A couple of weeks ago, the phone rang. It was my 25 year old daughter calling. "Got any miles?" she asked.
    "Excuse me?" I replied. "How about a hello or a how are you, dad?"
    "Oh, sorry. How are you? Does Mom have any miles?"
    It was hopeless. She was not to be denied. The travel bug had hit once again and she was determined to find a way to satisfy her addiction. Our hard-earned airline miles were about to be obliterated.
   "Where now?" I asked. "Antartica? I think thatís the only place you havenít been to yet."
   "Very funny. As a matter of fact, I want to go to Thailand and visit my friend Brian. Heís working there so Iíll have a free place to stay."
   She had just finished her first year as a fifth grade teacher in East Palo Alto. It had been tough, and she was milking it. She was a big believer in the three best things about being a teacher---June, July and August.
    "Iíve got the last two weeks of July with nothing to do," she explained. "I might as well go to Thailand."
    That made perfect sense. To her. She had just returned from a wedding in Boston, and we had a family trip to Cancun planned for a week in early August. God forbid that she had nowhere to go for a couple of weeks.
    She sensed my hesitation. "I use your miles, Iíve got a free place to stay and Iíll spend far less in Thailand than I would hanging around here. Everything is cheaper there."
    Sheís been very successful with that argument. When she was a Junior in college, she came to me with a proposal for the Semester at Sea program. She would go around the world, visiting 11 countries, and get credit for a full semester of classes.
   I was appalled at the extravagance, until she explained that the cost was LESS than the tuition I would be paying for the semester at her private college. Hard to argue with that logic.
   So off she went, visiting countries that my wife and I could only dream about someday seeing. Cuba, Brazil, South Africa, India, Vietnam, China and a few others along the way. She was 21 years old and she had seen more of the world than I had.
   When she graduated and headed off to New Zealand and Australia for six months, I was seriously wondering what was wrong with the picture. I was entering my 50ís and she was a stinking kid in her 20ís with a passport full of stamps. Thatís not right.
   "Iíve never been to Thailand," I said, perhaps a bit too pathetically. "Iíd like to go someday."
   "Come with me," she replied. "Iím sure you have enough miles for all of us."
   Actually, she didnít say that. I made it up. Her actual reply was that she knew I wasnít going anywhere until her brother graduated from high school next year, so she might as well use the miles Iíd accumulated on my Mileage Plus business credit card.
   "Actually, I already checked," she said. "You have plenty of miles and itís only 60,000 for my round trip ticket to Bangkok. They might expire if I donít use them."
   Free airfare, free place to stay, cheaper nights out than at home---how do you say no? "All right, you can check into availability and then weíll decide."
   "I already did," she said, a bit too smugly. "Iím booked for next Friday. Thanks, Daddy."
    Another country that she beat me to. When she returns, Iíll see the pictures, Iíll hear the stories, Iíll ooh and ahh at her adventures. And in the back of my mind, Iíll wonder whether it shouldnít be the other way around.
    On the other hand, Iíve got to admire her spunk. Sheís young, single and adventurous. One of these days she might be married with kids, with a husband who doesnít have 2 Ĺ months off, and sheíll be watching as her elderly parents embark on another three month trip to faraway places.
   And rest assured, I will find a country, someplace, somewhere, that she hasnít visited. And then she will have to sit and listen to my stories and look at my pictures.
   Finland. Thatís the ticket. Iíve got to get to Finland before she does.

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