Dying to get in

Choc Cemetery in Castries, Saint Lucia. Photo by Steve Martaindale

Please note this post contains affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

Most people, I suspect, tend to pick up topics of interest to follow when they’re traveling.

Maybe it’s antique stores, theaters, famous birthplaces, whatever. We used to try and visit all the state capitols we could … but that played out.

One thing that easily catches our interest now is cemeteries.

This is among the articles filed under “Travel Stories.” Click here to see them all and check back as we continue to add stories.

The only time I remember visiting a cemetery for a particular marker of interest was for the grave of Dan Blocker (who played “Hoss” Cartwright in the iconic “Bonanza” television series) and that was because my dad was living in the small Texas town of De Kalb at the time, just down the road from Woodmen Cemetery.

Well, there was the time we were with friends and walked all over Mt. Moriah Cemetery in Deadwood, S.D., including seeing the graves of Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane.

When we lived in Sherman, Texas, I often walked through the large West Hill Cemetery near our house. There, I discovered the grave and historical marker for Olive Ann Oatman Fairchild, who was kidnapped by a Native American tribe at the age of 14. She was a slave to the Yavapai tribe but was traded a year later to a Mohave tribe and a better life. Four years later, an Army post got word of her presence and negotiated her release.

She became quite the sensation, touring the country, giving her story, and exhibiting her blue tattooed chin that marked her as Mohave. She eventually married, settled in Sherman, and died there at the age of 65. There are several books that tell her story.

One of the more visually interesting places we’ve visited was Choc Cemetery in Castries, Saint Lucia. It was during a cruise ship stop and we walked 1.5 miles around the harbor and an airport strip to find the cemetery, pictured above.

We’ve occasionally stopped at a random cemetery, but none grabbed our attention more quickly than Baby Head Cemetery, between Llano and Cherokee, Texas. Come to find out, the name Baby Head was first given to the mountain in the area when, according to legend, a baby was killed by natives and its body left on the mountain in the 1850s. A later community also carried the name and the Baby Head Cemetery received its first body in 1884.

Listen up. If you’re enjoying these posts, we need to hear from you. These cemetery stories probably made you think of one or two of your own. This site needs input from readers to give much more variety. Please include your story in a comment. I might also gather several and compile a future post.

COVID and chasing dreams

Has the COVID-19 experience left you ready to set out on a new path, enter exciting territories, test hidden talents and dreams? Prepare … then do! Photo from Big Bend National Park by Steve Martaindale

Let me first make one thing clear. This post in no way is intended to trivialize the global pandemic that has inordinately impacted the United States because of the ways our country has mishandled and ignored it. Here, we’re attempting to look down the road to sunnier days and consider how differently we might handle dream chasing options. While you plan, please stay home as much as possible, wear a mask, maintain social distancing and wash your hands!

How has the COVID-19 virus affected your life?

The answers to that question range from one extreme to the other. Many people have lost loved ones and friends and/or have spent weeks in the hospital before beating the disease. For some, their biggest complaint might be having to wear a mask when going shopping.

Here … for this article … we’re concentrating on how this disease (or others like it) could or should influence decisions you might have to make or how it could lead you to open yourself up to new possibilities.

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Is that right?

Leah took this photo from the passenger seat on the left. Of course, the objective was to snare a photo of the koala crossing sign, but it also illustrates the fact we’re driving on the left and occupying the outside lane on the left, something that is a tad challenging after driving on the right for, at that time, almost 40 years.

Please note this post contains an affiliate link and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

For Americans traveling overseas, an issue that strikes deep fear into many is driving on the left side of the road. It’s a topic we didn’t really touch on in the Dream Chasing 101 book, so let’s look into it a bit.

First of all, and briefly, while concerns concentrate on the act of driving, it affects you even as a passenger and pedestrian.

Simply riding in a vehicle is strange. It is a little disturbing just to watch. Your instincts tell you the car should be going this way instead of that.

Also, walking around streets can be downright dangerous.

While laying over a couple of days in New Zealand en route to work the summer in Antarctica, I made friends with a fellow near my age and we roamed around a bit. He’s the one who gave me the warning, “Death comes from the right.”

