I just read a story in Readers Digest (Yes, I still read it. Yes, it reminds me of my childhood and my grandparents, and yes, my vocabulary is outstanding because of it. Word Power.) anyway…. The article was a travel feature encouraging you to talk to strangers. The general point was that talking to others makes the journey more interesting, can open you up to new places and experiences you would have missed out on if you hadn’t taken the time to talk to strangers.
Growing up this openness and stranger conversion used to annoy me so much. I am sure many of you had parents like mine who were extremely gifted at striking up a conversion with anyone they meet. My mom and step-dad would ask complete strangers questions, engage them in stories, share what seemed like intimate personal details of my life with them… any trip to the store or drive out of town meant running into someone with something interesting to share.
What annoyed me so much back then gives me an even greater appreciation of the unique experiences our family was able to have because of our parents willingness to reach out and make a new friend. I feel like our pre-planned, mapped out, peer-reviewed, TripAdvisor vacations lack a genuine spontaneity, curiosity and thrill of discovery that our little out of town trips used to encourage. Now if we get lost, want a new restaurant or are looking for something to do we head straight for our phones and Google, instead of a local or fellow tourist.
One particular memory I have of a ‘stranger’ conversation was when our family went on a trip to the Pictured Rocks National Lake Shore, in Munising, Michigan. We checked in at one of the Pictured Rock Boat Tour places to see when the next trip was available and on the way out, my Mom started chatting with the staff talking about our family love of lighthouses and waterfalls and asking the tour staff a bunch of questions…. That lead to most of us waiting outside on a bench for a while and finally finding out that just down the road was a little hidden gem of a waterfall that you couldn’t find on a map. (They told us it’s the one the Boy Scouts walk to… So we called it Boy Scout Falls.)
Our family parked on the side of a road, jumped out and headed across a rural and somewhat busy highway to the very small wooded path across the street for our little adventure hike.
The path was not marked, and we were told to look for a gap in the trees on the side of the road and a small stairway into the woods. We trusted that this little hole was it and headed in. (I found this on Google Maps by the way, 15 years ago we only took pictures with the film camera….. )
As we climbed the steep little steps into the woods, we’re pretty sure we passed a stone that marked someone’s grave site or memorial. We questioned if we were really on the right path, but waterfalls have a beautiful little tell… you can hear them before you can see them. The woods was so dense that it felt like we were almost there for quite a while! After a little further hike in, the trees opened up to an amazing horseshoe carved into the cliff and a delicate sheet of a water came trickling down!
We were able to walk behind it and took a couple of pictures too! This is me with my husband (then my boyfriend of a few years). We are hoping to take our kids to the Upper Peninsula soon and I hope we are able to ask some locals to direct us to this little treasure.
It’s these little adventures that remind me of my love of nature and discovering something new. A gift nature seems to give us over and over.
Talk to you soon, Kristy