Finck: Traveling someplace? Read all about it

Sightseeing can be fun. But too much of it makes my head spin. At some point, the next “beautiful scene” or “interesting building” starts to look like all the others. But traveling takes on a whole new level of interest if I’m about to see something that I’ve read about. If I “know” a place through a story that happened there, then when I go to that place, my imagination comes to life. It’s like finally getting to meet someone in person that you’ve corresponded with or talked to by phone. It’s exciting to finally see a person or place that we have a connection to and—to some extent—already “know.”  A few weeks ago, Abby Kulkey, 8, of Princeton and her family went on a quest to find the Mudgy Moose Trail in Coeur d’Alene, Idaho. Abby knew about this trail from having read the book her cousins sent her called “Mudgy and Millie,” by Susan Nipp (Figpickles Press). In the story, a mouse and a moose play hide-and-seek around the town of Coeur d’Alene. The game takes them to the boardwalk, Independence Point, and the playground at City Park. Because these characters and places were made “famous” by the book, it was exciting for Abby to see them in real life. In fact, a local sculptor created life-size bronze sculptures of the animals, which the city has installed at the five locations mentioned in the story. Abby’s mom, Jen Kulkey, took pictures of Abby with each of the statues for her scrapbook of their trip. Jen says that having read the book before taking the trip made Abby eager to see the town. My friend Bev Johnston read Eugenia Price’s historical novel “The Beloved Invader” as a young woman. The milieu of the story was so appealing to her that she always wanted to visit St. Simon’s Island, where the events took place. Forty years later, she was thrilled to be able to actually travel there. There are numerous beautiful islands off the southern Atlantic coast, but this is the one she wanted to see because this is the one whose story she knew. Ike and Kathy Carlson of Princeton traveled to Medora, South Dakota, a year ago. The landscape is rugged and appears uninhabitable. Ike says he wouldn’t have seen much beauty in it except for the fact that he had recently read David McCullough’s biography of Teddy Roosevelt, who grew up there. Reading about Roosevelt’s love of the wild terrain prepared Ike’s eyes to see that beauty. It was Roosevelt’s intense love of the wilderness that was the force behind the creation of America’s national parks.  Side note: One day while the Carlsons were in South Dakota, Ike struck up a conversation with a “real life cowboy” with a big thick mustache. As a boy, Ike dreamed of growing up to be a cowboy. If you’ve seen Ike around town lately and wondered why his mustache has gotten so thick, now you know the back story.