The Highs and Lows of Travel Life

One of my favorite high points - Whistler Mountain, BC Photo credit - whistlerblackcomb.com

One of my favorite high points – Whistler Mountain, BC
Photo credit – whistlerblackcomb.com

The insights revealed by our travels over the last few years have been nothing short of amazing. There have been so many beautiful places and interesting people. I continue to fulfill a lifelong desire to better know and appreciate the world we all share. I try to keep an open mind and to demonstrate my desire to reach out to people and to understand their culture, and I have learned that we are all not so different.

Mt. Villarica and the town of Pucón, Chile, another favorite peak

Mt. Villarica and the town of Pucón, Chile, another favorite spot     Photo credit: Wikicommons

My greatest love of the outdoors is the mountains. This was something I acquired at a young age as a hiking and climbing partner with my dad. I learned to love the clean air, the fresh water, the exhilaration of looking at the world around me from the highest perch I could reach, and the camaraderie that comes from sharing these experiences with like-minded outdoorsmen. Even though my legs are nowhere near as strong as when I was a constant hiker and backpacker, I dream of the heights when I spot snowcapped peaks on the horizon. At least there is a chair lift to the top of one of my favorite peaks, Whistler Mountain, so I will still be able to visit the high alpine country even when I am too old to hike the trails.

Not every day on the road is an adventure. There are health issues that crop up. I had to have a root canal performed on a broken tooth while we were in Mexico. I broke out in hives a few weeks back, an apparent allergic reaction that made me itch so bad that I felt like my whole body was one big mosquito bite. We also have money concerns, just like everyone else. I think the hardest part about traveling full time is missing family. I do not have a lot of family – two daughters and two grandsons. Other than my in-laws I am not close with any other family.

I have often heard the phrase on television shows and from friends that ‘family is the most important thing.’ In my case that has hardly ever been true. My family of origin was never close. In one way or another every member of my family abandoned our relationship. My father was hauled off to the East Coast by my stepmother’s family, and after 2005 I never saw him or heard from him again. I found his obituary online a last year and learned that he passed away in 2009. He would have been 90. My mother never had so much as a memorial service. Maybe that was not a bad thing. I am not sure if I would have attended. My sister, two years older than I, just one day stopped communicating with me. We have had no contact with one another since 2008.

All of these family failures sometimes make me wonder if I unwittingly sabotage relationships? Have I been a good enough father to my two daughters? Am I a good enough husband to my wife? Am I at fault for the failure of my first marriage of 28 years? I cannot take all that on myself. Relationships are a two-way street. All I know is I miss my daughters and my grandsons. They are on the other side of the world, and I cannot easily commute to see them.

I love my life on the road. Every day holds the possibility of a new adventure. I love adventure, and I always have. I also love my daughters and my grandsons. I miss them. I know their lives are busy. Mine was when I was their age. Alas, not everything about our traveling lifestyle is easy.

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16 comments on “The Highs and Lows of Travel Life

  1. nantubre says:

    There are pros and cons in everything. I miss my family too. It’s been so long since my youngest son has been to see me, he still has a Christmas present on the piano.

    • Mike Lince says:

      There is always that place in our hearts we keep open for the ones we love, and that can feel like an empty place if too much time goes by without a connection. Thanks for your comment, Nan. – Mike

  2. Mike, I have never had the hives so I can only imagine how awful that must have been. James had to have dental work done when we lived in Amsterdam – not a pretty sight. He said he wished he’d stopped in at the “Pot Bar” next door before undergoing the procedure. :)

    We both feel your pain and frustration. We have found over the years of travel that our emotions seem to go in cycles – one minute we’re gung-ho travelers, and the next we’re ready to do a little nesting. For us we call it “cumulative travel fatigue” and it takes a while to recharge our batteries. We do exactly what you and Florence are doing – rent an apartment and get some “normalcy” back in our lives. And thank goodness for Skype – that’s how we keep up with our sisters and nieces! :)

    All the best, Terri & James

    • Mike Lince says:

      I like your terminology – cumulative travel fatigue. Florence and I are taking up residence in Torrevieja with a routine that currently does not involve a lot of planning, packing and paying for excursions. What initially attracted me to Spain (besides the language and the food) was the opportunity to see some spectacular sights – the Alhambra Palace of Granada, the Mosque of Cordoba, the Alcazar Castle of Seville. However, for now we both simply need a break. I am glad we took in Barcelona and Madrid on our way.

      We still have a few months to plan what to do with our time in Spain as summertime nears. In the meantime, thank you for following and sharing your insights. I think we have a lot in common with our desire to experience the world. – Mike

  3. jimhornnews says:

    An unusually introspective post for a travel writer Mike. You do more for your grandkids reading to them from a distance than many who live closer. Proximity doesn’t guarantee family closeness. Don’t blame your travels for emotional distance. Keep doing what you need to do for yourself.

