Tom Simard

Poetry, Music, and Prose

I Dreamt of the Road

My love of travel can be traced to my dad’s stories of far away places he had been to in the Pacific.

He talked about the heat of the jungle and the incessant rain that made it nearly impossible to stay dry. There were the bouts of malaria. However, more than anything else, I remember the wonderful things he had to say about Australia. It must have been like paradise for a twenty-two-year-old originally stationed in the unforgiving Papua New Guinea climate.

Our family trips were anything but magic. But how wise was it to travel across the Badlands with temperatures skirting 100 degrees Fahrenheit in a car without air conditioning?

My own adventure would begin in 1976. Over the next five years with the help of complete strangers, many of whom had little to their name but much in the way of decency and kindness, I hitchhiked nearly 10,000 miles.

It all began in the classroom:

I Dreamt of the Road
I dreamt of the road
when school lectures long were made
and of ways
not meaningful
to logic,
seeking to escape
a spring
spent with theorems.

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28 thoughts on “I Dreamt of the Road

  1. I love travel as well. Unlike most other possessions, it can never be taken from you.

    My great uncle was also in New Guinea during WWII. I don’t think there were a whole lot of Westerners there at the time. I recently scanned a number of photos he took.

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    • I’d be interested in seeing some of the good shots your great uncle took. When you have time, you could e-mail me them. I’d be happy to do the same.

      I have about 100 photos my dad took during his time in the Pacific. Only about 20 are from New Guinea, which I think has to do with the short period of time he was there compared with Australia and the Philippines. He was fortunate to have entered the war late and never saw combat.

      New Guinea is a fascinating place. The linguistic diversity is amazing. They’ve more than 800 languages!

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  2. A perfect sentiment.

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  3. My Great Grandfather was also there during the war – unfortunately it’s more of a distant side of the family so I don’t know a great deal about him, save for what has become legend boarding myth from my mum!

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    • Legend and myth, you say? What exactly did your mom recount?

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      • Some of them included teaching card games to canibalistic natives. My grandmother did spend the first few years of her life in PNG. Actually, I’ve seen a photo with her at the front of the house with locals around her.

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      • Wonderful!

        A few years can’t have been very easy. How did she feel about it? My dad, who was never one to complain, actually was rather forthright in all the hardships faced there.

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      • To be honest I’m not too sure how she felt about it. Like your dad by the sounds of it, she’s not too keen to get into that kind of stuff. She lived in PNG until she was 7 then came back here to boarding school and then boarding at Merton Hall. So I think for her it was kind of just life – she was probably too young at the time to properly take in the surrounds and then spent a lot of time alone afterwards.
        What hardships would he speak of?
        Saw her yesterday actually – she was talking about her time there. Her father was an anthropologist (he’s now been labelled as I don’t think it really existed then) and he has documents that I think are in the Canberra library? Not too sure about the last part, when I did Anthropology at Melbourne Uni they told me his things were likely there. William Pearcy Chinnery I think his name was.

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  4. letstalkaboutlit on said:

    This is outstanding. I really hope that you continue this story about your travels.

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  5. Very primitive living conditions, humidity, constant rain, impossibility of ever staying dry. He had malaria as well, which can’t have been much fun.

    I’ll see what I can find about William Pearcy Chinnery.

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  6. I did a little searching and some reading. There appears to be a lot available on EW Pearson Chinnery online. Your great-grandmother also wrote a diary of her time in New Guinea called Malaguna Road.

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  7. Thanks for liking my blog post (and painting:) My father was a doctor in New Guinea, stationed there in 1943-44. We have a few photos, but I wish I had more stories.

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  8. My dad was there in 1944 as well.

    I know what you mean by wishing for more stories.

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  9. The above line from Smaktakula (6/25) just pounced on me. What a simple, great line. I have written it down and won’t forget it. Only wish I could do more travelling. Anyway, Tom, am back for yet another look at your blogs – amazing. My Dad was in Korea and doesn’t talk about it much; after reading “The Coldest Winter” (Halberstam), I think by now I may understand why. Anyway, keep the stories and words coming.

    Thank so very much for peeking at and liking some of my more recent posts “Calling All Entomologists”, “Great Point, Nantucket” and “Sky Meets Water…”. It means a lot.

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  10. Thank you for checking and liking latest my post about the universe! I like your blog too. I will need to take the time it deserves to really explore it.
    My childhood memories are also full of family stories back to the mid 1800s and my father’s often told stories about his stay in the Horn of Africa 1931 to 1949. My mom was not adventurous or I would have been born in Asmara…

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  11. Errata: my prior reply : not 1931 but 1938 to 1949….

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  12. Road trips are the best, Tom! I’ve loved every single one I’ve been on – childhood thru now. Some were rough roads (literally); some simply gorgeous, but all just grand. The best, best, best part is leaving the driveway for the new territories! Great post. Route 66 from beginning to end is our next bucket list trip.

    Thanks for the latest likes on my posts “Aug moons/no clouds”, “Water Motion…”, “Object lighting-glass vase”, Storm clouds/blue skies” and “Venus…” Again, so very much appreciated.

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  13. I can relate to your love of travel and your desire to escape. Thank you for visiting my blog.

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  14. Josh here from the BlinkPack blog. Well done — I will look forward to reading more.

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  15. Anonymous on said:

    Love you poem and thanks for liking my Lordsburg, Arizona pic. Nothing like a road trip to kick off the creative juices. :-)

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  16. This poem is lovely. Thanks for the like on my blog. Good luck with the novel.

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  17. Thank you for sharing this poem, Tom — I, too, was inspired by the stories my parents told of their travels and the souvenirs they brought back. I always have been a huge dreamweaver, so I have thought of travel in classrooms, meetings and just about anywhere. Thanks for stopping by and checking out Travel Oops!

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  18. I am an avid traveler too Tom, thank you for liking my photos :)

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  19. I love hearing travel stories and I think you have an excellent way with words. Looking forward to reading more :)

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  20. I can’t imagine hitchhiking even 5 miles, let along nearly 10,000. It sounds like you had some amazing adventures.

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  21. Your story is so adventurous, 10,000 miles hitch-hiking, wow! Thanks for reminding me how important it is to pass down stories to the next generation. They are good listeners, which helps. I enjoy reading your words and I appreciate the “like” for “The Wedding Present” on my blog. Marian

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  22. very interesting stories. Maybe we are throuugh with wars. Thanks for visiting my blog. Rlte

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  23. Thank you for the visit and the like of so many of my posts.

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