Tag Archives: Travel

Time to Do Something. (Kevin Moves to Colorado)

I hadn’t been on a plane, a boat or train for almost a year. I hadn’t been more than two hours from home for damn near 365 days and I could feel it rising up in me for months now. I could feel the winds of change trying to blow me along while I’ve held steadfastly to the Missouri soil that I cherish so much. And before I knew it, the soil that I had clung to so fervently started to turn me into soil; I was becoming a St. Louis fixture – a mobile landmark well known among the 20-somethings in the city area. The things that I loved about St. Louis were starting to suffocate me. I had become too familiar with how everything works and where everything was that I was not moved by life and it’s little eccentricities any further. This wanderlust has been building up in me for awhile and finally it took it’s huge weathered mallet and knocked me off of my moorings; ass deep into the Rocky Mountains.

I landed in a crevasse of civilization called Estes Park around 10:45 p.m. last Friday night. This was after having left Thursday at 5 p.m. Three and a half hours drive to Kansas City followed by 10+ hours to Boulder. And as luck would have it, I got sick right before leaving town. I didn’t have any going away parties because it would have felt retarded. I’m only headed out here to Colorado for the two months before Christmas and then safely nestled back into the loving love of holiday-family-time-warmth in the mighty midwest. It’s almost like an extended vacation. Which almost feels kinda selfish. Which almost feels like I’m a wandering youth with no direction or goals… well, that last one was a bit harsh.

So ya, here I am, Kevin Kelly, twenty-six years of age typing out my thoughts on this adventure in a small resort town in Colorado. This is how alot of my personal journal entries start as well; kind of like trying to remind myself that I do in fact exist and I am at an age where I could easily be painting the fence as my wife and kids play on the Fisher-Price swingset on the background. —- Okay this is getting ridiculous, you’re reading this because A.) You are bored or B.) You feel an obligation to humor me and tell me that you read my blog post. Not because C.) You’re not sure what you’re doing in life either but you’re doing it and you don’t need to hear some peer bitch and moan about the same feelings you are familiar with. YOU ARE HERE FOR THE STORIES ABOUT POOPING IN THE OCEAN AND COUGHING UP NASTY CRAP. Well friend, you are at the right place.

THURSDAY

I basically packed for two weeks. I used this trip as a chance to rid my life of tons and tons of shit that I would never normally throw away. I’ve been living in the confines of my parents rat cellar that stays nicely dank and cold with the occurrence of either a random cockroach or large ball-bodied cricket with huge back legs; both of which I’ve annihilated on a weekly basis. It was a total chick magnet. Really though, I figured there was a reason that all my roommate options had fell thru after leaving Kingsbury Manor and that helped point me towards CO in the end.

With the jetta packed to the gills, I peaced out to my mother and father and gave some hugs to last minute meetups with some friends. It was a totally shitty night to drive but I made it safe and sound to the Homewood Suites on the Kansas side of Kansas City.  My Uncle Bob just happened to be there for the night and let me sleep on the pullout couch. After some Family Guy, popcorn and cookies, I headed to bed to try and rest for the next day. I think I slept like 4 hours.

FRIDAY

Uncle Bobbers and I shared a huge breakfast of waffles, cereal, fruit, coffee and some square pizza. I ate like a holocaust survivor and stuffed some fruit into my pockets for the trip. I walked outside with my backpack hoping that my car hadn’t been broken in to and realized that it was still dark. It’s been awhile since I’ve been up that early. After replenishing my gas tanks, I headed out into the most beautiful place in the world – Kansas. Doesn’t ‘Kansas’ even sound nasty? It’s like melding two nasty words (Cancer & Ass) into one nastier word and using it to name an extremely flat and bleak looking place where people are supposed to live. No one I met in Kansas seemed very happy. I think this is because they subconsciously realize that their state sounds like ‘CancerAss’.

Speaking of life and living – you really start to think about life and death and happiness while driving across extremely flat expanses of land. Maybe that’s the benefit of Kansas; it’s devoid of anything too interesting so you can start thinking about your life without any beautiful landscapes to distract. While the blood in my body slowly started to pool in my butt I delved into fairly deep thoughts about what I am doing with my life, my current situation, wtf am I doing driving to Colorado, people that I care about, people that I don’t care about, girls, boys, friends, family, legacy, honor and everything in between. I can’t really say that I came to any earth-shattering conclusions but just a better understanding of what/who Kevin Kelly really is.

