Dreaming Through Travel

Great Wall of China Adventure of Madelyn Given

Great Wall of China
Adventure of Madelyn Given

Dreaming about travel is like a child dreaming about a birthday. Those are precious years of innocence when a child anticipates a birthday with gifts, a cake, and a party with family and friends. Those early years, I remember praying for days before my birthday that my mother would not be too busy to remember my birthday. Then on that day I would be so happy to be remembered. I would tingle with happiness at the simplest delight. Those childhood years, my children’s birthdays and now my grandchildren’s birthdays are events to cherish. So too is dreaming through travel. I could only dream about travel as a child though books and relatives who traveled and came to visit. Unlike children of today who travel extensively, until I graduated from college I had never been on an airplane or boat and had only traveled by car, bus or train within my home state.

As a birthday and graduation present from college, I was given a trip to travel by station wagon and camp across the United States with extended family, Ruth & John and her young family and two dogs. It was quite an adventure traveling with them through 33 states. Camping and cooking out was something I had never done. It was so exciting to go to many of the national parks and historic sites in our country, to go from sea-to-shining-sea, to the mountains, the plains and deserts and the great cities and our capital. It was a grand learning experience for me and the first time I wrote a daily journal. My life grew by leaps and bounds that summer.

Eventually travel after that summer of 1966 became a reality in my adult life because it was important to me and I believe in making dream come true. Some travel experiences continue to tie into birthday remembrances, too. The year I ran my seven marathons on seven continents I ran the Great Wall of China Marathon on May 26th.  As I crossed the finish line of this exhausting difficult race, an official on the PA system announced for the entire stadium full of people to hear, “Congratulation, Madelyn and Happy Birthday!” I will always remember where I was, and what I was doing on that birthday. Then there are busy years in-between, balancing life and working to make more dreams come true.

Another dream and another birthday came together when I was a solo northbound Appalachian Trail hiker. When I began hiking I had no idea how long it would take me to hike 2,180 miles through fourteen states. I thought perhaps six, seven or eight months. But after I got started I realized I was moving northward at a good clip passing people every day whom I never saw again. Then it dawned on me that I could make Harpers Ferry in two months which motivated me to keep up a good pace. I arrived in Harpers Ferry, soaking wet after six days of heavy rain on May 26th my 65th birthday. I signed in at the AT (Appalachian Trail) Headquarters, had my picture taken and walked to a nearby motel to clean up and get dry. Soon after there was a knock at my door and a young AT hiker friend asked if I would like to go out for a pizza. It was the best pizza with a thoughtful friend and a birthday to remember.

As I had mentioned earlier, life is keeping things in perspective, working towards a balanced life and making dreams a reality. This year turns out to be the year of my book. Every part of this year will be remembered as the project of my book. Recalling the past when the adventures and events in the book took place, the marathons, the mountains climbed and writing the manuscript. It’s like a birthday present to me and I will remember how old I am when it is published.

There is an added dimension, the surprise of telling my children about the book—thus far I’ve kept it a secret. I can’t wait to share with them that a legacy is being passed on and that another dream has been fulfilled. My other goal, hopefully for my readers, is to inspire you for the future—to make your dreams become a reality, to remember cherished times and not let important events slip by unnoticed. Make each day a happier safer place by helping others though their endeavors, that a single person with a single word or deed can make a difference. Life is special. It is what we make of it that counts