Just don’t ask me for money

We’ve all done the dance around a charity worker. Often this dance involves trying not to make eye contact, or maybe looking at your phone, sometimes you might even speak to them with a blunt “I don’t want what you’re selling.”  I’ll even fess up to doing the dance. For example, there was this one time when I was in Montreal. A charity worker asked me something in French. Thinking I’d get out of it Scott free I simply said, “sorry I don’t speak French.” Before I had time to congratulate myself for this great escape plan, she replied in English, asking me to sign some partition. GAH you can’t escape them!

But what if I told you sometimes they’re not that bad? Would ya’ll believe me? Recently I found myself in a situation where I was talking to a charity worker. He was nice. He was from Ireland and thats about all I can remember. However, in the 10 minutes that we spoke we bonded on a human level. We spoke about TV, about the environment, politics, travel, and student life. I’m far to skeptical to believe that he had any interest in my life, but it felt good to engage with a charity worker for once, instead of fleeing their clutches.

All was going well in out conversation until he started the conversation of money and donations. From the very beginning I knew this conversation wasn’t going to lead this way, thats why I politely declined stating I support other charities and I didn’t have available funds to give any more. Then this bloke started really begging hard, using things we spoke about in our conversations against me. So I walked.

I know it is the charity workers job to help raise money for a cause, as well as raise awareness. However, I feel that maybe the two need to be separated. Of course what I’m going to propose would only happen in a world where charities would have enough money to run full operations and investigations all the time (If only we could live in this dream world). If we had charity workers who lobby the public and help inform and sway the public as well as a bunch of money grabbing soul munchers, maybe we’d have a much better opinion of charity workers and charities in general?

I mean its a farfetched idea but ideas start conversations and I’m 100% pro conversation (you could even say that I’m a conversationalist). If we had more conversations over things that matter to this world then we’d have a better informed world, a stronger opinionated world, and a world full of people talking. The more people talking, the better.

Wanderlust

Before my visit to the USA, I never believed in such things like Wanderlust or the Travel Bug. Then again before the USA I’d never travelled as extensively as I did in those 7 weeks.

My symptoms of Wanderlust include, absent mindedness, day dreams, loss of appetite (excluding American food), and continuous stories beginning with “when I was in…”. Another effect of this crippling, debilitating ailment is a feeling within me that I need to be constantly saving my money.

Not all of the symptoms mentioned are bad things. I mean I’m eating different things and introducing them to my friends and family, my imagination is on overdrive and my productivity is doubling, and well my bank account is slowly fattening back up. However, some of the negative side effects are making me feel lethargic towards certain aspects of my uni work, and my part time work as well (maybe I need a new job?).

I search for reasons for why Wanderlust hits us. Is it because our lives are so tedious compared to travelling? Could we miss the people we met whilst travelling? Maybe it is some chemical imbalance that is caused by flying long distances?

An answer that I will offer forward is that Wanderlust is a motivation. A motivation that you can use the take yourself places, give yourself reason for stupid things like selling all your items and hitting the road. It drives impulse, thrives on spontaneity, and motivates the impossible.

For the moment being I’ve let Wanderlust guide me. Of course common sense hasn’t given way (I would have sold all my stuff, dropped out of uni and quit my job if I didn’t hold onto my common sense). But for the time being I’m handing myself over to Wanderlust and I’ll see where it takes me.

Monument Valley

#NorthAmerica

After being home for two weeks now I’ve finally been able to fix up and add photos to all the posts about my trip to #NorthAmerica.

Check them all out. Consider the new updated blogs the director cut versions of the trip.

Downtown Los Angeles – Day 1

Hollywood – Day 2

Studios and the Coast – Day 3 & 4

Viva Las Vegas – Day 5 & 6

Grand Canyon & Rural Arizona – Day 7

Monument Valley – Day 8

Quaint Little America – Day 9 & 10

On the Road Again – Day 11 & 12

Texas Time – Day 13 & 14

Swamp Places – Day 15 & 16

4th of July in New Orleans – Day 17

Walking In Memphis – Day 18 & 19

Tennessee Wilderness – Day 20 & 21

East North East – Day 22 & 23

Washington D.C. – Day 24

D.C. To NYC – Day 25

Islands & Games – Day 26

So Much Cake – Day 27

Live from Central Park – Day 28

We Went to the Theatre – Day 29

Cya Later New York – Day 30

Bustin’ Open Boston – Day 31 & 32

Oh So French! – Day 33 & 34

A Tasty Version of Canada – Day 35 & 36

A Nicer Version of NYC – Day 37

What Up Toronto? – Day 38

Not Just Your Average Waterfalls – Day 39

The Luther, Oh Cheesus & The Boarder Crossing – Day 40

The Last Bus Day – Day 41

Another Food Safari – Day 42

Chicago State of Mind – Day 43

See Ya Later Americator – Day 44

Chicago Skyline

See Ya Later Americator – Day 44

To say the least I’m pissed off to be going home. America has produced some of the best memories, experiences, foods, and people that I’ve ever met and now some idiot had booked me a flight home (please note that that some idiot was me).

My last day in the States was spent wandering around Chicago in the morning. I took a cup of Freedom (Starbucks) and walked along the Chicago river. In the 1880s the Chicago river was filled with so much waste that it was starting to poison the people who lived in Chicago. So some bright spark decided to reverse the river, it would now flow away from Lake Michigan and towards the Gulf of Mexico. This was a massive and unimaginable feet at the time. Even today as I wander up and down the river it is hard to visualise the amount of work that has gone into this great city.

Last lunch was a reuben (I’m gonna miss these guys) followed by a walk out to the Adler Planetarium to get a snap of the endless Chicago skyline.

