“On the road again, going places I’ve never been, seeing things I may never see again, and can’t wait to get back on the road” -Willie Nelson, “On the Road Again “
I blame Willie Nelson for that, my wanderlust that is. It was the summer of 1980, I was 10, and my Aunt Jayne took me to the Malco Theater in Tupelo to see “Honeysuckle Rose.” I heard Willie’s classic song, “On the Road Again,” for the first time that night, and it ignited a fire in me that never went out.
It also launched my music career, which involved performing said song for my adoring fans (nothing beats a captive audience) in Mrs. Bobbye Rorie’s fifth grade class at the East Union Attendance Center. Unfortunately, my rise to stardom as the next great country crooner was short-lived; however, my desire to see and experience new places remains.
Wanderlust is defined as “a strong desire or urge to wander”. I also believe it is a genetic trait that can be passed down from generation to generation, as I see in my daughter and son. In fact, I encouraged the trait in both of them and consider it one of my successes as a father.
During his undergraduate years at the University of Alabama, Tate took full advantage of a study abroad scholarship by spending a summer studying at the University of Oxford in Oxford, England. . While there, she also made trips to London, Bath, Dover, Bristol and Canterbury, as well as Paris, France.
Unfortunately, the COVID-19 pandemic prevented Dan from taking advantage of his study abroad scholarship; however, he is making up for it this spring with a trip to British Columbia as well as a month-long perambulation as a pilgrim along the Camino de Santiago in Spain. After graduating from undergraduate school in December, he will begin Mississippi State Veterinary School this summer. I can only imagine that the four years of study to obtain his doctorate in veterinary medicine will be intense. Therefore, I can think of no better escape before that than a stay in Spain walking the 500 miles of the Camino in the footsteps of Saint James the Apostle.
Sandwiched between those trips, Dan and I will chase Osceola’s wild turkeys through the South Florida swamps in early March, followed by a five-day trek with friends along the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina.
We also planned, after he returned from Spain, a fly-fishing trip to Idaho with my brother-in-law, Michael Van Veckhoven, and my nephew Billy Van Veckhoven. I’ve always dreamed of catching a trout with the Grand Tetons as a backdrop, and God willing, that dream will come true in May.
My wife, Gena, also shares a love for travel, and we recently sat down and spent an evening making a “to do list” of places we want to go and things we want to do together. I’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching recently on this, and while Willie gets credit for my wanderlust early in life, I’d have to credit my inspiration lately to a friend I’ve known too briefly.
When G and I started looking for a new church after moving to the farm, we settled at Resurrection Episcopal Church in Starkville. From the start we felt like home, and a big reason for that was Mrs. Ellen Newsom.
Ms. Ellen welcomed us with open arms and from day one made us feel part of the ECR family. She had a servant’s heart, a caring spirit, and an energy that was both contagious and inspiring. It was clear that she was a pillar in the life of the church and the community.
Sadly, Ms Ellen passed away on January 18 after a short battle with mesothelioma. We were crushed. We looked forward to worshiping him and serving alongside him. In the short time of knowing her, we had both been inspired, and reading her obituary took that inspiration to an even higher level.
Until then, I knew she was a nurse. However, I didn’t know that she was also a quintessential pilot and adventurer. For example, her honeymoon with her 57-year-old husband, Walter “Walt” Newsom, consisted of “an 11,000-mile tent-camping trip in a VW Beetle visiting 18 western states and 20 national parks.”
Other highlights included adventures in “all 50 states, 101 countries, and seven continents,” expeditions that included paragliding, kayaking, snorkeling, hiking, and, among many others, floating.” for 19 days in the Grand Canyon in a wooden dory.”
His life was, like his mind, inspiring, and reading about his incredible explorations provided the impetus for my “to do list” conversation with G.
I hope you find inspiration this week to create your own “Ellen Newsom” list and make your travel dreams come true. Until next time, I look forward to seeing you there in our great outdoors.
Email outdoor columnist Brad Dye at [email protected]