Saratoga, New York

As I had mentioned in my previous journal I was in the area for the Department of Energy on a project doing interviews in New York, New York proper. This assignment sent me throughout the state of New York and my next destination was Saratoga, New York. Saratoga is an interesting and historic town strewn with mystery as well. It goes back as far as the Indians go and this particular land is so rich and fertile that many people from Europe came here to train horses. It became ground zero for some of the best race track horsing and so the best breeding of race track horses in the world. It’s an absolutely beautiful and historic town. It has a dark side and an underbelly though because of its history of gambling connections.

Saratoga has many old homes with lots and lots of people that have been living in the area for many generations. The downtown reminds me of a very quaint historic community that really cares about its past. Offering many unique places to eat and many venues that are very unusual.

One of the things that I enjoyed most about Saratoga were the parks. They were absolutely and amazingly beautiful with monuments everywhere well-trimmed tree lines and bushes as well as amazing fountains that you can walk past or sit down and unplug your brain for a long period of time.

When you visit New York make sure that you stop by Saratoga even if you only spend one night there. It will be a worthwhile trip and if you do it with the family make sure you go out to some of the very unique venues that are offered in downtown Saratoga.

One of the other places that you want to make sure you visit while in Saratoga is the very unique Riverwalk. Again a very well-trimmed maintenance area with good lighting. So walking down here with someone on a romantic walk would be very easy to do without the fear of any crime that you might encounter in New York, New York proper.

One of my good friends that visited Saratoga recently said that the Riverwalk that he maintenances in Naperville takes a lot of work to get it to look the way that it does.

My buddy from Naperville Tree Trimming has a deep respect for the amount of artistry that goes into creating that type of an environment outdoors. Rick from Naperville Tree Trimming said to me that the type of work that he does is more functional and storm related.

You can tell from speaking to him that he had a deep respect for all of the work that has been done in Saratoga with the maintenance that they do. It’s easy to let that slip by you and it’s nice to have someone that is in that industry tell you the amount of work that it takes to get something to look that nice.

If you’re a gambling man or woman make sure you stop by the Saratoga gambling tracks and throw a few dollars down. You might just help subsidize your next trip.

 

Buffalo, New York

I didn’t know what to think about Buffalo. When I first got there the only thing I knew about it is it had the Maid of the Mist in Niagara Falls. Outside of that I had no clue. What I found out about Buffalo New York is two things. There’s a lot of Indians that have casinos and Niagara Falls is pretty amazing.

I arrived in Buffalo, New York at night somewhere around 8 p.m. when I arrived we parked our vehicle near the entrance to Niagara Falls. Although we were near the entrance we were still at least 500 yards away because there are a lot of tourists and a lot of parking

The closer we walked to the Niagara Falls visitors center the more that you could feel the rush of the water and the thunderous pounding sound of water. The unmistakable rushing force of something extremely and immensely strong.

Arriving and looking at the Falls was an absolute breathtaking experience. The one thing that I will never forget is the multitude of colors that lit up Niagara Falls and the gentle purple color of the mist from the lights.

While we were there we stayed at one of the casinos and although that was an experience in and of itself. I would rather try to find other accommodations. I’d recommend that to you if you’re ever traveling in the Buffalo area.

Crossing over to Canada is an absolute possibility but you must have your passport in hand. So make sure when you visit Buffalo you take your passport and get across to Canada to enjoy all of the amenities that they have as well. If you arrive at night and are lucky enough to land on a Monday, Wednesday, or Friday you will get to see fireworks shot off by the Canadians. Make sure you have the opportunity and visit Buffalo, New York some point in the very near future.

 

New York, New York

Look, I know most people as a traveler or people that decide to go on large trips around the world are pretty open minded people. I thought I was the same type of person but then I was given an assignment to go to New York, New York proper. I gotta be honest with you, for some reason I never had any desire to visit New York. I always heard the negative things about New York, all the crime, the violence, the drugs, the prostitution, and all of the other stuff that comes with that. Well as a very immature person I hadn’t really thought it all the way through. You know any time where there’s a lot of great good and wonderful there’s also going to be a lot of bad nasty and ugly as well. It’s the yin and yang of life there’s no other way around it.

And good New York is absolutely no exception to this rule. If you’ve never traveled abroad traveling to New York is truly an international city. After traveling around the world I found that this city itself seemed more international than even some of the actual international destinations that I’ve visited such as Prague, Belgium, airports in Germany, Western Europe, and Eastern Europe as well.

I spent an entire day walking on the island of Manhattan. It’s not a small island by any means and if you have a pedometer you’re going to put it to the test. When I was there I was working for the Department of Energy interviewing people in this seat of Jewish neighborhoods throughout all five boroughs. The most amazing experience that I had was being able to look out over Park Avenue. It just so happened that I had an opportunity to interview a multi billionaire stock trader.

