When people travel, they pick up tangible memories, also known as souvenirs.

Souvenirs are mementos of a person, place, or event. They can be photographs we look at and recall the moment in time we pushed the button on our cameras.

Far too many folks tend to go overboard in taking photographs to the point that they experience entire trips through the viewfinder rather than with the naked eye. Can you honestly say you saw Amsterdam when your eye rarely landed on an actual tulip, windmill, or those curious buildings along the canals?

Travelers offer enforced travel photograph viewings to captive friends and relatives. What none of the trapped viewers realize is this may be the photographer’s first time to see and appreciate what they did not focus on in person.

Mementos can be T-Shirts, caps, junky representations of well-known monuments, seashells, and even rocks. The problem with many of the listed items is that over time, the souvenirs become worn, too small, or, in the case of cheap replicas, broken or lost. Often we can replace “lost” with thrown out by a significant other in the course of cleaning.

Those of us who chose seashells and rocks have tangible mementos forged by Mother Nature instead of mass-produced and labeled “Made in China.” (As a side note, there was a time people considered items stamped “Made in Japan” cheap as well. Now such items are collector’s treasures and often worth multiple times the amount they originally cost.)

Seashells are lovely and have the potential to become jewelry in the right person’s hands. However, the treasures of the sea are often fragile, such as sand dollars.

Perhaps it is in this writer’s nature to gravitate toward more durable mementos. In either case, she cannot explain her fascination with rocks. Whatever the reason, the interest goes back to her childhood. Rocks are treasured souvenirs of places she lived or visited.

Interestingly enough, her granddaughters followed in her footsteps. When they visited The Funny Farm, the girls picked up rocks during their walks on the land. Sometimes it was the rock’s shape or beauty that caught their eyes.

As with most children, during trips to the seashore and Costa Rica, they also caught the universal seashell bug. The oldest Grand packed her sea treasures in the outside pocket of her backpack, and the Customs folks confiscated them. What upset her and her grandmother is the lack of logical behavior. Instead of collecting the shells and returning them to the shore, Customs threw them in the trash. If they were a treasured part of the country, why would they carelessly toss them? Those folks behaved more like robots than humans with brains.

When this writer picks up and saves a rock, it is because it is unusual or beautiful in some way. For example, she picked up a few pebbles during our river cruise stop in Rüdesheim am Rhein in Germany (the home of the amazing Rüdesheimer Kaffee made with alcohol. Yummy and memorable.)

While on a family outing to Lester Park near Duluth, Minnesota, this lady found a round granite rock which she treasures and now sits on her fireplace.

One of Hubby’s aunts owned a more or less round rock we inherited. Our son thought it was a geode. He split it, and to his dismay, discovered it was not. However, the split stone looked like breasts. So, his mother took pink nail polish and painted a nipple on each. Along with a triangular stone that resembles a bikini bottom, the set is in the garden near the backdoor. She loves to shock people.

In her rock collection, you will find a lump of lava from Volcano Park in Hawaii. But her most interesting stones come from Costa Rica. Some resemble the State of Texas. Others appear to be alien faces, hearts, or even cowboy boots. Her favorites are a set of stone fingers which she arranged and displays with a prominent middle digit.

Rocks are great to show displeasure. At such moments, the lady holds up a recent acquisition she dubbed “Butt Cheek Rock.”

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