On April 1, 2020, I boarded a plane heading to the UK for a month.
“Are you mad? There is a global pandemic going on!”
No worries! It is perfectly safe to travel … inside a Fake Journal.
Blogger and artist Roz Stendahl invented the idea of a “Fake Journal” several years ago, and although I liked the idea, I never participated until this year because I was always ‘too busy.’ This year, I got the bright idea that I could not only pretend I was someone else in my Fake Journal, I could indulge in a bit of time travel as well, get the heck out of the current pandemic and return to my beloved Britain — all for the price of a cheap sketchbook and a little self-discipline.
As those of you who follow my blog know, I first visited England in 2012 by enrolling in a wonderful educational program with Road Scholar. I was so pleased by my first experience that I have been back again on three more Road Scholar learning adventures in 2014, 2016 and 2018. In January 2020, I toyed 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 program “Celtic Wales: Snowdonia and Pembrokeshire,” a trip I have considered for a few years. I then decided to “take the trip” two years from now, in 2022, assuming by then we will, hopefully, be living in a far 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.
I began a series of blog posts on April 10, 2020, which, over three weeks, will take you along on my journey, as I spend 11 days with my new Road Scholar friends. You can follow my adventures in Wales on my blog, Aloft With Inspiration.
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Would you like to join me?
No need to start on April first, you can start today! If you would like a framework to hang your adventure on, I highly recommend going to the Road Scholar website and following my lead.
- Find a Road Scholar program you like, perhaps one that surprises you a little. Choose a destination or topic you’ve always wanted to learn about. No need to limit yourself to your current physical 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 pick your program, and as soon as “your plane lands” at your destination, try to read just the description of the day you are in, no more. This will give you a real sense of being in the moment.
- Commit to journaling and/or sketching every day for about an hour if at all possible, to really give yourself the feel of immersion in the experience.
- As you read the description of the day at hand, read through the morning’s activities, and look up each location on the Internet. Each of them will have multiple websites and Wikipedia pages to spark your interest the way your Group Leader would, giving you historical background and lots of images to inspire you to draw and paint. Then do the same for the afternoon’s activities.
- Be sure to add in descriptions of your traveling companions: make them fun, quirky and curious, 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 trip.
- Of course, when your Road Scholar program 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.” Explore the city 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 travelers from other countries meet the locals and chat with open minds and hearts. People like you, right? What kind of a Human Ambassador would you like to be? You can create any characteristics you admire, traits that you may not feel you have just yet. No worries, now is your time to rehearse.
- Before you close the book on this adventure, don’t forget to add your dream Road Scholar program to your Wishlist so you can take it “for real” someday, when it’s safe for us all to hit the road again together in the future.
For you Anglophiles, here are the four trips I have taken. I would repeat any one of them in a heartbeat.
- The English Lake District and the Borders: Romance to Turbulence
- The English Lake District and North Yorkshire in Bloom
- Chelsea Garden Show and Gardens
- Scotland’s Highlands
Maybe you are more interested in high adventure, programs 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.
About the Author
Bobbie Herron | Road Scholar Class of ‘12
Bobbie is a watercolorist, sketchbook artist and writer and a fourth-generation journal-keeper from Concord, New Hampshire. She is the creator of the website Aloft With Inspiration, “where love of words and watercolors soar together.”