A Queensland Itinerary for a Queen

PFI Patio

The current view of my office patio.  Fancy an outdoor lunch? And after we can go deep-snow diving for frozen squirrels.

The ground is blanketed in white. The temperature is flirting with subzero numbers. I spend almost 2 hours per day staring at cars’ rears and 8 hours looking out at a parking lot (actually, there’s so much snow outside my cubicle window, I can barely see over the berm).  While this is my current realty, there’s another reality that is unfolding – the realty that soon I will embark on a journey to Australia.

The dream in my head of palm trees and blue oceans and tropical fish feels out of reach.  It’s crazy that it’s been months since I won a trip to Queensland from this entry and now it’s less than 3 months until I’m going on the vacation of my life. Continue reading

The Unnecessarily Elaborate Story of How I’m Going to Australia

Image Source: JohnnyJet.com

Image Source: JohnnyJet.com

I won a trip to Queensland, Australia.  Check the date; it isn’t April 1.  I still can barely believe it and it’s been a solid 7 months of processing this information.

Back in June I made the decision to try to jump back into travel blogging.  It had been a year since I returned from my European backpacking adventure.  I perused through some old posts and reminisced about the joy of traveling & the fulfillment from writing about it.  The flame was rekindled when I published a couple posts.  During my lunch breaks I began collecting the blogs of career travel writers.  I ate their content like chocolate and felt sick with admiration & slightly jealous of their jetsetter lifestyle.  I’d return to my stable, stationary cubicle and continue with my 8 hour workday at my computer screen.

On one particular lunch break, I escaped from the frigid air conditioned office and soaked up the sun on the office patio.  As I browsed through a series of travel sites, a “Top 10 Travel Blogs of 2013” article caught my attention.  An appealing site was “JohnnyJet.com” – what a clever name!  At first brush, I was turned off by this “blog” – it seemed more like a busy commerce website than the typical format of personal travel tales (I’m a novice, remember?).  Just as my finger extended to tap the back button, the line “Travel Blogger Contest” jumped off the page.

Oh, blogger contest? Really!? I’m a travel blogger! Kinda… Continue reading

A Mysterious Piece of Graffiti Alley

"Only one thing made him happy and now that it was gone everything made him happy."

“Only one thing made him happy and now that it was gone everything made him happy.”

This was a piece of Graffiti Alley in Toronto that caught my attention.  It was neither the colorful paint nor underwater mural that stopped my tracks to ponder.

Rather, it was a monochromatic parchment/paper seemingly glued to the building facade. Now I know this is a certain type of street art, I’ve seen it in Detroit, but I’m no street artist so if anyone wants to enlighten me with the true name of this medium, your teaching moment is welcome.

This line, “Only one thing made him happy and now that it was gone everything made him happy” has marinated in my mind for its mystery and thought provocation. What does it mean? Who left this note?

At first this was going to be a one-paragraph post introducing the triggering line and photo and letting the thoughts simmer. However, because I prefer fact-checking prior to posting, I did a tiny Google search to see what I could uncover about this tiny piece of street art. Once again, I’m sitting here amazed at the little slices of travel, seemingly insignificant, but part of a larger pie that creates learning moments that I’ll carry to other corners of the world in our big interconnected humanity.

Turns out, this is the work of Leonard Cohen.  I believe it to be a page pulled from his publication, “The Book of Longing.” Perhaps this is a household name in Canada, but there was no recognition when I saw this name (maybe I’m showing my ignorance, but at least I’m honest). He’s a renowned singer-songwriter/musician and novelist with various honors, awards and accolades over his career. Still not ringing a bell? Me neither. But as soon as I heard this song, which he composed, the lightbulb illuminated and I said, YES! HALLELUJAH – the cultural connection has been made!

Back to the street art.  “Only one thing made him happy and now that it was gone everything made him happy.” Perhaps it was drugs, or ego, or a negative relationship that the character let go for everything to bring happiness. My thoughts are that it’s something potentially destructive that would bring false happiness. Like, binge eating an entire box of Girl Scout Cookies (ha).  But this is taken out of context; perhaps if I possessed the book, I’d have the answer.  Or maybe we don’t receive an answer and need to determine it for ourselves anyway.  And maybe there’s a reason this page is meant to be stumbled upon in an alley filled with swirling paint and colorful images.

What do you think?

Toronto by Suggestion

IMG_7627-edThe plan for Toronto was to have no plan.

This was the case when Lara & I ventured north for a long weekend.  The purpose was for a dear friend’s wedding, but the time in between was left to the wind.  We decided to have a “Toronto by Suggestion” trip – we did a Facebook poll of our friends for suggestions, asked our hostel receptionists for suggestions, walked up to random people on the street for suggestions and from there, our trip was mapped and unfolded with each step we took.  This allowed for flexibility & discovery.  It’s like the scarecrow in Wizard of Oz…  “Pardon me… that way is a very nice way. It’s pleasant down that way too!”

Random is fun and freeing.  If we didn’t take the random approach, we wouldn’t have contributed to Canada’s largest gum art installation or enjoyed free pizza & gelato. We wouldn’t have snagged secrets from locals that may not have been in the guidebooks.

Gum-art

Continue reading