For all their love of home, people in the Upper Valley have an insatiable thirst for new and different places. Ponder: How many small communities in the world boast residents as well-traveled as this agglomeration of small Northern New England towns? Around here, it seems, professors, camp counselors, baristas, retired teachers, deli counter workers and doctors are always going somewhere: Colorado, the Long Trail, Jamaica, Brittany, Africa, Budapest. All go for different reasons, all seek different things, but, whether they articulate it or not, everyone is searching for Routine’s Kryptonite: a change of pace.
When I lived in Burgundy, France, I learned a delightful little phrase for travel: “On va se changer les idées,” people would say, before going to the Alps or on a cruise. Technically, it means to take your mind off things, or clear your head. But I like the literal: “We’re going to switch up our ideas a bit.”
Overall, my travel attitude (travel-tude?) is that jet lag, questionable street food and Turkish toilets make you stronger. While I may not be the world’s biggest adventurer — I love going back to the same places over and over again, and the tonic of the day trip is one of the best therapies I know — I am always grateful for a change of scenery, like a splash of Old Spice for my soul.
When it comes to writing about travel, I won’t waste your time here trying to better Theroux (much less Thoreau). Nor will I pretend to have a keener eye than Hemingway. And, Lord, I know that Eugene Fodor, Rick Steves, Karl Baedeker, Arthur Frommer and The Frugal Traveler have all captured the glory and excitement of travel in manners far superior to what I can muster here.
Nevertheless, I feel compelled to write about it today because, over the past few months, I’ve been fortunate to travel a fair bit. I cannot seem to shake my experiences; they linger, clinging to me like a cobweb.
On a recent weekend in New York City with three male…