Maps and planning have their place when time is important but with retirement I have found that maps and planning sometime limit my adventures - and contribute to arguments about where the next turn is! When we let loose and wander - well, anything can happen - and often does!
When I think back some of my best times and greatest discoveries have occurred when I just let go and wandered. Wandering led me to a lovely garden in the middle of Calgary one sunny afternoon and transformed a mediocre day into a great photography adventure. Wandering also led me to the most amazing food in a grungy little shack in a back alley in Beijing, and getting lost and just wandering about the streets of Kuala Lumpur with a tropical downpour threatening our dignity drove us laughing into an old hotel that just breathed Humphrey Bogart and Casablanca!
Yesterday, I wandered along a path close to home, leaving Raouf picking rose hips for some experimental tea brewing. Down the path I met a new friend, came across some amazing views of the vineyards turning gold and red in the rather grey afternoon and then, well then, I wandered over to a solitary bench and absorbed the clouds, the geese honking overhead, and was blessed with a quick glimpse of the local pheasant as he flew in a panic across my path. With my head resting along the rough wood of the convenient bench, I closed my eyes and breathed deeply and felt the wandering continue, as the vision of the autumn before me faded in and out with each breath.
I don't always wander alone. Raouf and I took on a neighboring city in our new land today - together. This city might as well be in Australia or Scotland as we are such newbies to this area and know nothing much about the location of its hidden gems. We seized the opportunity to wander at will this afternoon. With a little nudge from friends, we found an amazing mermaid gazing longingly at the wind-driven waves of Okanagan Lake. Not far away was a statue grouping of nudes hanging out at Ruby Blues Winery. We discovered a wine called Stilettos in a atmosphere of hippy Volkswagen vans and real stiletto shoes and then we practically tripped over a delicatessen called The Bench and slipped in to find delicious, gluten-free sandwiches - a huge score since noon had slipped past our wine-blurred consciousness of time!
Wandering may be for distraction, as so aptly put by Hilaire Beloc, but I do not believe that it is in anyway "less than" his following comparison of "traveling is for fulfillment". I, too, hope to wander for the rest of my life - what a trip!