14 Jan
2015
Posted in: travel
By    1 Comment

Meeting Strangers on Vacation

It all started in junior high when my parents invited two college-aged men to stay in our family cabin in the Big Horn Mountains of Wyoming.

We had finished dinner at a lodge near our cabin and were piling into the car to head back to the cabin for the night when my mom spotted two young men with bicycles unrolling sleeping bags on the grass. I don’t remember which month in summer it was, but it was chilly. I remember watching my parents whisper to one another and then saw my dad walk over to the two men. The next thing I knew, we had cabin guests.

I wish I could remember their names. They were college friends bicycling from Washington state to Pennsylvania for school. I don’t remember thinking it was weird to allow two men we didn’t know to stay in our cabin. They left the next morning and wrote us a few letters once they arrived safely at their final destination. From there they became family folklore. I catch myself at times wondering whatever became of them and if they think about the generosity of strangers one chilly Wyoming summer night.

I know that night shaped a little of who I became as I aged. I enjoy hosting people in our home. I attempt to coerce my husband into hosting people, mainly athletes in town for minor league sports, a couple times a year. I’m always game for company. Those college men had parents who would have loved to know they were being looked after. I can’t help to think about my own children and how I hope others will come along side them simply because it’s right to help each other.

Three large waterfalls feeding Avalanche Lake in Glacier National Park

I’m known for befriending people while on vacation. I’ll chat with strangers while we hike, or strike up conversations at a visitor center. I’m curious about people’s stories: where they came from and where they’re going. I enjoy trading travel stories with strangers and storing away ideas for future travels.

This August we were in Glacier National Park in Montana at Avalanche Lake after hiking Avalanche Lake Trail. Our kids had ditched their socks and shoes and were playing in the lake at the base of majestic mountains. A young man and woman were nearby, and we started chatting. They were on a cross-country road trip, and I was quizzing them about where they’d been. Several of the places we’d already visited. We shared ideas of places in Glacier they should visit and called our kids out of the water to don their shoes once again to hike out.

We were wishing the strangers safe travels when the woman said, “This may sound weird, but….” She told us they had been filming friends and strangers dancing at various places they stopped at on their road trip. Her plan was to turn the clips into a short video/music compilation documenting their adventure. The kids were game, although it took a few takes to get all four agreeably participating. We exchanged contact information, and life went on.

Yesterday I received an email from that stranger. The video was done and viewable on YouTube. Our kids are overjoyed by their few seconds on YouTube. No one forced me to talk with strangers on vacation. I could have turned a shoulder and left it at a curt hello. There’s a lot in life I would have missed out on by not taking the chance with a stranger. My husband and I were once just strangers and look what’s come of that. When it comes down to it, that’s the marrow of life: shared experiences with people. I’m glad my kids have a memory similar to mine from childhood, and I’m glad there’s now a video to remind us.

 

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1 Comment

  • oMGoodness… The BEST part of that video was four kids I love:). Second place goes to the sunburned old guy @ Virginia Beach:). Totally going to start recording people dancing in my favorite places!