Don’t get it twisted. Travel is a ton of fun. But it’s not why I travel. In the past, I’ve simply told you what I’ve done and where I’ve been. I’m gonna start letting you in on why I do what I do. The way I think. Because if you simply say to yourself, “that looks fun”, you are gonna miss the boat. So why have I started travelling like a maniac? I’m frustrated. The world is super-divided right now. Old and young. Black and white. Rich and poor. Democrat and Republican. People don’t understand each other, but more importantly, no one is taking the time to try and understand each other. So I told myself last year, I’m gonna go figure this nonsense out. I’m gonna go see firsthand how people live. What they do for fun. What their key issues are. How they think. What their backyard looks like. To me, that is the only way to truly start a worthwhile conversation. I overhear more conversations that start “You know what the problem is…” If you’ve lived it, I’ll listen. If not, you’ve already lost me.
I post these pictures on social media of landmarks, adventures, and games, but my true experience is so much deeper. You recently saw that I went to Churchill Downs, Indy Motor Speedway, and Hornets vs Pacers. What you didn’t see were my lengthy stops at the University of Kentucky, University of Louisville, and University of Indiana to admire the architecture and explore years and years of history.
I told you Kevin Hart was hilarious, but I didn’t tell you how deep he goes into the real life problems he has recently experienced. Or how he ran the NYC Marathon and went to Japan recently to get out of his comfort zone. I posted a picture of the “Grand Canyon of the South” and how it made me feel like I was in a James Bond movie. What I didn’t tell you about was the town I explored just 10 minutes away that time has forgotten. I had a few drinks with my buddy Gazza in Kentucky. The first minute we caught up on the “who, what, and where”. The other 2 hours were the “why and how”. Pay attention to that. The first part is just gossip. The second part is where life’s fulfillment comes from.
I got emotional at Churchill Downs as I experienced the day. That 18 minute IMAX video about Derby Day will get you. Some go there to party. For others, it is their life’s crowning achievement. I ate at this diner adjacent to the track called Wagner’s that took me back to the 1920s. I felt it in my bones. I talked with my shuttle driver whose entire world is the .2 miles surrounding Churchill. You can’t understand his life until he actually tells you. I hung out on the Ohio River at sunset in Evansville, Indiana. It was gorgeous, and rather cold. There were beautiful, old mansions close to the river, and then not 1 minute away was a humungous gathering of homeless people. I saw it with my own two eyes. More importantly, I saw it in their eyes.
I experienced a drive across Indiana where I was the only car for hours at a time. What do these people do? Where do they shop? How do they make money? The people of Indiana were fantastic. I arrived in the middle of a snowstorm with my smart-ass self dressed from head to toe in Charlotte Hornets gear. It started loads of conversations, which is what this world really needs. The tour guide at Indy Motor Speedway helped me understand the magnitude and importance of the track to American culture. I ate at St. Elmo’s, a legendary steakhouse around since 1902. They made me feel like Frank Sinatra. At the Hornets-Pacers game, I got booed. I got my toboggan pulled over my face by the mascot. But I also had conversations with every person that passed about who knows what. They were curious, and so was I. And finally on the trip home, I went through Cincinnati. GPS told me to take the bypass. Nope. You don’t learn anything on the bypass. Gotta go through downtown. And then I hit a couple of local BBQ spots on the ride home. Just to compare and contrast.
So there it is. Sometimes I travel by myself, and people ask why and if I get lonely. Considering I talk to everyone I come across, that answer is no. I wanna be a part of the solution. I wanna stir the pot. I wanna start conversations. And the most credible way to do so is to experience it firsthand. And so I do.
It just happens to be a ton of fun.
Have a great week.-Benj
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