Finally, I crossed into Colorado. I decided to stop at the visitors center because it looked nice and welcoming and I had to urinate intensely. Inside I met the kindest old couple who offered me coffee and conversation. I don’t remember their names but the man told me that he had worked as a volunteer there for 20 years and had been a farmer before that. He married his wife 60 years earlier. He had lived 8 minutes away his entire life and seemed fairly happy (I wasn’t in Kansas anymore). He exclaimed to me that I need to find a woman while I’m here.

A few more hours and I finally arrived at the Boulder Rock Club and promptly fell asleep on the bench outside waiting for my friends. Boulder had suprisingly warm weather that quickly dissipated after the sun went down. Luckily, Patrick (Friend I am living with here) showed up with his girlfriend Katie and college friend Becca ready to get our climb on. For $20 bucks, we were able to climb and compete and enter a gear raffle party complete with pizza and beer. I was completely out of it but managed to climb okay and meet some more Estes Parkians who had traveled down the mountain to compete. The kids that were competing were amazing. One kid had an indians had cocked to the side and scrambled effortlessly up this route that I tried twice (on top rope!) and failed at. He was like a little hairless monkey.

After the comp, we headed up for some pizza and bitter IPA that made my lips purse. Patrick won a hat, Katie won a hat, Becca and Kevin won zilch. Wearily, I plopped into the passenger seat of my own car as Patrick drove us up the mountain to another new experience in Estes Park, Colorado.

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Third World Whirl

Sleeping three hours the night before international travel is really not the best way to prepare for a trip. Yet that’s how it seems to go every time for me. I get so excited and anxious and dreadful (of airports) that I wake up every half hour and then 1 to 2 minutes right before the alarm goes off. Last minute bug-eyed packing ensues and monk-like silence until I get to the airport and my gate where I find other already weary travel partners. It’s at this moment that I become energized and ready to go. I just want to be there. Wherever we are headed, I just want to be there and experiencing it. Unfortunately, that is not the case. Especially in this case. After a 2.5 hr flight to DC, we had a NINE hour layover. My God. Nine whole hours before we really begin the trip. Sigh.

Obviously, we took this moment to cruise the town. DC is a pretty interesting town to burn a few hours in, moreso than say Effingham, Illinois or Flint, Michigan. There was an easy bus to downtown DC and the Mall where all of the Smithsonians and Museums are located. I have to say I like DC. Lot’s of history, mass amounts of tourists yet not touristy, clean, orderly, with an undercurrent of energy. We lunched at the Union Station on some greasy chinese food that was situated next to a cajun stand and a greek stand. It was like a food court on steroids. I chose the “world-famous” whiskey chicken and proceeded to burp and hiccup for the next 4 hours like a giggling drunk hobo. By the time we got back to the airport we had walked our asses off and were ready to crash into the luxurious ethiopian airlines plane. 

I guess the immediate thing that stood out to me when we boarded the airplane (aside from body odor) was the fact that Christmas music was being pumped through the cabin. There’s a moment right after you board a plane and get your carry-on bag (which easily exceeds the maximum) into the overhead compartment that you drop into your seat with your complimentary pillows and blankets either bulging uncomfortably beneath you or being held in your weary hands and your mouth hangs open as you blankly stare at the new people coming on board, fruitlessly hoping that no one will sit next to you so can lay down during the flight. Now imagine a reggae version of ‘White Christmas’ blaring above you. I guess this is a good example of international air travel. 
Well, the flight was long, with a stopover in Rome to refuel and for some airport employed romans to rush on board and clean out the lavatories for an hour before lifting off for the remaining 6 hours. I sat next to a nice, small ethiopian man who was a janitor in Wisconsin. He hadn’t been home in 2 years and was anxious (i think?) to see his wife and children.

Some time throughout the flight, which was horribly orchestrated to have meals right in the middle of a good sleep session, breakfast was brought to us. I was only 2 hours or so in to my Ambien sleep pill and had a general feeling of ‘wtf?’ circulating through my dreary conscience. If you’ve ever taken ambien and get woken up it definitely feels like your drunk. Your movements are sluggish and retarded and you can’t figure out exactly what’s going on. Supposedly you’re supposed to have amnesia with Ambien as the label specifically states that you are more likely to: 1. Sleepwalk 2. Sleeptalk 3. Forget things 4. Have Sex. All if you are taking ambien cr. Seriously. Long story short, I slept-ate my breakfast and then druggishly knocked my tray on to the ground when I was finished. The lady across the aisle kindly picked it up for me and in a fairy-like voice she said, “You can sleep.” Thank you, my kind ethiopian sleep fairy.

