The Other Side of the Ocean
I took a trip to England once. I had always wanted to travel there, and I had finally gotten my chance with a trip through school. I was very excited, ready to see all the sights and hear all the British accents. Without actually visiting, I had decided that England was my favorite country, though I couldn’t tell you why. Perhaps it was something about the way the rolling hills looked in pictures of the English countryside, although it could just as easily been the funny hats the Queen’s guards wear, I was always intrigued by the little things. In any case I had never been so excited for a trip in my life.
After a plane ride that seemed to take forever we landed at Heathrow airport in London. We stumbled out of the terminal and onto our little bus, perfect for our group of ten people. I’m not sure how long it took, be we ended up in the tiny town of Frome. Our hotel was small, but the sliding door in my room opened onto the lawn overlooking a perfect set of rolling English hills.
We spent the next ten days taking day trips on our bikes to all sorts of beautiful and exciting places like Stonehenge and the historic bathhouses in Bath. We saw caves and monuments and lots of rolling hills. I actually spent some time getting very lost on one of those hills, surrounded by tall grass and sheep. All these experiences were enjoyable and interesting, but they weren’t as life altering as I had wanted them to be.
About halfway through the trip we spent a day off schedule. This was the first day that we didn’t have every moment planned out, and it turned out to be the most interesting. Our bike trip for the day took us to a beach. It was July, but the air was cool and the water was cooler and the beach was deserted. Instead of sand the entire beach was made up of smooth, beautiful rocks and pebbles. We spent about two hours just having fun, running around over the shining rocks, trying to skip stones and some of us even dared to brave the chilling water.
It was on that rocky beach that I began to feel like this trip was going to be something unbelievably important in my life. There was something about sitting on the smooth rocks, staring out to the horizon that spoke to me better than a guided tour of Stonehenge ever could. I can’t say exactly why that moment was so important to me, but It was the moment my trip really began. I sat on that beach and stared out at the ocean, thinking that if only I could see far enough, I could see America, I could see the east coast that I called home. To be fair if I had seen any big mass of land it most likely would have been Ireland, but the idea of seeing my home from a completely different angle was fascinating to me. We left the beach, but I took a part of it with me, using the feeling of looking at things in different ways to enhance the rest of my trip. I’ll never forget the feel of those wet rocks beneath my bare feet, and I’ll never forget how my trip to England forever changed the way I travel.