Senior Profile: World travel nurtures Nancy Peck's appreciation of art, history

FOR THE BELLINGHAM HERALDMay 19, 2014 

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Nancy Peck, 74, of Birch Bay , Friday, March 21, 2014. Peck says she tries to plan one big trip a year.

PHILIP A. DWYER — THE BELLINGHAM HERALD Buy Photo

Name: Nancy Peck.

Age: 74.

Hometown: Peck was born in Lynden and moved with her family to Alaska in the early 1950s. She moved back to Bellingham seven and a half years ago.

Family: Peck is a widow with two sons in Alaska, a daughter in Arizona and many grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Wanderlust: Peck married and started a family at a young age. When her husband of 45 years died suddenly 12 years ago, she decided to pursue traveling while she had the opportunity and ability.

In 2004 she set out on her first trip to Europe, to Amsterdam with her sister. With family roots in Holland, she enjoyed exploring a small town with the family name on all of the buildings.

World traveler: Since then Peck has traveled the globe, visiting England, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Peru, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, Mexico and the South Pacific, among other places.

"I never wanted to be one of those people sitting on the porch of an old folks' home saying, 'I wish I'd done ...,'" Peck says.

Instead, she collects memories and photos of what she has done and where she has gone.

Continuing education: History wasn't Peck's favorite subject in school, but travel provides her a chance to learn about art and history. In Central and South America she has explored Mayan and Incan ruins. In Europe, she has seen castles, cathedrals and other architectural wonders.

What surprises her is how similar architecture can be between civilizations oceans apart, with ancient buildings still used on a daily basis in many places.

"(Traveling) is a wonderful way to learn history," she says. "The architecture and the history come alive."

Her educational experiences extend beyond architecture and art. On a trip to the Caribbean, Peck explored a turtle farm, where workers gathered eggs from a nearby beach and incubated them in an effort to protect the eggs from predators.

"There's just something different and magical about each place you go," she says.

Picking a place to visit: Every destination offers something unique that makes it interesting and memorable, Peck says.

"You find unexpected pleasures in little things along the way."

She takes at least one big trip each year, plus smaller trips to visit family and friends in the United States.

Choosing a destination depends a great deal on what presents itself, she says. Travel agents can suggest trips that appeal to clients, and find trips tailored to individual interests.

Whether flying, taking a cruise or driving, getting there is another factor to consider when choosing a trip, Peck says. Each mode of travel presents a different view and can change the flow of a trip, she says.

She pays for her trips with money she and her husband saved, and money from investments.

Although the price varies with the length and destination of a trip, going on a "repositioning cruise" can save a bit of money, Peck says. Such cruises are pre-season outings to position a ship ready for the upcoming season.

Best trips: Peck's favorite trip is always wherever she was last, she says. Choosing a favorite is impossible, she says, and narrowing the list is only slightly more plausible.

Still, her favorites include a river cruise in Amsterdam, going through the Panama Canal, a Danube River cruise, plus Peru, England and the South Pacific. Next on her list: Australia and New Zealand.

Uneasy moment: Peck has encountered an uncomfortable situation only once during her travels. While in Jamaica, she went to a craft market in a poorer neighborhood. People were tugging on her, hoping to sell her their goods. Peck felt uncomfortable being tugged on and quickly left the market.

"It was still an experience," she says. "I understood that the people were in poverty. They want you to buy something so they can put food on the table that night."

Life at home: When she isn't traveling Peck enjoys quilting. Her hobby benefits from her travels. For instance, lines she sees in architecture overseas can be replicated in her quilts, she says.

Traveling permeates Peck's life, fostering her appreciation for the arts and history.

"There's so much world out there," she says, "and it all has its own signature."

Alisa Gramann is a freelance writer in Bellingham.

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