Return to a Place

… or Re-live an Experience?

By Jeff Salter

Topic: Is there a place that you have traveled to when you were younger that you wish you could visit again?

While discussing this topic (over breakfast) with my wife, she pointed out that returning to a PLACE would not necessarily re-capture the EXPERIENCE with which I’ve associated that place. And that caused me to approach this topic from two different angles.


As I mulled over this topic for several days this week, I came up with only one PLACE that I wish I could re-visit… and I’d want to bring with me my wife, kids, and grandkids. I’d like to return to Thule Air Base – in northwest Greenland, about 900 miles from the North Pole – just so my family could see the landscape, the base, the buildings, etc., where I lived for most of a year (1972-73). I doubt much of it has changed, because it was significantly a product of the Arctic’s inhospitable climate.

Showing my family where I worked, slept, wrote, and existed (in considerable isolation) for those 11 months wouldn’t likely mean all that much to anyone just there for a quick tour. But at least when I refer to my barracks, to the 4683rd Air Base Group HQ building (where I was assigned), to the chow hall, to the American Forces Radio & Television station (where I also worked) — they’d have a frame of reference.

It was a fairly dismal year, but I made the best of it. Unlike many guys I knew – both American military and Danish civilian – I did NOT mess with the drugs that rather freely / openly circulated. Nor did I drink all that much [compared to many guys I knew, I hardly drank at all!]. I went to movies, played ping pong, worked on jigsaw puzzles that the Catholic Chaplain often had going at the officers’ quarters, wrote lots of letters and poetry, and ate FOUR meals a day.

Yep, the two chaplains shared a vehicle – quite rare on that base – and every evening around 9 p.m. they’d come by our barracks and pick up anyone who was hungry… for what was called “midnight supper.” I guess the serving line may have lasted until midnight, but we were usually out of there by 10 p.m. I know that eating a large 4th meal so late at night was not particularly HEALTHY… but when you’re stationed inside the Arctic Circle, what else have you got to do?

[I gained about 22 pounds that year — from 140 to 162.]

This is the primary base area. Nearby was “P” Mountain and South Mountain, each of which were radar sites, watching the skies for ICBMs from Soviet Russia.


So, Thule is the PLACE I’d like to re-visit. Not so much that I have many fond memories of the rather desolate, remote base… but that I truly wish I could SHOW my family what it was like during that year.

But for an EXPERIENCE (from younger years) that I wish I could have again… I think I’d select Disneyland in the spring of 1958. I was in second grade when I went with my family on our first BIG family trip. [My dad had a ministerial conference in San Francisco — he traded his plane ticket for gasoline money and took all five of us from southeast Louisiana in a VW Beetle.] For more on that trip, see the link at the bottom of today’s blog.

But for the purposes of THIS blog, let me say simply that at Disneyland – in the second year it was open, while some of the attractions were still being built – I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Born in Mississippi, having lived in Chicago, Georgia, and Louisiana… I’d never even imagined a place with that much wonderment and entertainment. [And, of course, by then, we’d been watching Disney’s TV show for a couple of years, and had seen various images of Walt’s “magic kingdom”.]

After a few rides with the whole family, my brother (fifth grade) and I were given the free run of the place… and RUN, we did! My favorite attractions were Tom Sawyer’s Island, the Swiss Family Robinson’s tree house, and Peter Pan’s pirate ship. [What was special about Tom Sawyer’s Island was that you’d take a small ferry across a channel to the island. But once there, you could roam around, play on / with the different features, explore, return to the spots you liked best, etc. THEN, when YOU were ready, you could board the ferry for a return to the “mainland”. No particular time limit, that I remember, either!] Other features that I enjoyed were the jungle riverboat cruise, the Captain Nemo submarine ride, and the Matterhorn ride.

I was not yet 7.5 years old when we visited Disneyland – and I certainly comprehend that I can never again return to that physical age – but I remember enough of the wonder and excitement and full-throttle adrenalin… that it’s enjoyable to imagine re-living it.

My Wife’s Two Cents

As we discussed this topic, my wife had little trouble coming up with an experience and a place. She’d like to return to Mammoth Cave with her sister and parents, take the longer tour this time, and also join the overnight canoe trip along the underground stream.


What about YOU? Is there a PLACE (from your younger years) that you’d like to revisit? Is there a particular EXPERIENCE (that you associated with a particular location) that you wish you could have again?

