Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Feb 11 (Day 42) - Racing against the rain, the value of travel

There is some really awful weather heading this way, so I had one goal for today: beat the storm to Charleston, SC. I stayed in a tiny motel in Georgetown, SC last night, and I did not want to stay there for what might turn into 2 additional nights. I decided to push through what were fairly miserable conditions this morning to reach a friend's house where I knew I would be well-received. I really pushed hard on my 53-mile ride as the temperature was going to start dropping in the afternoon. It rained the entire ride, and I was soaked and cold when I reached my destination. Luckily, I found a remedy for this upon my arrival (see photo)! Needless to say, I did not see any birds today. I am going to rest here tomorrow while it rains/snows. I will then spend a day or two kicking around some of the marshes in the area trying to scare up Nelson's, Saltmarsh, and Seaside sparrows.

I'm bringing sexy back.......

I did not have a ton of inspiration today as I was just hammering down the road as fast as I could. At the end of the ride though, I did make a stop at a gas station to warm up my soaking wet feet. The clerk asked about my ride, so I explained the project and my goals to her. She kept asking "Why?" even after I repeatedly explained the project. I did my best, but I am not sure I ever connected with her. After my feet had sufficiently thawed, I hit the road again. I started to think about why I was unable to connect with the clerk. It hit me that although I value travel as an experience and a chance to meet new and different people, not everyone feels the same way. I thought about why travel means so much to some people and so little to others.

I came up with several ideas. Travel can be expensive, travel takes time and energy, and travel disrupts routines. These factors are compounded exponentially when children are involved. It is easy to understand how any or all of these factors act as deterrents to travel. However, I will discuss 2 additional observations that I think provide more insight into the American cultural psyche as it pertains to travel.

First, people don't park fancy 2014 travels in their driveways. People don't invite their friends over to watch their new 60" flat-screen travels. People don't propose with 2-carat travel rings (they do it with carbon instead). The sad point is that many people value material things ahead of personal experiences. In an America that puts such an inflated and ridiculous emphasis on material possessions, many people will never know how travel can enrich a person intellectually and emotionally. The benefits of travel come in forms that, sadly, many people do not recognize since they aren't included in Black Friday Blowout Sales. Maybe one day people will get trampled to death to buy tickets to visit Peru and learn about its history and culture (and birds!). Then again, maybe not.

Second travel is too often relegated to something that people will do when they have time; when they graduate, when they get jobs, when their kids are grown, when their house is paid off, or when they retire. Travel is continually put onto the back burner where it too often simmers, unattended, in perpetuity. I understand that life is hectic, but I think a person's most exciting trip should be to somewhere other than the morgue. We are fed from multiple angles the constructed image of the American dream that culminates with 2.3 kids, 1.8 cars, and a 30-year mortgage. Travel challenges us, and it makes us grow as human beings as we try to understand the perspectives and circumstances of humans from other parts of the country or the world. The sooner a person makes travel a part of his/her life, the sooner he/she can start reaping the rewards. Travel may represent a slight sidestep from the pursuit of the American dream, but it should come as a welcome diversion. It's never too early to travel, but sadly it's very often too late.


  1. Totally agree with you about travel. Luckily for me I did a lot of it before kids, and still get to do a modest amount with my career. But something is also to be said about traveling on foot/bike. You get to see the details of towns, not just the overview while speeding past it. I'm sure this trip will enrich your life. Unfortunately for others, the cost of living is so bad that the concept of traveling for a month would surely bankrupt the majority, OR their bosses wouldnt' allow it. That contrasts with the majority of other major countries where they see it as not only normal, but expected.

    1. the cost of living is so bad that the concept of traveling for a month would surely bankrupt the majority, OR their bosses wouldnt' allow it. That contrasts with the majority of other major countries where they see it as not only normal, but expected.

      Totally agree.

  2. I grew up in the Netherlands and it was a common thing for everyone to travel abroad during summer break. My parents took me and my siblings on a three-week vacation to a different country each year, plus a one-week vacation within the Netherlands for spring break. Sure, it was hectic sometimes, and spending two days in a small car to get to our destination was horrible, but I always loved the chance to explore a new place. I still do!

  3. Oh, yes, the joys of travel. Been in all 50 states myself, and a few foreign countries and it's done nothing but good for me. I also don't understand how some people can live in the same town all their lives and never have any curiosity as to how other people in the same country live.

    I'm following along after lurking on the FM nature and wildlife forum for years and becoming acquainted with your photography there. I'll be keeping tabs on how you're doing.

  4. Good birding community in Charleston. Be sure to go to BEAR ISLAND area on way south. You might get twenty additional species.

  5. Awesome job biking 53 miles in chilling rain! I enjoyed reading this post; Joanne and I just remembered today to check in on your adventures, and we laughed over your hot-tub selfie!

    I heard that there was a brain-structure-related reason that some people are liberal and some conservative; "liberal" brains light up with pleasure when confronted by novel stimuli. That's me! I love travel because I love to have my mind blown! I am a bit of a novelty addict and get bored easily-- probably related to dopamine shortage. Conservative-brained people dislike/distrust novel experiences. It makes them anxious. I'm thinking of people like George W. Bush, who didn't seem to enjoy going abroad at all.

  6. I do a lot of traveling, but at a small scale. Except for a few trips to southern Ontario from North Bay, all my trips are day trips. I travel to little-known corners of the Nipissing and Parry Sound districts. Different methods of travel can open up new opportunities on a local scale. Having a kayak opens up new waterways to explore. Recently, I have been learning dragonflies and I go to all the shallow streams I can wade.

    The largest scale trip on the horizon is a trip to Point Pelee during our (my wife and I) ten year anniversary in 2017. It's only a seven hour drive. On a similar scale is a trip to Niagara Falls in 2026 to see the total solar eclipse.

  7. wow this is great...very nice i also like travelling
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