I spent the day at the funeral and then burial of the father of my close friend and frequent OTR commenter/contributor Doug “D-Lux” Luxenberg. His father, David, died way too young after a several-month fight with brain cancer. If I’m being honest, my favorite memory of him is actually of Doug and my other idiot college roommates convincing me that Doug’s father, a Long Island Jew through-and-through, was, beyond all logic, black. This made no sense whatsoever, not least of which because Doug looks 187% Jewish as well, but because I am, deep down, a moron, I believed them. Twenty years later, I still catch crap about it.
Doug gave the eulogy at the funeral, and it hit me then, as it has hit many, that a eulogy is simply way too late to show our appreciation for those who have been deeply influential to us. Since this is the OTR, I thought that it would be worth the 5 minutes to think about those who have influenced our love of travel (I assume anyone who reads this site regularly has a love of travel). Although most of the blogs I read (and the blog I write) tend to be about the minutia of how to get somewhere, I write about this stuff because I love going places. And that love comes from my father.
My dad did not travel much until I was in high school, when his job required him to travel rather frequently (he is a cameraman, and spent much of the late 1980s and early 1990s on the road with ABC Sports), and we did not fly together with the entire family until I was 18. But my father liked to have company when he traveled for work, and in 1987 he offered to bring me along to Kauai to shoot a golf tournament. I was excited beyond belief, as Hawaii was a place that existed only in brochures, in my mind, and in the odd time-delayed phone calls I received from my father when he traveled their previously. The idea that Hawaii was so far that if you spoke by telephone it took seconds for my words to get to my father’s ears, and he would be speaking before he heard my response, making for awkward conversations filled with overlapping chatter.
That trip has stuck with me in a way could not imagine. I remember the planes we flew (Continental 747 out; Continental 747 recently re-painted from PeopleExpress colors on the way back; Aloha Airlines 737 intra-island), where we stayed, what we did each day, and what we ate (my first foray into the world of oysters). I was absolutely hooked.
I know that he was hooked, too, on the gamesmanship that so many business travelers like about traveling – the accumulating points, the “schnoring” (as my father says) for upgrades, the wheeling and dealing to get more than you’re entitled to. My father loves that. I remember standing in line to check in at Honolulu as my father was trying to convince the gate agent to upgrade us. He had concocted a somewhat believable but altogether ridiculous tale of a previous flight where Continental had treated us so poorly, losing our bags, delaying our flight, separating us on the plane, running out of food, and on and on, to the point where I was starting to laugh. And I couldn’t stop. I walked away because I was blowing his cover (I headed over to the China Airlines counter, because I couldn’t believe there was a China Airlines, and that I was somewhere where China Airlines flew.) When I composed myself and headed back, my father was waiving two tickets – 1E and 1F – in his hand, and asking what was so funny about the story. The lie, I said, became too much to handle, but he was selling it so well, I couldn’t risk blowing the whole operation.
My father had lots of travel tidbits that I either still use today (there’s always another way besides standing in a long line), am afraid to use (just sit down in the empty first class seat and order a drink), or just find weird (on the red eye, grab the empty row to yourself then start drooling and talking to yourself loudly so no one will take the other seats). You may remember my advice two weeks ago about never standing in line when checking in for a Spirit Airlines flight. Whether you liked that or hated that, you can thank Peter Blank for inspiring me on that one.
Seemingly on every golf course in America he had met people who invited us to dinner at their house (the golf store owner in Palm Springs; the Colonel in Muirfield; the Rabbi in Dallas); I never asked any questions – it was just a given that when my father traveled, he met people. And those people, for some reason, invited us to dinner.
I could go on, but I want to give you all time to think about who has inspired you to travel, and to thank them for it before it’s too late.