816 North

Susan Vollenweider - How to travel from worry to amazing

I worry. I worry about my kids, our health, and the guy driving next to me texting at 55 miles per hour. I worry that I might burn the onions for dinner (again), and I worry that no one will get my jokes. I worry but I am not a world-class, natural-born and gifted worrier.

My sweet friend Carol is that type of worrier.

“We went and looked at Airstream trailers today,” Carol told me.

I got very excited for her. I know that both her and her husband love to travel, love to explore. How perfect, right? Travel in sweet retro style at their own pace for years.

In a lot of ways, Carol and her husband remind me of my parents, who are extraordinary travelers.

My parents are also far cooler than I will ever be. I know this. I’m OK with it. When they retired they sold their house, bought a boat — in China — and traveled all over the world for several years.

I said they were cool, didn’t I?

Carol and the Airstream trailer reminded me of my parents and their boat. Blissful adventure, I thought.

But not Carol.

“We would have to buy a tow vehicle,” she told me. “Then have to store, have to maintain …what about tornadoes? What about water and campground bandits?” Carol quickly continued with a very impressive list of bad things that could happen.

Although her list was long, most of those scenarios probably won’t transpire. But what if they do?

When my parents were living on the boat, Mom wasn’t keen on the long ocean voyages so she would come back to the States while Dad and a small crew made the passage.

On one of those trips, Dad and his crew were sailing into a remote island harbor in the South Pacific when he ran aground on a reef. As an experienced sailor this was humiliating. As the captain of a boat that was stuck and leaning on its side for days before proper equipment could be obtained to haul it off, it was physically uncomfortable. Once his boat was dragged to shore, the necessary parts took a very long time to reach such a remote outpost and his crew left him.



Isolated in a foreign land he waited, hoping and trusting that the people who said that they could get him back to sea were not only able to do so, but didn’t rip him off financially in the process.

It was one of the worst case scenarios that he could have imagined, and it happened.

It was the best two months of his whole journey.

He tells fantastic tales of spending time with the people of that isolated island. He would sit with the men, all fully dressed, in the water sharing stories, drinking beer and trying to stay cool in the tropical heat. He learned of the lives, challenges and customs of men his own age who had grown up half a world away from him.

My parents sold their boat two years ago due to health issues. My dad’s memory isn’t as sharp as it used to be, but to this day his face lights up when he talks about the experience that could only have occurred when he was stranded, alone and isolated from all that he knew.

When he talks about it, he is the happiest that I ever see him.

Bad things happen, and worrying about them might help prevent them from occurring. But when they do — despite our best efforts, and finest worrying — it can ultimately turn into something amazing.