Janet Sheridan: A traveler’s vocabulary | SteamboatToday.com

Janet Sheridan: A traveler’s vocabulary

Janet Sheridan

Mrs. Huff was noted for her monumental bosom and the hiccupping soprano. She used to teach my third-grade class the song, "Far Away Places." Singing lyrics about the alluring glamour of lands across the sea shaped my desire to visit "places with strange sounding names" and motivated my collection of unusual words that describe travelers' experiences or emotions. Some of my favorites follow.

Resfeber: The restless race of a traveler's heart before a journey begins; a time when anxiety and anticipation tangle together.

Whenever I leave home for longer than a weekend, I experience resfeber. The night before I depart, my thoughts bounce between jubilation and panic: "Five days from now, I'll be going through the Panama Canal. Wow. Did I pack Dramamine? I don't remember; I'd better go see. No, it's midnight; I need my sleep. I can't sleep; I'm worried I won't be able to keep up when we hike in the rainforest. What if I fall behind, no one notices and I get lost and die among strange flora and fauna without ever traversing the canal? Don't be silly. Go to sleep. But wait, first, what am I looking for in the morning? Oh, yeah, Chapstick."

Coddiwomple: Traveling in a purposeful manner toward a vague destination.

I have coddiwompled. During spring break in 1996, Joel convinced me we should use passes provided by his brother-in-law, who worked for American Airlines, to fly stand-by from Hayden to any place warmer than Craig — which gave us plenty of options.

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We each packed a change of clothes and basic toiletries in a carry-on bag and arrived at the airport at 6 a.m. Four hours later, unable to secure a seat on any departing plane, we headed home. As we drove into Craig, a cold wind blew billows of winter debris and dust along the streets, and a sparse snow threatened to turn mean. "Janet," Joel said, "Let's keep driving to Grand Junction and beyond until we find a place we like. Let's not even go by the house for more clothes." Then we coddiwompled our way to Lake Havasu.

Solivagant: A solitary traveler wandering alone.

Due to a hijacked airliner and a frightened friend, I became a solivigant in my 30s: I spent three weeks traveling alone in Greece with no one to blame when I lost track of my hotel, boarded the wrong bus, melted down on the Acropolis and sipped free champagne at a private party I mistook for a festival.

Sonder: Realizing each random passer-by in another country is living a life as vivid and complex as your own.

As my tour bus climbed the Dolomites in Italy, the changing shapes and colors of the mountains mesmerized me. Outside a village, I saw an elderly woman dressed in black, leading a cow. As I watched, she stopped, raised her face to the spring sun, and smiled. A lightning strike of understanding lit my mind: Her life was as important, interesting, disappointing, joyful and sad as mine. She probably had limited knowledge of the United States, none of Carson City, Nevada, and didn't care. As she disappeared from view, my mind opened to the vastness of the world and the small place I held in it.

Strikhedonia: The pleasure of being able to say, "to hell with it!"

Perhaps my expensive walking shoes raised a blister, or the air conditioning in the luxury hotel room failed to function. Maybe I ordered a Brazilian squid dish for dinner three nights in a row because I didn't know Portuguese or had another bad-hair day — strikhedonia.

Sheridan's book, "A Seasoned Life Lived in Small Towns," is available in Craig at Downtown Books and Steamboat Springs at Off the Beaten Path Bookstore. She also blogs at http://www.auntbeulah.com on Tuesdays.