“Let’s go to…”

“Okay, lets!” I love to GO, it’s the verb, not the noun. Sitting still is purgatory, traveling is heaven. Put me on a boat, a plane, or even in a car and I am fully engaged. When traveling I am in my natural element, a born tourist, I love to get absorbed into the places I visit; shopping in local supermarkets, investigating local restaurants, and learning the history of an area. We joke that it’s not an official trip until I look in the local real estate fliers to consider buying property, that’s when I know I like a place. I write stories in my head about the people I see and the lands I visit. Not one to lay on a beach or a deck chair, I travel to learn, to taste, to explore. I am an active visitor.

I like to GO.

Luckily, my traveling companion, my bride Teresa, is much the same. She is willing to adjust plans on the fly and indulge in a willingness to take a chance that we might discover something wonderful or aimlessly wander in search of an experience that never actually seems to happen the way we’d hoped; you take your chances when you travel with us. We often seem to end up in old churches, fine restaurants, and dive bars with great music, those are the constants. We have been known to jump on a passing bus or steamboat, just to see where it goes; we eschew tour groups. We love history and geography, we are always wondering why people live in a certain place; why they got there in the first place and why they stay there. Even the coldest, most God forsaken places seem to have a hold on some people and we are fascinated to understand why.

Regional pride is apparent everywhere we go, people want to know how their town, how their teams, how their supermarkets compare against everyone else’s and if we strangers are impressed by them. I often am. Accents are fun too, I am fascinated by words, in general, and the particular way we say them depending upon where we live in particular. I am an accent adaptor, even if my New England hard “R’s” give me away most of the time, I imitate the locals as best as an old Yankee can. Local coffees, beers, wines, and even preferred toppings on fast food fascinate me. (I am pro vinegar on french fries, and pro hot sauce on everything else, by the way.)

We are just back from New Years in New Orleans, the perfect travel destination for me. If you didn’t love to GO, you might see NOLA as a living tourist trap, expensive, damp, and even a little seedy. But for me, New Orleans is heaven. Filled with history, music and accents that make you smile as soon as you hear them, I love the Big Easy. I live in Orlando, very close to Disney World, but to me, New Orleans is the adult magic kingdom. Called the “Accidental City,” N’awlins grew in a flood plain, the Mississippi is 200 feet deep there, creating a natural port that couldn’t be ignored. The commerce and culture that grew is imbibed with a spirit that says, “Drink up cher, we may all get washed away tomorrow.”

We spent New Year’s eve at our favorite local restaurant, La Petite Grocery, a neighborhood storefront that once housed a livery stable, and you guessed it, a grocer. We got to meet the chef and owner this time, Justin Devillier, a Dana Point, California native, who happens to be a contestant on this season’s New Orleans version of Top Chef. We got some great stories about the show from him and gushed allover his food, which included a sushi like sunfish dish and a lobster gnocchi that was worth marching through broken glass barefoot to get. The cool thing about New Orleans is that there are great restaurants like this in every neighborhood, the local food culture is among the best in the world. You have to love a city that loves food as much as New Orleans.

If you say you love adventure, people think you must climb mountains and go on safaris. That my be true, but I think you can find adventure just about anywhere, whether it is going to the local fish market to cook a feast in Rochester, NY for my daughter’s Christmas Eve, or simply jumping on the St. Charles Street Car, to see where it goes. Approaching life as a tourist, no matter where you are, has its advantages. Tourists see the ordinary with new eyes, they hear poetry in the local accents, they find delicacies in the local diners (The Trolley Stop Cafe in New Orleans has the BEST biscuits!) and they write stories on every city block.

I love to travel, even in my home town, I love to GO.

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