If you could time travel, where/when would you go?


This is always an interesting idea for me to ponder. As a writer, the ramifications of being able to visit an historical setting or event are mind-boggling. You could really find out what Jane Austen ate and Charles Dickens knew. So just for fun, let’s say time travel becomes possible, somehow. (I’m not going to get into the physics of whether or not it’s possible, that would spoil the game.) Where and when would you go? And why? Would you go to the court of Napoleon and Josephine, find out what the heck Marie Antionette meant by “Let them eat cake”? How about ancient Egypt? Find out how the pyramids were built? Walk with the dinosaurs? Would you go for the sake of scholarly research, or a pet passion? Yeah, sure, Woodstock might be fun, but there are too many other things I have real questions about. As difficult as it was to narrow down, here are my current top five picks for when and where I’d go, if I could:

  1. Continental Congress, Philadelphia, 1776. I have always had a fascination with the incredible, and to my mind, nearly improbable confluence of the intellect that took place here, those who brought about the American Revolution: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, John Hancock and all the other delegates of the original colonies. I don’t think their like has been seen since.
  2. Stonehenge (2400 BC, give or take). I would love to know how and why this megalithic monument came to be, moreso than nearly any other. I nearly said Newgrange in Ireland (3000 BC) but there’s something more baffling about Stonehenge. It’s purpose is still unknown, whereas Newgrange is pretty surely a burial mound.
  3. 30 CE Palestine. As an avowed agnostic, part-time atheist, I feel it’s almost a duty to find out (if it were possible) the real truth behind the myths of Jesus. I’m open to finding out I’m dead wrong, too. I just would want to know definitely, one way or the other.
  4. 10,000 CE, anywhere. The scientist in me wants to know what the future will be like: Will we colonize space? Will we cure cancer? Will there be another Mozartian genius? If there is, I want ALL his records.
  5. 100,000 CE. Will the human race even still exist? What will they look like? Will they look on us the way we regard Cro-Magnon Man, or Neanderthal? Will we have abandoned earth?

Of course, all these choices are subject to change without notice. Tomorrow I might decide tea with Jane Austen is vastly more important.

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39 thoughts on “If you could time travel, where/when would you go?

  1. Wonderful post!

    This is something I fantasize about a lot. There are so many things I wish I could have been there to see… Terribly hard to narrow down to only five specific events. Shall have to get back to you on this one.

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  2. I know I could probably list a thousand other events in time, or people I would have liked to meet. I’ve often wished I could see the area I live in (Pacific Northwest) before it was settled. I almost listed being on the expedition with Lewis and Clark, being able to navigate down the Columbia River before there were bridges spanning it, or railroad tracks and highways paralleling it.

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  3. Gah! While I would love to be able to see so much of ancient history, I decided to take all my choices from the 19th century. What better way to make my novels seem authentic? 😉

    So…

    1. 1816 : Spend the summer with Mary Shelley, Percy, Byron, and the rest gathered together inside that infamous house on the shores of Lake Geneva.

    2. 1892 Fall River, MA : live in the town at the time of the Borden murders. Morbid, I know. But, I’d get first hand experience of everyday life at that time, and be able to watch the famous trial.

    3. 1846 Haworth: befriend the Bronte Sisters as they write their novels

    4. 1817- join Belzini and his team as they discover the tomb of Seti I in Egypt

    5. 1830s New Orleans. Fascinating place and time. Attend voodou rituals led by Marie Laveau

    I love all of your picks, especially the Continental Congress. That sends happy shivers down my spine. 🙂

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  4. Great choices! I think we who hail from New England feel the Independence Day holiday more acutely than others. We grew up surrounded by so much of that. The places, even the architecture, can have a strong effect on me. I’ve always had an affinity for the colonial period.

    Ooo, Marie Laveau… that would be fascinating.

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  5. I’d go to Bayonne, New Jersey in 1945, look up my Dad, and talk him into going to college on the G.I. Bill. I’d tell him I was a relative of his from a long way off, and that I had good reason to know that eventually he was going to wish he had.

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  6. I thought about visiting some of my forebears, but there are a whole bunch of them on all sides that I’d like to meet, and I couldn’t narrow it down. And then I’ve probably seen too many sci-fi movies and read too many books, but I don’t think I’d want to try to change anything. That always ends badly in the movies 😉

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    1. I guess my dreams are smaller, more local than yours – I’d also love to meet my Great-Aunt Anastasia – mom’s aunt on her father’s side. I’m told she was a tough broad with a good heart; my mom sez I resemble her a little.

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    2. I would love to meet both my grandmothers, and all my great-grandmothers. It’d be a mini-United Nations. I have a lot of questions for one in particular, but I’m not sure she’d ‘fess up. I think most of the women in my family were pretty tough, they weren’t exactly the landed gentry.

      And of course my cycling great-uncle, Stephen. I’d like to know how they managed century rides on those old steel bikes!

