Destination: Africa! - VisionQuest 2020Sep 04, 2020 11:08AM ● By Dani Crossley
The author’s VisionQuest is to experience a safari
This is one of the winning essays, submitted in response to Susquehanna Life magazine publisher Erica Shames’ call for dream-ideas—VisionQuests—to pursue for 2020, toward the goal of becoming more self-actualized.
The inquisitive giraffe stuck his head in the dining room window and bid my mother Lynne a cheerful (okay, hungry) good morning. My mother was enthralled and reached out to pet its nose and offer a carrot snack. This was a usual occurrence during her African safari in 2005.
Lynne had been on six of the seven continents in her worldwide travels—first, with my father: then, as a widow, with friends. Destinations included: the Amazon, China, Europe and the first “trip of a lifetime” (Australia, New Zealand and Fiji), to name a few. My husband and I were fortunate to accompany her and my father, Dave, on that trip of a lifetime in 1993-‘94.
When my father died in 1996, my mother wanted to take each of us five kids (and spouses) on a trip of our choosing. Even the “non-travelers” among us jumped at the chances, and we enjoyed some lovely family vacations that way.
Lynne slowed down the last few years, and stopped traveling altogether after completing her bucket list with a visit to the Grand Canyon with daughters, daughter-in-law and son-in-law in 2016.
Lynne had been all over the world, but still had one destination in the U.S. she needed to see. She made it to our triennial family reunion in 2016, in Clearwater, Fla. (not too far from her home in Winter Haven). That was the icing on her proverbial travel cake.
Making sense of a life
Sadly, Lynne passed away unexpectedly in March of 2018. We held a celebration of her life at our last family reunion in 2019 in Pigeon Forge, Tenn. We children were reeling from her loss and trying to make some sense of our memories of her and her life with my father and their travels.
We gained some perspective when, going through her papers, we came upon her Ethical Will. In this document she imparted to us her feelings about her life. It helped us tremendously to deal with her absence knowing she counted herself a lucky woman indeed having had a wonderful life!
When we deliberated about how we should use our inheritance, we knew what we had to do. Mom had advised us to pursue our primary goals in life first, then if there was anything left over—travel!
A dream-idea is hatched
We began hatching our dream-idea almost immediately and made a plan to take an African safari in April of 2020, just like the trip Mom enjoyed so much. Planning for this trip began in autumn of 2018.
We are now only a couple months from realizing our dream and the pieces are falling into place. Four of the five children (the other is a definite non-traveler) with assorted spouses and friends will be embarking on our flight to Johannesburg and final destinations in Zambia, Zimbabwe and Botswana. We wanted to travel with a group of people we knew, and cajoled friends into joining us. In all, 11 people are going.
We are struggling with the idea of surviving a 15-hour nonstop flight and getting prepared, with vaccinations; myriad currencies; packing and making sure to include no black, blue or white clothing; various visas; and the prospect of less-than-luxurious accommodations.
Then, amid our worry, we remember Mom and smile, thinking how happy she’d be to know we were all going together to relive one of her happiest trips.
We’ll get there—and give a carrot to a giraffe in her honor!
Dani Crossley, who has a great passion for genealogy, is a retired administrative assistant with two sons, and lives in Bloomsburg with her husband Wally.Note: Dani and her family and friends were scheduled to go to Africa last April, but the trip was cancelled by the tour company due to the coronavirus. “Our whole group is now rescheduled for April 2021, and we’re keeping our fingers crossed,” said Crossley.