Pulsing multicolored lights, with wildly upbeat 90s tunes overhead, and the frenzy of the casino crowd are still before my mind as I slip into a daydream. My work conference at the Ameristar Casino in St. Charles, MO is winding down, but the heavy smell of smoke lingers on my suitcase and clings to my coat. The odor reminds me of days when concern for public health didn’t always shape public spaces.
Travel is becoming my norm, and last week it landed me at the casino, surrounded by as many local regulars as there were excited tourists. I don’t know enough about a good hand of cards to risk my cash playing poker or blackjack. Although the $0.01 slots are all around, I decide to save my travel money, and my luck, for my next adventure. So even in the midst of my travel, I find myself daydreaming about the amazing places I’ll go next.
With the recent addition of Tennessee to my work territory, I’m now responsible for mentoring photographers across 10 states. It’s a lot of responsibility, but this offers new travel opportunities, and I wonder to myself about the art experiences, flavorful regional cuisine, and local entertainment I’ll take in. I’ve previously had short visits to Nashville’s Grand Ol’ Opry and the Memphis bar scene, but there’s so much more to explore, including the Great Smoky Mountains!
Something has come over me, as one who typically drifts in the wind when she’s on the road, or depends on others to do all of the travel planning. Over the weekend I find myself at the AAA Great Vacations Travel Expo, in Columbus. Every booth at the convention center is competing for my tourist dollar. Reps from Northern Canada, the Caribbean, and Colorado do their best to stand out from the noisy crowd, pushing glossy brochures, complete with vibrant photography and colorful descriptions, into my hands.
I’m pleased that my work territory is well represented at the expo, so I don’t turn the marketing materials away. I’m easily persuaded by innovative, powerful marketing – very easily persuaded.
As a result, over the last 2 ½ years I’ve been persuaded to get out in my areas to the east, in Upstate New York. I’ve stayed at quirky hotels in Buffalo, explored Albany’s many state buildings, and visited the artsy shops and locally sourced, organic, vegetarian restaurants of Ithaca, NY. (To do it justice, there will have to be an entirely separate blog post about Moosewood Restaurant, and their famous cookbooks.) I’d willingly go back to that area again and again, at least when the landscape promises its artist’s palette of fall colors.
Back in early October I was instructed that I would only be permitted to work with the Upstate New York staff remotely, and any training not completed by the end of the month would have to wait until spring, when the threat of snow is reduced. The risk of heavy snows, ice storms that ground flights & the danger of becoming trapped without an exit strategy is just too high.
I can definitely think of worse places to spend an extra day or two in front of a crackling fireplace, feet up, hot chocolate in one hand and my latest nonfiction book club selection in the other. (If you have the chance, look into “Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear” by Elizabeth Gilbert or perhaps “Everyone Loves a Good Train Wreck” by Eric G. Wilson.)
Closer to home, the AAA-driven Travel Show has me dreaming of uncovering hidden treasures in my own state of Ohio.
Consider the new marketing campaign for Licking County, OH – “Find Your Way.” The graphic design team is Stand Alone Media House. The team’s accomplishments are noteworthy, and their posters, pins and brochures are produced with outstanding professionalism. Their booth display and takeaways are eye-catching, at once environmentally thoughtful, current in their design, and appealing to the REI / adventure sector of the population, of which I find myself a part.
I’m encouraged to hop on a bike or into a kayak, bring my tent along, and just explore! I feel a strong pull to indulge my Wanderlust! If there is a campfire or a log cabin at the end of the night, that’s even better. I’ll lay my head down, breathe in the richness of the environment around me, and dream of what’s next!
With the amount of driving I do, I’m tempted to become a AAA member once again – it’s been a decade or longer since I paid the fees to join. My SUVs have come with their own roadside assistance, but AAA is working hard to stay current. It may be that no one requests paper, spiral bound TripTiks, with yellow highlighted routes, in the age of GPS, Google & OnStar, but the AAA site claims to be the #1 Online Routing Service (Wall Street Journal). Perhaps with a membership I could devote more of my energies to daydreaming, but not while I’m driving.
Come along on the next adventure!
Explore Licking County (Facebook): https://www.facebook.com/explorelc/?fref=ts
Great Vacations Travel Expo – Feb. 3 – 5 2017: http://10times.com/great-vacations-travel
Moosewood Restaurant (Ithica, NY): http://www.moosewoodcooks.com/
Stand Alone Media House: http://standalone.co/