Why We Travel

Mark Twain on Travel

During World War II the Antifa government of the United States commissioned their great factory of propaganda called Hollywood to produce a series of films called WHY WE FIGHT. These films were the product of the best and the brightest of American cinema; written by the Epstein brothers of CASABLANCA fame, scored by the dean of film music Alfred Newman, shot by the father of the documentary Robert Flahtery, and directed by three time Academy Award winner Frank Capra. They told in a simple and easy to understand style the reasons America was in the war. In fact they were so good the Feds decided the films, which were made for the troops, should be released to the general public.

I think we need the Biden Administration to underwrite a new series of films for our times. Maybe have them star all the Marvel superheroes, they’re popular. Call the series WHY WE TRAVEL. And then get people to travel.

63% of Americans don’t have a passport. Most say they don’t need one because they don’t see themselves leaving the country…ever. Some though say they don’t feel the government should be mandating “papers” for citizens. That might account for why 43% of Americans are against the idea of a vaccine passport. Of course most of them don’t have a driver’s license either. Sarcasm.

Personally I’ve held a passport for 40 years. My oldest ones are filled with entry and exit stamps from countries around the world, some that don’t even exist anymore, some where travel by Americans was limited. I’m actually peeved now when an immigration official doesn’t have one of the old “ker-thump” style hand stamps that rattle the desk with an imprimatur of official recognition. Hell, the Swiss don’t even stamp your passport at all, your comings and goings simply noted via barcode scan sent to a central computer deep inside an Alpine mountain.

Or some goatherder’s hut on top of the mountain. The Swiss, whatcha gonna do?

Travel broadens your horizons as the saying goes. As Sam/Mark says above, it’s hard to stay bigoted about someone once you’ve seen their home. Strongly held beliefs tend to wither away in the face of actual experience. Being in the Soviet Union in 1986 gave me greater understanding of Gorbachev’s Glasnost plans and why they had to be implemented. Walking the streets of Havana is truly the only way to understand the resilience of the Cuban people. Spending an hour in a pub in Belfast brings the knowledge that though tempered, The Troubles are far from over. Exploring the back alleys of the old city of Jerusalem made me realize that all this bloodshed, all these tears, all this drama, is over a bunch of rocks.

In that same vein I highly encourage anyone who is anti-immigration to spend some time in Central or South America. Or someone who is against socialized medicine to spend some time in any country that has it. Or anyone who can’t understand why African Americans don’t just do what the nice police officer who pulled them over for no reason says to do to spend some time in a third world country like the Philippines or Nigeria and learn what it truly means to have no power over a situation.

Travel gives you a taste of life as “the other”. That’s a good thing. A teacher once quizzed me about how much travel we had exposed our younger son to. I told him and then asked why he posed the question. “He seems to be willing to explore all sides of any question” was his reply, “and I’ve noticed kids who have travelled tend to do that”.

So the wife (Cruella) and I are heading back out on the road, the first time since the day shelter in place was implemented. No need for passports this time, this will be strictly an All American adventure. To be more precise it will be an all West Coast adventure, a car trip from Sonoma up to Oregon and Washington and then home via the coast line. 2000 miles give or take. A chance to see how the Northwest has fared in the age of COVID, to count the number of masked and mask-less in the Rose City, the Emerald City, and the Emerald Triangle.

Um, maybe we’ll skip that last one. Repeat after me: I’m sorry, I didn’t intend to step foot on your very well hidden farm. It is a nice farm and I will be going now.

It’ll also be an opportunity to get out of our nice liberal Sonoma sparkling wine bubble and listen to what people are saying and feeling in the Great State of Jefferson and north. We’ll hear from some who were intimately involved in the Portland riots. We’ll see how Seattle, where it’s believed COVID first entered the US, dealt with the pandemic. And we’ll eat some really good seafood which is never a bad thing.

So as they say on the TV news I’ll be on assignment for ten days starting next Monday. In the meantime I’ll be trying to remember where I stashed the suitcases. I know they got to be around here somewhere…

A Toyota Corolla and a Harley Davidson are pretty similar, right?

Shapiro Out

One thought on “Why We Travel

  1. I wholeheartedly agree that more Americans should travel abroad and visit other countries and cultures, however, the sad reality is that international travel can be expensive and out of reach for a significant percentage of the population. I’ve traveled to Germany, Netherlands, Canada, China and the Caribbean over the years, though sadly, haven’t ventured outside America’s borders since 2005!

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