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Hotel Settles

The Hotel Settles is seen in Big Spring, Texas, in this March 2016 photo.

When someone asks us where we are going, and we say Big Spring, Texas; or Kewaskum; or Riverton, New Jersey, they might follow up with “Why?”

To be sassy, we could say “Why not?” or even “None of your business,” but usually we just tell them.

Maybe we have business there, or maybe there is a specialized repair person for our one-of-a-kind item. There could be a national monument or unique attraction there. More often than not, it could be that is where our family or friends are.

We go to places just because we have a friend or cousin there. We travel distances because mom moved, a daughter took a new job, or former neighbors invited us to see their new digs. Possibly the trip has to do with a family gathering or a friend’s wedding, graduation or retirement.

We might go to a city to see the architecture, the monuments, or the specific offering of that particular place. Madison, Milwaukee, Minneapolis and Chicago all offer outstanding attractions, museums and entertainment. Mountains and oceans always are a draw because we don’t have them here. They certainly are destinations worth experiencing. Yet it seems it is the people we meet, or the old friends we visit, that we hold in our hearts.

Going south in winter is a common practice for those drawn to warm weather and golf courses, and taking cruises seems to be gaining in popularity. On each journey, there are unbelievable sights and opportunities to experience new food and activities. Grits and gator viewing anyone?

The stories from travel certainly tell of sights and experiences, but some end up being about the people we meet. We go for the vacation, but we come home with the people in our hearts. When we travel to new places, we hear accents and phraseology that is unfamiliar and it makes us smile. “God bless y’all” is not uncommon in some parts of the country. A wonderful sendoff from a shop or restaurant. And we all know to listen for “Eh?” when we cross the northern border.

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We enjoy the strangers along the way, and some become permanent fixtures in our lives. The people we really enjoy are the old friends and the cherished relatives, the people we don’t see as often as we like. As soon as we are with them, it feels like we saw them yesterday and we pick up where we left off.

No matter where they live, it always is worth the drive. Once we are sharing stories and memories and laughter, the miles melt away.

Last spring, we had an added bonus. We met three new world citizens. What began as a birthday trip for a 6-year-old was complete with the introduction to Lindley, Sally and Otis. All have been added to families we hold dear and all are welcome additions to the planet.

Children of friends, friends of friends, relatives of relatives, all add dimension to our travels and added joy to our lives. Holding Sally and seeing her older sisters dote on her reminded me of when our third son arrived. Playing with Otis and his brother Ivan gave us an opportunity to get to know them a bit better since they live so far away.

Meeting Lindley affirmed the continuum of life. I held her mother at the same age, and her grandparents have been friends since college. Our lives take us many directions, but the circle of life is where we feel the heartbeat of the universe. The expansion of our world comes with the building blocks of people who touch our lives in so many ways.

As Diana Ross sang, “Reach out and touch somebody’s hand; make the world a better place, if you can.” I know that there are many hands out there who have made my world a better place.

Kay Stellpflug is an educator and trainer in interpersonal and professional communications. She works and lives in Beaver Dam and can be reached at kaystellpflug@gmail.com.

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