A Lifetime of Travel
A Lifetime of Travel
My interest in travel began as a young man while I was in the United States Navy. After being sent to different schools and bases throughout the U.S.A., I had my first experience traveling abroad to East Asia.
I continued traveling to East and Southeast Asia after leaving the Navy and working for the federal government. For recreation, I also visited many states and Canada.
Since being retired as of 2007, I have lived in Thailand but have continued making trips to East Asia and back to America.
Before it is too late for me to travel, I still want to see places which interest me. They are on my bucket list of countries to visit.
Travel While in the Navy
Although I went away to school in Michigan in August 1966 for six months, I didn't really start traveling until I joined the Navy in June 1967.
After basic training at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center just north of Chicago, I took my first plane trip out to a duty station in Monterey, California. While learning Chinese at the Defense Language Institute in Monterey, I often journeyed with friends to San Francisco. Over Christmas break in 1967, I also took my first long train ride from San Francisco to Chicago and back.
In July 1968, it was time for me to go to a second duty station at San Angelo, Texas, in southwest Texas. Before reporting to duty, however, a Navy buddy and I detoured to El Paso and spent two or three days there. It was certainly different and exciting crossing the river from El Paso into Ciudad Juarez just across the border in Mexico. It was even more exciting taking a six-hour bus ride the next day to the small town of Chihuahua in northern Mexico. I still can't believe that I got some tacos and a bottle of Mexican beer for less than a dollar.
Following three months at San Angelo, I was ready to leave the States for my first overseas duty station. It was at Shulinkou Air Station just outside of Taipei, Taiwan. Taiwan was very foreign and exotic. I also had five months of temporary additional duty on the island of Kyushu in southern Japan.
Before being discharged from the Navy, a nine-month tour of duty in 1970 at a base between Baltimore and Washington D.C. followed. On weekends, my friends and I made some trips to Baltimore, Washington, and Annapolis. Upon my date of discharge, I drove with a Navy buddy from Maryland to Toledo, Ohio, where I met former college buddies before bussing back to Wisconsin.
Post-Navy Travel 1971-1980
It was extremely hard for me to settle down after leaving the Navy. Less than three weeks after having been home in January 1971, I traveled back to Taiwan. My stay there was only until June when I came back home again.
By the end of May 1973, I had the itch again to return to Taiwan. This time I had convinced four of my college Chinese language classmates to accompany me back.
Before boarding a charter flight to Taipei in San Francisco, we all traveled by car from Chicago to San Francisco. Our trip was broken up into two legs. On the first leg from Chicago to Salt Lake City, we rode in a drive-away car out of Chicago for delivery in Salt Lake City. By taking turns driving, we made the journey in 24 hours going through the states of Illinois, Iowa, Nebraska, Wyoming, and Utah.
After resting at a college dorm on the University of Utah campus, we rented a car for the final leg of our trip. At 2:00 a.m., we departed Salt Lake City and by 3:00 p.m. of the same day we entered San Francisco.
Although our planned lodging for a day or two in San Francisco did not work out, I was able to get beds for everyone at a chapter of my professional chemistry fraternity in Berkeley on the campus of the University of California.
After arriving in Taiwan, I got married and settled in the southern port city of Kaohsiung until July 1979. At that time, my family and I made another long trip.
We moved to the United States eventually settling in Toledo, Ohio, in August the next month. About one month after buying a small home in Toledo, I got a job offer in Maryland where we moved in December 1980.
During the 1980s, I did a lot of traveling both inside and outside the United States.
In addition to driving often to see my folks in Wisconsin, my family took summer trips during the late 1980s. In July 1986, we spent a week at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, with side trips to Charleston and Wilmington, North Carolina. One week in 1987 was spent at Virginia Beach with short trips to Yorktown, Jamestown, and Norfolk, Virginia. Our best summer trip was driving to Disney World outside of Orlando, Florida, and also spending time at Fort Lauderdale.
During the period 1984-1985, I was fortunate to be able to take my family to Taiwan and live in the mountains outside of Taipei while I had Chinese language training with the government.
I traveled even more during the decade of the 90s. For domestic travel, I made a two-week business trip with the government to Hawaii in April 1990. In my personal travel, I made trips to Atlantic City, Philadelphia, New York City, and Niagra Falls.
Internationally, the government sent me to Taiwan in 1990, Beijing, China, in 1998, and to Thailand yearly during the years 1996-1999.
With the advent of the new millennium, my personal travel finally took me to Canada. After seeing Toronto in 2000, I learned about the "911" national tragedy while I was driving from Montreal to Quebec.
Within the States, I made my first trips to the Smokey Mountains in Tennessee and also to New Orleans.
My government travel saw me visiting Salt Lake City 2000-2002. While there on my free weekends, I was able to drive to Yellowstone Park, the North and South Rim of the Grand Canyon, and also Las Vegas.
For international travel, the government sent me to Thailand for a three-year tour of duty.
Travel Since Retirement in 2007
In April 2007, I retired from my government service. A few months later, I traveled back to Thailand where I presently live. In my retirement, I have made trips back to Taiwan and also visited Hong Kong and Laos. In addition to touring all areas of Thailand, I have made frequent journeys back to Wisconsin where my siblings live.
Future Travel Plans
As long as my health is good, I plan on visiting the United States at least once a year. What is really on my bucket list is to visit England, Switzerland, Austria, and Germany in Europe. The purpose of this trip will be to tour historical sites and also see the locations where my great-grandparents lived in Germany, Austria, and Switzerland.
Questions & Answers
© 2019 Paul Richard Kuehn