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Flipping the drive brain

Leah grabbed this photo while I waited for her to return from the hotel desk in Gold Coast, Queensland, Australia.

Our trip to Australia in June 2008 was my third stay in a country where one drives on the left side of the road and, this time, I decided to give it a go. In fact, I raised the bar and set the goal not only at not having a wreck but even to not embarrass myself.

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On a quest

Nothing takes the chill out of a wet spring day in Bruges like a good Belgian beer.

It’s often helpful, when visiting new places, to have a goal, a theme, a project, a … quest. Here’s one memorable example of a port call to Bruges, Belgium, in the spring of 2018.

Traveling with our friends Steve and Deb (No, it never got confusing, why do you ask?), the first thing we did after leaving the bus that brought us from the dock was to choose a route into town that took us over the Lake of Love via Lovers Bridge. Touristy, for sure, but it was fun.

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Slow Ride Home

The Soldiers of Destiny scooter club glide through Badlands National Park, South Dakota, during a coast-to-coast trip chronicled in the film, “Slow Ride Home.” (courtesy photo)

Please note this post contains affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

On the downhill side of our fourth month hiding out from the coronavirus, Leah and I have taken to watching a movie every night. Doing so has given us incentive to dig deeper into the movie vault and take a chance on films that might not normally hit on our radar.

Such was the case with the documentary “Slow Ride Home,” but I’ll admit the plug –  “8 pals from Seattle’s Soldiers of Destiny scooter club ride 3,700+ miles of American back roads from Florida to Washington in 11 days” – had already pulled me in.

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Salesmanship on the streets of Matamoros

I have no photos from our Matamoros visit, but here’s a glance at a much sleepier looking La Caseta, Mexico, from December 2018. Photo by Steve Martaindale

Please note this post contains affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

When traveling, Leah and I are not big spenders. To be fair, we’re not big spenders anytime, which is one lifestyle choice that has helped us be able to afford seeing the world, as explained in our series’ first booklet, “1. How we made our travel dreams come true.”

We will make careful purchases, however, and usually manage to take home a memento of the trip. That’s sometimes easier than others.

Take the summer of 1994.

We took a week off, along with our 12-year-old daughter, Erin, to hop down the Texas coast, making stops from Matagorda to South Padre Island. Before proceeding up the valley and turning back toward home, we spent a day strolling the streets of Matamoros, Tamaulipas, Mexico.

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Going wild

Where are these guys going? Photo by Steve Martaindale

Please note this post contains affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

One thing that often figures its way into travel stories is the wildlife.

I was reminded of this a few days ago while Leah and I were on our morning walk. During the COVID-19 strangulation of our traveling lifestyle, a 2- to 3-mile stroll down the country road from our RV park is the highlight of our average day.

(To be totally transparent, nothing compares to grocery day, when we drive into the city, pull up to curbside parking at HEB, open our trunk and wait for a friendly voice behind a mask to chat for a minute while unloading our purchases. Ah, what memories we’re making!)

Back to wildlife.

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More stories

When’s the last time you reached for the sky on a swing set? Photo by Steve Martaindale

Following are the final reader-submitted travel memories about specific states. What’s next? Read the note at the end.

Constance F Brown
Wisconsin

A few years ago, we finally visited that lovely state. On the Door Peninsula – uncrowded, because it was still May – we stayed at a B and B on a sheep farm, and the owner took us out into the field to meet the sheep! Later, we saw lilacs – scores of lilac bushes – and then glorious peonies. I have missed those wonderful fragrant flowers so, down here in Texas.

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Last call

Native American prayer cloths adorn a weathered tree on Black Elk Peak, South Dakota. Photo by Steve Martaindale

Please note this post contains affiliate links and any sales made through such links will reward me a small commission – at no extra cost to you. All opinions remain my own.

I HAVE FOUR more travel stories contributed by readers (one by Leah!) that I will post here Friday. However, there’s still plenty of time for you to submit yours. Go to this link, which explains what I’m talking about, and fill out the form with your memory.

Here’s one more from me and it highlights South Dakota.

Continue reading “Last call”