Journeys: Back from Madison

Warning: Some sappiness and underlying Meaning of Life themes may appear in this post.  But don’t worry: there’s at least one fart joke.

Journeys are an underlying theme of a life.  Invariably, we learn new things about new or familiar places and people, or about ourselves.  One of the interesting things about journeys is how unpredictable they can be: A journey to the grocery store can be life-changing, while a well-planned vacation to a coveted destination spot may turn out to be boring, “touristy”, and over-anticipated. 

In the big scheme of things, my weekend jaunt to Madison hardly ranks up there with conquering Kilimanjaro, but nonetheless, it was a journey that taught me several things about myself, my friends and a new city.

I should always carpool in the winter when traveling through the American Midwest.  Seriously, for a tank of gas that I would have spent either way, I get to sit back and either entertain the driver, nap or read a book.  The drive back from Madison SUCKED, and my only responsibility was to keep my eyes off of the road – so as to avoid transmitting my terror to the driver – and to ignore the occasional teensy swerve as he negotiated the snow-covered, white, line-less highway.  I love carpooling; It’s like taking a train but a heck of a lot cheaper, faster, and cleaner (there’s usually – usually –  fewer cushion farts to worry about). 

People are very willing to share on road trips.  Apparently, my buddy has a loose tooth that is PERFECT for capturing particles of chinese food.  To avoid breaking confidences, I won’t share their stories here, but I did enjoy learning more about my driving companions and sharing my own stories.

A free hotel room in a no-brainer.  One of the reasons I went on this trip is because the room was paid.  And I LOVE that.  Aside from being free, it was also private; the couple with whom we were sharing the room decided to splurge for their own space, and so the Hubby and I were left with two Queen beds and a private room.  We were able to distribute our crap all over the sink, shower, the now-spare Queen bed and the chest of drawers.  There were no thermostat wars, and we didn’t have to have the awkward “so, what kind of PJs do you wear to bed even if you don’t normally wear PJs to bed because you will soooo be wearing PJs to bed while we’re sharing a room” moment. 

Getting back to the free room part: For me, one of the biggest barriers to traveling is the getting there and staying there – aka, paying for transportation and boarding.  If I can wiggle out of paying for one of these – or both of them! – I WILL find the time to travel. 

I can’t write a lot about the actual destination, because I didn’t see much of Madison, Wisconsin.  Most of the time there was spent in the hotel pool and hot tub, the movie room, the restaurant and friends’ rooms.  It was neat to make new friends-of-friends, and the weekend was mostly about relaxing and sharing new stories. 

In the theme of journeys, here are two interesting blogs that I found via the wordpress.com front page.  I don’t know much about the ideologies or backgrounds of the bloggers, but the posts I have read so far appear to be observations of their experiences without having ulterior religious or political motives for posting.

Dj’s Travel Blog – Dude’s in Iraqi Kurdistan right now, posting about his experiences in the village of Suli.  I like this blog because he has posted a lot of pictures of the area, and because he’s writing about a very different side of Iraq from the one I know.

Dispatches from a fragile island – Impressions from Haiti by a former Financial Times journalist living with his wife in Haiti.  This blog also has a lot of photos, and I’m going to enjoy staring from the earliest post (Day 1 in Haiti) and traveling along with him through his adventures.

As a side note, but related: I’m finding that one of the reasons I enjoy blogging is because it gives me a chance to journey without trying to be everywhere at once.  The world is so big, and one of my disappointments with this life is that I won’t get to see nearly as much of it as I would like in the time that I have.  As a blogger I get to share my journeys, and in exchange, I get to partake in the journeys of others.

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