Anytime Scott, my brother, calls me, my first question to him is, “Where are you?”
His answers range from being on his way home stuck in Chicagoland traffic to his telling me he’s walking the Red Square in Moscow, to driving Dubai (while at the same time I was at a Green Bay Packers game), to being in Singapore, Bangkok, Capetown, Tokyo, Manila, Kuala Lumpur (“Again?” I ask), Saigon, Sydney. . . . Well you get the idea.
Scott’s a worldly traveler to say the least. As I write this he’s towards the end of one of his trips, I believe today in Tokyo. He’s in something like 1o to 20 countries a year and at times his travels have taken him literally around the globe. And because he works in industrial manufacturing, he’s not jumping off an airplane and taking a cab to the nearest skyscraper. Rather, he’s got tales of riding trains overnight (in sleeper cells that are great if you’re about 5′ tall) and hours of car rides to places most of us have never heard of, much less pronounce.
I love hearing about his voyages, because as a twin, I have to admit I live vicariously through them. While my photo tours take me to the depths of foreign Minneapolis neighborhoods with unrecognizable dialects, I know I’m just 5-10 minutes from a familiar cafe where if necessary I can digest all I’ve taken in. Conversely, I realize he’s in places where he’s no closer than a 15 hour flight away from the comforts of his local Starbuck’s.
“Live each day as a tourist.” It’s long been a motto of mine. For when I’m a tourist, my senses are open and accepting of all that’s out there. It’s not so easy to do. I realize sometimes that the hardest part of travel are the little navigations that trip me up. Like the time I tried to drive out of the Brisbane, Queensland parking lot after a 24-hour series of flights, only to realize I was driving on the wrong side of the road. (As opposed to the “right” side, as we Americans like to call it.) Or on the same trip when I constantly tried to use my turn signal only it was my windshield wiper. And then there was the time Camille and I tried desperately to purchase train tickets in Vienna. After repeated failed attempts to purchase our passes in a cigar shop as instructed, I spotted a vending machine at the rail stop. Running across the street to the machine, I proudly felt like the problem-solver and began inserting coins into the box. After all, we were just in Frankfurt for a week and I was getting used to the ever-efficient German systems to purchase tickets. Only, I was in Austria, and as I inserted a second coin I realized I was purchasing a pack of condoms. Ah, the nuances of being in new places.
Today’s shot comes from the birthplace of Minneapolis, the shores of the St. Anthony neighborhood. The Stone Arch Bridge is a wonderful tourist attraction, affording beautiful views up and down the Mighty Mississippi. It’s a bit of a cliché shot, but it did take a little getting off the beaten path to capture this vantage point. But well worth the trek through wooded brambles and lying dead trees that blocked clear passage.
I take a lot of what I do each day for granted. And that’s not so much a bad thing. After all, I appreciate not having to learn how to make coffee each morning. But it does limit me from realizing who and what surrounds me. The camera around my neck and pack of lenses on my back is a good reminder.
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