with Lorelle and Brent VanFossen

Flying, Driving, Walking: Changing Our Perspectives on Traveling

Pair of Arctic Terns on beach, photography by Brent VanFossen.

The Arctic Tern has been found to have the longest annual migration of any animals in the world, traveling 44,000 miles in ten months, the equivalent of three round trips to the moon from earth in its lifetime of about 30+ years.

When I think about how much and how far we’ve traveled, the Tern ain’t got anything on us.

We kept track of the miles for the first few years on the road full-time. I think we got to around 100,000 miles in the first two to three years.

Driving miles, not flying miles.

Driving miles are more torturous than flying miles, at least for humans. I’m sure the Terns face horrible obstacles on their flying treks around the globe from pole to pole. Still ain’t nothing to a serious case of Mississippi back-breaking pot holes and a bad case of truck butt.

Living in Europe and the Middle East, we walked just about everywhere. A mile hike through town to get to an event or a meeting was a nothing for us. We slogged many miles pounding pavement as we traveled around, leaving the car parked for weeks on end.

Back in the states, I was stunned to be in the car with someone who pulled into the front parking spot of a store, went in, got what she needed, got into the car, backed up, moved over three parking spots to park again, get out, and go into the store immediately next door to the first one. The entrance was maybe 40 feet from the first.

Now that we live “in the woods” as many describe it, we tell people we are thirty minutes from downtown Portland, Oregon.

“Oh, that’s too far!”

This same person thinks nothing of taking a bus or the train for 45 minutes to get from one part of Portland to the other, or sitting in traffic for an hour to drive 6 or 8 miles from home to work or an event.

It amazes me how “travel” can mean such different things to so many people, as well as to myself. Now that I’m in the states, walking that mile or driving it, I choose to drive.

I think about the Terns and the ease at which they flit through the air. Flying looks easy when it’s sport. If your life depends upon it, you might want to drive instead of fly.

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