My great grandfather, Frank E., led a fascinating life. From the age of seven he was sailing with his father, a sea captain, on trade routes along the Eastern seaboard, Europe, and the Caribbean, and by seventeen he had countless stories of drunken sailors in Constantinople, whaling in Anguilla, fishing, falling overboard into the shark infested waters of Cuba, the bodies of his crewmen found dead in harbors, and sailing through some of the world’s largest ports at that time. By 1877 at seventeen years old he’d sailed the world and had become a master wheelman by many accounts.
His uncle (his father’s brother) was also a sea captain, and their grandfather, too. Since the early 1700s, Towse men had owned and captained sea vessels and regularly visited countries and cities that many could only dream of.
The story goes that Great Grandpa Frank was given an ultimatum when his wife, Minnie, became pregnant with their first child: give up the sea or give up the family. Minnie could not handle the stress and risk of her children’s father at sea, as it was a dangerous place. Frank gave up his love of the sea and moved with his family to Minnesota where he (ironically) lost his leg in a railway accident after taking up a position as an engineer. My father learned of this when he was well into adulthood when his father made a passing comment as they were walking down a country road to the effect of “ so-and-so your grandfather’s wooden leg such-and-such…”
“My grandfather’s what?” my father interrupted.
Frank and Minnie had nine children, including my grandmother, Grace. She married Charles, and the two of them went on to travel the world, both as a couple and on their own until their bodies would no longer allow them to. Their love for traveling was supported by Charles’ work for the U.S. State Department, serving as Consulate General (among other positions) throughout the early and mid 20th century in Europe and Asia. As such, my father grew up a military brat, moving every two years or so. After a mix of boarding school, university, and the Army, he became a pilot and continued traveling the world. Throughout his entire life, I don’t think it was until I was born that he spent longer than five years living in one place.
And now we’ve come to me. With thanks to my father’s job as a commercial airline pilot I grew up with impromptu trips to Europe, South America, and the Caribbean, (where my mother is from), and as soon as I could go-it alone, I started on my own solo-travel adventures. Many of my friends and their families (and even some of my own family) thought – and think – I was (am) crazy, but I see no reason to stop.
Since reading Great Grandpa Frank’s memoir about his and some of his father’s adventures on the high seas, knowing that my grandparents traveled their entire lives, and that my father, now into his 70s, has not stopped exploring, I’m convinced my love of traveling is a result of much more than my upbringing. Traveling is what makes me tick. Wanderlust is in my blood. Finding oneself in an unknown place with an unknown culture and people is exhilarating. Just the anticipation of travel gets my blood flowing. There’s just so much world out there with so many interesting people from whom one can learn so much.
And so, this blog is dedicated to them.
To my family, for being adventurous spirits and for inspiring me to step out of my comfort zone as they have.
To the friends I have made and have yet to meet on my travels – who generously share with me their lessons of love, life, and happiness, their laughter and advice, and above all share a passion for realizing dreams.
And to the many strangers who allow me to experience their countries in so many unique ways.