Archive for February, 2011

I love what we do in Italy. I think there is a soulfulness, an authenticity to our trips that is an outgrowth certainly of where Kristi and I come from, our life experiences, our roots.  There is much of that past from which I could draw, but I want to highlight just one today – and that is an extraordinary wilderness camp in Maine.

Darrow Canoe Camp

Sunset canoeing in Maine

When I returned from four years in Afghanistan at the tender age of 14 it was quite a culture shock. In those intervening years the U.S. had changed a lot, but I returned expecting it to be the same. So it was difficult. After my freshman year in high school I had the great good fortune, through the exceptional intuition of my parents, to spend six weeks of the summer in Maine’s remote wilderness at Darrow Canoe Camp. The camp was made up of small groups, each of which spent the entire summer canoeing the lakes and rivers of Maine’s outback, where we only saw other people when we were transported by vans every few weeks from one wilderness to another. Here I found a place to belong, a group of people working together toward the same goals, in the natural environment which inevitably connects us to what is deep within.

Darrow Camp home base, Grand Lake Stream, Maine

It was a fabulous summer. I returned the next summer as a counselor in training and then the following years through high school and college working my way up to lead a group after my junior year in college. After graduating from college, newly married, I brought Kristi to Darrow where I served as the cook at the base camp and she managed the office.

The camp has changed, going into Quebec to find the wilderness once so prevalent in Maine. And it is now a nonprofit organization. But it is the same at its core.

The experience taught me much about working with people. It taught me how to listen, how to work together toward an end, how to deal with adversity, what it means to be part of a group. It also taught me to slow down, to connect to nature as a way to connect to life, to listen for the deeper urges in me sometimes obscured by the frenetic pace of life or the messages with which we are bombarded.

In short it was a formative experience. That experience influences our trips to Italy where we continue to connect to what is deep inside, to enjoy a place as a group, albeit with a little more comfort than what we had in Maine, to celebrate what is authentic.

So this is a tribute to Darrow Canoe Camp, all it has done for me and continues to do for scores of young people today, and, indirectly, does for all who travel with us to Italy.

My generation continues to wilderness canoe, here in Quebec


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I read a piece on first sight today, about how when we first see things we may see them with more openness and clarity. Another term used was birth sight. Imagine what it is like when every thing you see you are seeing for the very first time.

Really seeing

Really seeing surrounded by tufa

Travel, in many ways, allows birth sight. What I particularly like about our trips in which we stay in one place for a week is really being able to absorb what you see. When you travel “fast”, are seeing new things every day, you may have birth sight, but accompanying it is lost sight. You end up seeing so much that you forget what you have seen. Every thing becomes a blur.

When you spend a week in one place you have that first sight which is like birth sight. But then you see the same thing again and again. You begin to absorb what you see. You begin to really see it, have it imprint on your mind, leave a permanent impression. Giovanna, who runs our convent B&B has told us that in Orvieto the tufa – the volcanic rock that makes up the place – absorbs you. It is a lovely thought and true. At the same time, though, by staying in one place and really beginning to see, you absorb it.

And this is why I love slow travel. You absorb what you see and experience, and you take it away with you. It leaves its imprint on your soul, you carry it home with you, forever changed in an absolutely beautiful way.

First sight and birth sight turn to insight. What more could you want from a travel experience?

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I thought this was interesting. You can create a map showing where in the world you have traveled.  I did so, and you can see where I’ve been by clicking on the link below. I have a lot more of the world to see! But I just love going to Italy so much for our trips, that I return time after time! You can create your own map at www.travbuddy.com.


Create your own travel map

Bill’s Travels has traveled to: Afghanistan, Bahamas, Bosnia And Herzegovina, Canada, China, Croatia, Denmark, Egypt, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, India, Iran, Ireland, Italy, Lebanon, Netherlands, Pakistan, Serbia, Spain, Switzerland, Turkey, United Kingdom, United States, Vatican City, USA States: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wyoming

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