Tag Archives: spontaneity

Spontaneity spices up every trip

I thought the scenery couldn’t get any better than this. I was wrong.

Over the years, my wife and I have found one travel tip to be uniquely useful. As much as you plan, leave room for spontaneity.

We didn’t read that any place. We learned it when traveling with our parents. Both families tended to go in the same mode. Too often, they had precious little time or money for vacations. When they did take one, they each drove from point A to point B regardless of what was in between.

When Neva and I began to travel as a couple, we tried to always leave room for the unexpected. It’s a habit we have happily maintained.

We do a lot of planning for our trips. We research places we want to see in the areas where we are traveling. That includes leaving time for discovery along the way. Of course, now that we are retired, we can really take our time. We often avoid interstates and expressways if at all possible.

Pointing the way.

On a recent trip to New England, we were traveling on U.S. 1 along the Maine coast when Neva had an idea. Friends had a summer home somewhere in Maine, so she decided to text her college friend to find out how near we were to their vacation place. It turned out we were really close.

Since I was driving, Neva read aloud the text replies. Our friend said they turn right at the Dairy Queen. I looked up and low and behold there was the DQ. We had to seize this moment that seemed meant to be.

I turned the van around and headed down the road. Meanwhile, Neva was getting the address and specific instructions to their house. They were perfect.

Even in the rain and fog, the sights along the way were breathtaking. We wound our way down the peninsula toward the sea, passing trees, houses, local businesses, streams, marshes, and estuaries.

Along the way, we found calendar-worthy real-life scenes. I noted places I wanted to photograph on the way back to the highway. Our first priority was to find their home. It wasn’t hard. Decorative homemade signs tacked to a tree got my attention, and pointed the way to Little River Road.

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We had seen photos of the lovely seaside home and its vista before. Even though fog limited our view, we were immediately entranced. Surrounded by birds singing, gulls calling, waves crashing, the mingled fragrance of pines and ocean, we were smitten.

Neva stayed on the deck while the sea drew me down the slight hill. From the rocky beach, I spotted a small flock of common eiders floating offshore. Greater and lesser black-backed gulls claimed a sandy point across the way. It was the place our friends walked to at low tide.

I couldn’t have wiped the smile off my face if I had wanted to. A sense of peace and longing overcame me, and I gladly embraced it. Standing there in person I felt like Walt Whitman.

I didn’t want to leave, but we had no other choice. I stopped several times as we headed back north. I photographed boats moored waiting for their owners, canoes cast aside long ago but resting as if their occupants had stopped for lunch. Forsythia bloomed bright against the fog and reflected mirror-like in the positively calm waters.

I was ecstatic, electrified at the surreal wonderland all around me. I was so glad we had played our hunch and made that U-turn.

Driving a scenic highway was one thing. Spending a little time surrounded by this unexpected beauty was quite another. Once again, spontaneity rewarded us with a sweet, memorable encounter.

Right where they were left.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2019

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Spontaneity spices up the day

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Annie Yoder.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I’m a sucker for spontaneous moments. You know the kind.

You are waiting in line to check out at the grocery, shopping in a busy department store, or changing a flat tire on a lonely gravel road, and all of a sudden some little thing happens to take the steam right out of your angst.

A person you tried to reach via voice mail or email taps you on the shoulder, and says, “I’m so glad to see you. I forgot to get back to you.” And the muddle gets smoothed.

Or perhaps you are at a gathering where there are hundreds of people, and suddenly you find yourself next to a person you haven’t seen for decades. If you’re my age, there’s a lot of catching up to do.

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The gazebo on the square that served as Annie’s stage.

Of course, I bring this up because I recently experienced such a spontaneous happening. After a brief early Saturday appointment, I headed to the weekly farmers’ market held on the square of Wooster. I wasn’t planning on buying anything, but I did.

I really went there for two reasons. I needed to kill two hours before taking my vehicle in for an overdue oil change. I also wanted to hear a friend of mine sing.

Annie had been called on to provide the background ambiance for this in-season outdoor event. I have heard Annie sing at other more conducive venues where the acoustics would enhance her naturally beautiful voice and excellent instrumentation.

Even though benches were available, no one was seated simply to listen to Annie’s pleasing, marvelous offerings. Instead, the small gathering milled around checking out the locally grown and baked items of the various vendors who had set up in a small parking lot.

I decided to join them, which is when I purchased my locally grown plums and homemade granola. But the alluring sounds lifting from the small gazebo assigned as Annie’s stage soon drew me there.

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Annie is all smiles when she sings and plays.

Despite the fact she had to compete with noisy passing traffic, dogs barking and occasional sirens blaring, I wasn’t at all surprised by Annie’s fine performance. She focused on her musical efforts, and she had my full attention.

I love music though I’m no singer or musician. I admire people who can sing and play, especially if they have written their own songs. Plus, I have known Annie since she was born, and watched with much admiration how she and her music matured.

Shortly after I sat down on the bench, a few others who also knew Annie joined me. Among them was a young man I had known casually, and whom I thought was living in Texas. I lost track of him after that.

Imagine my surprise when I learned that this young man and his lovely wife had returned to Ohio, found employment, and were reconnecting with their local roots. I haven’t spoken with his parents, who I have known a long time. But they must be thrilled.

The young man and I talked and talked, while Annie sang on. In addition to enjoying Annie’s inspiring entertainment, I got to reunite with an old new friend. Annie’s performance served a perfect backdrop to our animated catching up.

The concert ended. I said my goodbyes and arrived at the garage uplifted in ways I would have never imagined when my day began hours earlier. Even the unwanted news about the costly vehicle repairs couldn’t dent the serendipitous joy I encountered on that city square.

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The Wayne Co. Courthouse looms large on the square of Wooster, OH.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2013

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