Chapter 1: "Home."

A Leave from a Love

Darrell Reeck

Neahkahnie Press

Portland, OR

©Darrell Reeck.   All rights reserved.  No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form without permission in writing from Darrell Reeck (

Previous Books by Darrell Reeck

Deep Mende

Ethics for the Professions: a Christian Perspective

Growing Green Two Ways!

self discovery    travel Europe   travel Africa  faith development  adventure travel   London   Paris   Berlin   Switzerland   Bordeaux   Dakar    Conakry    Sierra Leone    Liberia

I'm so grateful for the assistance given me by family and friends in writing this e-book. Decades ago (1960-61) my parents and teachers gave a huge boost. The book honors them all, deceased and alive.

Citizens of and expatriates in the ten countries I visited in 1960 and 1961 opened their doors and my eyes to their joys in their homes, town and cities. In the book I’ve mentioned many by name and have written of others anonymously. I take enormous pleasure in making public through this writing their gifts and sacrifices toward helping me. I’d like to think that they helped me as a young traveler get beyond wandering and into deeper levels of life.

The Bradfords (Lester and Winnie), the Thomases (Jack and Dolores), and Esther Megill not only hosted me in West Africa in 1960 but also, in 2013 and 2014, gave suggestions on earlier versions of the book.

I received valuable editing services from Tammy Adamson-McMullen of Poulsbo, Washington and Val Dumond of Lakewood, Washington. Sharon Smith of Hayden Lake, Idaho, provided a list of grammatical errors. My son, David, of Seattle, has given much by way of suggestion and help, particularly with e-publishing options. Grady Holaday of Philomath, Oregon, contributed his photo preparation magic. 

I saw Bill, my travel partner, for the last time when he boarded an old green Piper Cub on a jungle airstrip in Liberia in 1961. You’ll read about Bill, the plane and the airfield. Bill flew off on his own extension of the trip we’d made together. I remain grateful to him for sharing the trip with me. 

In producing the book, my wife, Lucille, has helped me add life into the text through her hours of proofreading and comments. In a way that you’ll realize if you read from beginning to end, she forms the true arc of the story. I dedicate the book to her.  

Free reading and read freely! I’m asking for no compensation for Straying Home in this electronic form. If you’d like to be supportive, I suggest that you purchase Growing Green Two Ways! Filled with many delightful stories, it’s the prequel to Straying Home. 

Growing Green Two Ways! is available at many outlets, both at online or walk-in bookstores.

The present book is divided into chapters and, for your reading convenience, the chapters are subdivided into episodes. At the end of each reading session, jot down the page number. I’ll appreciate your feedback on the entire book as a single post.


Taking Leave of Love: January, 1960.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .Page 9
                               Preparations, breaking up with Lucy, laboring for funds

European Paths, Fall 1960  . . . . . . . . . . . . . .. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Page 30
                                    U.K., Paris, Berlin, West Germany, Switzerland and France

I Love West Africa, 1960 to 1961.  . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .  Page 104
                                    Dakar, Guinea, Sierra Leone and back again.

 Beeline Home to Love . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Page 264
                                    Darting home to Lucy via New York and Chicago


To Lucy

(Who Waited)


            Right after completing my previous story of coming of age in the Pacific Northwest, Growing Green Two Ways!, I continued writing stories about people and places I encountered as a frontiersman, virtually a hick, going global. As a 21 year I left from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in September, 1960 for Europe. After weeks of mind-blowing discoveries in England, France, Germany and Switzerland, traveling and living out of a Volkswagen Kombi minivan, I noticed that it was colder every single subsequent week. Fall slid toward winter. Daylight was shorter and the dark hours of night longer. I knew I needed to shift toward the equator. Like storks and swans, I migrated to Africa. After the winter weeks there, I wandered back through Europe to home through ice, snow and high seas.

When I left my home in Tacoma to wander my family was in full support. But my departure was considered irregular by others. For example, I was required to obtain a special exemption from my draft board. I upset admissions officers by delaying entrance into my prospective graduate school. And especially difficult, I took a leave of absence from my girlfriend, Lucy. Had I simply continued on to graduate school after my senior year of college and married after a couple of years, many would have been considered my pattern to be normal.

I, though, felt that some were failing to consider the downside of someone of my age and disposition by simply doing the normal and expected. Had I done the normal and expected, I would have missed my best chance at a life-changing experience. The year of travel put me into interaction with exceptional models of successful, faithful living. I don’t mean that I gained by taking a year out and getting counseling from a personal coach. I mean something different: that, by wandering from place to place, many wonderful people shared their lives and life callings with me. Their incredible generosity changed my life for the better. These sharers-of-life-callings took me in, told me their stories, gave me access to situations I could never have entered on my own, and sent me on my way with introductions to their friends down the road. These persons were American expatriates, Brits, Germans, French, Sierra Leoneans, Liberians, and other West Africans. I would have missed that opportunity had I done the normal thing.

Because I want you to meet these notable people I write of those times in complete confidence that what you’ll read of them can change your life also. I write to take my hat off to them and to applaud them, too. The events I write occurred half a century ago. The life principles I discovered are applicable today and will remain so tomorrow.

That I wandered in a particularly critical year, 1960-61, when West African nations were bowing on the world stage as independent countries, is essential to the story, too, and so is the reality that several European nations I visited were still in recovery from World War II. I was a witness to big plays on the world stage. But much of what I write is right down to earth. It has to do with hosting the stranger. 

The itinerary we’ll follow is London, Hamburg, Berlin, and Frankfurt. Then on we go on to Basel, Geneva and Bordeaux. Some experiences on a coastal paquebot en route to Africa lead to time spent in Dakar, Conakry, and the countries of Sierra Leone and Liberia. An early spring voyage on the storm-tossed North Atlantic brings us back to the States: New York, Chicago, and home.

This travel book is less about scenic peaks and valleys and more about peak human beings, lined up like a chain of mountains. Some of my travel associations from 1960-61 lasted a few days. Others have persisted through more than fifty years and our lives’ journeys.

As I’ve read about other wanderers like ibn Battuta, 1304 to 1368 AD, and a Marco Polo, 1254 to 1324 AD, both extensive travelers, or watched Siegfried’s maneuvers in Wagner’s woods, I’ve felt a kindred spirit. They set out on long journeys, discovered a lot about themselves, made sense of it, all and brought something significant home. I feel a bit like the Lord Jesus, who wandered about, had no home, and conversed with strangers in fishing boats and beside wells in the desert. I don’t need to say more to justify having done my own stint in my world in my time as a 21-year old.

There’s a sweet madness to the life of a wanderer. You’ll find much that’s sweet and some that’s just crazy in what follows.

You’ll find many original photos. They’ll help you re-live the story.

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