Prior to leaving last Friday for this latest adventure, I hadn’t seen my 3 year old son in almost 3 weeks. You see, his mother and I had made the decision to let him spend a fair amount of time this summer with his grandparents at The Farm in Mississippi, getting a different type of education. It’s awesome for his development, but good God, I miss him.
In this unique, yet quite fulfilling lifestyle that has been created, I am constantly doing a balancing act, which is cool, but does take quite some effort. How do you balance natural human guilt with sneaking away for a few days to explore? How do you balance potential loneliness in exchange for some heart-racing, awe-inspiring, life-enriching adventure that no one else has any interest in? How do you balance using every last hour of vacation time with still doing good work and taking care of clients? How do you eat your way through the world and not gain 100 pounds? On and on. And the answer, as with most things, is you just do. That, and passion. Lots of passion for life.
So…let me take you to a few new places along the 2,425 miles I drove this week. New sights. New smells. New emotions. New day. New hope. Last Sunday, the family made Italian subs and sat on the beach in Biloxi and watched the Blue Angels do their show. Quite impressive. Later that night, the men went on an exploratory boat ride, only to stumble upon an entire community of “houseboats”- houses built in the water and only accessible by boat.
Monday, I left for TPC Louisiana, home of the PGA Tour’s Zurich Classic. It was special. It was blazing ass hot. And it stole my pride. Later, I drove to Baton Rouge for a self tour of LSU.
I grew up on a college campus, so it’s kind of a thing for me. After visiting, I found the best hole in the wall in town for some red beans and rice. (It was literally underneath an interstate underpass.) Aye, aye was it good.
I then drove for a few hours on I-10 through Cajun country, battling a beautiful storm and that sinking feeling you get when you see that Texas is 880 miles across. At that point, I decided to find a hotel. (I rarely book hotels in advance if I am driving. Allows me to stay nimble.)
I loved Houston. I took the Toyota Center (Houston Rockets) tour downtown and went shopping in the hipster The Heights neighborhood.
I ate bbq where Anthony Bourdain did at Burns Original BBQ in the predominantly African American residential neighborhood of Acres Homes.
I talked hats and had one made for me at Miller Hats in this random industrial area, and then finished at Golf Club of Houston, home of the PGA Tour’s Houston Open.
I had wonderful conversations with my tour guide Harold about his life as a D1 basketball referee, the owner of Miller Hats about how rap culture saved his business, and my playing partner Justin about living a passionate life and combatting hungry raccoons.
I had 2 travel days where I called my boss, my great team, my parents, my sister, and friends. I called clients, traded emails with a clothing boutique in Charlotte, and received a new hat order. I listened to self help podcasts and comedy, and got all caught up. I made sure to put the phone down for long periods to take in the Texas plains and unique bayou scenery.
I shared a wonderful five (or seven) course meal in New Orleans with my wife, Christy, on Thursday night.
I shared a riveting Saints-Panthers conversation with our Uber driver Morris, as well as traded war stories about the best Kansas City restaurants with our waitress (her hometown). I deheaded fresh shrimp straight off the boat on Friday in anticipation of a shrimp boil with the family on Saturday, which was delicious.
What was my favorite part? That’s easy. My son’s greeting last Friday night, his greeting again Wednesday afternoon, and the fact that he is in the car coming home with us right now!
As with every experience, my eyes have been opened a little bit wider. I’m a little more travelled. A little more open minded. A little more humble. A little more aware.
And I have a cool new hat.
Have a great week. -Benj
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