Wanna Be a Travelin’ Man

Summer does something to the soul. It uncaps that need, that primal desire to get oneself out there and into nature! Full-time workers who must stay on for 12 months (Yes, I’m envious of you school teachers who only work 10) thus find it hard not to use all of their tiny allotment of days off.

What’s a man to do in order to tackle wanderlust while not risking termination due to absence? Well, to dream. To talk about all of the fun ways in which I can and do travel: by air, water, rail, and hard asphalt. So indulge me while I wax semi-poetic on journeys past and those hopefully to come.

AIR:

Ah, there’s something so freeing about rising above the earth’s surface, feeling that tug deep in your stomach as gravity says NO, but lift says YES! Up, up, to 39,000 feet. Ears lightly popping, while teeth work furiously to rebalance pressure before head explodes.

I remember my first trip up in a bird, across country from Charlotte to Los Angeles. I couldn’t fathom that we were actually moving at nearly 600 miles per hour, and yet for the most part I felt nothing. Amazing.

That kind of flight is great, and I still do and always will enjoy it. But in many respects one feels more connected to air and machine on a small Cessna, as I discovered during a fun summer camp session. Granted, I’m not sure I’d like going too entirely far in those things, because they tend to be notably more accident-prone than jets. Perhaps they are still less risky than driving, but I don’t know.

WATER

While I’ve never experienced it and am not sure to what degree you can, some of the first airplanes actually took off from the surface of the water. This was before long runways, and so it was the best way for them to have enough space to gather speed and rise. An awesome book to read if you’d like to know a bit of what that was like is Ken Follett’s Night Over Water.

Meanwhile, my knowledge of water travel largely consists of trips on speed boats, also at a summer camp. Bump bump over the craft’s self-generated waves. Whack of the loose life jacket strap in my face. And the craziest, a sky opening up that caused the counselors to insist that all of us screaming kids cram under what little shelter there was aboard so we wouldn’t drive her crazy as she tried to steer us back to docks. Fun times!

With regards to bigger boats, I’ve discovered that I may be a bit seasick when being tossed to and fro. I guess given the balance issues that my disorder can present, this shouldn’t be too surprising. The boat I rode just outside of North Carolina’s Inter-coastal Waterway was relatively small though, for an oceangoing vessel, and also I found that when below decks I could walk around without problems. This gives me hope of possibly being able to enjoy a cruise someday, but who knows. I think my first voyage will be a fairly short one, just to get a taste.

RAILS

And on the subject of short, but sometimes painfully slow voyages, I have, until perhaps now, regularly rumbled down the tracks as documented here. I think the connection between North Carolina’s two largest cities, Raleigh and Charlotte, is one of Amtrak’s best. Yet, especially the evening train coming down from New York is as far as I can tell, always at least 1 and a half hours late. It is no doubt slowed by the constant freight trains that intersect and bisect its route. I guess little can be done about this without disrupting commerce, though.

I often look at countries in Europe and Asia and wish our system could be as highly developed as theirs are. High-speed trains that give airplanes a run for their money, especially when security and weather considerations come into play. But I know that those countries are in many cases smaller or controlled by governments that have a lot more say about what gets built. I think though that there is a slow change in our own public that will soon allow for vast improvements in rail, and all kinds of public transportation.

I’ve had the pleasure of getting a taste of what trains were like before the modern era, at a historic depot located somewhere near Kanapolis North Carolina, if I’m remembering correctly called Spencer Shops? We rode an old, rickety train with no onboard venelation on a really cold day. I think they also have a pretty cool museum at the depot. It was a fascinating experience.

HIGHWAY

And finally, there’s the good ole, open road. Always a legend in America’s car-centric culture, though as I’ve just pointed out this is starting to alter with the younger of us.

I guess the biggest plus this mode of travel holds for most, though of course a lot less so for those of us without working eyes, is its high degree of freedom and control. No timetables or long lines to worry about.

But then that’s not entirely true, is it. Yeah, try driving somewhere before one of the major holidays, and see what kind of traffic you get entangled in. Not to mention the things you can’t control, like drunk drivers who sadly so often take others’ lives while being spared themselves. (NOTE: I mean to say not that I wish they, drunk drivers, die, but that no one would!)

p>I think this, especially generally featureless Interstate highway travel, is my least favorite. My longest journey of this kind was aboard a chartered bus to New York City: 14 hours of jolly rancher-induced sleep-wake that found me still somewhat functional on arrival in White Plains (A NYC suburb), but toasted by nightfall. Ah, that was some trip.

IN CLOSING

So, now that I’m thinking about travel, I want you to as well. What are your favorite modes of transportation? Any crazy experiences, other than what I know probably occur regularly in city driving. Do you like flying or fear it? Ever been on a cruise? A long train trip, as Katie Aune has, a traveler I follow on Twitter? I would like to do that one day. Talk to me.

Today’s Tidbit

I’ve been temporarily relocated to another section at my job. Yesterday, I got hopelessly lost as I wandered the rails, searching for the door out. Those rails are in fact like a highway, because they extend the length of the building, and have little “exits” that lead to different halls. All of the exits on I-Twenty-Blind as I call it (get it? 20 is the first number you often see on charts referring to someone’s sight levels) feel the same. Well only one has different texture, the one leading towards the main aisle. I wonder if anyone thought of that? I mean, imagine trying to figure out where to get off without proper guidance from the signs? A good Samaritan did finally save me from the side of the “road” just in the nick of time, for I stepped onto the bus just as the stairs were lifted and it pulled off. Just a little jobs humor for ya. More next time!

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