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Why We Travel: Family Ties

Why We Travel: Family Ties


Narrowing down why I travel to one reason is like narrowing down a favorite blade of grass in my backyard. It would be like choosing my favorite pebble on a gorgeous beach. Toughest of all, it would be like narrowing down your favorite child. But I can let you in on how it all began…

I come from a long line of military men, so traveling is in my blood. My father’s father fought overseas in World War I. My father retired from the United States Air Force after 20+ years. My brother did the same. As a former military brat (Former? Are we ever really a former military brat? The label definitely tends to stick), my family, other than its immediate members, was always somewhere else.

Why We Travel

My Big Sis, Mama, and me. Have I mentioned I’ve never really dug having my photo taken? Credit: Karyn Locke

We were stationed in Northern Maine during the 70s and 80s for most of my young childhood. My mother’s family was from New Brunswick, Canada, where I was born. My father’s family? A small town in Eastern Ohio where I now call home.

In order to see family members, we’d hop in the car and, whether it was “Down East” to Saint John or Southwest to Ohio, our road trips were always memorable. Never one to stay on the road for more than a couple of hours at a time, my mother’s curiosity always got the best of her and we’d end up pulling into small towns along the way simply because she thought they were “cute.” She never met a stranger that didn’t become a fast friend, and after asking what’s around, off we’d go to explore.

Storybook Forest Idlewild Park

My sister and me at Storybook Forest near Pittsburgh in the 70s and my daughter at the same location 30 years later. Credit: Karyn Locke

By the time we’d get to our relatives’ homes (especially the ones in Ohio. That was always a three day road trip.), we had turned what was supposed to be a straight shot of a road trip into a trip of a lifetime. I remember stopping in Niagara Falls ,Canada, to walk through the flower gardens and found the Floral Clock fascinating. One of the highlights of a road trip to Ohio was a visit to Storybook Forest in Idlewild Park. Those spots are still alive and well in my mind. I’ve taken my daughter to those same places during our travels so she can fall in love with them the same way I did and I love sharing my stories and memories with her. Most of the time they involve bad haircuts and horrible 70s outfits (and a good laugh!), but it’s like painting a picture- one that she’s free to erase or add to.

I also think there’s no better way to learn than through road schooling. The look in her eyes that she gets when her school books come to life never makes me second guess our decision to cyber school so she can see as much as she possibly can before she grows up. I know she’s caught the travel bug and I can only hope she never finds a cure.

So why do I travel? I travel because not only does it bring back a piece of my childhood- and  it lets my daughter understand the childhood of her “military brat” mom and her family ties around the continent.

Karyn Locke