Ordinary travel is so under appreciated.
People are travelling every day, all day, to the most normal places around.
“Nowhere exciting” they say when asked where they’re off to, just travelling for business or to visit relatives.
This kind of travel is my favourite travel, and I’ve done a lot of it.
Back in 2010, I hit the business trip jackpot.
10 days of training in Los Angeles, fully paid by the company.
And it was even interesting subject matter, I enjoyed the training quite a bit.
But more than that, I enjoyed the trip.
Having never been south of Portland in my life, Los Angeles was a mystical fantasy land. Or Anaheim, to be more specific.
A coworker met me at the airport, we rented a brand new, jet black Charger. Immediately after that I saw the ocean for the first time, at Santa Monica beach.
(Seriously, I was 26 & had never seen the ocean once.)
We went to the La Brea Tar Pits. We drove past the Stars on the Hollywood Walk of Fame & Grauman’s Chinese Theatre (traffic was insane, driving by was good enough for me…)
We had dinner at Downtown Disney.
The hotel was amazing too.
The grounds were incredible, palm tress & tropical flowers everywhere. Cabana bar, swimming pool, food like I had never tasted in my life.
My room backed onto a parkade. Early one morning I woke up to the sounds of an argument… From what I could tell, a man had attempted to be intimate with a prostitute, but his little man had failed to participate…. He felt that this meant he was no longer obligated to hold up his financial end of the deal.
A chorus of boisterous sounding female voices rose up, and told him exactly why his “tiny little dinky not working” was not a valid excuse. I was laughing to myself about it all day.
I’ve been trying to plan a vacation around staying there ever since that trip.
A desperate, drunken late night attempt to curb a hangover after my cousin’s husband’s 40th birthday party.
It didn’t work.
The 3 hour drive home the next morning was remarkably unpleasant.
Still, it was a very nice hotel. I wish I had enjoyed it properly.
After a massive wave of layoffs, I got a phone call from my boss:
“I have a newer company car for you! Only problem is that it’s in Vancouver.”
This is a very long way from Edmonton, where I was located at the time.
Even though I expected to hear an emphatic No, I asked anyway.
“So… do I get to fly there & drive back??”
Somehow he said yes, and 5 o’clock the next morning found me at the airport, about to begin the kind of road trip I dream about! A perfect work day!
The one catch was that I had to make a stop at a customer site in Jasper National Park.
Like that’s a bad thing??
After a 9 hour drive, I got a room at my favourite Jasper hotel, which doesn’t exist anymore, at least not the way it did back then.
I finished up my customer visit & found my way down to the local brew pub, had a beautiful beer & dinner with myself, and got back to my room in time to soak in the tub before falling fast asleep.
The trips to Saskatchewan were always the busiest ones.
In the company I worked for back then, we would take turns spending a week or 2 covering all of Saskatchewan. It’s not a small place, so I frequently found myself running from Prince Albert to Regina to Saskatoon in a single day, any town that had one of our pieces of equipment in need of service.
My favorite thing about Saskatchewan is that brew pubs are not only abundant, but they also sell their beer in 2L pop bottles.
This is such a novelty for me!!
This was the day I discovered these huge beautiful beers.
It was so hot out, smack in the middle of a dry prairie summer. After finally completing my service calls for the day, I popped into a brew pub in Regina to grab some beer to take back to my room in Saskatoon. The set up at that location was that you ask the bartender for the number of bottles you wanted, and they would ring you up & hand them over.
So I asked for 6 bottles, dreaming about a cold, dewy 6 pack….
As I paid, I thought “Man that’s expensive, but I need beer and have no energy left for arguments…”
When the 6 beautiful 2L bottles were hoisted onto the bar, it was like the sun breaking through the clouds. One of the most incredible, unexpected things I had ever seen.
The 2.5 hour drive back to my hotel was pure torture, with this bounty waiting for me in the back seat.
When I made it to my room though, that was was heaven.
I once spent 18 hours in Whitehorse.
This was my very last work trip with my favourite job.
I planned to have a solid afternoon of “working on paperwork” (aka exploring town & drinking beers) when I arrived, with my site work happening the next morning before my flight home.
And, as it always goes, my flight was delayed…. and delayed…. and delayed.
When we finally hit the skies, it was one of the best flights ever. A whole sandwich instead of the cardboard pretzels other airlines offer, soft wide seats, and my favourite thing: Local beer.
I love beer. Much of my excitement over this trip was beer related. I am a big fan of Yukon Brewing, and the opportunity to visit the brewery was absolutely thrilling to me.
By the time I landed they were closed.
So I went for a nice walk along the Yukon River, checked out the SS Klondike Historic Site, bought some souvenirs, and went back to my hotel pub, where I found myself enjoying a drink with some German seasonal workers.
The next day, my service call was short & sweet. I had (barely) enough time to pop into the brewery & get my traditional Business Trip Pint Glass before (barely) making my flight home. Part of me was wishing I had missed the plane.
I started a new job a few years ago. I knew no one in the industry, and didn’t even know a whole lot about the product I was to be selling.
My second week was spent away from home, at our Calgary office. This was my first business trip in years & I was so pumped!
Until I woke up to head out on the 3 hour drive…. And it was blizzarding.
And when I went to check into the hotel….. I realized I had no credit cards with me. They were all at home. Worst case scenario.
I had to get one of my new coworkers, a person I had never met before, to come to the hotel & save the day.
The next few evenings were spent avoiding work people & watching Netflix…. I’ve seriously never been so embarrassed.
But now, years have passed. That same co-worker and I are working together again at another company, and he never teases me about that awful first impression.
My favourite business trips are the rare ones when the business doesn’t even happen.
I was sent out to Invermere, BC to install some equipment. It was not quite Tourist season yet, the weather was rainy & cold, and the trip was scary close to the vacation I was looking forward to beginning that Friday evening.
So, obviously, the equipment was not on site yet. It got stuck in some customs fiasco at the border, my boss told me to just stay in town & wait it out.
The 4 days that followed were spent drinking coffee in every cafe in town, reading for uninterrupted hours, going for long walks in the drizzle and enjoying the local craft beers.
My scheduled vacation time came up, the equipment still wasn’t out of customs, and so it turned out that I had just enjoyed one hell of a business trip.
The carpet in the stairwell of this hotel was my reminder to not drink too much beer though….. Or at least don’t look down!
My Granddad died near the end of November a couple years ago.
He was pretty old, his last few years had been spent in one of those sad old folks homes where all the doors are locked to keep them in. He was ready to go long before he went.
Of course, the funeral was nearly 1000km (0ver 600 miles) away from my home. It snowed & snowed every day leading up to it. I decided to just sacrifice the money and fly out instead of risking the drive. When I arrived in the normally warm city he had lived & died in, it was -25°C. It didn’t warm up at all until after I went back home.
We held the Celebration of Life in a hotel, and that was where I stayed for 4 days.
The first thing I noticed in this room was the amazingly textured wall in the photo below. I’ve never seen anything quite like it, they really went all in on the stucco at this place!
The other big thing I noticed was something that happened every night, as I was falling asleep. Just as I would drift off, I would hear someone whistling, as if they were sitting in a chair just behind & to the right of me. When I woke up, it would stop. I later mentioned it to my mom in front of a staff member, and it was confirmed that this was not unusual on that floor. Creepy as heck!