Travel Thoughts

Three weeks ago (I think) I was in the Toronto airport at something like 5 AM to catch a flight that I had been booted off of the night before due to too many people being on the plane. Not because I was misbehaving, or anything like that. But, during this groggy, somewhat hazy experience, I wrote a bunch of stuff down for THIS BLOG.

And then, y’know, never did anything with it.

UNTIL NOW!

NOW, being the time where Lia and I are on vacation for the first time since our Honeymoon and she’s currently sleeping whereas I woke up at 4 AM because I’m apparently my Dad now and have been mooching around dozing, playing on my phone and finally getting dressed just to come and blog about things I did last month.

Eh, such is life.

CANADA: The Adventure

Mitch Hedburg has a skit in which he essentially states that, when he’s sleeping, he tries to keep a small notebook on the end table so that when he wakes up in the middle of the night with a funny idea, he can write it down. It’s that, or he just lies there trying to convince himself what he thought of isn’t that funny.

I feel that on a deeply spiritual level.

And the worst part is, there are now more options than ever before on ways I can “write” things down that i find funny, weird, unimportant but necessary, or completely random in the awesomest of ways. I have my phone, a journal, a notebook, my computer, and my perennial favorite, Post-It notes.

All of these things are usually on my person, by the way. Because I’m weird like that.

Despite all of this, it still takes me over an hour of wandering around the Toronto Airport at 6 AM to convince myself that I should just sit down and write all of these funny (to me) ideas I have in my head and at least get them out. Because, let me tell you, there was some stuff this weekend.

Let’s start with the beginning…

I flew out of Milwaukee at a pleasant time, after staying with a friend in town and having basically a phenomenal evening. First flight was amazing and on it I was reading THE BEST FREAKING BOOK I’ve laid eyes on in quite some time.

This one. Oh my God, this one.

Here’s the link to go and buy it/ where I got the photo. Seriously, if you like characters, stories, and humor. You’ll probably like this book. If you don’t like any of those things, stop reading this blog and go sit in a corner and think about what you’re doing with your life.

At this point in my notes, there is a name and a phone number of a wonderful human being who called me at some indeterminate point and wanted to set up an introduction. I’m guessing it wasn’t during 6 AM in Toronto, but you never know.

Once I got to Toronto, there was a period of time where I just wandered aimlessly, which is pretty much my M.O. in any place I go to, but it was especially so here. Which was fortunate, I guess, because the wandering ended up helping out a little. Air Canada had overbooked the flight and was looking for volunteers to stay in Toronto for the night. They were giving a free hotel room, meal vouchers and $800 CAD.

I stayed the night.

Which led to more wandering, a woodchuck, and the weirdest mall I have ever been to. Which involved way more Megafauna than I was expecting.

From here, it became a normal day, buy a toothbrush, grab some food, pass out as my flight is at some God awful time in the morning and I’m getting a shuttle when it’s still really dark outside. That shuttle takes me back to that airport, where I wander around for a while until, suddenly, I remember that I should write some if this down, and there we go.

IT’S ALL AT FULL CIRCLE

The reason I was in Toronto was due to the fact I was en route to Quebec City for the Quebec Open. It’s a tourney that’s a ton of fun, and has one heck of a night show. Also, it was pretty bumping!

It was also my second NASKA event ever where I competed in the 30+ Division. And it went great! I placed second in both of my divisions and had a generally great time. There was some great competition and the whole event always has this great sense of camaraderie that just can’t be matched. There’ll be a review coming out for it soon, just stay tuned to SMA!

All the positives aside, it was the first time I’ve actually done so well at a NASKA event. Both forms felt clean, crisp, and like I was doing something other than a series of grievous mistakes on the karate floor. It was nice to see all the time with Sensei Sharkey, all the great guys I train with in Madison, and all those freaking late nights at the karate school by myself, running forms, finally start to pay off. I always feel like I’m playing a perpetual game of catch up (don’t we all), but this was a day where I came out feeling a little ahead. And it felt GOOD.

As great as that was (and it was pretty great) and as fun as the after party, hanging out, and random interactions were (locked out of McDonalds at midnight), one of the best parts of the trip was the half day I had after everything was done and dusted.

I had a whole morning in Old Quebec City. And, let me tell you, it was AMAZING. From the Uber Driver who gave me an impromptu history of the city, to the wonderful lady who sold me some locally made jewelry (*husband points +2!) It was fun, friendly, and refreshingly crisp and lovely and so NOT Wisconsin that it did my heart a world of good.

It. Was. AWESOME!

It was everything that, many years ago when I had started doing this whole tournament and travel thing, I thought tournaments and travel would be like. It’s only taken me a few years, many thousand miles, and a bunch of misadventures to finally get one right.

I think they call that wisdom. Only in retrospect, though. In the present it’s usually something along the lines of “quit being such an idiot!”

Pictured: Professional Idiot

But that’s the thing, travel and adventures always seem to feel like a chaotic mess of crisis and extreme response to external stimuli, but it’s also where you find out what your extreme responses are. It’s where you discover that being out of your comfort zone is incredibly refreshing, once you get past that whole scary part, and that the world is full of wonderful people and being kind and polite will get you farther than money, fame, or anything else. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel quite a bit, and finally getting out of my ruts, if only for a weekend, and having a few small adventures, was just what I needed for a bit of a recharge.

It’s been a crazy spring, and this was only one adventure. Next up, my first finals win, more karate, and Asheville North Carolina!

Ooh, and future wisdom. Plenty of that coming up too!

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