Chicago Skyline

At the beginning of my trip I sat in traffic at LA and now I’ve sat in traffic in Chicago. After taking an hour to drive 20 miles I think I’ll happily take LA traffic any day. We spoke to some locals in the bus to the airport. They furthered my point that this stereotype around obnoxious is incorrect. Most of them were from cities and they were perfectly nice. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that across the trip I only have one memory of a cranky person, and he was a New Yorker (who are notoriously cranky people).

The airport security was slow and very American. Shoes off, pat down, metal detector, metal detector wand, bag searches, and then finally we were through. I said my goodbyes to Alice (one of my Contiki friends) and then I started my 23 hours of transit home.

Landing in LA I was reminded why LAX is actually one of the worst places in the world. Walking out of the arrivals terminal I had to find the international departures terminal. This is easier said then done. I was tired (I was used to east coast time and by now it was well and truly past my bed time), I was hot (it feels like LAX traps all the humidity and all the pollution of the city in the airport), and I was getting irritated by the noise (SO MANY CARS).

As soon as I sat down on the plane I fell asleep (later on I questioned why I didn’t see the safety demonstration only to remember that I slept through it). As soon as the engines kicked into gear I woke up, just in time to see the last lights of LA and America.

I’ll be back soon to embraces the freedom, devour the greasy foods, walk when I’m not supposed to through Time Square, and to hopefully not loose my passport.

Chicago State of Mind – Day 43

Saying goodbye to the Contiki crew meant that I only had a day and a half left in the US. This was an emotion and a thought that I didn’t want to deal with. So I went shopping.

In Chicago there is a section of downtown called the Miracle Mile. Think super expensive shops with super classy shopping centres. After wandering around I realised that I was in fact dreaming and needed to go somewhere that caters to the student travel budget. So I found myself wandering back into the classic tourist shops (I also found myself wandering back into the doughnut shop from yesterdays food safari).

On my way back to the hotel I walked along Michigan Avenue, next to Millennium Park. Along the footpath was a chess stall set up for passers by. The aim of the stall was simple. Players walk up, make a few moves and then leave the game. The next person walks up and plays a few rounds then leaves. Eventually someone will take the game, but not necessarily because of one single players actions, but more likely from the actions of a collective. Sydney, your move!

By now it was mid afternoon and I decided that I needed to make my way up the Willis Tower (formally the Sears Tower). On a clear day you can see around 50 km from the tower, and well out over Lake Michigan. As well as that you can look back into Wisconsin, Indiana, Illinois and Michigan. It was a fitting way to spend my last afternoon in America. At the top of some tower looking over one the biggest skylines in the States, and watching the sunset reflect off the shores of Lake Michigan.

Sears

From the top of the tower I thought about all the tall buildings and monuments I’d climbed in this trip and the cities that stand below them. The more I thought about those cities the more I realised that Chicago had been one of my favourites of the trip, potentially more so then NYC. Chicago has this clean, diverse, friendly, and yet potentially rural feel to it. Drive 60 kms out of Chicago and you’ll be heading out into the Illinois farm towns. This is a place I’d defiantly return to.

Chicago 1

To close up my last night in the States I ordered the biggest iced tea I could find, ate a sandwich with so many meats it should have killed me, and settled in for a night of my new favourite reality TV show, Duck Dynasty. Seriously YOU NEED TO WATCH IT!

Another Food Safari – Day 42

With all this food that I’ve eaten across my journey, I find myself questioning why I’m not fat? I think it could be because of all the walking that I’ve been doing. I mean you’ve got less then 32 hours in a place so you need to make the most out of it. Walking is often the quickest and cheapest mode of transportation around places. I think most day we’d walk around 10 km give or take.

This morning we took off on a food safari around Chicago, this time it was a walking food safari (so I guess in theory it would be a little healthier then a sitting down food safari). Leaving the hotel we made our way to a hot dog place, where we ate (you guessed it) Chicago Dogs. Chicago Dogs are regular hot dogs with a pickle, onions, chillies, and pepper. It’s a Chicago thing. Before our next stop we made an little intermission grabbing some coconut macaroons from a food truck. Well worth it.

Chicago Dog

Dorite Doughnut

The next stop on our food safari was Do Rite Doughnuts. If doughnuts had a royal families, Do Rite Doughnuts would be the Mighty Royal Highness of all the kingdoms of doughnuts. Everyday they smash out a couple hundred doughnuts. Once they sell them all they close up. Some of their exuberant doughnut flavours include buttermilk, maple syrup and bacon, chocolate, pistachio, and so many more. So if you want some you’d better get in early.

After eating so much so food it was settled that eating would be put on the back burner for a little while. Walking around the block we saw the worlds largest free air Picasso sculpture. #funfact Picasso gave a massive iron sculpture to the people of Chicago, simply because he liked Chicago. We did a few more touristy things around Millennium Park. We saw the giant reflective bean thing, which was cool, some water fountain thing, and the start/ end of Route 66.

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Route 66

After all this touristing I was starting to get hungry again! On our way to our last stop we made another pit stop at a DQ (Dairy Queen). Here they claim they make the worlds thickest thick shake. So thick that you can turn it upside down and it won’t spill. I had a go, and even though my upside down turn of the cup was very fast, it still stayed in place!

Our last stop was Harold’s Chicken Shack. Rapper Kendrick Lamar once flew from Italy to Chicago for the chicken at Harold’s. I mean it was alright, but then again I’m not the biggest fan fried chicken.

After a little exploring followed by a seriously big sit down we had one last Contiki group engagement. We were off to Wriggly Field for the baseball. I saw a game at Citifield but this time the game would be a little smaller, a little more intimate, and a little ( actually a lot) longer. The Cubs played the Rockies and the game went on so long that it was actually the longest game ever played by both teams. And people say cricket is a long game!