I've been a reader of Atlas Obscura's articles since I discovered the website about 5 years ago. When I found the discussion forums, I signed up for them.
Recently AO began to offer memberships, so I became a member. I spend a lot of time perusing the fascinating stories.
I'm a history lover and am especially interested in the
very early Native Americans, the first settlers of the United States, and natural history.
My passion is ancient cultures of Latin America, especially Peru. My interest began when I was a child and I devoured every book in the school library and in the large public library located in the county seat near my home.
At the same time my interest developed in history (first grade), I also began to read books about religions of the world. Again, the libraries were my source for years of reading material.
In 1973, I had the honor of spending Summer in Peru as an exchange student. My stay there broadened my horizons and changed my life. I was able to go to Cusco and Machu Picchu as well as several sites near Cusco.
Sacshuaman was especially mind-boggling in its beauty and scale.
I lived with a family in Lima in a nice neighborhood only
a few blocks from the Pacific Ocean. Because school was cold and boring, I spent my days being shown around the city by two Peruvian friends. They took me to every cathedral and cultural or historical site they could think of. I was introduced to the many markets, where the prices were low, the goods were absolutely beautiful and haggling over prices was expected.
Back home in Pennsylvania, my parents continued taking us on family vacations to most of the states in the Northeast.
Instead of amusement parks, we went to historical sites and museums, toured factories and graveyards, watched jets take off and land at large airports, and engsged in other educational activities.
A half-century later, I asked my mother why we went to such interesting places. Her reply? "Because they were free," she replied as tears welled up in her eyes.
During my career as an architectural designer, I traveled on a number of business trips. How badly I wanted to explore the cities we were in, but ut time constraints ruled it out.
In my life, I've been to about 35 states, 6 Canadian provinces and one foreign country. I also spent several hours killing time in the airports in Panama and Ecuador.
Now that I'm 64 and a citizen of the world, I look back on these marvelous adventures very fondly. The memories of them are indelibly etched in my mind and and vividly recalled at will.
At present, physical disabilities prevent me from traveling, so I depend on AO to take me to new places near and far.