Green Travel – When an epic goes flop
Have you ever had a trip that you were so anxious to take that once you were actually on your way you could hardly contain yourself? We all have trips like that. Trips that take on legendary status in our minds and getting to that place is almost a pilgrimage of the travelers kind. But once you get there your legendary adventure turns into an epic flop. What happens when you discover that the trip of your dreams turns out to be a dud?
It seems impossible to think that the trip you have been dreaming of the majority of your life can be anything but fantastic. But there are those times when a fantastic trip is only fantastic in your own mind. I know, its odd, but there it is. I have had it happen on a few short trips but, thankfully, not on a huge eco trek across a continent. An example of a let down is one that I share with a number of people. There is all this talk about how amazing Paris, France is. How the streets are lined with quant coffee houses with amazing pastries, spectacular buildings, and food to die for. Well, there are some great coffee houses with gorgeous pastry, some of the buildings are truly spectacular, and I did have some truly stellar food, but for the most part Paris left me feeling, well, ho hum. Tragic, I know, because so many people rave about Paris. I am not sure what it was about the City of Lights that turned me off, but there it is. I did enjoy three lovely weeks wandering museums and seeing some really beautiful art, but even the museums were less expected. The greatest disappointment, I have to admit, was the Mona Lisa. For some reason I always expected her to be a huge painting. When I finally saw her behind bulletproof glass, which hadn’t been cleaned since the French Revolution, I was sort of let down. Now, having found my way down the river a block or so, I discovered a surprising work which I always thought was smaller, only to find that Whistler actually painted his mother in epic proportions. Amazing!
Now, don’t misunderstand, I had a nice time while in Paris, but it just wasn’t as truly epic for me as I had originally believed. The opposite is also true though. I had underestimated several trips and they turned out to be the most amazing experiences, all of which I would love to repeat indefinitely. I never expected to have a great time at the Sturgis Road Rally in South Dakota. I am by no means a motorcycle person and have actually never even sat on one. But after a few days of being surrounded by Harleys and then spending several hours taking in the new models and all the options available, I think I might have come home on a motorcycle, if only they had had a sidecar. A travel writer needs a place to keep the computer, camera gear, and the occasional map, right? It was an eye opening and surprisingly fun time. I have a strong desire to attend another Road Rally, even if I still don’t own a Harley of m own.
How do you avoid your next trip from duding out? To be honest, that really all depends on you, but there are a few things you can do to help reduce the possibility. First, while it is important to be well informed about where you are going, don’t become so involved in the research that you don’t leave anything left for the accident of discovery. There really is such a thing as planning a trip to death. The second would be to keep yourself from having too big of an expectation about the trip. Clearly we all expect to have a good vacation and that a green adventure should be not only green, but fun, and even a little educational. Go with that initial expectation. If you expect things to be a certain way and they aren’t, you are likely to have shot your trip in the foot, before it even had a chance to impress your socks off. And finally, if plans change, destinations are closed or the weather turns less than favorable, just go with it. Do as the locals do, and you should have an even better trip than you thought because you will have been able to get a glimpse into the real lives of the local people, which you might not have had if everything had been perfect as planned. Learn to be flexible and you will have a better time of your trip.
Then again there are trips that just don’t excite or impress. There is little you can do about that except warn others about it. For example, I found myself at the Crazy Horse Monument, a few miles down the road from Mt Rushmore. It was kind of interesting to see what they were doing, but I had been trapped into going to the actual monument because they don’t tell you what the fee is until it is too late and there is no way to turn around, thereby giving you no choice in the matter. Granted, I did enjoy the documentary which told of the start and progress of the monument, but I didn’t find it worth the time it took to get through everything. That is just me. Others have really enjoyed it. The parking lot was certainly very full. A little further down the road was Crystal Cavern which surprised the pants off of me because it was really amazing to tour the caverns, and there the parking lot was almost empty. To each his own and for their own enjoyment. Do I regret either stop? No. I don’t even regret the time I spent in Paris. I enjoyed the experiences and learned from them. The irony is that I may find myself in Paris in the next year or so and I am actually looking forward to it, mostly for the company than for the city, but there it is. Maybe it’ll be different this time around, even if I don’t think so, and ho hum might become oh la la. I can hope anyway, right?
Travel green. Pass it on.