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The Art of Being in the Moment when you Travel

#cape may #ferris wheel #jersey shore #nice #solo travel Dec 02, 2023

I took the photo of this Ferris Wheel in Nice, France almost eighteen years ago, and it reminds me of a lesson that is even more relevant today than it was when it was taken.  

In these days of traveling just for the Instagram selfie. . . . 

Where followers might actually think that people are wandering around the Greek Isles wearing flying dresses and standing on the edge of a cliff. . . 

Where people have forgotten what it means to actually experience travel. . . 

I used to go on every Ferris Wheel I saw.  I love being high up and seeing the whole city or town laid out below me.  Even better if I can see the ocean.  

There was only one time they refused to run it because I was the only person who wanted to go up.  That was in Ocean City, Maryland.  I was disappointed.  My sister didn't want to go up.  I realize that was the more sustainable option--even sustainability wasn't on most people's radar.  They probably knew that the electricity used to run it would cost more than I would be paying for the ride.  

For a long time--before I had a cell phone with a camera--I would drive around exploring.  I would visit all the beaches on the Jersey Shore.  I would drive for hours every chance I would get.  I loved the smell and sounds of the Ocean and sea birds.  Some of the best and most interesting experiences I've had were not captured on camera.  They were so memorable that year's later they are still vivid in my mind--even if not quite "picture perfect."  

I remember driving around one of the beach towns that was primarily residential and not one of the ones with lots of clubs and restaurants.  There was a house that looked like a lighthouse.  I never took a photo of it and don't know if it still exists.  

Another unforgettable experience at the Jersey Shore involved me driving South on the Garden State Parkway, heading towards Cape May.  Suddenly, a white egret flew right in front of my windshield.  While it could have been terrifying going that fast and having a huge bird with a large wing span fly right in front of me, I was amazed and in awe.  Egrets and herons are my favorite birds, and it felt almost like a spiritual experience and a gift from nature to experience it.  

Back to the Ferris Wheel in Nice, France.  I did have a digital camera with me.  I took possibly four photos.  It was another awe-inspiring experience.  I had the very strong feeling to put the camera away and enjoy the view.  I could see the city and the Mediterranean Sea spread out before me.  I wanted to just be there and feel the experience.  There is nothing quite like it.  

The photos I have do not give me the feeling.  Actually being there is what gave me the sense of awe.  Another thing that all these memories have in common is that I was alone.  Yes, I had friends and my sister in Nice, but none of them came on the Ferris Wheel with me.  It was not a shared experience but an internal sense of being one with my surroundings. A gift that was all mine.  

Next time you travel, consider taking at least a little time alone--and put your camera away.  

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