Please contact E. B. Davis at for information on guest blogs and interviews. Interviews for July: (7/6) Jennifer J. Chow (7/13) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 1--Ice Cream Shop Mystery), (7/20) Susan Van Kirk, (7/27) Meri Allen/Shari Randall (Book 2--Ice Cream Shop Mystery).

Sunday, April 26, 2015


Sharp-tailed Grouse strutting for the ladies
Wanderlust is yin to my staying-at-home-hibernating’s yang. I am content to remain in one place until I am not, and then I hit the road, which is where I am now as I write this blog. This 47-day road trip will take us (my much better half, Jan Rubens, is with me) from our winter abode in Savannah, Georgia out to Hood River, Oregon, back east to Greece, New York and finally to our summer home in the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula woods.

Air travel is my least favorite way to get from point A to spot B. I do love trains, but they run on rails and more or less on schedules; both inhibit our ability to get outside and enjoy seeing, hearing and touching ground. Walking would be great, but I don’t have sufficient time (or energy). That makes automobile travel the happy compromise.

We plan our day-to-day travel to include National Wildlife Refuges, National Parks and Monuments and other outdoor attractions whenever possible. We’re not much for cities and museums. This trip we have added a different twist: every 50 miles as measured by the car’s odometer we stop and take a picture. This methodical approach does not capture the highlights of the trip, but it has captured the topography changes as we moved from east to west; from lush to dry to lush again; from low to high to low. (The album is on my personal Facebook page.)

Yellow-headed Blackbird
The saying, “a picture is worth a thousand words,” is not accurate for me. However, I do find that pictures stimulate my memory. Often when I see a photograph I have taken, I recall not only the specifics of that locale, but what led up to it and what happened afterwards. One added enjoyment of this trip has been to see how these more or less random pictures have triggered memories in folks who follow my Facebook posts.

We usually prefer taking backroads, which can make for more interesting pictures than those taken along interstates. On this trip, time constraints on when we could leave and when we had to be in Hood River made it necessary (well, at least very convenient) to do much of our early travel on interstates. Given that, these pictures provide a sense of the modern American society, rushing by the land at 75 miles an hour in our air-conditioned, nearly hermitically-sealed autos.

Northern Gannets billing
As much as these roadside pictures draw comments, the photographs I periodically take of the birds we see always bring responses. Some people have never seen the particular birds before and marvel at their colors or shape or antics. Others of my friends are avid birders and share their own experiences with the birds or the location.

This sharing, initially from me, but then back to me, provides a continued sense of community with my friends and acquaintances regardless of how physically far apart we are. Even those who do not comment on Facebook will, when I see them in person, often engage me in detailed conversations about a recent trip. Those conversations, which can occur months after the trip, allow me to relive my wanderings.

I’ve found writing mysteries has a similar communal affect. I write the mysteries and then some time (often a long time) later a reader will talk to me about the story, or the characters, or the setting, and I have the opportunity to relive the story, yet experience it through the filter of someone else’s eyes.

That is the essence of my wanderlust: to experience, to share, to re-experience and to learn.

~ Jim
Toward the infinite


E. B. Davis said...

I have little wanderlust, Jim. But on those occasions when I have traveled, I remember how it enabled me to have a new perspective on my home environment and changed my perception of myself. It's a wonderful way to get out of the rut that inevitably occurs when you don't shake your life up a bit. People often have problems transitioning the changes that occur in life. Once home, a traveler's change of perspective is like a transition, but one that occurs because of one's own actions rather than forced changed that requires a reaction. The former is much preferable.

I followed your travels on Facebook. I hope Jan and you had/have a great trip.

Grace Topping said...

Your post made me wish that I could throw a bag in my car and head west. I'm with you that I want to see nature and not the cities along the way. We once took our young daughters on a trip through England and Scotland. The memory they speak of most is feeding sheep late one evening on the Isle of Skye.

Jim Jackson said...

EB -- Jan and I are having a wonderful trip. Right now we are spending a few days visiting Jan's daughter's family in St. Paul, MN.

Jim Jackson said...

Grace -- what a wonderful memory for your children to have. You never know what experiences will have a lasting impression on kids.

~ Jim

Warren Bull said...

Traveling abroad is a great way to experience other cultures and broaden one's horizons.

Kara Cerise said...

I enjoy reading about your road trip and following along on Facebook, Jim. Your bird photos look like they could be in National Geographic.

Jim Jackson said...

Kara -- thanks for following the trip. The pictures aren't the best quality because I am not taking the time to use a tripod or my big lens, but I'm glad you like them anyway.

~ Jim

Shari Randall said...

Jim, I've enjoyed following your trip and I am one of those who are wowed by your bird photos. Such variety and beauty! My eyes have been opened.
Grace's comment made me think of when we took our young girls to Paris. The only thing the youngest remembers: the chocolate crepes we bought from a street side vendor!
Hope the road is smooth and trouble free for you and Jan as you roll on.

KM Rockwood said...

I love your bird pictures! I don't take many pictures. In the few I have, things never seem to be quite as wonderful as I remember them, so I'd just as soon not have them to look at.

These days I tend to be a homebody, but I think one of the reasons is that I have done some traveling over the years. One great trip was an underfunded trek cross country in a car with over 300,000 miles on it. We had to take the air filter off in higher elevations or it didn't get enough oxygen to run. We stayed with friends or camped. In Oregon, one of my daughters found us a converted school bus with no electricity or plumbing. We stayed there for a while.

My other daughter has helped me cross off many of the places on my to-see list (Zanzibar, the Yangtze River before it was flooded by the Three Gorges Dam, the olive orchards of Provence, etc.) I have Machu picchu and the Galapagos Islands yet to go. I don't know if I'll make it, but maybe...

Jim Jackson said...

Shari -- thanks for the good thoughts. It is amazing what our kids remember and what makes no lasting impression.

KM -- it sounds as though you have had some great trips and hopefully a few more coming.

~ Jim

Gloria Alden said...

I love your pictures, Jim. We took many long trips when our kids were still at home camping throughout much of the Eastern U.S. and once into the west. Most of the time my parents and those siblings still living at home joined us. Those were great trips. After my kids were grown and I was single again, my siblings and I would go for trips mostly camping again for ten days to two weeks. Those trips were so much fun, too, and as with the earlier trips we learned so much because of the places we visited and the sights we saw.

However, now because of critters at home, my trips are shorter unless I can arrange animal care. As much as I enjoy those trips, now I'm happiest when I come home to my home, gardens, friends and critters. Because on this trip to Malice I have a good friend house sitting and carrying for my critters, I know I'll enjoy it even more.

Kath said...

I'd like so much to hear about your trip! I'm itching to get my husband out on the road!