Tag Archives: Travel

Genealogy Vacation: The Next Great Adventure

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The Oyster Farm at King’s Creek at Cape Charles, VA. Photo by A.J. Assaadi

 

How would you react if a complete stranger called you on the phone with a request for your DNA? The man said that he suspected me of being the missing link that would establish Virginia’s Eastern Shore peninsula as ground zero for the American Joynes/Joines clan now numbering in the thousands in five Mid-Atlantic States.

Well, yes, I admitted, I was aware that my ancestors had lived on the Eastern Shore since 1638 and that my grandfather and his brothers had been watermen, farmers, and members of the U.S. Life Saving Service on Hog Island, but I knew very little about my family history. That small bit of information, however, was enough to request my DNA. The Joynes/Joines genealogical study group would even pay for the test.

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Eldon Joines found me through my author’s website; and since he also resided in North Carolina, no more than an hour’s drive from my home, he offered to visit and talk about our common genealogy. I specified meeting for lunch at a very public place. (I was the model of modern-day caution.) By the end of our meal and conversation, however, I began to look upon Eldon as a cousin. Rapport established, Eldon produced a DNA test kit, and I leaned over the restaurant table to have my inner cheek swabbed. What must observers have thought we were doing?

When the lab results were published, the link to the Eastern Shore was established, and Eldon was able to trace us to a common grandfather some four generations past. We were indeed cousins.

351x336-family-20tree-20clip-20art-20templates-clip-art-family-tree-351_336Eldon has been working on a Joynes/Joines family history for more than twenty years. He is not an academic but is an upholstery craftsman with his own small business. Thus, he must pay his own way on research trips and take time to share information with other members of the study group. Devotion to comprising a family genealogy is thus a labor of love.

When I learned that Eldon was planning a fourth research trip to the Eastern Shore, I asked to accompany him as a fellow traveler. Then it occurred to me to re-invigorate my travel-writer credentials to explore the adventure of genealogy tourism. My travel-writing career includes Holiday Magazine and five titles in the Insiders’ Guide series. Family genealogists unravel mysteries and make new discoveries on every trip, and I wanted to be part of it.

My angle in following Eldon on the Eastern Shore is to describe the transformative power of a genealogy research trip that provides significant meaning and purpose to travel. To make my reporting useful, I also intend to include practical guidelines for planning a family history vacation.

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Cape Charles, VA Boardwalk. Photo by John Harlow

To make the best use of time spent in the historic environs, careful planning is essential. Mapping and making interview contacts occurs weeks, and even months, prior to the actual travel dates. But the pre-trip activity is part of the excitement.

I must admit that in all my book research and vacation travels to awe-inspiring places, the anticipation of going back to my ancestral home on the Eastern Shore of Virginia registers high on the excitement meter. Maybe it’s the potential for adventure and surprise that inspires me.

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Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel. Photo by John Harlow

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The Travel Adventures of Flat Monty

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Flat Monty inspects the cruise ship kitchen.

My gifted and talented younger sister, Rita, greatly surprised me when she telephoned to say that she was taking me on a luxury Mediterranean cruise with land excursions to some of the most historic and beautiful sites in Europe.

Pat, my wife, was unfortunately not included obviously due to the huge added expense. It would be awkward to leave Pat behind, but how could I not accept this trip of a lifetime from my now beloved incredibly generous sister?

 

My mind immediately raced to the implications of the short-notice trip. The cruise wear from a dated Alaskan cruise was not suitable for May in Barcelona if it could even be found. Then, too, I’d need immediate airline reservations for the flight from Charlotte to Miami in order to meet Rita for the transatlantic flight. The grand tour was to begin in less than ten days!

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Flat Monty pauses outside the Basilica in Venice.

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The Sorrento hills provide a scenic retreat for Flat Monty.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Always ready to video, Flat Monty arrives in Nice.

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Flat Monty is always accompanied by his dedicated bodyguard Dennis.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Flat Monty at his favorite shipboard bar.

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The bulging-eyes guy from the movie Young Frankenstein attempts to pose with Flat Monty.

 

Rita waited a few smiling seconds as my excitement peaked before she explained the crucial caveat. I would not be making the trip in person. I would be traveling as Flat Monty. Totally confused, I had to ask, “Who the hell is Flat Monty?”

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Flat Monty visits the hidden monument to mathematical Pi somewhere in Italy.

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Flat Monty comes to life amid the ruins of ancient Pompeii.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Being technology challenged, I was unaware that photo cutouts of me could be creatively positioned in front of a camera phone so as to give the illusion that I was present at some remarkable place or circumstance.

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My sister Rita carries Flat Monty on the next grand adventure.

 

The photos of Flat Monty that Rita later produced on her grand tour have been captioned for the sake of context, if not for cruelty. Perhaps she thinks that I will use them to impress strangers as I once did with an office wall full of celebrity photos falsely dedicated to me.

 

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Flat Monty enjoys a cigar off the Piazza de San Marco in Venice.

The framed photo of Albert Einstein, for example, was inscribed with thanks for my helping him with quantum physics. John Wayne wrote that he looked forward to working with me on his next movie. Several sexy female movie stars intimated that they loved our nights together. President FDR thanked me for my wartime service although I was only four years old in 1945.

 

The wall of phony photos behind my magazine editor’s desk was my social satire on similar displays that I had seen in the offices of politicians. Too bad the Flat Monty technology was not available to me then. I might have appeared in a New York Yankees baseball uniform standing beside my heroes Yogi Berra and Mickey Mantle.

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Flat Monty wins a gold medal for the discovery of a giant petrified frog.

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Flat Monty leads the way for an encounter with the world’s largest cat.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here then in the spirit of truth telling, if not a gesture toward sibling forgiveness, I hereby publish the fabulous travel adventures of Flat Monty. Trust me when I say, “I wish that I was there.”

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Flat Monty enjoys relaxing in his cruise ship stateroom.

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Travel adventures often imply danger for Flat Monty.

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