Travel Whiplash

Life is a funny thing. While I prefer the rhythm of extended travel, the obligations on my calendar don’t allow for it at the moment. With that limitation, I’ve been bouncing between smaller adventures in order to keep my wanderlust properly satiated. Looking back at how frenetic August and September were for me, I’m marveling at the diversity of experience I crammed into a short time.

Going full steam

Over the course of six weeks I:

  • took a 10-day motorcycle trip through Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia in the midst of crushing heat and wildfires,
  • turned around three days later to meet Fred and George for a 6-day Seattle adventure,
  • returned home to Nevada with George for a whopping two days,
  • flew to Atlanta for 10 days to attend Dragon Con,
  • then promptly flew back to Nevada for the Virginia City Camel and Ostrich Races.

By the end of that, I collapsed in a heap at home and slept. And slept. And slept! All of these events and travels were amazing but clearly I need to refine my travel process to be less chaotic. Disjointed yo-yo travel is hard. Historically I’ve found it far less rewarding than the arc of being on the road for weeks at a time.

In addition to the challenge of the pace, the disparity between all of these events was mind boggling. The transition of going between independent, motorcycle travel and urban travel with the boys was challenging in and of itself. However, that was the lesser of the challenges, simply because I’m seasoned.

squamish - val in real life
From a sunrise obscured by wildfire smoke in Squamish, British Columbia…
to being immersed in urban travels with teenagers in Seattle.

Urban and Rural

Having weathered that, the transition of going directly from Dragon Con to the Camel Races on back-to-back weekends for the second year in a row is a different beast. It makes my head spin. Both events share epic quirkiness, which I love, but the differences in culture, geography, and context is a shock to the system.

Dragon Con is as urban as it gets. Eighty thousand people descend on downtown Atlanta for non-stop events over five days. It’s a mecca of sci-fi and fantasy. It’s metal, concrete, and make-believe.The creativity and passion of the people who attend is marvelous. It’s also really overstimulating. It’s constant people and input. There’s little room for this introvert to take a necessary giant breath. But it’s a reunion with friends and a tradition for me and the boys that I wouldn’t miss so it’s a matter of learning how to manage all of the chaos.

And then, only a couple of days later, I find myself riding a camel in a rugged, historic, western, desert town of a few hundred people. It’s rural, organic, accessible. It’s wood, dirt, and animals. There’s a rugged reality to it that is hidden underneath the fun and entertainment. It’s also an event I wouldn’t miss. The people, the laughter, the tradition.

The strange common thread between the two, oddly enough, is costumes. Dragon Con is fantasy, steampunk, sci-fi. In Virginia City, it’s corsets, history, and the Camel Hump Ball. That I wear the same costume to both events is both bizarre and a comforting connection between them.

dragon con - val in real life
Time with some of my besties amidst the chaos of Dragon Con is time well spent.
camel hump ball - val in real life
From the fantasy of Dragon Con to the wild west of Virginia City, the odd common link is my leather corset cosplay.

Building travel savvy

So as a traveler, are there benefits from taking on all of this in a short time? I think so. Mainly it’s knowing I can respond and adapt quickly while still enjoying myself. Any time you can travel in a different way builds a new set of skills.

The rapid succession of these eclectic travels brings a different perspective to the adventure equation. It’s a surprise bonus that helps highlight the differences, details, and value of each of them. I’m not certain that would be as apparent if it were more spread out. The experiences would lose their heightened contrast.

Having said that, this is not a pace I would like to maintain. It doesn’t come naturally to me. So until the next big adventure, I’m going to slow down a bit and give myself time to process these experiences and cement them in my memories.

dragon con with teens - val in real life
Getting fantastical with Fred and George at Dragon Con.

Happy travels, friends.

Until next time, here are some more shots from Dragon Con and the Virginia City Camel and Ostrich Races. Enjoy!


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