Down by the Sea

White sedan speeds past on scenic highway flanked by evergreens capped by a partly cloudy blue skyIt’s a holiday weekend here in the US. People are going places. You might be going places. Have you ever thought about why you go to the places you travel to on holiday?

I listened recently to a podcast interview (shocking, me listening to a podcast!) with Trevor Cox about choosing a destination for a specific reason. It’s not budget. It’s not stunning beauty. It’s not even status or tasty food. What draws you to the places he mentioned? It’s sound.

Have you ever gone to a place because of natural or man-made acoustics? I thought I never did, however, I actually do this on trips quite frequently. Anytime I go to the beach, it’s sound driven. The noise and presence of the water, especially salt water, relaxes me and makes me happy. It’s a simple way to be centered and to be in the moment and it sounds great.

Mr Cox started a website to map acoustic phenomena. After spending some time surfing around his website, it did make me curious to consider traveling with a new perspective. I may choose now to explore certain places because of how they might sound. It’s rewarding to discover things. Once you return home and you’re unpacking after a trip, no matter how much you spent, ate, or traveled, it’s all about the experiences anyway.

Where do you like to go on trips? Do you focus on itinerary or spontaneity? What makes a good holiday? Tell me about it.

Bonus for your ears: check out the Reasonably Sound episode, “Peace and White Noise” for some thoughts about the sounds of the beach at a place I visited:  Cape Cod.


3 Comments Add yours

  1. There definitely *is* something to be said for sounds in terms of relaxation (like on a vacation). Yesterday I wanted a peaceful escape to a local cafe. I was bombarded by harsh sounds I didn’t feel ‘fit’ in the calm atmosphere. A woman plunked down her handbag at a nearby table, spoke loudly on her cell phone in a location that actually has SIGNS saying to please respect the quietude they try to create in their cafe environment. She proceeded to pace around the cafe, and engaged in her phone conversation for over half an hour without making an order. She rattled me to the core, and I could no longer focus on relaxing. She finally sat down to order something, and was quiet for all of 10 minutes. She then absurdly changed tables to the one that shared the bench I was sitting on. WHY of all tables in the vast room, did she choose to come sit next to me? She completely cramped my style even though she was now being quiet, and I left the premises to seek solitude elsewhere. Her initial noise disturbed me so much that it remained in my ears long after she quieted down.
    In terms of travel, I tend to avoid noisy and crowded places because I’m generally seeking relaxation from everyday life. Life is noisy enough as it is.

    Sounds that soothe me might be hard to put into words, but there’s often a direct link between place and sound. It could be the way passing cars sound from a distance; the type of birds that linger and chirp nearby. It could be a school bell signaling the end of a day for the kids down the road. It might just be the cicadas or the wind. All of them stimulate in different ways depending on a person’s personal preferences.

    1. Some people are mindless about their disruptive behaviors. I can imagine how the coffee shop experience was less than relaxing.

      I love the variety of sounds in an environment and it’s interesting to compare how people react to the same sounds. Acoustics is a wide and deep field of study.

      1. I agree! I wish I remembered the name of a fascinating book I was reading about acoustics and the mechanics of how we hear. It used a lot of musical examples, explanations about how different species hear, why we think we sound good when we sing in a shower etc.

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