This gentleman lives right off of Park Avenue and you can look out and see an amazing sight it was true power looking out. This particular trip to New York was absolutely amazing. Not only did I get the opportunity to go downtown New York and visit and meet and see some of the most amazing places but I also had the opportunity to visit some of the outlying places. The same day I visited a multi billionaire in his penthouse suite. I also had the opportunity to visit with the extremely poor in towns too. New York was an amazing experience and the trip in New York is an experience in life that you just cannot skip out on. This coming from a guy that never wanted to go and always said if I could never go to New York that’s fine with me. How I feel like I would have cheated myself if I had never taken that assignment and gone. New York is a great experience, it’s huge and you can get lost in it. Having the anonymity for the few days is a really good growing experience as well. It is my highest recommendation to go and visit New York, New York. Take an adventure for yourself take a friend as well or a family member.

 

Chicago, Illinois

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to read a daily journal of someone that did some traveling throughout the Midwest, through all the nation, and throughout all the world. What would it be like to experience a common place during a different era?

It’s interesting to me to think about how one person remembers an experience from years ago and how it significantly has changed. As I had mentioned in my previous blog, at 16 I remember driving downtown Chicago. It was in that experience that I realized remembering that over the years things have significantly changed.

Chicago is iconic because of the Sears Tower and that is one icon that has remained since my very early years. Everything else around there has changed, unfortunately even the name of the Sears Tower is no longer the Sears Tower it’s now called the Willis Tower.

I think to me one of the most significant changes has been in the way that we have gained security through ability to communicate with one another.

For instance when I think about social media that we have now and our ability to share our general location or very specific location through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and many other social sites. We now can replicate and share those memories with our friends instantly.

In the past the traveler would go and collect these thoughts and ideas and experiences on his own. However in the last few years we are now beginning to be able to effectively share almost to the emotion of how that experience, that picturesque beauty, has changed us.

As a traveler in life I wonder how these experiences in the next few years will tie us closer together as a community and as a world. I have to think that this is tantamount to the printing press being invented. We never knew how it would change us. And as a traveler, as someone that can share those experiences and go those places I wonder how I can inspire others?

Chicago Illinois for a traveler offers many sights, sounds, and smells. This city has the second largest population of polish people outside of Warsaw Poland itself. If you want to experience great food and culture, Chicago has 8 and a half million people to help you have that experience.

My first trip to Chicago really instilled in me that this town was a sports town and you only have four choices when it came to sports; hockey, basketball, football, and baseball. When it came to hockey, you’re a Blackhawks fan, and for basketball, you’re a Bulls fan, and football, you’re a Bears fan. But when it comes to baseball this is an area that in the city creates a lot of contention. Are you a Cubs fan or are you a Sox fan? When you live in Chicago and when you travel in Chicago you start to find out that there are patterns of who likes who when it comes to baseball. If you’re a south-sider you’re probably a Sox fan. Everybody else there roots for the Cubbies.

So this blog about Chicago would not be complete without sharing the hot dog, Chicago style, experience. When you go there and you order Chicago style dog don’t look like a rookie. Make sure when you order your dog that you tell them you want it and throw the garden on it. Remember, never ask for ketchup. Really though, some places won’t serve you if you ask for ketchup on a hot dog. It’s a Chicago thing.

Chicago overall is an amazing experience, one that I’ve done several hundred times over and over again. It constantly changes but the one thing that I will tell you is, most people there as you travel are very kind, very gentle, and very Midwestern in their beliefs about how they see the world. This is a great starting point for anybody that becomes a traveler to really start digging in to understand people.

Chicago is an absolutely amazing experience.

 

Travel Journal. My Intro

It has been said that a journey of a thousand miles begins with one step. This is a thought that has consumed my mind while alone in a car.

It seems overly simplistic when you think about it and I often assume someone is talking more about a metaphor in regards to a task that they have to accomplish. However, in my case I have spent many times alone in the car driving to points unknown.

My love for travel started extremely young.  At the tender age of nine I recall going on an adventure that lasted pretty much the entire day. My best friend Andrew and I ended up walking over nine miles down a railroad track.

As I am now just over 40 years, while I was 9 there was no such thing as a cell phone so my mother received a call from a random house that me and my friend Andrew stopped by to use their telephone. My love for adventure and travel started at that age and has continued till the ripe age of 40. I hope that my love for travel will always be a part of my life.

As I grew a little bit older and became even more independent, getting my driver’s license, I explored further and further away from my home. I remember at the age of sixteen taking my 1983 Grand Prix all the way to downtown Chicago on Michigan Avenue.

Around the age of sixteen I went downtown with friends and we took the day off from school. It was those types of adventures that led me to the ability to do some of the things I did later in life that became even more adventurous.

Looking back at the reasons that I had to really enjoy or want to travel, it came from a love of travel from my grandparents.

I can recall several occasions as a young child sitting at my grandparent’s feet learning about the places that they had visited during mission trips for our church. It was those opportunities that I was going to seek for myself later in life is well.

Some of the types of journeys that I intend to speak about in this blog include everything from journeys that I’ve taken with my family, to journeys that I’ve taken by myself, to journeys that weren’t journeys at all but accidental adventures.

One of the key philosophies that I have become attuned with throughout my travels has been that we are all really just travelers on this road in life.

The reason for me documenting some of these random thoughts and journeys is because I believe it has been the travel and the journey along the way that has added and enhanced my ability to relate with others. It’s important for me to keep it on top of mind, why? Because when you can relate with people then you can really connect with people.