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Some random thoughts about random events occurred to me today…
People ask me why I don’t like cruises or go on packaged tours. Then I wonder why people in my area with limited time continue to spend every vacation they have getting drunk in Vegas and losing all their money. I guess the answer for me is that I don’t travel to be pampered, act out, or see a postcard view. I really want to experience something different every time I step out the door and wonder why other travelers settle for less.
Traveling can be life changing. Catching a ride with 10 strangers in a small van in the middle of nowhere, Mexico; shooting pool with the locals at a pub in London; taking refuge for three days in an Indian casino in Nevada when the car broke down; staring down a spray nozzle in a German concentration camp gas chamber. All are experiences that left me changed forever somehow.
It’s an experience like this that we long for when we travel. It’s not always fun, but will leave you changed…usually for the better. It doesn’t always work that way but when it does, it’s magical.
Ironically, since we have my son traveling with us in a wheelchair, we try to plan every trip down to the most minor detail…we don’t want to have access surprises away from home…but the best moments can’t be planned, they just happen.
Sometimes what happens can be excruciating. Waiting all night at the Orlando Airport because there’s a crack in the plane’s windshield; giving up a long planned ski trip to Banff because your travel partner lost all his money at the race track the day before you’re supposed to leave; having a two-week trip wandering around the Colorado Rockies cut to a quick trip to the Grand Canyon because of car troubles (yes, that’s where the Indian casino came in).
Other times it can be magical. Standing atop the Pyramid of the Moon in Teotihuacan before having a tequila drink-off with your guide; finding a pristine, deserted beach in the jungle because you hired the scruffy looking guy with a skiff instead of taking the big tour to the party beach; taking the slow bus over the mountains in search of seldom seen relatives; finding that “perfect” Irish village when I finally quit taking everybody’s advice and just set off down a random road.
That’s travel. That’s why I do it. I want something completely foreign, maybe uncomfortable, and definitely something I’ll remember forever.
I cherish the trip that throws me so far off balance that I forget where I am. I want to wake up in my bed when I get home, ask myself why the hotel looks so different today, and wonder where the hell I am.