Recently, I came across the article; “52 Places To Go In 2023.” Some of you may know this is a popular series from the New York Times Newspaper. Each year the Times picks 52 places to go and visit around the world. It’s fun to think about such trips; whether or not I actually go. “Really Zulu? Do you think that would be the intention of the article; to NOT go?” Sure; in life, there are billions or things “we” don’t do, or places “we” don’t go, or concepts that “we” don’t really understand, yet we like to read about them anyway.
Well, this is what I do know. A few years back, the New York Times posted a description for an employment opportunity with the paper. The candidate would travel around the world to 52 places in 52 weeks writing, filming, taking pictures, and documenting everything they could in each of the 52 places. They asked you to submit a short letter describing why you would like to be a candidate for the job, and why people would want to read your articles. There was a word limit to this letter and it was to be the initial criteria used to screen the applicants. I decided to apply; so did 13,000 other people. Literally!
To fast forward a bit, I decided to withdraw my application. Not because I feared I may not get the job; I almost didn’t care. Success and fun for me would have been having the nerve to apply, and see what happens. Just the idea of the process or the possibility of getting an interview for such a job was so exciting. At the time, I was considering another career change, and I had to choose between the two; or the possibility of the two. When the time came, neither opportunity panned out. Regardless, I decided I would follow a “non-traveling career path” for a bit, and with any luck, after my career choices leveled out, I would apply the following year.
As it turned out, the “next year” also never came due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The travel, and position were halted. I still think about that “job.” I have read some articles about the people who have done it. It wasn’t easy, and many times not exactly fun. It was hard and dedicated work, but their contributions on the places they visited, as well as their personal adventures were fascinating.
In my early days of travel; pre-World Wide Web, I had no real idea how to travel, or what really happens out in the World, or in my own neighborhood for that matter. Sometimes I bought a travel guide, sometimes I followed my friends or shipmates, and sometimes I just wandered around by myself with my high-powered Kodak-110 instamatic camera taking epic National Geographic photography. Or not???
Anyway, I also recently came across the letter I was going to submit to the New York Times, and I thought I would leave it here for you to read. I would also ask something of my own readers for Zulu Delta 45. I would like you to leave a comment. Please tell me 2 places you would like to go in 2023. They don’t necessarily have to be massive globe-trotting adventures; they might be locally to a park, or a restaurant or beach or hike you’d like to make. After that, make a list for yourself of 5 places to go in 2023. Be creative, imaginative and get excited about it. Write it so when you read it back to yourself, you smile. Make it so your adventure is realistic, attainable and within your grasp, be it near or far. I’ll leave two in the comment section as well.
Please do it. Do it now!
Dear New York Times,
I think there is far more to the idea of “travel” than the physical act of moving from one place to the other. Yes, by definition, there is that, but to me, the idea of “travel” encompasses movement, thought, imagination, vision, sight, smell, and anything else the human body can summon forth to their senses, mind, and body. If I was to write about the 52 places I would visit in a year for the New York Times, I have three basic ideas as to who, and why people would want to read my articles.
First; for those who actually want to leave the confines of their homes and usual surroundings, and venture out; be it across the globe, or across the street. Adventure, excitement, and enlightenment lurk everywhere, and hopefully these readers get a few ideas of where to go next.
Second; for the people who are reading my articles, they would find a kindred spirit on a similar journey as they had once made. The rewards of their own memories gushing back to them. They would find the familiarity, the comfort, the new developments, and the delight to see the pictures and memories in their heads, matching my pictures, and my words in the ink before them.
Third; I would write and explore for those who had never been to the place I was writing about, and more likely than not, will never go; despite the fact that they want to. These people are every-bit as welcome to read on and enjoy learning, and imagining a place not familiar at all to them.
Let’s look a little closer at how these ideas would be written.
A. For those planning a trip to one or more of the 52 Places.
For many travelers, the process of planning a trip is every-bit as exciting, complex, and sometimes exhausting as engaging in the trip itself. Ideas for future trips are “cooked up” everywhere from conversations with others, to a scene they saw on television, or at the movies. I’d like to be that spark for people; my articles being one of the first places people thinking about taking a trip check out to conjure up ideas to go forth out into the universe; well, the “known universe” anyway.
B. For those reading about a trip to one of 52 Places.
My brothers and I often ski together. We share the view that skiing is best experienced as a group event. Besides the travel “concepts” we hold dear, such as companionship, quality time spent with family, excessive laughter, and the enthusiasm of the sport itself, we jokingly like to say that “what’s the point of skiing alone; who are we going to tell our lies to at the end of the day?” Of course the “lies” being; how fast we went, how high we jumped, or how close we came to wiping out etc.
One of the great things in truth about travel, whether in a group or alone, is not telling lies, but about the exchange of stories of a common place; what dinners we ate, what trains we rode, things we saw, and most important, what interesting people we met.
These are the memories that in our heads, are travel. They are dear to us; as significant as our first kiss, our first day on a new job, or the first time we saw that breathtaking view of “that” body of water, that cobble-stoned city street, or that dirt path which we then ventured into, and along.
C. For those who want to learn about a trip to 52 Places.
Years ago, my Mother told me the story. My Father would drop the Sunday Travel Section into her lap and say “here, take a trip for yourself!” For my mother, as a child who grew up in the Great Depression of the early 1900’s, and went on to have 6 children, the opportunity for actual magnificent travel mostly eluded her, but make no mistake; the travels she “took” around the world through her reading sessions in the newspaper were every-bit as real and exciting as the many I have physically taken in real time.
Should I be selected to write for the New York Times, there will be no judgements, travel snobbery, or selective inclusion.
Everyone is welcomed, and encouraged to read along.
1. I would like to ride my bicycle from my house to Newport, Rhode Island
2. I would like to have dinner at that little Italian Restaurant in the Knightsville section of my hometown.
3. I would like to walk to the East Side of Providence and visit the old library; The Providence Athenaeum
1. I would like to stroll through Swan Point Cemetery on a dry, cool day. There’s so much history there.
2. I would like to go to Ireland and listen to music in a pub at night. And drink a pint of Smithwick’s.
3. I would like to return to Block Island, but not in the middle of the summer! Slow ferry, please – it’s all about the journey.
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Slow ferry is right!!! Swan Point is a very cool place!
1. I would go back to Ireland and join Martha at any pub in any small town. Dingle comes to mind, but anywhere would be good. 2. I would go to Greece with my brother David. He’s a former Fulbright scholar who had been a professor of Greek, Latin and the Classics for 45 years at Seattle University. And he’s hilarious.
3. I would ride around Rhode Island with Zulu. I have never been there and I bet his running commentary would be first rate!
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