Over the years, my travel souvenirs have evolved from unique and expensive, to inexpensive and ordinary. The souvenir journey started on my first trip to Europe in 1971. What did I buy? First, an expensive set of Rosenthal stainless flatware. Why? Because my girlfriend at the time said it was not only stylish but the best buy in all of Europe. I followed that up with an expensive Zeiss camera and lenses. Looking back, those purchases were rather superfluous, heavy to carry, and now, probably sitting in a second hand shop somewhere in Des Moines, Iowa.
Subsequently, I began the tour through the great ski resorts of the US. These were places like Aspen, Vail, Snowmass, Sun Valley, Snowbird, and the nearby resorts in California. What did I buy? First, a great looking leather hat in Aspen, now also in a thrift store in the Bay Area. But I soon discovered something inexpensive, and easy to pack. What was it?
Patches, and more patches. Yes, the kind you sew on your ski jacket, and hope that people will say, “So, you were in _ _ _ _ _ _! (fill in the blanks). I still have them, somewhere. I saw them a year or two in a box of old stuff, never to see the exterior of a jacket, nor any other useless purpose. It turns out to be a waste of time and money.
Once Sheri and I started traveling extensively, we decided to buy prints of famous sights or scenes in foreign countries, as well as the U.S. We found some absolute gems, and soon covered the main wall in our home over a decade or so. These would be world famous scenes, such as Angkor Wat, the Amazon, the Great Barrier Reef, Mount Fujii, Pike Market, Pinehurst, St. Andrews, Machu, Santa Fe, the Grand Canyon, places like that.
But when we remodeled our home about ten years ago, almost everything framed and mounted on the wall went away. Some were given away, most were donated to charity. I may have just a handful. So, what did we replace those wonderful prints with? A wooden map of the world (pictured). Simple, straight forward, a representation of our travels in a succinct, yet stylish manner.
As I fast forward to today, what do I buy now? The answer is very little, except for one small vice. Yes, the often overlooked, sneered at, low brow and inexpensive refrigerator magnet. I probably have several hundred in a box somewhere. I included seven recent magnets. Can you name the place? Why did I start doing this?
Well at the same time, I had a locker at work before I went into management. When we went somewhere, I bought a magnet, and placed it on the outside of my locker. It was a great conversation piece, and seemed to provide a simple reminder of some great trips. It soon took on a life of its own.
As I migrated to an office, I started to cover the sides of file cabinets with magnets. When people came to my office, the magnets dominated the décor, and soon, the conversations. As I said above, the magnets took on a life of its own.
Most are quite ordinary, like Vegas, or Stonehenge, or Table Mountain in Cape Town. Some are rather unique, from places most people would never go. But again, it brings back great memories of trips we took over the years.
I really have no place to put these little treasures, save for a small, refrigerator in our garage. I refuse to build a shrine to show off these magnetic creatures. Maybe it is creating its own magnetic field in a box in our garage?
Nevertheless, the collection grows, perhaps a little more slowly than in the past, when we traveled more. There are a few treasures, that you see in the photos above. The magnet may soon fall off or break, but hopefully, the memories never will!!!