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Posts Tagged ‘great wall of China’

“The moments of happiness we enjoy take us by surprise. It is not that we seize them, but that they seize us.” – Ashley Montagu

A piece of the Great Wall of China in Walla Walla, Washington. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Travels With Maggie

Call me weird if you like, but I think the ladybug I find on the rose is even more beautiful than the rose itself. And it’s not just because I know that ladybugs eat the aphids that eat the roses. It’s mostly because coming across a ladybug is usually a surprise.

I like surprises. Seeing things I don’t expect to see. It’s actually what I enjoy best about travel.

Now that doesn’t mean that I don’t enjoy seeing the magnificent sights travel is all about. One wouldn’t want to go to Yellowstone and not see Old Faithful, or to New York and not see Niagara Falls.

But the little unexpected things along the way are what put the magic in any journey.

One of the more surprising surprises I got in September took place in Walla Walla, Washington.

I went there with my friend, Sherry, who lives in Milton-Freewater, Oregon. As we drove the eight miles from her home to the larger town to do some shopping, we got to talking about the places we wished we could afford to visit in the near future.

“Ayers Rock in Australia and the Great Wall of China top my list,” I said.

“Oh! Would like to touch a piece of the Great Wall,” she asked?

She then took me to the Walla Walla University, from which she had graduated.

The UFO above an eye exam sign on a Wal-Mart in Roswell, New Mexico, was a jolly fun surprise. -- Photo by Pat Bean

Hidden in a bushy alcove, on the brick wall of a campus building, was indeed a piece of the Great Wall. It had been incorporated into the building as one of the bricks. Above it was a plaque that read: “A piece of the China Wall, donated in 1941 by John L. Christian, Class of 1936, missionary to Burma.”

The touch of the rough, gray rock felt magical, and my fingers tingled.

My brain, however, was thinking that such casual taking of a piece of history today could land one in serious trouble. Of course things were different back then, when everyone was expected to bring home “real” souvenirs, like a piece of lava from Craters of the Moon or a rock-hard log from the Petrified Forest.

Back in the 1940s,  the “Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints” motto hadn’t yet become conservation’s cry.  While I’m glad it’s now the standard, I’m also glad I got to actually touch a piece of China’s history.

It was a magnificent surprise to add to my travel memories.

Perhaps one day I’ll get to touch the actual wall. Of course, given my current economic reality, that would indeed be a surprise.

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 “You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself in any direction you choose. You’re on you own. And you know what you know. You are the guy who’ll decide where to go.” Dr. Seuss

Ayers/Uluru Rock in Australia Calls to Me -- Five photos stitched together by Stuart Edwards

 

 Travels With Maggie

 I was on the road yesterday, traveling from my oldest son’s home in Harker Heights to my oldest daughter’s home in Rowlett, located just outside Dallas. It was a 170-mile, three-hour drive up Texas’ Highway 35 through Temple, Waco and Waxahatchie, the three cities big enough to be marked in bold on my map.

 I was accompanied by bumper-riding cars and blow-my-small-RV-off-the-road-semis. OK, I exaggerate. Most of the cars allowed a respectable distance between each other and the semis that whizzed past me only created a small crosswind that required me to keep both hands on the wheel. It could have been a monotonous drive.

 Instead I kept myself entertained contemplating the suggestive post to those of us who have taken the pledge to blog daily during 2011. The WordPress moderator asked: What places would you like to visit and why?

First on my list would be Australia, and more specifically, Ayers/Uluru Rock. Located smack dab in the middle of this country that has long fascinated me, I’m not sure exactly why I want to stand beside this huge sandstone monolith that is sacred to the Aborigines. The best I can come up with is that it calls to me. And one of these days soon I intend to answer.

Great Wall of China -- Photo by Jakub Halun

Great Wall of China -- Photo by Jacob Halun

 Second on my list of places I want to visit would be China, where I want to walk on the Great Wall. A designated World Heritage Site, as is Uluru, the wall also calls to me. It’s the man-made equivalent of Australia’s rock island. I’ve long been fascinated with the Mongolian legacy of domination that began with Genghis Khan. The wall failed to keep the nomad hordes out of China and represents, to me, the multitude of guarded borders of today’s world that are proving to be just as ineffective.

 One of these days we’re going to have to accept that we all live on the same planet and if we ever are going to have peace, we’re going to have to learn how to play nicely in the sandbox.

Mirror Lake at Yosemite National Park -- Photo courtesy of Wikipedia

 The third place that sits at the top of my list of must-see places is Yosemite National Park. It’s the only western park of significance that I haven’t visited. It’s magnificent scenery calls to me, and this call I plan to answer this fall. I can’t wait to blog about it as one of my daily posts.

 So what places call to you? I would really like to know.

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