I boarded a plane on April 1st, 2020, heading to the UK for a month, thanks to the inspiration of Roz Stendahl.
“Are you mad? There is a global pandemic going on!”
No worries, it is perfectly safe to travel inside a Fake Journal.
Roz Stendahl invented this concept several years ago and although I liked the idea, I never tried it until this year because I was always ‘too busy.’
This year, I got the bright idea that while pretending I was someone else in my Fake Journal, I could also get the heck out of 2020 and the current pandemic, and return to my beloved Britain, all for the price of a cheap sketchbook and a little self-discipline.
Many of you know I first traveled to England in 2012 by enrolling in a wonderful educational travel company called Road Scholar. I was so pleased by my first experience that I have traveled with them three more times, in 2014, 2016 and 2018. In January 2020 I played with the idea of going again, despite being unsure of my physical and financial abilities. While I was wavering, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and took the question right out of my hands. Or did it?
I decided to create a Fake Journal based on a Road Scholar trip through Wales, a trip I have considered for a few years. While I was at it, I decided to “take the tour” two years hence, in 2022, hoping that by then we may be living in a somewhat safer world.
It was such fun writing those initial journal entries, packing my bags, feeling full of anticipation and eagerness as I wrote and drew and painted.
The next eleven blog posts with take you along on my journey, as I spend 11 days with my new Road Scholar friends. For the remainder of the month I will “meet up” (in my imagination) with a delightful group of women who are no fantasy at all. They are members of an international gang of artists and writers I met online in the summer of 2017 and feel like I have known my entire life. I have actually met two of them in person already, including my English friend ‘Jane’ who will play a large part in my imaginary tale in latter parts of April. (She is real, but gets a pseudonym since she is in a fake journal, right?)
Would you like to join me?
No need to start on April first, you can start today. If you would like a framework on which to hang your adventure, I highly recommend going to the Road Scholar website and following my lead.
- Pick a Road Scholar tour you like, perhaps one that surprises you a little. No need to limit yourself to your current athletic abilities; after all, you are creating vibrant, interesting characters, including yourself!
- Find a blank journal or sketchbook. If you don’t have one, clip together a stack of copy paper to create a book of your own. If you have decent drawing or painting paper, be sure to intersperse those as well. When you are all done, you can staple the spine together to create a real book.
- After you select your tour and as soon as “your plane lands” on Day 1, try to read the description of just one day at a time, just the day you are in, no more. This will give you a real sense of being in the moment. After all, you can’t ‘plan ahead’, because you are on a tour! Keep it in the day as much as you can.
- Commit to journaling and/or sketching every day for about an hour if at all possible, to fully an immerse yourself in ‘being there’
- Break each day into two parts–morning and afternoon: Read through the morning’s activities, and look up each location on the internet. You will find multiple websites and Wikipedia pages to spark your interest, the same way your excellent travel guide would do, giving you historical background and lots and lots of images to inspire you to draw and paint. Then do the same for the afternoon’s activities.
- Be sure to create imaginative descriptions of your traveling companions: make them fun and quirky, just like you. Remember to add in the one charming person who is always late for the bus, always misplaces her backpack, who everyone grows to love by the end of the tour.
- Of course, when your tour is over, if it is only 10-14 days, feel free to spend a couple days on your own at a nice hotel in your foreign city. Create a virtual city tour of your own, and meet some locals. Let them ask all sorts of questions about what it is like to be an American, and answer with humility, affection, and respect. All countries can benefit from having kind, decent visitors from far away who meet the locals and chat with open minds and hearts. People who are just like you, right? What kind of a Human Ambassador would you like to be? You can create any characteristics you admire for yourself, traits that you may not feel you have just yet. No worries, now is your time to rehearse!
For you Anglophiles, here are the four trips I have taken. I would repeat any one of them in a heartbeat.
Maybe you are more interested in high adventure, tours that require great agility and stamina. No worries, you can do that as well. All you need is the desire, a great imagination, a sketchbook journal, and the ability to ‘stay on the bus’ until you get where you want to go.
While you’re at it, create your own ‘Wish List’ on the Road Scholar website, so you can return again and again to enjoy a bit of wanderlust while we are still grounded. There you can think about investing in future adventures, sketchbook in hand.
And as always, let us know how you got on.