traveling tins, the tin collector's tales, tin collections, coast of Maine, Chile, Acadia National Park, Trail's End, USA, Brazil, Argentina, travel, rocky shore with sea and pines, trips, Destiny at Dolphin Bay

The Tale of the Traveling Tins: The Finale

Can I make it around the world in 80 tins? I’m still unpacking, and the only thing I know for sure is that today the traveling tins will take me home to Chile again.

After a lengthy stop in Canada, I usually cross either the St. John or St. Croix rivers into the State of Maine. Or, we could take the catamaran ferry from Yarmouth, NS, to Bar Harbor, which is something I’ve never done, by the way. It’s definitely on my Bucket List of experiences, along with watching the sunrise from Cadillac Mountain on Mount Desert Island.

“What happens to me when I cross…into Maine at a cost of seventy-five cents in tolls? I cannot describe it. I do not ordinarily spy a partridge in a pear tree, or three French hens, but I do have the sensation of having received a gift from a true love.” –E. B. White, author of Charlotte’s Web

This brings me to number 70 of the traveling tins, a gold-lidded Trail’s End Salutes Our National Parks canister featuring Yosemite in California and Acadia in Maine. It held caramel popcorn and peanuts, sold by the Scouts, before my cousin gave it to me in the late ’90’s.

A lot of memories there, for sure. During our teens, my cousin and I pilgrimaged each summer to Bar Harbor and the Acadia National Park highlights such as Sand Beach, Thunder Hole, and of course—Cadillac Mountain, highest point on the Atlantic seaboard. One of the world’s most beautiful places, IMO. We’ve returned to touch base many times since. But I’ve still never made it for sunrise.

MAINE—”The Way Life Should Be”

This area’s the general setting for “The Great Chili Pepper Competition,” one of The Quarantine Tales spun by Destiny at Dolphin Bay’s next generation in a series of blog posts last year. My recollections of the state fairs show up in part of the story—as do E. B. White’s in Charlotte’s Web.

Another entry on my Bucket List: Drive the entire Maine coast along U. S. Route 1 from Eastport to Kittery (or vice versa). My husband adds, “On a motorcycle!” I think it rains too often, myself, but I’ll let you know someday.

Of course, to fully appreciate the scenery, we probably shouldn’t attempt it all in one day. But theoretically, we could do it and, along the way, meet the next of our traveling tins, number 71—A, B, and C—which feature cartoon versions of Maine wildlife on tiny slide-top mint boxes.

“There’s a quality of life in Maine which is this singular and unique, I think. It’s absolutely a world unto itself.” –Jamie Wyeth, painter

I’d stop in Lubec (not far down the road from Eastport) for breakfast close to the farm where my ancestors hailed from. Then I’d pause for a LOBSTER (Tin A) roll lunch in Rockland, maybe. The trip will take us past Kennebunk for a supper of fried clams, but probably not far enough into the great northern woods for a chance to observe many BEARS (Tin B) or MOOSE (Tin C).

God Bless the USA

Just out of New England, we encounter another addition from my cousin to the traveling tins collection, number 72. This limited-edition canister of Trail’s End gourmet popcorn showcases the Statue of Liberty in a fireworks display over New York Harbor. Although it’s so familiar to most of us, I confess I’ve never actually seen this most emblematic of American monuments where the past and the future join hands.

Neither have I ever visited tin number 73, Mount Rushmore. Also a Trail’s End tribute to America’s National Parks, this canister reminds me of how much I’ve missed. It’s a BIG country—with more amazing landscapes, landmarks, and just plain land than you could tour in a lifetime.

I see sunset over the Pacific every day here in Chile, but I first glimpsed it in the Northern Hemisphere only about five years ago. Now I’m determined to try a little harder to explore and enjoy more than I usually do on long road trips. A backpack of popcorn-and-nuts sounds great, too.

“A wise traveler never despises his own country.” –William Hazlitt, essayist

Continuing south for this time, I find my next tin, number 74, at historic Mount Vernon, Virginia. I picked this up while visiting my brother and his family in Maryland. After hitting some D. C. sights we’d missed on previous trips, my husband and I headed across the Potomac the next day to pay a call at George and Martha Washington’s plantation home.

A mansion, yes, for its day. But to me, that lovely estate offered the essence of classic elegance and simplicity. (Can you believe the kitchen, not connected to the main house, fascinated me most?) And the replica tin shows the famous couple themselves strolling on the lawn, watching children at play and a carriage approaching the front door. The red-tile roof is the tin’s lid.

