What We Take From Vacation
From Colorado I took freedom, beauty, and possibilities.
From Florida I took blue skies, sand, and the solace of the ocean.
Nashville made me a little bit country and the beat of the city still pulses through my soul. I can still taste the BBQ, see the people, and am constantly wondering what’s going on down on Broadway.
St Louis showed me how to do community and rally around a common cause. I captured the scent of neighborhood charm. It got into my bones. I still anticipate something good just around the corner. Perhaps a local pub or BBQ joint. A place to meet a friend, grab a drink, and enjoy some good company.
Up next is Wisconsin. My sites are set on good beer, brats, and fishing. I hope to encounter the culture and leave with a piece of it in my heart. I want to grow through experiences and interactions with the culture, people, food, music, and life that you encounter on your travels. I want to get what it means to live in Wisconsin and I want to take a part of that with me when I leave.
There is a way to travel that just visits. That picks places to see and leave. That relies on what can be seen and often follows a well trodden path. Traveling with a focus of experiencing, changing, and growing opens our lives and minds. It is traveling with the hopes of becoming a different person and returning home with a broader mind and bigger heart. It’s coming back home and carrying a piece of the place you just encountered back with you. Today, I am in the mountains. Well my heart is. My mind is at work in Indiana.
It is seeking out sights, sounds, smells, and experiences that challenge your status quo, increase your boundaries, and give you an increased vision of life. These types of things can happen when you travel with the intent of having a life encounter. If we just visit we will see great things, but we won’t encounter them. Last week I visited the Rocky Mountains, but I am making plans to go back and encounter them. I need to pup tent that. I need to feel, smell, and become a part of that region. We need to get off the well beaten path to do that. To feel, breathe, and sleep in the settings we travel to so we can become a part of them. Not too simply look, but to feel and breathe in. I don’t want to say I visited. I want to say I lived.
Before buying clothes, check out the markets with the materials that make them. Well at least check out local boutiques. See what the locals are making and wearing.
Instead of walking through a museum attend a guided tour given by a local.
Instead of having food cooked, cook. Buy foods from local markets and host a cookout on the beach. Gordon Ramsay cooks when he travels. Hey maybe not every meal, but shopping at a local market and cooking a simple meal can be a great way to learn about a new part of the world.
Instead of hitting a hotel, Airbnb. Experiential learning takes place when we stay in an actual home. With making your own cup of coffee and breakfast with locally grown food. With transferring a part of our life into our current surroundings. Staying in local homes gives us the opportunity to hear and feel neighborhood. It gives us a locals perspective where we can experience the sights and sound of the neighborhood through the eyes of a local.
I saw St. Louis neighborhoods best when I was in them. I felt the beat of Nashville by living as a local. By planting myself into the local culture and becoming one with the beat of the city. I came to Nashville a little bit rock-n-roll and left a little bit more country. Back home, I often wonder who is playing on Broadway and wonder what concerts are coming up at the amphitheater. I wonder what I am missing. What I ain’t hearing.
If we really travel we encounter the culture we are in. We create opportunities to experience the people we meet. We get engrained with the local food scene and cook and eat it. We absorb the neighborhood by being in it. Leaving the hotels to the visitors. We go a few extra steps out of the way to experience new things and constantly hunger for something to happen to take us out of our comfort zones. We want to get to know the locals and get engrained in their way of life. We don’t visit, we experience. We want to be changed and take our destination with us. Everything is geared towards becoming a short-term citizen of our new location. We expect to return home a changed person.
I am back home in Indiana, but my soul was set free in the mountains in Colorado, my heart is in Nashville, my mind is in the neighborhoods of St. Louis, and my feet can still feel the sand in Florida. I am no longer a Hoosier. I am Colorado. I am country. I am surrounded by some amazing neighbors in St. Louis and I am free to soar over the ocean. I am a traveler and I take the place I encounter with me. I change and grow with every experience and embrace the people and adopt their ways. Sing it John, “Take me home, country road, to the place, I belong.”