in person, to see it all.

Lares Trek, Peru, June 2014

Lares Trek, Peru, June 2014

Our child rearing years anchored us pretty closely to home, even though we had made a pact to each other, Jon and I, to travel with our children and see the world with them one day. So when our youngest was born in 2007, we picked a date to take a year off with them, and we tucked it into our pocket like a wish and a secret and present to be unwrapped at some point far in the future. Before we knew it, that date was upon us.  Though it was challenging on many levels, we made it happen, embarking to Iceland and the next 34 countries in July 2013 and returning July 2014. It forever has changed us, individually and as a family. There is much to write on that, but it is off topic. In a nut shell, I traveled first because I was curious about the world. And now I travel because it is in me, the little hands that have held mine in Nairobi, the level gaze that locked mine in Sri Lanka, the weathered hands that gripped the wheel in Bali. All the miles we watched roll by us from the air, sea, and land; the countless stories shared by fellow travelers and locals in destinations all around the globe; the poignant beauty and hardship and opulence and contrasts we were exposed to – it all fills my soul and yet leaves me hungry for more.  Seeing my children struggling over an 16,000 foot peak in Peru, bungee jumping off a bridge, riding a camel across a desert or a stallion on the beach, or snorkeling with a sea turtle – these are emblazoned into my mind and have become part of my tapestry, that I am determined to continue weaving as we travel again. There are so many adventures out there to be had in our beautiful world, our only world. This one precious life that we are given is all that we have, and we have such a finite amount of time to experience it. One life, One world. You only live once, I guess that is my why.

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon?  Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?

-Mary Oliver



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  1. Hallie

    LOVE! glad we’re doing this challenge. goosebumps and tears in my eyes reading this. i DREAM of traveling again…and would adore traveling with my Jones family again any time and any place. xx

    1. Gretchen

      Hello Hal – thanks for doing this challenge with me! Writing is definitely stirring up the wanderlust. But the writing itself is cathartic, it feels like I am closer to the wide open world when I put my love of travel in writing. Where do you want to go next?

  2. Barb Hiebner

    I too love to travel and am fortune to have been many places both in the US and around the world. I agree, it changes you.

    Thank you for traveling. Thank you for writing. I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoy your writing and explain how it affects me. You have an amazing talent, not only in writing about what you see and how you feel about it, but the fact that you can see it at all! So many cannot.

    Please keep writing and sharing. I am waiting.

    1. Gretchen

      Hi Barb! So good to hear from you! We are lucky to have travelled, you and I. It is such a gift to the soul. Myanmar is always simmering on my back burner and I know I will be coming to you for advice when I decide to go. Thank you for reading and encouraging me! XOXO.

  3. Amy Preston

    Gretchen, Oh, how I’ve missed your posts! So thrilled you are writing again, you have such a gift for it. Your words paint such a clear pictures in my mind and I’m energized by all your RTW adventures! Love to you all. Xo
    Amy Preston

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