Posts Tagged ‘transportation’

“Be careful what you wish for…you just might get it”, so goes the old saying. Ever since I was young I wanted to travel. I was impressed by two books, The Wealth of Nations , The Travels of Marco Polo and  any documentaries/photojournalism work from the wild world outside my tiny corner. By the time I was eighteen I had been infected by the travel bug so that as soon as I was able to get my first passport and the inoculations necessary  I was gone. I have been traveling or planning to travel ever since.

‘Getting away’ has always been a personal obsession. The preoccupation with foreign countries and cultures has been a distraction. While I should have been in university with my cohort I was exploring my fantasy world. I missed all the usual benchmarks anyone of my generation strove to achieve and the knowledge of those that did has faded like a mist. I have never attended a wedding or a funeral. To my family I existed only as a postcard or a phone call at Christmas time, appearing only in the event of  some catastrophe.

I learned so many things on the road that I can’t share with anyone. My relationships are transient by practice. Time away has severed all ties.   I pay a price for my wayward ways. I am more comfortable in a hotel room or short term rental bungalow than in the house I own. I prefer the company of strangers. I go home and feel like an alien when nothing looks familiar . The cross streets of New Delhi or Bangkok are more recognizable than the place of my youth.

And yet I get emails from people who say they envy the travel lifestyle. I say to anyone who considers what we do as a permanent choice for themselves, “Be careful what you wish for… because you just might get it”.

IMG_1990

November is a month that brings change to thousands of peoples lives who live in northern latitudes. Call them snowbirds or escapee’s, they all have one thing in common, a driving compulsion to leave the northern latitudes for sunny southern climates. The exodus of Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1964, is as predictable as the migration of birds. Leaving Canada or Finland for the winter months has become a cultural norm… a statement of your financial status. Those left behind are considered ‘unfortunate’.

Suntan holidays became popular when soldiers returning from the tropics after WWII arrived home from the Pacific with ‘sunshine skin’.  There was a huge demographic shift  in the late 1940’s when rural populations moved en mass to the cities. The balance flipped from 80%  rural and 20% urban to the exact opposite. The changing economy and increased post war wealth introduced a new aspect to the North American culture…recreation. Suntans on the streets of New York and London became a status symbol. It said you could afford to get away.

It was fashion mavin Coco Chanel that put tropical leisure on the map for the masses. She appeared on the cover of Life magazine sporting a suntan. This was a shocking display at that time, rather like a Lady Gaga moment. The confluence of adventure seeking ex-soldiers, sudden wealth and a new found societal acceptance of sunburn bloomed into a tourism crush in between the tropics of Cancer and Capricorn. It was suddenly cool and possible to winter in Mexico and the Caribbean. Aviation technology produced long range commercial passenger planes and locations like Hawaii and the South Pacific became accessible.  The cruise ship and retirement community industries were born.

In November the Boomer generation of Europe flock by the million to the southern shores of the Mediterranean, the North Americans focus is on Florida, Mexico and S.E. Asia. The post war economy has been very generous to the Boomer generation. It was a time when education and competition for seats in university was cheap and easy. Industries were still wanting for a few good men and opportunity for advancement was abundant. Inflation has made many Boomers rich with the passive holding of real estate investments. A prosperous and beneficial retirement is within sight for a great many  because defined pension benefits were once the norm.

We take the tourism industry for granted but it didn’t always exist. It wasn’t until the advent of ‘sunshine skin’ that it became possible to visit the undeveloped islands and continents of the third world. Now when  millions of tourists flock south for the winter they have forgotten the struggles of a preceding generation who didn’t enjoy the access to infrastructure available today. I shouldn’t take for granted that I can fly to Mallorca or Bangkok on a whim, because it wasn’t always  so easy. When the cold wind begins to blow we should thank a diminutive fashion mavin named Coco for the birth of modern tourism and the post war economic boom that produced the incredible wealth and leisure we enjoy.

