A Journey Inspired by a Singing Cowboy


Where do you get your ideas for your next travel adventure? 

It’s fascinating to backtrack to where the inspiration for a journey originated – perhaps from Bill Bryson’s books, National Geographic’s photos or Anthony Bourdain’s cuisine.

I’ve written before about how my love affair with Chicken Kyiv and an affinity for the cheap seats on a Monopoly board lead to some fantastic voyages. My travel ideas seem to come from unexpected sources. In this case, the inspiration happened when I stumbled across a photo of 5-year-old me in a cowgirl outfit!

My childhood heroes were cowboys and cowgirls from Saturday morning TV and old B-Movies. I knew the names of all their sidekicks and horses; my favorite stars were the ones who could carry a tune. I would harmonize along with Roy Rogers and Dale Evans when they crooned “Happy Trails” at the end of each action-packed (well, for those days) adventure.

So thinking about cowboys, I started singing and humming all their old songs … for days … on end. Just ask James. Finally, I realized that one song kept popping up because it had been performed by so many artists.

Down_Mexico_Way_PosterBy now you’re probably wondering what in the world was the song that had me going. It was “Down Mexico Way” – first popularized by the king of the “singing cowboys,” Gene Autry in 1939. Over the years it has been sung by diverse artists from Sam Cooke and Frank Sinatra to Willie Nelson at the 2013 New Orleans Jazz Fest.

Tomorrow we’re heading for romance … South of the Border, Down Mexico Way.

What about you. Where do you get your inspiration for your next trip?

Happy Trails,

P.S. Gene Autry was born Orvon Grover Autry, and his horse’s name was Champion. (He actually had several versions of Champion!) 🙂 Amazing!

Gene Autry

Photo Credit:
1. By Seattle Packing Company-Bar-S Brand via Wikimedia Commons

Author: gallivance.net

We're Terri and James Vance - high school sweethearts who went on to international careers and became world nomads. Today, 65 countries later, we're still traveling ... and still in love. Check out Our Story for more of the backstory at gallivance.net.

42 thoughts

  1. Can’t say singing cowboys have ever got me on the move Terri but delighted you are humming your way to Mexico. Andrew has me thinking about Iceland actually. For us it is often while on a trip that the wheels begin turning as to what comes next…often fabulous stories from other travelers we meet along the way.

    1. Thanks Sue. Iceland is a joy, and Andrew’s posts on Iceland are great. If you’re flying Iceland Air to Europe, they allow you to stop in Iceland for free. We’ve done it a couple of times and it was wonderful. With your adventurous spirit you’ll love it! 🙂 ~Terri

  2. I was also raised on old Westerns and Gene Autry was one of my Dad’s favourites.My middle name is Dale (after Dale Evans of course) have a great time in Mexico. It is on our radar as well.

  3. I didn’t know there was any genre of music other than country until I was in my late teens. I haven’t been inspired to take any specific trips because of it, but I want to end up like Johnny Cash – I’ve Been Everywhere Man!

    Have fun in Mexico, tell James to stay away from the mosquitoes!

    1. I love that Laura! It could be your new license plate for the RV when you hit the road. 🙂 James says to tell you he’s been stocking up on mosquito spray for the past week – no more Dengue for him! ~Terri

    1. I loved those Saturday matinees too – especially if it was a double feature! 🙂 Our old-fashioned theater was designed to look like the courtyard of a hacienda, and the ceiling was painted with stars that glowed in the dark when the lights went down. Thanks for the memory jog. ~Terri

      1. Our theatre had the red velvet drapes across the screen and it was ALWAYS a double feature with cartoon added for good measure. I was shocked when the movies showed only one film.

  4. My earliest memories of TV are of being terrified by the Incredible Hulk series on a Saturday morning at my grandmother’s house, left alone inside while she hobbled about her back yard. Not sure what that’s got to do my with my nomad-ness, but the best example I have of being inspired to travel was catching a glimpse of a place on the TV, a ruined city in some steamy mountains. I had no idea where it was, but decided there and then that I had to go. Turns out it was Machu Pichu, and of course I went. Inspiration is everywhere though, and you said it very nicely in this great post.

    1. Thanks Steve. I can imagine how terrifying (and creepy) the Incredible Hulk must have been to a kid … or an adult. But at the same time, he was pretty exotic! So maybe he did plant the seed for your love of the exotic. And your vision of a ruined city in some steamy mountains – Machu Picchu was perfect! ~Terri

  5. i guess I must be the “downer” who reminds you to be MOST careful South of the Border at this time? I will be worrying about you!

    1. Sayra, it’s SO wonderful to hear from you – you’re never a downer. And what a great memory! Yes, it was 10 years ago we took our first, (and only) fateful trip South of the Border. You obviously remember what happened then. Don’t think we haven’t thought about that! So we’re praying for no repeat performances. We’re actually more worried about James getting Dengue again – you know, third time’s a charm. 🙂 Thanks for worrying about us. We love you. ~Terri & James

  6. How exciting for the two of you! We loved our time in Mexico and revisit those memories often. We are planning to be in your neck of the woods in March but I’m guessing you will still be south of the border.

    1. LuAnn, we’ve only been to Mexico once before and loved it. We’re you in San Miguel – if so, any recommendations? We plan to be on the road (between Mexico and camping) through April, so I’m afraid we’ll miss you. We love the campground on Jekyll Island (one island south of us) – it’s how we discovered St Simons. There’s also a very cool one up in Savannah called Skidaway – perfect for spending some fantastic time in that gorgeous city. Then there’s James Island County Park outside Charleston SC – camping there made us decide to live in Charleston for a year. ~Terri

      1. Terri, Thanks for the great information. Terry already has us booked at Skidaway and somewhere in Brunswick and I’m not sure where else in the area. We are disappointed that we will not meet but excited for the two of you traveling to Mexico. We did spend time in San Miguel. I am sending you an email with some suggestions. 🙂

  7. Have a fun time humming your way down Mexico way! I’m always surprised where my inspiration for travel comes from. It sometimes germinates from the most unexpected places. That’s all part of the journey, isn’t it? The seed of an idea, germinating into a dream, a plan, and then a journey. And then there’s the retrospective. You can drag out a journey for a very long time. 🙂

    1. It’s pretty funny where travel ideas come from Cathy. And it’s good to hear form someone like us, who seems to have a similar approach. With us, no matter where the inspiration comes from, if we keep it in mind, and talk about it long enough, then we’ll do it. ~James

  8. Ha ha! Have a wonderful time “down Mexico way!” 🙂 Isn’t it funny the things that inspire us to visit a place? We decided to visit Brazil after a trip to the zoo rekindled Mr. M’s love of the capybara (his favorite animal & the world’s biggest rodent, which lives in… Brazil!). I agree with the commenter above- the inspiration is part of the journey!

    1. And Miranda, you’ve had some amazing journeys yourself these past months! I’m just now catching up with your recent adventures. I love that the world’s largest rodent inspired a journey. That’s a new one – now I don’t feel at all funny about a singing cowboy! 🙂 ~Terri

  9. You must both be “on a whim” folks. Usually just one of us has an idea, but it only takes a minute or two for us to agree on the next adventure!!!!

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