    • Mike Lince says:

      Since we have not visited many of the local sights recently, I wrote about what has been on my mind lately, and thoughts of family are a part of that. I also miss our intellectually stimulating conversations. Your comments are appreciated, as always. Thanks, Jim. – Mike

  4. reocochran says:

    This was one of the deepest posts I have read in a long, long time. We soar to the peaks in LIfe, sometimes with the sad valleys in our minds taking precedence. I feel that your Dad missed out on opportunities to connect. I feel the wistfulness, regrets in your words. I wish with all my might, that he had held those wonderful hiking moments and loving partnership with camaraderie in more higher esteem. He really was thoughtless in his actions. I had someone who had been this way to one of my children, but he is now 66 and is trying to make amends. I am hoping that this will be a long and fruitful relationship for the two of them.
    I enjoyed the way you described the highs and lows, so sorry also for the broken tooth and the allergic reaction (?) or hives you got. This was a good reminder that no matter where you go, there are medical emergencies and monetary concerns. I will keep your family, children and grandchildren in my prayers. You are doing as much as possible to keep those ties wound tightly! I saw how happy you were in my mind, when you visited during the holidays! Take care! Hugs, Robin

    • Mike Lince says:

      As a travel blogger first and foremost, I was uncertain as to how much to reveal of my thoughts and feelings about personal stuff. But we have not been on the road much since we landed in the city of Torrevieja. It has been such a relief to just mellow out for awhile that we have not had a lot of new adventures to write about. So I shared what was on my mind. I still look forward to visiting the Mosque of Cordoba and the Alhambra Palace of Granada. Until then, thank you for following and sharing your support. Your thoughtful comments are greatly appreciated, Robin. – Mike

      • reocochran says:

        I cannot imagine being far from home, having to find a dentist. I would worry that they would not have the same abilities that my favorite dentist, for over 28 years, has. I guess this was part of the perspective, sharing some of the ‘lows’ so that we don’t think it is all ‘sunshine and lollipops!’ We picture you basking in the sun, digging your toes into the sandy beach, sipping on a Spanish wine or beer, enjoying tons of interesting people’s company… Thanks for the other side of travelling and will hope to be with you two, ‘always!’ Smiles, Robin

  5. brickthomas says:

    Mike,

    Sorry I haven’t been by your blog in a while but I’m glad I clicked on this post today. I found your thoughts most interesting and your family dynamics sadly similar to my own. Like summiting a mountain, a few decades of living gives you perspective and some days we just need to take time to process the past. We all find a few “What ifs” in the rehash but we usually did the best we could with the knowledge, energy and maturity we had at the time.

    Although it sounds cliché all we truly have to work with is today and if we do the best we can with that it’s a good start for tomorrow. Based on what I read today you’re more than a travel blogger sharing insight to the places you visit but a writer sharing insight to the complexities and questions we all face while traveling through life. Thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts and writings and if I were in the neighborhood I would take you out for a pitcher of Sangria and drink a toast to your good works. Cheers!

    • Mike Lince says:

      The day I wrote this story I was daring to write about what was on my mind rather than the latest edition of our travelogue. Florence and I have been camped out on the Costa Blanca for a couple of months seeking some routine and balance with the challenges of our living on the move. I let some of my melancholy show through, and if nothing else, I offered a little insight into the life of the sometimes weary traveler.

      I learned at a young age backpacking for long days in the mountains that occupying one’s mind was the greatest challenge to dealing with the monotony and burden of hauling my pack over long distances. The ultimate rewards were the scenic panoramas that most people never see because they are not equipped to commit to the rigors of the journey. In some ways the challenge of traveling as we do now are similar. It is an adventure that filled with incomparable memories which share space in my mind with the collective experiences of my life. It is during the quiet times that I reflect on those experiences, some of which I have dared to share. Not all of my memories are about travel, but they are all part of the journey.

      One day I look forward to our paths crossing and toasting to your good works as well. Thank you for sharing your thoughts, Tom. – Mike

  6. I’m sorry to hear about the difficult relationships in your family of origin – that’s rough. I will say that it’s certainly not your fault. Relationships sometimes just don’t work out, even with family. It’s very sad, but that’s life. I know so many wonderful people who don’t get along with their parents, siblings, children or what have you. Sometimes people are just different and sometimes there are issues that create distance. It’s obvious from what you write that you’re a good husband and wonderful father and grandfather. I remember being touched, for example, when I read about how you read to your grandchildren.

    Oh, and just so you know. I’m divorced and have a sister-in-law who hates me with a passion. It is what it is. Celeste :)

    • Mike Lince says:

      This story was partly a venting of some sadness about my own family during an emotional ebb. I had not written much for awhile and had to unload some old baggage so I could move on. It would be nice to have a supportive family, but like you say, not everyone has that. Having supportive friends is just as great, which is why I appreciate your friendship and also your thoughtful comments. Thank you, Celeste. – Mike

  7. Mike, as you know, I enjoy hearing about these other elements of travel, and the life you and Florence have chosen. From the travel perspective, it all sounds so exotic and romantic. I suppose that it is, for the most part. But you’ve added a dose of reality here, that makes the picture that much more rich and full. You have had some challenges, but you both get through them and still live a dynamic, amazing life– that we are all lucky to share with you! As for the hives and dental work… (( shudder )) PS) sorry for the delay in reading… I’ve had a lot going on, and I’m just trying to catch up with the folks I truly enjoy and admire! ;-)

    • Mike Lince says:

      Dawn, it was your encouragement to go beyond writing only of my travel experiences that pushed me to explore beyond places and travel-related experiences. I was striving to follow your example of opening up a bit more that is normally comfortable for me. If this story worked, you deserve some of the credit for inspiring me to push the boundaries a bit. Thank you for that. :) – Mike

      • I didn’t want to gloat, but I figured as much. I’m so glad you pushed outside your comfort zone; this post is really insightful and opens some new glimpses to the world you guys live in. It’s such a unique experience you’ve chosen to live, and it really is cool to “see” more of it! Thanks, Mike.

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