And then…
ETHIOPIA

Ethiopia was not cool. The temperature was cool. Cooler than I expected but the place itself, not that cool. Granted, our ethiopian visit was contained to only the capital city of Addis Ababa – a stinking third-world city like all third world cities I have visited thus far. Lemme say something about this; large third world cities are all the same. You drive down the street and see the exact same things, smell the exact same smells, and hear the exact same sounds (with maybe more curry and overall freneticism in India). You will drive down a street that is stocked to the gills with shitty little shops selling electronics from two decades ago. All of the signs will be in pidgen-english with the squiggly forms of the national language stuck small underneath. Carbon-monoxide from cars that haven’t been checked for emissions since Lyndon B. Johnson was in office will overwhelm you while all sorts of burning smells creep in through the windows. People will stare in to your van/bus/suv window as if they’ve never seen one before and, inevitably, you will see at least 28 acts of public urination; this time in the middle of the street in a pothole the size of maine – 7 or 8 dudes had set up their very own lemonade stand and were letting their freak flags fly. Inevitably, you will arrive at your hotel which is either a literal palace or some weird variation of an american hotel. The hilton that we stayed at was the latter. It looked like somebody’s grandpa’s basement in the lobby and everybody was smoking. It’s at this moment in your travels after having been through the rigamoreau of travel, customs, stupid airport officials, airplane seats built for pygmies, guess-what-the-airplane-food-is, arrival-shock of all your senses, and lastly a cloud of cigarette smoke in the place you’ll be sleeping for the next 3 nights that a single tear slips out the corner of your eye. You either collapse right there or suck your nuts up into your body cavity and push through like the kickass world traveler that you are…. so, I collapsed. Well, i waited until I was in the hotel room. I didn’t really have a breakdown i just passed out fully dressed on the bed… only to wake up 3 hours later, like a chipmunk in the middle of winter who thinks that it’s the first day of spring.

(TO BE CONTINUED)


 

I, G, G, L, DC, DC… Home. (Part Two)

Why United Sucks More Ass than Enemas ~

I made it to London. I made it on the place. I made it to DC. My cell phone worked again! I called family and friends. “I’ll be home soon!!” I ecstatically screamed. Wooooh! Confetti! Parties! St. Louis! The Arch!
Then. Flight Delayed. One hour. Then. Flight Delayed. Two Hours. Then Flight Cancelled. Sheeeeeiiiittt.

At this point I was getting pretty exhausted. I didn’t really sleep at all on the London flight and was entering that phase of staying up so much that you begin to feel like you’re in a dream. I went to the counter and listened to more people complain and laughed at them before running around Dulles and looking for a cache of blankets and pillows to make a nest for myself. They would only give us a coupon for a hotel and I didn’t really feel like shelling out 60 bucks for a hotel bed. I made some more calls and then brushed my teeth before heading to my nest of chairs and blankets. As I walked out of the bathroom I saw this smaller sized man jogging down the massive airport halls towards me. He asked if I was the kid that had been traveling for 3 days. I were. He said most heroically, “Follow me”. I followed him to a 2nd customer service desk 20 gates away (about half a mile). Upon arriving I met the happiest ladies I’ve ever met in any sort of customer service arena. This bigger black woman and smaller asian woman were laughing and hooking up me and the smaller man (and his wife) breaking all sorts of United policies and BS. I fell asleep in a chair behind the desk as they were working actively trying to get me home. 

What happened: They gave us a voucher for a taxi ride to Reagan Airport and booked us on American Airlines flights. I fell asleep in the taxi on the one hour ride as well. Got to Reagan. Fell asleep on the floor outside the security checkpoint. Woke up at 5 a.m. went thru security. Fell asleep at the gate. Boom. Crack. Chickachick. (Snatch-like travel scene) St. Louis. Thank you Jesus.

But of course… my bags were lost. Ah eff it, take me home to BRL!
The next few hours until 7 p.m. were a blitz of shower, driving 100 miles, jumping in the river, drink bud light, eating fatty foods, and promptly passing out. I woke up the next morning at 7 a.m. And i felt like a jabillion bucks. Black river was great as always. Sun, beer, river – who could ask for anything more??? That night, i helped load the fireworks for the fourth of July spectacular and almost lost my hands in the process. It was like a colorful war field. One exploded right above us and it was totally beautiful and deafening.

The next day I just floated and took in the sweet missouri air and loved life. 
I’m tired of writing about italy. It’s over. Done. Fin. Dead.
Tomorrow I leave for Africa. Hold on to your butts.