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21kgg-a1-l_sl160_aa115_Question #1 in the Lonely Planet Guide to Experimental Travel quiz asks, Which of the followng forms do you most associate with the concept of travel? The possible responses are 1) a straight line 2) a zigzag 3) parallel lines 4) a labyrinth or 5) a circle. For me, I think of a zigzag, so the zany creators of the book  suggest trying an Alternating Travel experiment.

My daughter picks zigzag as well, so I figure we should try the Alternating Travel experiment together. The task is to go right from your home, left at the first street you come to, right at the next one, and so on, alternating directions until blocked by something, “a no-man’s land, a building, or a stretch of water…and you can go no further.”

A quick mental calculation and I realize going right from our house would cause us to be stopped in 5-6 blocks on a little street that dead-ends into a steep hill. So we started left first, and alternated every street – with a quick stop at our local library, which was right on the way – discovering that for us, it is a stretch of water that allows us to go no further in that direction. The Pacific Ocean, in fact, unless you’d rather call it Puget Sound.

It was an entertaining little travel experiment and I’m ready to try a few more experiments from the book with other members of the family, or as a family. I’ve always wanted to do an Opus Touristicus, for example, undertaking “a journey inspired by a work of literature, art, cinema or music.” And my daughter and I already researched A-Z Travel, where you draw a line from the first A listing in your town’s index to the last Z listing. Aaron Court to Zuanich Park, that would be.

Plus, she and I are now secretary-generals in Latourex, short for Le Laboratoire de Tourisme Experimental. Perhaps the rest of the family would like to assume such positions in the international NGO (non-governmental organization) that promotes “discovery of new ways of seeing other places.” The criteria is simply undertaking a travel experiment or seriously having the intention of doing so. Want to join?

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imagesI met a future bicycle touring adventurer today. She’s graduating from high school this June, and inspired by my friend Jennifer Bradbury’s young adult novel Shift, is planning a three-week bicycle tour. We had only met thus far in the virtual world of e-mail, so it was great to see her for real in a coffee shop. We dissected Bicycling The Pacific Coast: A Complete Guide Canada to Mexico, and spent time detailing gear, thinking about routes, talking fitness goals, and getting her connected to resources.

And there really are a bunch of great resources out there for the first-time overnighting self-contained bicyclist. The Adventure Cycling Association has a number of worthwhile on-line articles, plus great photos and maps, and the Crazy Guy on a Bike website inspires with information and trip blogs. In our community, there are workshops to help bicyclists learn gear and maintenance put on by local shops as well as the city’s program encouraging folks to bicycle, Everybody Bike.

Now that I’m an official mentor for my teenage mentee’s project (yes, complete with signed paperwork for her Senior Project filed at her high school), I am reminded of the value of each one teach one. Sure she can read up on bicycle touring, but it helps to know someone who’s ahead of you on the road, so you can ask questions and think out loud with someone. Or see their gear. Our next meeting will even include a tour of my garage for that purpose.

I love that she’s dreaming of adventuring. And that she’s inspired to grow from someone who has bicycled 14 miles in one day, to someone who will successfully ride hundreds of miles down the coast, camping along the way. And sometime later, her enthusiasm and can do attitude will probably inspire someone else to give an extended bicycle trip a try. I love that too.

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