Along the Shores of Gichigami

Gichigami is the Anishinaabe name for the largest freshwater lake in the world. It has been given the name Lake Superior by the United States and Canada. The Anishinaabe are the First Nations Peoples who are from the areas surrounding this great lake. They are also known as Ojibwe, Ojibwa or Chippewa. I vaguely remember hearing Longfellow’s 1855 poem about this lake and more clearly remember a racist I Love Lucy sketch. It saddens me that I didn’t know, until 62 years of age, that this is a real place and with real people.

We have had a lovely 2 weeks driving and staying along this amazing lake. Our Gichigami drive started in Minnesota, continued in Ontario, Canada and concluded in Michigan. We’ve only driven about 2/3s of the lake!

We stayed at wonderful campgrounds with winding trails that led to the lake.

Along the way we got to learn a little Anishinaabe history. They were integral to the vibrant fur trading industry of the 1800s.

In Pukaskwa National Park, Ontario, Canada there is a beautiful trail called Bimose Kinoomagewnan (Walk of Teachings) trail. Along it you can read and learn of the Seven Grandfather Teachings from Anishinaabe elders and enjoy art work, representing the teachings, from the younger generation. The teachings are love, honesty, respect, wisdom, truth,humility and bravery.

In Sault Saint Marie, Michigan we saw the locks which enable ships to travel from Gichigami to the lower great lakes.

We are now on Anishinaabe land, staying at the Kewadin RV Park and Casino. It’s a beautiful and restful place. We are looking forward to attending a pow wow on Saturday. I’m really humbled by how little I know about this area and First Nations Peoples. I’m really grateful for any opportunity to learn even a little bit more!

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Uh Oh! Do-Over and Never Again!

Kathy and I have been traveling for eight months now.  We’ve been extremely blessed with drama free experiences, good travel health and very few problems. We’ve learned a lot about what works for us, what we love and what we prefer to avoid. 

Uh Oh!

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There is a vast difference between economy class...

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and first class train travel.

Economy Class Train Travel
While traveling through Indonesia we missed a connection to the “first class” train we had reservations for.  An economy class train was leaving the station soon.  Rather than wait a whole day for the next first class train we decided to hop on this really low priced train. I remember thinking “how bad can it be?”. Well, it was pretty bad.  Economy trains make more stops so the anticipated 4 hour ride turned into 8. The seats were uncushioned, hard benches. We had to sit 3 across where even 2 people would have been uncomfortable. There was no air conditioning. I was pretty miserable for most of the trip. The upside was we were sitting with very kind and helpful  local people.  Locals travel this way all the time, it is not for me for long trips.  The experience helped me see how privileged we are and also what I’m willing to pay more for.  This Uh Oh! was a great learning experience.

Do-Over…

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On our second visit to Georgetown we rode the ferry instead of the very expensive taxi we took on our first visit.

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We got to explore so much of Georgetown, including this beautiful Burmese Temple.

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And all of our wonderful Chinese New Year experiences.

Georgetown, Penang Island, Malaysia

When we first got off the boat, landing in Singapore, we moved pretty quickly.  We spent a day and a night in Singapore, 4 days in Kualu Lumpur and 5 days in Georgetown.   Neither of us were crazy about Georgetown.  We had yet to learn the value of slower travel, longer stays.  I’m really glad we made a decision to visit Georgetown again. Exploring this lovely island town a second time, for a whole month was a wonderful experience. Now Georgetown is one of our favorite places, it’s even on our short list for a permanent retirement home.

Never Again!

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Questioning our visit to the Tiger Kingdom, Mae Rim/Chiang Mai, Thailand.

Tiger Kingdom, Chiang Mai, Thailand

We visited the Tiger Kingdom on our first visit to Chiang Mai on a whim.  We did no research.  We just hopped into the cab of a friendly driver for what I thought would be a pleasant adventure.  Had we done more investigation we would have easily seen that there is a lot of controversy about this place.  Mistreated, drugged tigers are kept in small cages.  Tourists (including Kathy and I) lie on, pet and take lots of pictures with these beautiful animals. I wanted to believe what the keepers say: that the cats are not drugged, that they grew up with people and are thus friendly.  But I left with the nagging feelings that those things are not true.  I have decided to never again visit attractions involving animals without first making sure the animals are being treated humanely.

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The animals at the Sacred Monkey Forest in Ubud, Bali, Indonesia are free and happy.

Home free, serendipitous travel has great opportunities to find out more about oneself.  I’ve learned that I like a certain level of comfort and am willing to pay for it; that staying long enough to get to know a place is best and that thorough research is a valuable tool in deciding where to visit.

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What are some of your travel uh ohs, do-overs or never agains?  Please share in our comments section. We love hearing from you!

 

Why we Travel

Travel is scary. It can be expensive. Simply planning a trip can be daunting. It can be uncomfortable once you set out and find yourself in unfamiliar surroundings. But for Marci and I that is the point. We want to be in spaces that challenge and stretch us. Not because we are saints or masochists but because we have been fortunate enough to grow up and live in relative comfort most of our lives. When we travel we often comment on how uncomfortable we are. But the truth becomes obvious once you set out to places different from our home. Most of the world lives in situations that are uncomfortable for sixty year old women. They may carry their water from a well, for example. I hate doing that. They plant and harvest their own food. I hate that too. They may go to the bathroom outside of their homes. I really hate that.297

But for us it is not the hate we remember. Even now writing this I can’t remember all the things I hate about visiting villages and doing what the women there do. But the love is carried with us. We love visiting women in their homes. We love accompanying them to their work spaces. We love helping to prepare a meal. We are dismal at it all. And most of it is smelly and hard. But it is in these spaces where we find our truest love.

Our love of women of color. Women of means when it looks as if they have no means. Women of resource who look as if they are in poverty. These snaggle-toothed, smiling women who laugh at our feeble attempts to do one fifth of the work they accomplish daily are our truest and deepest loves. It is to them that we travel.DSC01484 For with them we too have an unseen value. A value that is not calculated in how well we cook or how many buckets of water we carry. Our value is multiplied by their patience with our well-intentioned ineptitude as verified by their simple words of “Welcome”. Whether it be in Tagalog – maligayang pagdating or Swahili -karibu or Wolofdalal ak diam.  Or a myriad of other ways, we are better for the experience.

We make no allusions as to our benefit to them. We recognize that when we arrive (most of the time unannounced because of how difficult it can be to communicate with small villages in developing nations) we are an extra expense at best and a downright hardship most of the time. Yet they smile, nod and share their food and homes with us. So although we may hate sleeping on dusty mattresses, we recognize we have the best beds around because someone else is sleeping on the floor. When we complain about having to go to the bathroom outside, we recognize that before the toilet was dug these people went outside for real. It is there where we smile and realize in a very tangible way how blessed we are to have this life and to have the opportunity to travel.

Welcome to BOLT.  Our wish for you is that you will travel in spite of the difficulty. Maybe this site will inspire you. Thank you for reading.