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      1. “I have a lot of questions for one in particular, but I’m not sure she’d ‘fess up”

        She’s the one who needs to come to 2010, instead of the other way around: if she saw that her greatgranddaughter had turned out OK, and that we’ll all admit to damn near eanything these days, I’ll bet you could get her talking. Speaking of personal heritage/history, I just ordered the Human Genome Project Pariticpation Kit from National Geographic –
        https://genographic.nationalgeographic.com/genographic/lan/en/participate.html

        I’ll probably blog about it once I learn more.

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      2. I’ll be very interested to hear how the Human Genome project goes for you.

        For real family dirt, I’d have to dig back to my g-g-grandmother on my father’s mother’s mother’s side… it gets kind of confusing at that level.

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  7. It’s not an easy question to answer, that’s for sure. We could probably spend weeks, months even, talking about the possibilities. That’s why I decided to limit my choices here to the top five. It’s a daunting idea to have to pick just a few, though.

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    1. Destructs or distracts? I’ve heard of many a woman laid low by her love of shiny things, but I didn’t realize it happened to the menz, as well 😉

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  8. Have you ever read “Riding Shotgun” by Rita Mae Brown? It’s a fun, thoughtful little novel about a contemporary woman who gets hit in the head (that’s always how it starts, yes? Chazz, Gypsy – are you guys familiar with either version of “Life on Mars” – the American or the British?) and when she comes to, is in the same place, a few decades prior to the American Revolution. The twist is that she is not only a dead ringer for one of her ancestors, but she has the same name, so everyone assumes that she has returned from some long journey – they take care of her as you would a relative who’s just a little touched in the head, while she learns what she can and tries to get back where she belongs.

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  9. I haven’t read that, it sounds very intriguing. There was a book out where something similar happens to a Jane Austen fanatic, called “Lost in Austen.” She somehow lands in the world of “Pride and Prejudice” but I don’t think she assumes the identity of any of the existing characters. It was made into a BBC mini-series, I think.

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  10. Hmmmmmmm, I only have 3 (for now) ….but it is such a fascinating question:

    1. I’d like to stay right where I am in Central Jersey and just dial back 240 years to see what was happening locally right before the American Revolution. If only just to tell the current locals yahoos what REALLY went down rather than listen to the current blather assuming what the founding fathers had in mind. Plus, you know there were some “regular” folks who probably had some great ideas and the history books just passed them over.
    2. Join our host DD in Palestine in 30CE. Very curious about not just Jesus walking the Earth, but how all that apocrypha came to be. Just who wrote that stuff and how did they become the authority on Jesus’ teachings?
    3. NYC at the turn of 1889/1900 — to walk the length of Manhattan Island to see what it was like. The buildings that we’ve lost and the ones that still survive to this day. Then I’d like to fast-forward in the same spot to 3000CE. I can’t even imagine what I’d see then…. but I’m hopeful there will still be humans and creative energy manifesting itself in art, architecture and food.

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    1. Ooh, Rosie, I’m coming with you! 2 of your ideas are so fascinating, there are already books about ’em – the aforementioned “Riding Shotgun” is basically the Northern Virginia version of #1, and Pete Hamill’s “Forever” features many elements of #3 – it’s about an Irish guy who immigrates to pre-Revolutionary NYC, and receives the blessing/curse of a true Manhattanite – in order to avenge an ancient blood feud, he’s destined to live forever, as long as he never leaves the island of Manhattan. (As my friend the Actor observed, “sounds pretty good”)

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  11. I should probably have included the Gilded Age in my choices, since one of the novels I’m working on is set in that era, albeit more at the Jersey Shore than Manhattan. In researching it though I did run across many facts I had never known before, so being able to go back to that area in that era would be priceless for me!

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  12. I admire you for being able to narrow it down to 5 events! I don’t have that kind of self control 😉 One that I always enjoy is the “dinner party guests” game, although I bend the rules to include fictional characters. Gotta have Batman!

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  13. heh 😉 I think we did dinner guests over at Gypsyscarlett’s blog awhile back, with favorite authors. Perhaps we should revisit the meme and make it fictional characters! That would still be a tough one, but we could expand to 8 or 10?

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      1. I think they mean that you want to eat the whole cake, and still HAVE a whole cake around the house after you’re done: sorta like a bottomless cup of coffee.

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  14. I love the time travel theme and what a great idea for a blog.
    1. I would be interested to hear Daniel O’Connell defendng Catholic Emancipation in Ireland in the 1800’s
    2. Pose as an interviewer for an aged Samuel Clemens and get a new quip from him.
    3. Ride with Chaucer, the Knight, The Prioress etc. on their Pilgrimage to Cantebury.
    4. Hang out with the Marx Brothers when they took their Vaudeville acts on tour.
    5. Finally, last but not least, like MaryjBlog (lol nice name) I would like to meet my grandfather, he died a few years before I was born

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  15. Hi Ben,

    What great choices! Oh, meeting Sam Clemens, wow. That would be something. I only met one of my grandfathers, he visited briefly when I was about 3 years old, so I’d certainly like to meet all my grandparents.

    Thanks for coming by and commenting.

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