Editor’s Note: We are please to introduce a new contributor to the Pioneer, Marilyn Karr. Marilyn approached me after my workshop at the Rockaway Writers Rendevzous with questions about marketing her in process book, and asked if Pioneer readers would enjoy a travel column. Absolutely! And if her first story is any indication, we’re in for all kinds of adventures with the “Journey Gal.” See Marilyn’s bio following the column.
By Marilyn Karr
I bought my “Green Hornet” when I was 16 years old. A Packard born in 1939, he was large enough for me to stretch out and sleep in the back seat. That was the beginning of my travels in 1955. He consumed lots of gas and oil – about 8 mpg for each. But, hey, gas was only 29.9 cents per gallon in those days.
Once, when we traveled to Mount Rainier, I decided to sleep on the ground next to him. When I awoke in the morning, the Green Hornet was leaning towards me, hugging me a little closer than I preferred. I had two flat tires. To this day, I don’t remember how I got out of that predicament.
At 17 years of age, he and I travel to Canada often. That’s when I learned about Seagram’s Crown Royal, you know in the purple bag. But, that’s another story at a later time – maybe.
I’m 18 and I’m off to Mexico. But, first, I travel to Los Angeles. Disneyland recently opened and I took in all the rides. I think it cost about $2.00 for admission, including eight rides. James Dean was my idol, so I tour the locations of his movie sets in “Rebel Without a Cause.”
When I board my flight, I first walk across a red carpet for my Red Carpet flight to Mexico City! Drinks are free and delicious food. Feeling a little giddy, I move around the plane to meet other travelers.
An older woman – 36 years of age – invites me to join her on her tour. “How much does it cost?” I ask. “$190,” she replies.” “I only have $200,” I lament. “But, it covers everything,” she assures me.
The travel company representative meets us at the airport. I pay him the $190, and we go through customs.
I climb the ruins of the Pyramid of the Sun and walk to the Pyramid of the Moon. We wander the colorful floating gardens at Xochimilco.
After enjoying the silver city of Taxco, we arrive in Acapulco. Now, my travel companion is ill and cannot travel. My ten dollars is gone. I must get home!
I can either fly or take a limousine to return to the airport in Mexico City. Of course, I must fly so I leave Mexico immediately.
I approach the United Airlines counter. “I am out of money and I must go home now,” I plea. “Sorry, the last flight has left for the day,” she casually responds.
Just then, I hear “Mar-O-Lene” as the travel company representative walks towards me. “What are you doing here?” he asks. “I’m out of money and I must go home!”
He talks to the United Airlines rep for what seems a long time. “You can refund your first class ticket and return home tomorrow,” he offers.
Remembering my good friend who lives in San Diego.
Her husband is at sea with the navy. “Is it possible I could go to San Diego first?” I query.
All arranged. I visit Sharon for two weeks. When I come home, I have $50 in my pocket!
What can go wrong with travel? And that’s what instilled in me the desire to travel the unknown and the trust to put one foot in front of the other.
To date, I have traveled just under 60 countries. The itch is there, but my body tells me, “Don’t be so rash!”
Hey Readers! What would you like to read about travel? I would love to receive your comments.
Meet Marilyn Karr – The Journey Gal
Graduating from Milwaukie Union High School, I married at age 20 and was widowed at age 35. I am blessed with four children, seven grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.
At age 58, I backpacked alone around the world, both on the cheap and as a diabetic.
Having everything on my back for 10-1/2 months, “stuff” wasn’t so important anymore. Shortly after returning, I sold my home and moved to the beach in January 2000.
I volunteered with Meals on Wheels, Dial-A-Ride and joined Rockaway Beach Lions.
In 2011, Journey, my Border Collie, completed my family. I taught him to let me know when my blood sugars were abnormal. When I returned home from Africa the first time, he no longer told me. Being a social kind of guy, I took a class and we took a test. That was the beginning of our volunteering as a certified therapy team – until the pandemic struck – for five years at Shriner’s Hospital, Portland.
Being somewhat isolated, I began writing about my life. Then I remembered my typed binders about my backpacking around the world 25 years ago.
Portions of my binders are turning into a memoir in progress. Hopefully, it is published this year.