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Appetite for adventure

A traveler’s journey from Woodlawn to Oak Crest

Created date

April 27th, 2010

Throughout her life and career as a military intelligence analyst, Michelle Caldwell has tried to satisfy her appetite for adventure. I m a tourist at heart, says Caldwell, who this November on her 60th birthday moved from her house in Woodlawn to her late parents apartment home at Oak Crest. I guess I got my travel bug from my parents. They took cruises two or three times a year I couldn t keep up with them. From Monterey to Morocco and Spain to Seoul, Caldwell soaks up every bit of culture and history she can find. I find one of the most intriguing things about traveling is seeing how different regions of the world live, says Caldwell. You can read about places in books and see them in movies but it s just not the same as seeing and experiencing them firsthand. My parents nurtured that desire to explore life outside of the everyday.

Off the beaten path

The first overseas adventure Caldwell embarked on was a two-week trip to Spain in 1976 with her parents. We landed in Madrid and traveled all the way down to Morocco. We went to Malaga, Grenada, the Alhambra, the Strait of Gibraltar I ve never seen so many olive trees in my life, says Caldwell. During the war, my dad was stationed in Paris so he knew a little bit of French and that was one of the major languages in Morocco. So one day we hopped a train with the locals who just happened to be transporting chickens. We traveled around and got to see more than any guided tour would have taken us on. That had to be my best trip ever! Since then, Caldwell has never passed up the opportunity to explore. I was flying out of Oakland, Calif., and I had extra time, says Caldwell. So I took a sleeper train on a four-day cross-country trip from Baltimore to Oakland. They had these huge observation windows in the cars and I remember as we were going through Colorado we saw a group of wild horses running down to a stream. It was just like in the movies! While stationed in Korea for a year, Caldwell took advantage of her days off to explore the countryside. My schedule was such that I worked for four days and was off for three, says Caldwell. So for three days at a time I would go to Seoul, check into a hotel, and take tours. I went to the silk factories, the mountains, the rice fields, visited the temples, rode on the cable cars I even went down to the tip of Korea where the beaches are located. I got to see a lot of the country. From Korea, Caldwell was transferred to Panama for two years. There, she had the opportunity to travel to Trinidad, St. Croix, Barbados, and Costa Rica. I was stationed on both the Atlantic and the Pacific side of Panama, she says. I really had the opportunity to immerse myself in the culture. While I was there, I got a chance to go to Ecuador and I stood on the equator. I saw the locks on the Panama Canal and how they raise and lower the ships. I also had the opportunity to see Queen Elizabeth II come through the canal. It was fascinating. The ship was so wide it had less than a foot on each side. One of the last trips Caldwell took with her parents was a ten-day Caribbean cruise. We went to Bermuda, Haiti, and we were supposed to travel to Mexico but it was hurricane season and we had to be rerouted several times so we never did make it there, says Caldwell. I really enjoyed myself because I had not had the opportunity to spend that much time with my parents day in and day out since I was much younger.

A new journey

Having visited her parents from the time they moved toOak Crest in 2002, Caldwell was no stranger when she moved to the Parkville community last year. I already knew the community and many of the people who lived and worked here, says Caldwell, who lost her dad in 2007 and her mom in 2009. A week after her mom passed away, Caldwell went about clearing out her parents Oak Crest apartment home. On a whim, she asked what the age requirement was to enter the community. When they said you had to be 60, I said, Well, I ll be 60 in a few months. I would love to have my parents apartment, she recalls. Before I knew it, I was going through the move-in process. It just felt like the right thing to do. Although the apartment home was completely gutted from the carpet up before she moved in, Caldwell decided to keep her parents furniture and place the pictures back on the walls where they once hung. It s kind of comforting, she says. I can feel their presence here, and I know they re up in heaven smiling down on me. Caldwell says another reason she choseOak Crest was the opportunity to travel more frequently. It s so much easier for me to travel here, she says. The shuttle picks you up and drops you off at the airport. And you don t have to worry about your apartment; you just shut the door and go. Where Caldwell s next adventure will take her she s not exactly sure. I would like to go to Israel the Holy Land, she says. I ve always wanted to go there. But I also like the islands because I like the warm weather. So there s a good chance my next trip will probably be a Caribbean cruise. Traveling isn t Caldwell s only passion. Since moving to Oak Crest, she has joined two Bible study groups, is taking line dancing and salsa classes, and has enrolled in a history class through Oak Crest s on-site educational program with the Community College of Baltimore County. I m so busy that I actually have to look in my planner to see what I have scheduled before I make an appointment or plan a trip, she says. I m enjoying life and am very comfortable here. I try to be upbeat and positive. My mom used to tell me I was the eternal optimist.