Backpacking way back then
They wanted to take stuff from one place to another so it was easier to put it all in some kind of container, usually a bag. At some point it turned out to be more convenient to put straps on the bag and carry it your back. The backpack was born. We didn't call them by that name, back in the 60s and 70s, though. It was a bag, sack or pack and you slung it on your back. None of your so called technical this or that, just a nylon or canvas bag with a pair of straps put over your shoulders and off we went. Since the Stone Age to now, people have carried stuff on their backs. Soldiers have worn 'backpacks' for centuries.
During 1968, in San Francisco, I bought a really cheap little pack (something like the graphic I did above). I think it cost me a dollar in some junky little store in the Mission District. Just a bag, no outside pocket, no zip (only a button) and it didn't even have adjustable straps. However, it worked and did the job. I put: one toiletry bag, a pair of jeans, set of underwear, one shirt, pair of socks, and a handkerchief into it, that was all. Then set out across the States.
When I left there it wasn't just to go traveling for the sake of it (I find that incredibly boring). There was a purpose and goal. My parents had retired to England. To get there meant a long journey which would involve working to reach my destination. I had not read Jack Kerouac or Tolkien, rarely watched TV and wasn't trying to escape anything. A gasoline bomb had a part in the decision, perhaps to spur me on to do the necessary. I definitely was not "searching for something".
Why I travelI suppose you could say it's built into me. My first journey was at around 2 weeks, when my mother joined my father at Allied Intelligence during the WW2 wrap up. Officially, my father was a Lt. Col. in the U. S. Air Force (USAF). Reality - he worked for various intelligence agencies for about 20 years. Growing up in the intelligence community: meant no friends, limited movement, bodyguards and was a bit dangerous. Childhood (as you know it) did not exist. Heck, we didn't exist.
This kind of lifestyle breeds extreme independence, much more so than the usual military brats. You don't become a "loner" (that's a negative term), you end up being a person who can function alone normally. I never get, nor have ever been, lonely - it's an alien concept to me.
Just before my 15th birthday, Dad got out of the game. I hit my 10th school in my Sophomore year of high school (that's 10 schools in 10 years), near a USAF base in the Pacific Northwest. Later 4 years were spent in the USAF, finishing my tour in May 1968. Take it or leave it, that was my life and I didn't have much choice in the matter.
Do I have the Wanderlust? Not really. Once something is completed, I just move on. I do like to explore and to hike alone in the country. Discovering new places and finding something 'larger or other' also comes into play. I enjoy myself too and am not averse to the occasional party. The last 6 years travel blogging has seen me make a few friends (now that is a new thing). There are also some folk from the past whom I'm still in contact with as well.
There is probably a little bit of this in most people, so they like to get out places and find what's there. It's the reasons though. I think too many people today are unhappy and many hit the road to escape reality. Then there are a whole bunch more who just do things because they're spoilt and whine at every chance. For them life is a party, usually heard about through the media (in its various forms) and freedom means doing anything to satisfy their own selfishness, with no regard for others. I call them iPhone Lemmings. They are too easily enticed. I run across this a lot when I'm out. Finally the genuine explorers, who have a valid purpose in their exploration - without being unduly influenced by others.
With all that in mindOver four years ago Greg Rodgers said this, "Would love to hear about journeys you took long ago -- before people had TripAdvisor and the Internet to keep them connected." See the comments on that post. When he joined me for the San Fermin in 2015, the subject came up again. Afterwards, I began writing the 'Transconning the USA in 1968' and it sat around for a couple of years before I finally decided to finish it off.
As a result there will be 5 articles, over the few months, in this regard (it's a pity I didn't think of this prior to posting the 1968 journey).
Because for me,
it began a lot earlier.
Aug 01, 2017