Billie W. Taylor II, Ph.D.
TRAVELER

USA map World map

The National Park Service and America's railroads began engaging in a "See America First" campaign since at least 1872. The Soo Line created the name in a 1910 brochure which said, "See Europe if you will, but see America first." I was born just before WWII began and by the time I was old enough to think, the war was over, Europe was a mess, and the campaign was in full swing again. So, I bought the notion. As I entered my teen years, but before I could drive, the Interstate Highway system was begun and black & white TV with three networks were all there were. There was a singer named Dinah Shore on one of them. Her variety show was sponsored by the then largest automobile company in the world, General Motors - more specifically the Chevrolet Division. Every show ended with her belting out "See the USA in your Chevrolet, America is asking you to call...." (If you're one of the many too young to have heard it, here's a clip from 1953.) Now I was completely sold! See America First in my Chevrolet!

Thus my first car was a 1955 Chevy. Before I traded it in, it had 65,000 miles on it and had been to or at least through 15 states and one Canadian Province. After a series of bad experiences with both new and used cars, we bought a new 1965 VW which, needless to say, was a mite cramped for a family of four. Although we could ill afford it, we kept the VW for my wife to tool around town and got a brand-spanking new candy-apple red 1967 Ford convertible to take us all to the World's Fair in Montreal and began to seriously "see America first." We got some tents, a dining-fly, Coleman stove, etc, etc, etc. It was the last of the "etc.s" that caused us to get a utility trailer to haul all the gear. Then we got a bigger utility trailer!

In 1981, the kids were no longer going with us and the aches and pains of middle age were making the setting up, taking down, sleeping on low cots, and all the rest of it entirely too inconvenient. So we got a 17' Starcraft travel trailer and began taking longer trips with shorter stays.

We had also become interested in birding and began planning our trips to add to our life-lists. We killed the trailer on our first trip to Alaska in 1989 - the Alcan Highway was still almost completely unpaved and large sections were under construction. (Later we learned that the plan was to have the road completely paved by its 50th Anniversary in 1992.) We hauled the battered and forlorn trailer on the Alaska Marine Highway Ferry back to Vancouver Island and nursed it home.

We traded what was left of the 17-footer in on a 1989 20' Starcraft. It made only one trip - to Whitefish Point, Michigan - and was destroyed, along with the Ramcharger tow-car, on the return trip home. I doubt the little white car which demolished us even knew of the trail of destruction he left behind after cutting me off. But the phrase "Watch out - little white car!" remains with us yet. So we shopped for a new RV and took our trips by car-motel until we settled on a 1992 Airstream van conversion.

Next came a 1995 Winnebago Brave class A to which we added a Jeep in tow. In 1999, another trip to Alaska (both ways on the newly paved Alcan Hightway) which, as expected because most other "highways" in Alaska are not paved, finished it off. So we traded the Winnebago for a 2000 Monaco Dynasty diesel-pusher Class A. By 2008, the Dynasty was showing its age, we had been in all 50 states and all of the Canadian Provinces and Territories (Well, not Nunavut; there are no roads.), and my life list of birds had gone over 750. Meanwhile, we had retired and started wintering in the South and had been taking our granddaughter on summer trips to historic sites. In 2008, we sold the Dynasty and plan to continue wintering in warmer climes, although not necessarily in the US. Below are slide shows of a couple of our post-RV trips. After all, we have fulfilled our youthful dream to "see America first" and have visited only a half-dozen European nations and nowhere on any other continent.

In the summer of 2010 we decided that Australia would be warm in winter here so we began to find out what it would cost and the best way to go for Winter, 2011. With our travel agent, Andrea, we took a look at various options. Lo! Holland America Lines had a very nice New Zealand-Australia cruise. Then we learned that that was a segment of a World Cruise! So that's what we did! The 110-day trip brought us from 2 continents and 8 nations to six continents and 49 nations! Below is a slide show of 34 of the nearly 1000 photos we took on the journey.
Andrea Ewart

OUR RVs

Starcraft Travel Trailer

Airstream 190B

Winnebago Brave

Monaco Dynasty

2010 SUMMER TRIP

On our way to Boston,
Alice (L) & Beth, friends for over 50 years, catch up.

We saw a sail regatta en route from CT to MA

Cuddles in the Plimouth Plantation watch tower.

Cuddles and Grammie explore Plimouth Plantation

At Plymouth Rock!

Memorial to the Forefathers - complete with hawk nest crown.

Next stop was the Adams National Historic Park in Quincy.

Then Dorchester Heights National Monument.

The Beantown Trolley stopped at Prudential Tower.

A guide walked us along the Freedom Trail.

A visit to the USS Constitution - Old Ironsides.

The Shaw/54th MA Regiment Memorial.

A Harbor Cruise near the end of the day.

The Boston Children's Museum had a bubble experience.

Penguins at the New England Aquarium

A favorite painting at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

The unique Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Granddaddy and Cuddles met Ben Franklin after dinner at the Union Bar.

Paul Revere guided us through the Minuteman NHP.

The Franklin Park Zoo was a must visit.

Our side trip to Salem included Hawthorne's House of Seven Gables.

A birthday cake for Granddaddy when we got home - 70th.
"Now your old!" says Cuddles.

2010 WINTER TRIP

Four nights at Holiday Inn Express to get there.

Our home away from home.

Beth's birthday celebration.

which we both enjoyed.

Our Fiftieth wedding anniversary dinner!

The DonWes Flea Market is a must stop.

We went birding with Jay and Carol Soule.

We visited the new World Birding Center on S Padre Island.

and Salineño where we saw the usual assortment of Orioles.

Lunch one day at Pepe's on the River.

and saw a tour boat between us and Mexico.

Beth joined the Red Hat Ladies for lunch.

We got home before Easter and Bill took Michelle shopping.

Got some school clothes while we were out.

And the mandatory Converse shoes.

The annual Mother's Day/Magnolia photo.

2011 WORLD TOUR

Bon Voyage gifts - bouquet times 2.

The marvelous Planeto Astrolabium in the atrium of decks 3 - 4 - 5.

Sunrise at sea.

Tea at three every day at sea.

Our guide almost disappears 20 feet away in the tropical rain forest - Costa Rica.

Panama Canal tow lines are delivered by rowboat.

The Lion rocks at sunset - Galapagos Islands.

Nesting Blue-footed Booby - Galapagos Islands.

Blow hole - Galapagos Islands.

Auckland waterfront with Sky Tower in orange - New Zealand.

English style garden - New Zealand.

Telling a Maori legend - New Zealand.

Tranz Alpine Express Train - New Zealand.

Time Tower - New Zealand.

Cape Raoul - Australia.

Sydney Opera House at sunrise - Australia.

Our room overlooking the desert at Ayers Rock - Australia.

The end of the Kaniya Waterhole Walk - Australia.

Praying Mantis in Paupua New Guinea.

Side trip from the Long Corridor in the Summer Palace - China.

The Great Wall snaking up the ridge - China.

Saigon traffic - Vietnam.

The Taj Mahal - India.

The Banganga quarter of Mumbai - India.

The entrance to the Sultan's Palace - Oman.

Watching for pirates with infrared video.

The coast of Iran - Strait of Hormuz.

The port at sunrise - Dubai.

King Tut statue at Karnak - Egypt.

Bedouin herding goats - Jordan.

Ashdod School of Dance gets audience participation - Israel.

A street in Vernazza - Italy.

Flamenco Cave performance in Granada - Spain.

Bougainvillea at the Palace of Pontius Pilate in Seville - Spain.