Personal Journey: A vacation in three letters

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Do not adjust your vision, that is Ilena Di Toro standing, with Disc camera in hand, among the black swans at Lake Monger.

People travel for many reasons. Some do it for business or to go away to college.  Others do it because they are taking part in a missionary or service project. Others do it in the spirit of self-discovery. As for me, travel can be summed up in three letters:

F-U-N.

I applaud those who leave the familiar in the pursuit of self-actualization or to help others, but I want my journey to be a break from the humdrum routine. I want to see new sites, eat different foods, experience new things, and I want the result of each to be me saying, “Well, that was fun.”

Plenty of vacations fill the bill. There were countless trips to Wildwood, where I spent days on the beach, soaking in the sun and surf, and nights on the boardwalk going on the amusement rides, playing the arcade games and eating junk food. I took a few trips to Italy to see relatives and see historical sites. When my brother left Philadelphia for a job in St. Petersburg, Fla., my parents and I drove down I-95 to visit him. St. Pete was a lot of fun. Spending 20-plus hours in a car wasn’t. I took cruises to Canada, Bermuda, and the Bahamas and, yes, they were fun. What vacation was the most fun? It was a trip to Perth, Australia, that my Dad and I took in December 1989.

Why Australia? My parents asked me what I wanted as a high school graduation present. I said I want to go to Australia and visit the relatives on Dad’s side of the family. I thought it would be neat to see them and another part of the world. Once there, the fun didn’t stop. There was a Christmas Day barbecue. There were trips to a nearby beach where the warmth of the Australian sun felt like my bones were getting tan.  There were also trips to museums, historical sites, vineyards, and countless other barbecues at the homes of friends and relatives. I was a sophomore at Temple University at the time and was not burdened by work or family responsibilities. So this was a vacation where I truly unplugged. Every day was an opportunity to experience something new, have fun, and I relished it.

There was one site that was the coolest of them all: Lake Monger. The lake near Perth features the requisite greenery and paths. It also features black swans.  Lake Monger’s swans are so accustomed to people feeding them you can  walk right up to them and they won’t  scurry away. I walked up to the swans to take some pictures and so did my cousin. Her pictures of me among the swans shows a 20-year-old who was eager to experience all that she could on her vacation, and that included being a wannabe wildlife photographer. And, yes, I did have fun.