Badass blogger Jason Kottke recentlytook a solo trip to the Middle East and Asia, and lived to write wrote about it at length here (with pictures!). It’s a worthwhile post, but I cannot stop thinking about his summery of thoughts about the trip. Since they fall at the end, I’ll drop my favorite lines below the fold. But go check it out!
Today Tina and I leave for France to celebrate my 40th birthday, which was last September.
For the past two weeks, I’ve been waking up every morning around 4 a.m. and can’t get back to sleep for a while. In those waking hours, I’ve been trying to think in French putting myself in all kinds of situations and trying to work out the grammar and vocabulary.
This morning, I woke again at 4 and couldn’t stop thinking about how this trip somehow coincides with the number 4. I’m not a numerologist. Nor do I think there’s anything more than contrived coincidence to think about this trip in terms of fours, but here’s what I came up with while lying in the dark staring at my eyelids.
We’re going to France to celebrate my 40th birthday.
Twenty years ago, I traveled to France for my study abroad. There are five fours in the number twenty.
At the time of my first trip (1996), I had been dating my high school sweetheart for four years.
Four years after my first trip (2000), I met Tina after making a big move to Chicago.
Four years later (2004), I was established as a freelance filmmaker and photographer. Side note: In 2002 (2+0+0+2=4), I lived in the Philippines for 4 months. Also, within that time I had officially transitioned from the political affiliation of my parents to
Four years later in 2008, I married Tina. We honeymooned in France.
By 2012, Tina and I were working together full time. In 2013, we visited France a third time.
And now we are set to go to France again. Number 4. The word “French” is a derivation of the Gaul word for four virgins.
On this trip, We’re traveling with my oldest and dearest friend Aaron and his wife Jackie. There will be four of us. 🙂
I’m so excited that I can’t even sleep let alone see straight.
I can’t wait to get there!
Help me blow out my candles, but my wishes have already come true. 🙂
Tonight at 10 p.m., Tina and I make our ways into the heavens and will land sometime tomorrow in Istanbul, Turkey.
Istanbul is steeped in rich history, and it’s kind of a dream that we’ll be able to visit there. My dad reminded me yesterday that Christianity, in a way, was birthed in Istanbul. You’ll remember Constantine was a reformer of everything from military to religious structure.
And he declared Christianity the national religion of Rome, and there was also the counsel that decided the biblical cannon and wrote down the Nicene Creed, which if you have a church background, it’s probably rolling off your mind’s tongue right now.
I’m going to save wiki’s to read up on the history of Istanbul and Turkey while we’re in the air.
And I’m going to learn Turkish, because I have all the time in the world before we land tomorrow.
I also plan to learn Italian before we get to Italy on Sunday.
I guess Christianity is thematic of this trip since there’s a few highly religious connections in Italy as well. Apparently it’s where the president of the Catholic dress wearing men resides. And there are paintings there — very juvenile paintings — that you can see. Oh, and a sculpture or two. Ooo ooo ooo … and ruins.
Stand by for some travelogue photos. There may be a few posted while we travel.
Tina and I are sitting in the Dublin airport waiting for our delayed flight to Paris to board. It was supposed to leave at 10 a.m. local, but now we’re waiting for clearance from Charles de Gaulle — personally — to let us head out toward his airport.
Apparently there are some storms in the area that are backing stuff up.
We’re pretty tired, and I want a shower. I hate the feeling of getting off a long flight and having the stale odor in my clothes and the thin layer of grime that accumulates over the hours.
Since we’re in Dublin, a place I don’t ever plan visiting on any kind of vacation, I feel a certain obligation to have a pint of Guinness. Although I might wait till the return layover. I just can’t bring myself to drink before noon no matter what time zone I’m in.
This was last night’s airplane dinner.
Becky and Luis are meeting us in Paris tomorrow, and I left them a doggy bag of my leftovers in the seat pocket for them to enjoy just in case they are a little hungry on their flight.
As if naming your enemies is going to cure the world of inconvenient travel partners.
Among the list are babies. Sorry, kids, if you were born a baby … you’re not allowed to fly with Amanda Baby-Hatin’ Black.
Also on the list … smelly people, talkers, tech fanatics, overhead bin offenders, and people who don’t wash their hands.
People who don’t wash their hands?
Next time you go to the bathroom on any flight, make sure you look over your shoulder while you are (or are not) washing up. Amanda Hand-Washing Police Black is likely in there with you determining whether or not she can judge you for being a non-hand washer.
Can you say Psycho!
Amanda Hug-n-Kiss Black stops just shy of recommending that if you travel, charter your own plane and fly yourself. Unless you fly with your mouth shut, your armpits clean, your rear sphincter corked, lugguge-less, perfectly quiet, and a blind sheep, she does NOT want you on her airplane.
