Few people these days know firsthand what a 70-year relationship looks like. My late grandparents Peggy and Jack, whom I called Honey and Popo, were two of the lucky ones. They met when they were 14 and remained a couple for the rest of their lives. Their bond was strengthened by their San Antonio roots and shared love of travel.
For decades, Honey and Popo circumnavigated the globe, ballooning over vineyards in Burgundy and exploring Chilean ice fields by catamaran. As the family grew, they invited their children and grandchildren on these adventures. We cruised the Yangtze River in China and went on safari in the Tanzanian Selous Game Reserve.
After Honey and Popo passed away, in 2017 and 2018, respectively, the family divided the treasures they’d collected abroad. Of all the things they left behind, my grandmother’s travel journals have proved most precious to me. After each trip, my grandparents’ secretary took Honey’s yellow legal pads scrawled with her sloping script, typed out her entries, and turned every vacation into an individual spiral-bound journal. One Christmas, I collected them into a single volume and made copies for each of Honey and Popo’s children as a way to preserve their stories for the next generation. Today, these 400-page tomes are family treasures.
Whenever I miss my grandparents or find myself planning a trip, I revisit the pages filled with their collective memories. These journals have also given me a much-needed escape during the pandemic. When my own vacation to the U.K. was canceled last spring, I found myself drifting slowly across the pond while perusing their descriptions of the country. I smiled as I pictured them driving, windows down, through the manicured English countryside or weaving through the Scottish Highlands on the regal Belmond Royal Scotsman train. On a recent afternoon, I opened the book and found them strolling along the Seine, the pulse of Paris all around. With a turn of the page, I followed them down an alleyway in the ancient medina of Fez. One entry, from 2003, memorialized their visit to the Norwegian fjords, where the waters rippled “like the folds of the finest satin” as the northern lights winked over their heads.
Today, I cling to these pages as a reminder of two people who enjoyed life and loved each other. While traveling was the lens through which they learned about the world, their journeys were made meaningful through their companionship. “We’ve driven many miles and feel we have a real perspective of this land and its people,” said my grandmother after a 1992 trip to South Africa. “As always, the greatest joy of the trip is the time alone that Jack and I share. What a fantastic trip it has been—and yet, how good home will be.”
This article appeared in the April 2021 issue of Condé Nast Traveler. Subscribe to the magazine here.
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