19032011503

I spent a week in what is in my opinion the most livable city in Canada, Victoria. Two hours of ferry riding  through a raft of broken islands and a short drive or twenty minutes by float plane and you’re in a different world. City fathers over generations have done a fantastic job of preserving the nineteenth century character of the provincial capital. Victoria is primarily a university city and seat of government, at the same time young and affluent with students and richly paid civic servants. Brick architecture reflects a British influence. Victoria is no secret but handles the tourist industry well. Restaurants and cafe’s are numerous. Friendly individually owned shops line the streets as opposed to the faceless chain stores of many cities. A very pleasant place, indeed.

IMG_4071-Optimized

– a dancer practices for a performance in an open square.

IMG_4123-Optimized

find clubs packed with young students partying.

IMG_4103-Optimized

-lots of period architecture

IMG_4134-Optimized

– Chinatown has  a lot of good restaurants and stores.

IMG_4092-Optimized

– lots of cool little cafe’s to hang out in when it drizzles.

IMG_4125-Optimized

IMG_4116-Optimized

– sights and sounds of an unhurried place.

IMG_4141-Optimized

– really different street art found unexpectedly.

IMG_4106-Optimized

IMG_4126-Optimized

IMG_4147-Optimized

IMG_4150-Optimized

IMG_4127-Optimized

– West Olson, photographer and my local guide through Fan Tan Alley.

IMG_4094-Optimized

IMG_4087-Optimized

– he took me to some cool cafes….where the owners encourage you to stay and hang.

IMG_4076-Optimized

– intimate shoppes hidden down shady alley ways.

wayne

– fantastic natural light for a new head shot.

Argghhh… I flew into Vancouver Canada last night and guess what….pouring rain and freezing cold…. as always. I knew what I would be getting into…after the Texas sunshine this dreary berg seems like hell on earth. We woke up this morning to dark grey skies and pounding rain on the windows….definatley not sexy. Luckily I only have to stay here 12 days. I regret leaving Dallas… this is the best time of year for weather ( under 100 degrees is better for pool time believe it or not) …and the skies are pristine blue.

Landing in Vancouver, if you have to rent a car, it’s like a soviet nightmare from fifty years ago. The facilities at YVR are  antiquated, disorganized and unfriendly . Luggage carts seem to have been banished from the arrivals facility. There is no car rental kiosks inside the airport, you have to take your luggage and walk down a dark exit ramp with sketchy sidewalks in the rain…and there are no signs btw. The city itself feels loathsome and creepy. People present themselves as anal and self-conscious.

Our Texan suntans attracted jealous glares rather than smiles. Our rental rep in Vancouver, once we found them underneath a parking garage some ways away,  accused Dallas of being ‘focused on customer service’…as part of his explanation as to why the service was so poor…as if that were a dirty trick played on Vancouver’s argumentative and ‘a-hole’ style of receiving guests. There is no comparison between the service we get at DFW compared to YVR….night and day…..apples and rotten fruit.

OK…Texans are overly polite as a culture…I get that. In fact they are so friendly, welcoming, receptive and complimentary that a Vancouverite is shocked by the initial experience of open handed civility. Coming from the critical and covetous culture of Vancouver…the friendliness and high level of customer service in Texas is at first overwhelming. Having to fly into Vancouver on business is like getting a rectal exam….you want to get it over with and get out.

Wayne 2

I’ve seen where  people go wrong. They fade into  the misery of a life unfulfilled, as if living is a pulp fiction novel that must reconcile predictably.  Trish and I surmounted every false dictum society set in our way.  We did the parenting, the home buying, the career chasing, and the suburban drudgery…. We managed to avoid the usual traps of china figurine collecting, filling a garage with useless junk and hunkering down to wait for old age. We are self-made, having relied on no one and never having received an inheritance by waiting for someone to die. The trouble with inheritance cases as I have observed is that they always live the rest of their lives knowing they haven’t deserved or earned what they possess. Our fight for success has given us self-confidence and we enjoy the crap out of what we’ve earned. Trust me… enjoying yourself when you can stand on your own two feet is the best revenge. If you’re past middle age and you’re not having fun… you’ve done something wrong. It’s late September here in Dallas and life is good.

