Travel Gene


We discovered an aquarium in a not so odd place but a place we could have easily missed. At the end of jutting concrete, around a corner, hidden, in a way. It wasn’t fancy but held curious, contained creatures from the sea below the pier. Some odd looking and most I would have been frightened of finding

in the actual water below. We were killing time, done with work, eager to get home but delighted to have a few hours in this lovely place and its sun and its vast, unending ocean. Surfers on the surface below waited for not so big rollers, knowing they had an audience on the pier. Miles of empty volleyball nets waiting for the early evening migration to the beach for a few rounds of ball. A local oyster bar and a wide walking path lined with beautiful houses and desert gardens. My companion, a young man on my work team who is curious about places like me, and a couple hours free that add non-work worth to being away from home.


I made an hour before work just to wander to a place that doesn’t totally feel like you are where the map says. It is a place of elderly homes, funny street names and honest hellos from people you don’t expect to say a thing to a stranger. The promenade is wide with benches to rest or to pause in the sun. The view is of tall, tall buildings across the river, that disguise the hubbub of the Chinatown on the street levelimage. It is a quiet place, it is green and breezy. You feel history here, a war story, a first president’s story, history that once you are here doesn’t seem that far away. At dark, I walked down streets Court, Henry, and Pineapple, Love Lane, with the proprietor of the business I came to support. We caught up and paused on a corner to FaceTime his wife, because she was sorry she wasn’t with us. He talked about how the future looks different at 65 but a good different, even if unexpected, a future still. A conversation that seemed written for the surroundings.

I have seen big chunks of the world and I have inherited the traveling gene from my parents. We went places as a family. We traveled on a budget, sometimes took Air Pakistan instead of Northwest and didn’t stay in big fancy hotels. We had to bring our own spending money and carry our bags and eat things that were not normal to us. We learned to live for a week or two outside of our normal comfort zones but zones that became the new norm and comfortable by the end of the trip. I joke that I could be dropped in the middle of the world, unfamiliar turf, no GPS or phone and could figure out how to get home. My sense of direction, food curiosity, people curiosity and a good ear and understanding of language all came from that travel. Things I use everyday, home or not. The boys are learning this too, they have it, the gene. They are good flyers, can work the security line, and sleep well in strange beds. In three weeks we leave on a bigger adventure, traveling in some new ways. Traveling so we can figure out how to make trips like this affordable more often, to show them the world, open it up, nurture the curiosity that will push them everyday, even when they are just home.



Author: Eileen O'Toole

A quick service restaurant vet who loves food, teaching, learning and being a single Mom. Believes that waking up each day with a positive attitude and a smile on your face can change the world.

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