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  • Writer's pictureLaura Peters

Travel Quest

Have you ever set a quest when you travel? I can’t remember when I started setting a daily quest when I’m away from home, but my offspring have picked up on the idea and now do it too. We will pick an overall quest for a trip or a day quest (or both) over and above the “must see" tourist destinations. This helps avoid the feeling of checking sights off a list and creates a sense of being in a place for a personal reason.

In 2004, my middle daughter, Claire, and I headed out on what was nominally an east coast college tour. Quickly, I dubbed our drive from college town to college town, The Boba Tour. Boba, aka Bubble Tea, had just become more widely available in the U.S. Maybe it had been around and I wasn’t aware of it (quite probable), but it was definitely on Claire’s radar. Every college town we rolled into our first question became, “where’s the boba?” Claire also had some places she wanted to go off the beaten college tour. One was Centralia, PA, a ghost town north west of Philadelphia. I can’t remember why she wanted to go there, but it sounded unusual and it was. Residents had been forced to leave in 1992 because of a lethal mine fire burning underground. Almost every building had been razed to discourage people from moving back. It felt eerie and remote as we drove through town. The mines have been burning since 1962 - yes, sixty years!

India beckoned in 2019. My youngest daughter, Rebecca, and I traveled there for three weeks. Rebecca works in global water policy and, as you might guess, seeing bodies of water from the River Ganges to the Indian Ocean created an over arching quest. We sat by the rippling Indus River at the Indus River Camp cradled in the Himalayas; a place where all you see are snow capped mountains and monasteries, water and trees. We took dawn and dusk rides in a row boats on the Ganges in Varanasi seeing life on this mystical river up close, from the funeral pyres on the ghats, to people bathing, to joyous colorful wedding processions, and a rock and roll show (see photo above). On the drive between Agra and Jaipur we stopped India’s largest step well, Chandi Baori.

When in Paris, I always try to find the best baguette in whichever neighborhood I’m staying in. This somewhat fulfills a standing quest I have to visit as many bakeries as possible in any place I go. Believe it or not, in Rome we had a hard time find a really good cappuccino - an urgent quest if ever there was one!

What do you look for when you travel? Do you like to design your travel with a quest or go along on a tour? If you go on a tour, do you have specific things that interest you? I’d love to hear about your interests in the comments below.


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