Travelers stories have enriched reporter’s career

Another stranger stopped in Princeton last week who had a story from the road that reminded me of the many other interesting characters who have passed through here in the past 35 years.

I won’t forget the German native, for example, who stopped here about a decade ago to stay overnight in Riverside Park before moving on early the next morning. He had come down Highway 95 into Princeton pulling a large wooden cart by hand and inside the cart was a carved wooden crucifix. This traveler was going across many states and perseverance was part of his story.

Another traveler passed through driving a horse-drawn, covered wagon bound for the eastern part of the United States. He told of a past hardship in a state out west and of his plans for a new life with his girlfriend in a state to the east.

A wagon train also came through the Princeton area many years ago, as part of a fundraiser. Years later there was a Pony Express style rider on a charity mission.

Not too many years ago, a young girl on a horse rode through who was raising money to build a retreat for military veterans. She was inspiring.

Princeton has also had a its share of long-distance bicyclists passing through, many going coast to coast. In one instance there was a father and son bonding on their bicycle trip.

The Multiple Sclerosis bike rides, hosted by former Minneapolis Star Tribune columnist Jim Klobuchar, also left their mark during their stops in Princeton years ago. Local mail carrier Greg Furzland, who once served as Princeton mayor, went on some of those MS rides, helping raise money for the cause.

The latest traveler who arrived here with a story to tell, came into town last Wednesday. My personal impression of him was that despite the hard times that he talked about, he hadn’t become embittered. I hope that he is able to maintain that spirit in the years ahead.

Interviewing these various travelers has been a rewarding part of my career and I hope that these travelers’ stories that we have carried in this newspaper have been rewarding for the readers as well.

It brings to mind the thought that if a person never takes risks in life they perhaps may not experience failures, but also will never experience the highs that come with risks and stretching. Hiking long stretches or relying on the goodness of strangers to get through a trip involves risks, and that is often the case with many travelers on the eccentric side of life.

A job as a newspaper reporter/photographer has its ups and downs and without the ups this profession would obviously be less attractive, especially in recent time with the challenges the newspaper industry faces. As I look back, I count many of the better times in my job as those talking with these travelers who have been willing to share their life stories in this newspaper. Their life experiences might have inspired others to go for something challenging that they might not have otherwise dared to try, or might have given some ideas on how to better deal with the rough spots in the road of life. I feel fortunate to have met these travelers up close and to have had the chance to be a conduit between them and you, the reader.