IMG_4035-Optimized

IMG_4036-Optimized

IMG_4042-Optimized

IMG_4040-Optimized

IMG_4038-Optimized

I’m living in one of the most under appreciated and most vilified places by foreign ( non Texan) media  the United States and loving it. Most days  we feel as if we have the place to ourselves and couldn’t be happier. The number of tourists in some  global hotspots has depreciated the quality of  traveling there….. not so in Texas.  There is so much to do here , spread out over such a huge area that crowds ( except for sports venues) are rare. The cost of living is extremely low compared to most other places I have been in the developed world and that really takes the bite out of world class travel.

We chose Fort Worth for today’s day trip. It was back in the spring when we were there last. The streets, shops, venues and bars are much more lively now that the sun is shining every day. We added the Amon Carter Museum of American Art to our list of free public facilities to our list. And guess what…the parking is also free and we didn’t have to make any advance reservations or take transit to get there!!!  ! Ft. Worth has it’s roots in the cattle industry, being the end of the Chisholm Trail of Old West fame.

On the way, we stopped at a road side diner for a traditional Sunday lunch of Southern home style cooking…   fried cat fish filets, fried okra, pecan pie and sweet tea. The catfish was excellent, spicy hot, the way it should be. Did I forget the corn bread biscuits and sweet bread rolls with honey and butter…..shame on me. Once down 26th Street in downtown Ft Worth….also known as The Stockyards… we were treated to an antique car show…many groups of street performers…and we stopped into the very famous ( if you’re a cowboy) White Elephant Saloon for a drink and some quality time holding up the bar with the locals. WARNING… MEN WEAR HATS. People have been drinking beer and playing pool to the sound of some of country musics most famous performers for decades. Sure… it’s smoky and stinks like sour beer….but the people are super friendly and you know you’re in one of the most famous Cowboy Churches in the country.

I’ve lived in a lot of places around the world…. but my travelers eye has spied Texas as one of the best destinations for  the unexpected.

IMG_3973-Optimized

IMG_3985-Optimized

IMG_3972-Optimized

IMG_4002-Optimized

IMG_3991-Optimized

IMG_3987-Optimized

IMG_4022-Optimized

IMG_4014-Optimized

IMG_4026-Optimized

IMG_4020-Optimized

IMG_4024-Optimized

IMG_4028-Optimized

IMG_4015-Optimized

IMG_4006-Optimized

IMG_4007-Optimized

IMG_3988-Optimized

I can’t resist the open road. My Camaro is like a fresh horse kicking the stall, anxious to run. The weather is fantastic,  I feel driven to burst out the door with the morning light. My most recent road trip included Gainesville, Decatur, Krum and all points north on the TX HWY 35 towards the Oklahoma border. In the past thirty days we have shot our silver arrow into Terrel, Wills Point, Grand Saline, Mineola, Hawkins, Big Sandy, White Oak, Longview, Hallsville, Marshall, Jefferson, San Antonio, Blanco, Johnson City, Marble Falls, Burnet, Lampassas, Hamilton. Hico, Glen Rose, Cleburne, Alvarado, Rock Wall, Grande Prairie, Greenville, Farmersville and Midlothian….among other market towns, gas station stops and historic markers along the way. We passed the Frank Buck Zoo…..a holdover from a TV show in the 1950’s called ‘Frank Buck-Bring ’em back alive’.  What a hoot !

The Texas landscape is dotted with tall water towers announcing clusters of civilization in every direction like mushrooms rising out of tall grass. There are so many freeway off ramps that it’s easy to veer off and see what might have been unplanned for. Often it’s the happy accidents that make a road trip truly special. This is another reason why I like having my own transportation, unlimited time and not be stuck on airports, trains or bus schedules….it’s necessary to have the freedom to discover whats beside and between major cities. I have talked about the tactile experience of an open cockpit. The road-song of screaming rubber on melting asphalt and passing traffic is an exhilarating cocktail mixed with burning sunshine and turbulent wind. We talk about directions we might never have considered as they come into view. Turnpikes are like a sirens calling us into the unknown. There are moments during our passage through small town America when life is transcendent.

IMG_3888-Optimized

IMG_3879-Optimized

IMG_3883-Optimized

IMG_3872-Optimized

IMG_3876-Optimized

IMG_3875-Optimized

IMG_3889-Optimized

IMG_3893-Optimized

IMG_3551