Travel Trials and Humor

Last weekend I had the immense luck and privilege to be invited by my cousin (hey cuz! Thx man!) down to Chicago to partake of a Nascar race. We had the (perhaps once in a lifetime or at least long time) best seats in the house. From learning the intricacies of the hauling race trailers, to meeting drivers and their crew to being trackside for phenomenal 14 second pitting procedures that are incredibly impressive, to travelling around the banked track at over 180km/hr (115 mph) we had total “backstage” pass inside access. The teams really operate as huge families and all work so hard just to get that driver and car to the starting grid. Like an iceberg where you only see 10% of the size, that day showed us every little detail that goes into preparing (for safety) and running a vehicle hurtling around over 300km/hr (186 mph).

Travelling really requires you to stay open to experiences and adventures as things do invariably go wrong either by your own or destiny’s fault. I began my journey the night before when I drove down to Buffalo to save a few hundred dollars on the flight. At the border, the Spanish Inquisition was re-enacted for my experiencing pleasure as I was grilled mercilessly by a machine gun questioning guard with bugged out crazy eyes. He finally returned my passport allowing me to experience the less savory neighborhoods of Buffalo while seemingly taking the LEAST direct route to my destination.

I arrived in “Shytown” the next morning early and connected with my cousin. Upon arrival to the windy city it became abundantly clear, a good sense of humor and adventure would be required! We realized immediately that the huge towers of the downtown core rendered the GPS almost irrelevant after we went around in circles in rush hour traffic for about 20 minutes as the GPS basically kept recalculating and admonishing us for “wrong” turns it had just suggested seconds earlier. We arrived at the hotel, unpacked and began realizing that leaving the hotel would carry its own price at every turn.

Leaving the hotel became an annoyance in two ways, a) the costs and b) the availability of anything and everything considered “normal” (like 24 hour pharmacies or coffee shops open when you want a coffee, etc.). Leaving the hotel with the car would incur $20-$30 parking charges anywhere we went so we decided to take cabs. Low and behold most cab rides were also in the same $20-$30 range. As if to mock us the city seemed to mock us at every turn when a reasonable request was made (“Why would you want lip balm at 11AM on a Sunday?”)!

The coffee place was closed almost the whole weekend, restaurants we almost all closed or so distant they weren’t worth cabbing or driving to! By Saturday night our craving for Mexican became a akin to “Quest for Fire”! The front desk confirmed that the restaurants were “a $30 cab ride return”, this constant “walletitis” was beginning to annoy and sting regularly. We decided to order Indian food online and the food came almost 2 hours later when eating the order out menus was becoming an option!

Many people we met complained about the economy and all the bankrupcies. By Sunday my cousin and I snidely remarked, “Maybe if your stores and restaurants were open, you could do better!”The aquarium was phenomenal as was the Nascar race I must say. On Sunday morning we had an hour to kill before my flight so we went to a mall. At 10 AM the place was barely open! Even by 11 AM, opening time, many stores were just barely opening!

This was not a rant against this city or trip far from it, but only fuel for my premise that my cousin and I armed with very good senses of “whatever happens happens and it is part of the journey” ended up enjoying a situation that could have really thrown many others off. If you go travelling with the “mind of a student adventurer” you will enjoy the inevitable minor and Major “S curves” (also called by some not us, “things going horribly wrong”) on the journey as integral parts of the journey. You will not be thrown off when a new situation challenges your expectations and existing habitual patterns.

Travelling is definitely a growth experience and allows one to experience new places, people and ways of living. Don’t forget to leave your expectations and habits at home, you’ll have a much better time!

I challenge you this next week to live with the mind of a student explorer, you may never go back to your “old” habits and ways! Even if you do, you may appreciate how good you have it at home and enjoy it more!

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