Travel Highlights

bamboo-carvings

I arrived at JFK airport at 7:00 am this morning having taken a red-eye flight from Los Angeles. I love to travel, but visiting three cities in three days for work is not fun. Besides, I miss having Dan by my side.

When we travel together, Dan is usually the one that leads our exploration of new places and experiences. When I travel for work it’s easy to slip out of the explorer mindset. If I allow that to happen, I come home with the feeling that I missed opportunities. On this trip, I determined to take advantage of any time when I wasn’t in meetings.

In Chicago on Tuesday I searched for restaurants that serve locally grown foods. I ate lunch at Farmhouse on West Chicago Avenue, a “farm to tavern restaurant” that makes its own burgers, condiments and sodas from scratch.

farmhouse-restaurant

I opted for a burger and a locally brewed beer. Lunch was the highlight of my day. I particularly enjoyed receiving my bill in ‘The Old Farmer’s Almanac.’

farmers-almanac

Wednesday’s highlight was an experience I happened upon rather than sought out. I marveled, as I’ve done in the past, at the moving walkway that links Concourse B to Concourse C at O’Hare Airport. The link is basically a tunnel, but it has been designed in such a way that it provides travelers with a wonderful sensory experience.

tunnel
The walls are wavy, backlit, and multi-coloured. Overhead is a constantly changing ceiling of multi-coloured neon lights. The soothing sounds one hears while passing through adds yet another layer to the sensory experience. I didn’t hurry and let the moving walkway carry me along; I savoured the moment.

Lunch on Thursday provided the highlight of my entire trip. At Dan’s suggestion, I looked up, and made arrangements to meet, a second cousin of mine who lives in LA.

john-and-second-cousin-gavin
We last saw Gavin fifteen years ago at a halloween party in New York City. It was great catching up with him, learning that he is now married, seeing a photo of his young children, hearing about his life in LA, and receiving a copy of a book he wrote about “music’s most enduring mysteries, myths, and rumors.”

gavins-book
When we parted we agreed we would like to be in closer contact, and I believe that we will.

After Gavin dropped me at my hotel, I decided to visit the nearby Mildred E. Mathias Botanical Garden. It was small but nicely laid out on a gentle hill with various plant groupings including a fern area, a palm area, etc. The plant that captured my attention was a giant bamboo…

botanical-garden

not because of it’s size, but because of all the carvings that were visible at its base. Rather than looking like it had been defaced with graffiti, the inscribed bamboo looked like art.

bamboo-art-carvings

I was fascinated to read the pairings of names, some in languages foreign to me. I enjoyed picturing all the people that have visited this spot and made a living record of their love for another. The oldest inscription I found dated to 1987.

inscribed-bamboo

I enjoyed reading the different carvings, and wished that Dan could have been there to read them with me.

live. enjoy. repeat.

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