This morning I decided to work from home, and, in this case, blog from home, which allows me the opportunity to dress in jeans and a t-shirt (definitely beyond “business casual”!). Today I’m in a short-sleeved lavendar tee that says “I Need My Space” with the NASA emblem below the words. From that play on words my mind drifted to Virgin Galactic’s tagline, “Space is Virgin territory” and from there I asked myself, “What’s a nice girl like you doing in a Space like this?”
I have definitely been bitten by the Space bug. I believe that my training at the Kennedy Space Center moved me from passionate to passionately and wildly interested in Space, our universe, black holes, solar flares—all sorts of things that occupied very little space in my head in years gone by.
When I was 9 years old I came home from school very upset. When my mother asked what was bothering me, I complained, “You never take me anywhere!”
With a puzzled expression, Mom said, “Barby (I ditched the “y”, the “i” and the “ie” in favor of Barbara many years ago!), how can you say we don’t take you anywhere? That’s just not true. We’ve taken you to Florida several times, California, New York, Canada, New England, Wisconsin, and we’re going on a cruise to the Caribbean in December!”
“So…” my swift and challenging reply, “All my friends go to Starved Rock and you’ve never taken me there!” Gotcha! I made my point, jutting out my bottom lip, smirking, with hands haughtily on my hips!
Starved Rock State Park is approximately 95 miles west-southwest of Chicago, along the Illinois River. It was (is???) a popular getaway for Chicagoans. I have photos of my parents, brother, and sister at Starved Rock on a wintery day making a big snowman. But, do I get to go there? Hey, no fair! You guys went before I was born!
I must have hit a nerve because within a few weeks our family headed to Starved Rock with my sister, age 14 at the time, whining “Do I have to go?????” I didn’t let her disdain dampen my anticipation. We were going to STARVED ROCK where I was sure my every dream of the perfect vacation would be fulfilled! Actually, I remember very little of the two nights we spent there other than it felt like a very, very long time and my family has never allowed me to forget my pleading, “Can we go home yet?” Obviously, “fitting in” with my classmates meant more to me than knowing I had seen the Statue of Liberty, the Henry Ford Museum at Greenfield Village in Michigan, eaten freshly caught trout in Wisconsin, ridden the Teacup Ride at Disneyland, or attempted numerous times to dig my way to China on various Florida beaches! Please, please understand my point—Starved Rock State Park is a wonderful destination and it only helped me to begin to realize how fortunate my life experiences had been–even at the tender age of 9!
By the time I graduated high school I added two Caribbean cruises, many more trips to Florida, New York, California, Hawaii Canada, two visits to Israel, and a journey to Europe. My father, an importer of screws, nuts, and bolts, traveled all over the world and he loved to take our family to all sorts of exotic locales. Whether I suffered from entitlement or ignorance, it took me years to treasure the experiences I had. When I was 11 we were in Paris, staying at the Ritz, and I was very whiny and jet-lagged. For some reason, my room was down the hall from my parents, rather than our usual “adjoining rooms” (don’t you love it when I talk “travel!”) and, one day, upon leaving their room, I knocked on every door that separated them from me. To this day, I still remember the sounds of “Oui?”, “uno momento,” “Si?” as I brattily weaved my way down the hall. So, if you were staying at Hotel Ritz in November, 1959, and when you opened your door, nobody was there, I confess it was me—I promise I haven’t ever done that again and have deleted that adolescent behavior from my repetorie!
Fast forward to 15 years ago, I had a life crisis that forced me to examine where I was, what was important to me, and how I wanted to proceed on this journey of living. I looked over my resume to see if there was some common thread in my varied career paths: graduate of Northwestern University, travel, school teacher, travel, hospital administrator, travel, real estate sales, and travel….hmmm, anything standing out to you?
From an amazing childhood and adolescence filled with traveling to faraway places, I continued this passion as an adult. I loved discovering destinations new to me as well as spending time at some familiar favorites—I cruised countless times, beached it, city stayed, toured, flew, railed, and drove. All I had to do was remove the “a” from avocation!
I’m often asked what my favorite destination is and I reply that my #1 is usually the last place I’ve been. In all honesty, I have several favorites and my current #1 is Africa–East Africa and Southern Africa; India; the Galapagos; and Italy (including Sardinia!). Closely following those destinations would be China, Thailand, Bali, Tokyo, London, Crete, Bora Bora, and St. Petersburg. I could go on and on—in fact, I have!
Did you notice that I didn’t list Space as my favorite? That is only because I haven’t been there YET! I definitely want to experience Space, and, perhaps, my helping you travel to Space will assuage my impatience to explore our universe!