“From small beginnings come great things”
When you mix a patient, brilliant, web-building and all-around great guy from France (G), with a dynamic gal from Minnesota who is a curious, creative dreamer that avoided all things websites (J), you get laughter, virtually shared chocolate and stories of adventure. We were both building and pouring into our own membership sites, and yes, pushing design limits, but had no idea of the travel adventure we had embarked on, the seeds that were planted, or that one day we’d be holding our own metaphorical tickets and boarding passes for the GJ Experience train.
But let’s take a look at where it all began…
I, Janelle, held the tickets and boarding passes in my hand like magic keys that were about to unlock decades of stories, adventures and memories that I didn’t even know how to imagine. The decorations alone, permanently seared into my heart and mind. There were columns of colorful suitcases piled on top each other forming pillars from floor to ceiling inside the airport. Who had these colorful pieces once belonged to? Where all had they traveled? I watched with excitement as people, bound for other lands and spaces, walked about - their own magical tickets in hand.
As for me, I was off to see one of my favorite people in all the world. My grandfather. Though we lived an ocean apart, quite literally - he in Alaska, I in California - the bond between us was just as inseparable as the mint & chip in Mint Chip ice cream.
I was 12 years old and embarking on an adventure of firsts. First time traveling solo. First time on a plane. First time spending the summer away. First time crossing an ocean. And it became the first of many times I’d sit in curious wonder of all the excited hummings drumming through an airport. The seeds of excitement for travel were officially planted.
As for me, Georges, my first travel adventure started at a young age growing up in the French Alps. As a kid, my mum would take my brother and I to Geneva for a day and I remember how much I enjoyed going to the airport and watching airplanes take-off and land. That was when you could sit on the rooftop at the airport for hours on end.
When I turned 13, after one year of English classes in school, my mum, who was a teacher, signed me up for a month-long language program in the UK. That trip was the beginning of a lifetime filled with travel experiences.
What a trip it was! I got dropped off at a bus station with a suitcase I could barely carry by myself, along with a group of kids I did not know, got handed off to a few counselors that would be in charge for the next month.
First stop, Geneva airport...Yeah, this time I was not going to just watch airplanes, I was actually going to fly. What an experience. Going up the stairs from the back of a Caravelle (yes, they don’t make them anymore).
Destination - London.
Upon arrival, we were greeted by families that were going to be our hosts for a month. Oh but wait, they don’t speak French, and they sure don’t speak the same english I learned in school. Oh boy, that’s going to be interesting.
The schedule went like this: Spend nights and weekends with the family, english classes every morning, and group activities in the afternoon.
I felt like a big boy, being away from home in another country. It was so much fun, and how great an experience it was at 13 years old. And when I say away, I mean, we did not have cell phones, whatsApp, Facebook or anything like that. My only connection with home was at the discretion of the host family, by using their landline.
The trip was filled with first time experiences
- First time flying
- First time overseas - You have to cross the English Channel traveling from France to the UK. We French called it overseas at the time
- First time language obstacles - How would you feel if every morning at class you were being asked to write what you did the day before and all you could do was speak in the present tense, about yesterday? Yep, that was me
- First time spending a month with a family I did not know
- First time riding the bus by myself
- And I’m sure I'm missing a few more….
That trip really gave me the bug for travel and adventure. Can you imagine the excitement when I got back home? OMG, I just couldn't shut up. I wish I could go back and look at some of the pictures I took (not with a cellphone, mind you).
From that point on, travel has been part of my life in many ways. Establishing connections with people from different cultures in different parts of the world is enriching.
More G & J stories to come.
We can now see it was those not-so-small beginnings, and all the ways they wove through our individual stories that years later began to weave together in friendship and membership sites.
What were seeds that were planted in your story that turned out to be a not-so-small beginning?
What was the beginning of your travel adventures?