Dredging up old travel memories
by Ron Swift | Patterson Irrigator
Mar 04, 2014 | 875 views | 0 0 comments | 165 165 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Americans like to travel. Maybe not all Americans, but enough that when visiting a foreign land, travelers from the United States come across each other in many off-the-beaten-track bailiwicks.

HM (Housemate) and I have experienced just that.

Longtime readers may recall that we’ve ventured to a few not-on-the-main-road destinations, and in doing so have met some very interesting people from the States.

Why, you ask, couldn’t we just stay in this country and met them here? Very good question that often crosses my mind.

We’d been married 25 years before we took our first trip together. (Notice I didn’t call it a vacation.) And we made it count: 50 days in New Zealand, Australia, Thailand, and Nepal, all on our own. We met an interesting couple at the Bridge on the River Kwai, who seemingly had homes all over the world and spent most of the year traveling from one to another. We shared a lunch table with them overlooking the river on a day that was hot enough to boil a raw egg.

Once, we motored to the staging area for groups readying to climb Mt. Everest from the Tibetan side. There we met climbers, several from the U.S., as we camped for a couple nights at 16,900 feet, using the daylight hours to climb about a thousand feet higher. Not much conversation at that height. You just nod to communicate with fellow travelers. In fact, we spent 18 fascinating days over 12,000 feet.

A trip to Russia was made in 1989 just three months before the Berlin Wall came down and the Soviet Union began its crumble. Western China lured us three times, not counting the previous journey into Tibet. Kashgar, the largest (and oldest) city in far west China, was fascinating. The 42-day, tent-camping, 3000-mile trip by 4-wheel drive even brought us into contact with a few American travelers. We learned that Bill Gates had passed our way.

Some readers may recall our 15-day trip on camel-back in the Gobi area, but I must admit, we failed to run across a single person from this country. Only a few Japanese using 4-wheel drives and wearing business suits. By the way, I was 71 at the time and should have known better than to hop on a camel.

Antarctica was nice if you like very smelly penguins. Plenty of Americans on-board ship.

But why, you ask, am I dredging up old travel memories? It’s because no small number of you have been asking where we’re going next.

Here’s the answer: We can’t decide. The world is currently a mess, so I can tell you where we’re not going.

Not back to Kashgar, where the Uighers (pronounced Wee-gurs) are continuing a nasty revolt against the decision-makers in Beijing who tightly control their province of Xinjiang. Han Chinese have been moved west to run the Xinjiang government, its military, and its businesses and curb its Muslim religious practices. The same has occurred in Tibet where unrest is common.

We’ve also ruled out Libya, Egypt, Somalia, Ukraine, Burma, Syria, Venezuela, Thailand, Iraq and Afghanistan. There may be more, but I get sick reading about the atrocities human beings choose to commit on other human beings.

ADD 3, SUBTRACT 1

Good response this week from readers. Three names get added to our 90-plus list, although the death of a centenarian has to be noted.

Longtime Patterson resident Antone Bogdanich has been inadvertently absent from the list. He’s 94. And there are a couple of former Pattersonites who get added: Isabel Vieira of Modesto, the widow of Tony Vieira, and Millie Cunningham of Grizzly Flat. Millie and her late husband Herb resided here a number of years ago, as did the Vieiras.

We’ve also learned of the death of Evelyn Rusk in Modesto, whose nephew lives here. She died in November at age 103. Her 100th birthday was observed here when she lived at Foothill Manor.

This brings the total of the list to 71. It can’t be the water.

Continue to keep me posted until your read my obituary.

FOR THE SPORTS FAN

March Madness has arrived, as every basketball fan knows.

It annually gives our young hard-court hopefuls a good look at how to palm the ball and get away with it.

And last weekend the Coker men beat Tusculum, but you expected that.

AND FINALLY …

You tell me:

Why is it that readers keep sending me e-mails that make subtle (and not so subtle) reference to the aging process? Hope they aren’t meant to be personal. Here are two of them.

“Life is short. Smile while you still have teeth.”

And: “The irony of life is that by the time you’re old enough to know your way around, you’re not going anywhere.”

But a few send me bright, cheerful messages, such as: “Every morning is the dawn of a new error.”

Makes a person want to stay in bed.

Ron Swift is the editor/publisher emeritus of the Patterson Irrigator. He can be reached at ronkay@gvni.com.

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