A Lifetime of Travel

Smith family on horseback

Today’s post is written by a special guest, my Grandfather, who is one of the most well-traveled people I’ve ever met. My Pampa is this blog’s biggest fan and he has contributed a bit about the travel lives he and my Mama (Cal and Marcia) have led as well as his top 3 tips for travelers. They have 4 daughters, 10 grandchildren, and 2 great-grandchildren.  In 2018 they will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. They are currently retired and living in Austin, Texas.

Cal and Marcia World Map
They definitely have travel cred! They had 4 children in tow for many of these journeys.

From Cal (Pampa):

Jessica is Marcia’s, and my, oldest granddaughter.  To appreciate how true she is to her ancestral roots of travel appreciation I need to describe a bit of family history.  Her father, who was born in Malaysia, went to France to get a Ph.D. in international law.  Her aunt went to Germany to get a Ph.D. in Chemistry. Her mother went to Austria to take piano lessons from a renown pianist who was a friend and student of Franz List. Her mother and father met and were married in German when Hitler was running the show. Her father at the time was a diplomate for China in Berlin. When Germany formed the axis with Japan and Italy China broke off diplomatic relations and all of their diplomats in German-occupied areas had to return to China.  They could not travel east, however, because Germany was at war with Russia. The diplomats traveled west via Italy, Spain, and Portugal and then to the U.S.  They crossed the States by train and then took a ship to get to China, but first stopping in Manila. Unfortunately, they landed in Manila shortly before Japan invaded and most of the diplomats were killed.  Marcia’s parents, however, had not been allowed to get on the boat in San Francisco because Marcia was about to be born.  Marcia was born in the Chinese hospital in San Francisco and remained there for several months until her father was assigned to a diplomatic post in South Africa.  They stayed there for about 3 years until her father was appointed to be the Consul General for China in Tahiti.  Marcia then lived in Papeete until she was 16 years old and had completed her French secondary education.  The family returned to Taiwan by boat via Australia and other stops along the way. In Taiwan, Marcia went to an American high school for two years to improve her English before traveling to California for college. She did her undergraduate studies at U.C. Berkeley.

Baoni eldest of 5
Baoni, Marcia’s mother, was the eldest of 5.

Jessica’s grandfather (that would be me) did not have as much foreign travel heritage as Marcia but did have some. My mothers family immigrated to California before she was born but went back to Wales for a year when she was in grade school. My grandfather was born in New York to immigrants from North Ireland. He left home at 16 to homestead in North Dakota.  He moved his family to California when my father was 12 years old. My father graduated from UCLA then went to Seminary in Philadelphia.  When my folks were married they moved to New Jersey and were there until I finished 2nd grade. We moved to Manhattan Beach in California where I finished 3rd and 4th grades. We then moved to Seattle where we lived until I finish 9th grade. We then moved to Pittsburgh where I finished high school and graduated from PITT. After my Freshman year, I had the opportunity to spend a school year at a mission in Western Ethiopia.  Coming home from Ethiopia two friends and I spent 3 months visiting Egypt and hitchhiking across Europe.  When I graduated from Pitt I went to U.C. Berkeley for my Masters in Engineering.

Both Marcia and I were residents at the International House in Berkeley where we met and became good friends, though we did not date. When I graduated I went into the Army and spent the majority of my time in Korea where I took my discharge.  I then spent 3 months traveling to Australia via Japan, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia, and Singapore. In Australia, I worked for a year in the Snowy Mountains for a professor I had met in Berkeley. On my way home I spent a week hitchhiking around the southern island of New Zealand.  My next stop was in Tahiti where friends of Marcia hosted me for a week. I returned home via Mexico.

In the meantime, Marcia had finished her undergraduate degree in Mathematics and had gone to the U. of Michigan to do graduate work in Genetics. She had planned to do her Ph.D. there but could not put up with the winters. She took an MS degree and beat it back to Berkeley.

We both arrived back in California at the same time. I went to work for Kaiser Engineers and Marcia was accepted to work on her Ph.D. at U.C.Berkeley with the stipulation that she would not date engineers because they would marry her and take her away from the program.

Ignoring the advice of the professors we began dating and about 2 years later confirmed the foresight of her advisers. We married and within 2 months moved to Kentucky and launched our travel filled careers. We worked in Kentucky, Missouri, Ohio, Iran, California, Wyoming, Australia, Georgia, and Massachusetts before settling down in California. During those work years, Marcia finished her Ph.D. in Cincinnati and took whatever teaching opportunities that were available. Before finishing her teaching career she had taught at some level or another in all grades from Kindergarten through medical school.  Also during those working years, we had some great vacations visiting England, Norway, Denmark, Holland, France, Spain, Italy, Sri Lanka, Hong Kong, China, and Japan.  Since retiring we have visited Australia, New Zealand, Tonga, Argentina, Chile, France, Holland, and Germany.

Australian family with kangaroo
Cal and Marcia with their 4 children in Bunbury, Australia.

We have been enjoying Jessica’s posts about traveling with children.  We could have used her advice many times on our trips.

Having done as much traveling as we have done I should share some things that we have found enhance any given trip.

  • Take photos which are unique to your experiences on any given trip. For example, when we visited Argentina I bought a soccer ball and included it in many pictures. This was fun during the trip and guaranteed my photos were unique.
Penguin inspecting soccer ball in Argentina
A curious penguin in Argentina.
  • Trips to locations that do not get much attention can be much more relaxing due to lack of crowds and friendlier inhabitants. Locals can sometimes get quite fed up with tourists (deservedly so).  Tonga is such a place and one of our all-time favorites.

Mama relaxing in Tonga.

  • Off-season travel is not only less expensive it also reduces the crowd factor.
Sharing photos with great grandson
After all those trips, Mama and Pampa have plenty of wonderful stories and pictures to share with their great-grandchildren!

Thanks for sharing Pampa! I hope one day to repeat some of your wonderful experiences!

One response to “A Lifetime of Travel”

  1. Amazing! Wonderful family travel history there. No wonder you’ve got the travel bug too.


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