[JLS # 606]


About Jeff Salter

Currently writing romantic comedy, screwball comedy, and romantic suspense. Fourteen completed novels and four completed novellas. Working with three royalty publishers: Clean Reads, Dingbat Publishing, & TouchPoint Press/Romance. "Cowboy Out of Time" -- Apr. 2019 /// "Double Down Trouble" -- June 2018 /// "Not Easy Being Android" -- Feb. 2018 /// "Size Matters" -- Oct. 2016 /// "The Duchess of Earl" -- Jul. 2016 /// "Stuck on Cloud Eight" -- Nov. 2015 /// "Pleased to Meet Me" (novella) -- Oct. 2015 /// "One Simple Favor" (novella) -- May 2015 /// "The Ghostess & MISTER Muir" -- Oct. 2014 /// "Scratching the Seven-Month Itch" -- Sept. 2014 /// "Hid Wounded Reb" -- Aug. 2014 /// "Don't Bet On It" (novella) -- April 2014 /// "Curing the Uncommon Man-Cold -- Dec. 2013 /// "Echo Taps" (novella) -- June 2013 /// "Called To Arms Again" -- (a tribute to the greatest generation) -- May 2013 /// "Rescued By That New Guy in Town" -- Oct. 2012 /// "The Overnighter's Secrets" -- May 2012 /// Co-authored two non-fiction books about librarianship (with a royalty publisher), a chapter in another book, and an article in a specialty encyclopedia. Plus several library-related articles and reviews. Also published some 120 poems, about 150 bylined newspaper articles, and some 100 bylined photos. Worked about 30 years in librarianship. Formerly newspaper editor and photo-journalist. Decorated veteran of U.S. Air Force (including a remote ‘tour’ of duty in the Arctic … at Thule AB in N.W. Greenland). Married; father of two; grandfather of six.
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11 Responses to Return to a Place

  1. jbrayweber says:

    It is clear Thule made a lifelong impression on you. And I can relate to wanting to experience the magical wonder of Disneyland through the eyes of a child.
    I’d say I would love to revisit any one of the Caribbean islands I’ve been to, and stay for a longer period of time. For the experience, I’m going to agree with you. Some of my most fun times were spent at an amusement park – Astroworld. Sadly, it no longer exists. But the memories I have are priceless, especially those of when I was a teenager hanging out with my BFF and meeting cute boys. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Ah, yes… I suspect most of our memories of teenaged years are infused with extra UUMPH… because of all those hormones flying around. Ha.
      Unless the tourist trade has ruined them, I would assume the Caribbean Islands would still be wonderful experiences.


  2. Jeff, are you talking about Disneyland or Walt Disney World. I went to Disneyland when I was living in California when I was not yet ten. I can’t exactly remember the year. But it was new then.

    Now, you probably already know where I’d like to revisit after my mentioning it so often. It’s Grand Junction, Colorado. The time we spent visiting a pastor I graduated with from Pensacola Bible Institute was a joy. The scenery beautiful, scary, exciting, and virtually no bugs. LOL Loved travelling up to the Grand Mesa, exploring the Bookcliff Mountains, traversing Land’s End Rd, after seeing the view from the top. What a thrill for someone from the plains state of Illinois and then living in Pensacola, Florida.

    Another place I’d love to revisit is Cumberland, Ky. Beautiful area.

    But I’d also like to revisit my mother’s home state of Minnesota. It’s been years since I was there. Now that I’ve been in contact with some relatives who still live there, I really want to see them. We do plan to make a trip there if a family reunion is organized. My cousin will let me know, and they’re all anxious to see me again. I’d like it to happen next year while I start my new novel set in the area. Time will tell.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Disneyland in Anaheim CA.
      Yes, I could tell you love Colorado, from your descriptions in that recent novel.
      Sounds like you have lots of travel in store for you and Arnie.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Greenland would be a real experience, especially for you, Jeff. I assume that there have been a lot of changes over the years in the more populated areas. (I have no idea if you got to civilian areas much.)
    Wracking my brain for tomorrow’s!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      Each of my duty assignments held their own levels of apprehension, anxiety, logistical issues, etc. But this one felt like I was being shipped off to Devil’s Island from which I could not escape unless “they” provided the means. In all the other situations, I think my brain said, “if worst comes to worst, you can always walk.” LOL


  4. Patricia Kiyono says:

    I’ve been to Disney World once, but not Disneyland. It was fun when my kids were 4 and 7, but I’m not sure I’d have the stamina for it now. Greenland sounds like a nice place to stop and look around, but I could be wrong. I have enough cold weather here that I don’t feel the urge to go farther north!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Jeff Salter says:

      At the point I was stationed there, the lowest recorded temperature had been -40 degrees (F), with a wind-chill factor of -80.
      I’ve heard of temperatures in N. Dakota, Minn., & Mich. that have equaled that.


  5. Elaine Cantrell says:

    That’s very perceptive that returning to a place might not recapture the experience that we had the first time we went there. I’m pretty sure that it wouldn’t. Maybe it’s better to move on to new places and experiences.

    Liked by 1 person

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