So get off!
I’m not sure Amanda Black knows how to count. Her list title specifies 10 (ten!) people to avoid, but she recommends a total of 16 different types. Number 5 is the sick or smelly person. This is not always one person. You can be sick and not smell. And you can smell and certainly not be sick. Added, she ends her 11-people — I mean — 10-people list and then throws in five more types of assholes that bother her while traveling.
Hey, Amanda Black, I gotta recommendation for you: Don’t fucking travel.
In the conversation I’m having with Amanda in my mind, she’d respond, “Jeremy, it’s a jovial, hyperbolic list. It’s not to be taken seriously.”
And you may be right, Amanda Black.
But you can’t name EVERYONE as offensive and avoidable. You might as well write, “If you see me — Amanda Dumb Butt Black — rolling my oversized bag while sneezing onto your plane, wreaking of whiskey and carrying my iPad, listening to my iPod and talking on my iPhone, clear the plane, bitches … I just ate a pot of pinto beans and I’ve got stellar gas.”
If I wrote the article, I would post a picture of this guy I’ve traveled quite a bit with. I’m not naming any names, but I’ve been on planes with my dad, and he can handily clear an entire economy cabin with one single flatulent blow.
I’m sure I’ve been on planes that I wasn’t exactly the best candidate for travel partnership for Amanda Black.
The point is, if you can’t embrace that at least 8 to 12 of the people-types Amanda listed on her pathetic excuse for travel advice, then you’re not a good traveler.
Love the ones your with.
People watching and dealing with variety of people is what life is all about.
I’m sorry that Amanda Black arrived so stinking late to the party.
They teach you in church that everyone is different. But we’re not. That’s why there are 16 identifiable types whom you should look for during flights. We aren’t all that different, you, me, them and us.
Stan from TYWKIWDBI posted this amazing park/preserve that he visited over the weekend called the Jenni and Kyle Preserve.
The park website explains:
The vision for the Jenni and Kyle Preserve began in 1989 with a donation from Harvey and Patricia Wilmeth. The donation was a memorial for their grandchildren, Jenni and Kyle, who both died at the age of 4 due to a degenerative neurological disorder. The Jenni and Kyle Preserve is a unique park that is intended to serve children and persons with disabilities, and provides accessible fishing and picnic areas, trails, wheelchair swings and a shelter building around two spring-fed ponds containing trout and panfish. The shelter has 4 elcecrical outlets and four picnic tables. No amplified music or tents are allowed.
The photo above is, I think, one that Stan took of a wheelchair accessible swing.
How freaking cool is that!
And like Stan wrote:
Very nicely done. More cities and towns should have such facilities.
There are 21 great pieces of advice, including this:
11. People are more alike than you think.
My preferred way of connecting to people is via food but regardless of your passions or interests, travelling will also open your eyes to the fact that we are all more alike than we think. Yes, there are cultural differences and traditions that differ – vastly – but the basics of human emotions and the kindness in a smile are omnipresent, and a beautiful reminder of our shared humanity. Be it the Laotian woman on my bus to Vientiane who only wanted to talk about how men in Thailand thought they were better than men in Laos, to the soldiers in the Philippines who wanted to know how we in Canada survived without growing our own rice, to the family in Bolivia who asked why tourists didn’t swaddle their babies on their back, Bolivian-style. Threads of common human queries – love, food, parenting, and many more – resurface again and again. Ask questions, encourage people to ask them of you. In the end, these knots of human connection are what makes the world go round.
16. Not planning too far ahead leaves you the flexibility to need to take the wonderful opportunities that come your way.
I get quite a few emails asking if I opted for a round-the-world ticket or whether I plan as I go. I’ve addressed this in the resources page but I want to reiterate it here because I think it’s important: don’t plan too far ahead. Over and above the undeniable fact that I thought I’d be back in North America by now (and not still travelling), so many of the places I loved beyond belief are the ones that weren’t even on my initial, vague itinerary. There’s nothing wrong with planning, or doing research, or even booking longer-haul flights if you have a set schedule to follow. But leave as much as you can to as-you-go travel. You’ll meet people who wax poetic about a specific destination and want to go there; you’ll decide you need – NEED! – to go to the Philippines with your brother because you’ve become fascinated by a small primate that you need to see in person; you will find yourself and your mind expanded by the sheer impossibility of everything being available to you, if only you could choose where to go first.
It is a scary thing, to leave it open to the whims of your brain as you travel, but a worthwhile one.
My goal is not to be a stay at home photographer. It’s to travel the world endlessly with cameras on my back, exploring this great big earth that God created (honk).
And when I’m done or it’s done with me, I’ll measure my life in these things.