Gracious Gifts

Number 75 of the traveling tins, Dunkin’ Donuts, was made in Chile but born in the USA. This huge bright-red canister, sprinkled with white donut sketches, reminds me of a wonderful West Virginia church that gave a box of donuts and more to two little Chilean girls, along with many other generous gifts to needy families at Christmas 2019. We got the privilege of delivering, and I’m completely convinced it’s far “more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35).

“Once a year, go someplace you’ve never been before.” –Anonymous

Our long-ago visit to Sea World in Orlando, Florida, with two daughters, came as another of God’s gracious gifts. The superb orca and dolphin spectacles remain the highlight and watered the newly planted seeds in my heart for Destiny at Dolphin Bay. For that reason, I cherish tin number 76, a silver tin of lemonade mix, decorated with a colorful tropical-island jungle.

I hope you don’t roll your eyes when I admit that traveling tin 77, a round metallic-blue number that contained a disc of chocolate, came from Walt Disney World. Four Parks—One World features Mickey Mouse, Epcot Center, and Tinker Bell floating over Sleeping Beauty’s castle.

Yes, I know. It’s hot and crowded, touristy and pricy, but I imagine, still worth it. Our youngest daughter was invited as a high school student—the gift of a friend of a friend—and chose this tin for Mom on her return. I visited the Magic Kingdom once decades upon decades ago, and I still fancy putting Epcot on the Bucket List. You never stop learning till you’re dead.

BRAZILian Gold

Since we’ve ended our tour of the USA in Florida, it’s a perfect jumping-off spot for South America. First, we’ll land briefly in Brazil, the continent’s largest country and the only one where Portuguese is spoken instead of (mainly) Spanish.

“I saw an open door. I took it. It was as though the world had been suddenly lighted and I could see a great distance.” –H. M. Tomlinson, describing his 1910 voyage to Brazil in The Sea and the Jungle

Here we encounter number 78, a hinged gold box that once-upon-a-time held foil-wrapped Ferrero Rocher chocolates. Now let me tell you that in South America, the “golden experience” of Ferrero Rocher is considered the gold standard in chocolate. It’s different from our Chilean Sahne Nuss, but still…up there on the pedestal.

Many years ago, a sneak binge on Ferrero Rocher chocolates after hours with a couple of friends saved my life. After a terrible day in a bad week, their kindness and concern and crazy concept of fun lifted my spirits that evening more than they will ever know. “Make new friends, but keep the old; One is silver, but the other’s gold…”

ARGENTINA—Our Neighbor Over the Andes

Crossing the border by land from Brazil into Argentina, I’d hoped to spare the time to view magnificent Iguazú Falls—another Bucket List item. Perhaps next visit? For now, we have two final stops to consider a pair of my most prized traveling tins.  

Number 79 is a “yerba” container encircled with a collection of embossed silver “mate” cups and complete with a metal measuring spout and a secret recipe for preparing the perfect gourd of mate tea. I’m ashamed to admit that the top of this one used to be leather brown. But after sitting in a place of honor in my corner window in Coquimbo for a time, it mutated to a rather dull shade of purple from the sun. Sadly, a lesson was learned!

We got it figured out early on that Chileans, despite their love/hate relationship with their next-door neighbors, believe that Argentina produces better mate herb. They always solicit travelers for a few packages of the dried-leaf tea, so we’ve learned to pick it up on our travels. Eventually, a dear missionary friend over the “cordillera” gave me a tin to keep it in!

Drum roll, please! With the traveling tins, we’ve finally made it around the world in 80 tins. Number 80 is a Bagley’s Biscuits tin inherited from my old friends, John and Helen Prado. They undoubtedly brought it back from Argentina on one of their many ministry trips to Uruguay.

This royal blue cookie box displays scenes of 1920’s flapper couples taking English-style high tea. I have no idea of the age of the tin, but Helen lived almost long enough to have been a flapper girl herself! At any rate, I remember their super-intriguing lives whenever I look at it.

What an Adventure

“A great book should leave you with many experiences, and slightly exhausted at the end. You live several lives while reading it. Its writer should too.” –William Styron, author of Sophie’s Choice

A great trip should end like that, too. Today, after covering many thousands of miles/kilometers, let’s finalize our travels back where we began, in John and Helen’s hometown of Coquimbo, Chile. I need a cup of tea. Or maybe mate.

2 Comments

  1. Awwwwwww. I’m sorry for this series to come to an end. I enjoyed it so much. Thank you for your thoughtful and exquisite guidance around the world. Aren’t we blessed for these experiences?

    1. I’m sure it’s “more blessed” to see it than read about it, but armchair travel has its benefits too! It’s been a fun experience for me, as well as an education of sorts. Always something new around the bend…

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